Way to go! You passed the real estate agent state licensing exam and you are now officially a real estate professional!
Whoa, Nelly! Not quite. There are still a few steps before planting that ‘for sale’ sign in your neighbor’s yard.
1. Locate and register with a sponsoring broker.
2. Join the local, state, and national real estate associations (become a REALTOR®)
3. Become a member of your local multiple listing service (MLS).
Sounds easy, right?
Unfortunately, many new sales associates are so eager to get into production that they short-cut step number one and sign on the dotted line with the first broker they meet.
I actually had a new associate say to me one time, “I am so excited. I only had to apply at one brokerage and they hired me. I thought I would have to interview at several places before someone would hire me.”
Truth bomb: If you can fog a mirror, brokers will hire you.
They want warm bodies. Numbers. People. Possibilities. Brokers know that just like sales, recruiting is a numbers game. Hire enough people, someone is bound to be a rock star producer. Time will tell.
Now that you are fully informed, it is up to you to be in the drivers seat when it comes to choosing the RIGHT broker for YOU!
You should be interviewing brokers, not the other way around.
THE BROKER SEARCH
There are several ways to decide which brokers to interview. Here are Five:
1. Ask a successful real estate agent that you know how they like their broker. Ask them why they affiliated and why they stay. Go check out the ones who are highly praised.
2. Go to company websites and take a look around. Which ones resonate with you?
3. Make note of advertisements, signs, and marketing from companies that resonate with you.
4. Pull a list of brokerages online, cut them out, and post them on a bulletin board - now throw a dart and see where it lands (this one works just about as well as #2 and #3).
5. Ask Google because Google knows everything, right?
This part of the process isn’t rocket science. Do yourself a favor though: Once you start the interview process, keep going until you find the right fit. It may take several interviews with multiple brokers — or more than one interview with the same broker. Be intentional. Don’t sign anything at the first interview. If they press you hard to sign that day, they are probably NOT the right fit.
NOTE: All brokerages are different — even those within the same franchise. Some are independently owned and operated and even if they aren’t, each location has its own “feel” or “personality.” Two offices from the same franchise located a mile apart can operated and managed very differently.
Example franchises: (i.e. Re/Max, Berkshire Hathaway, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, EXIT, ERA, Realty Executives, Better Homes and Gardens, Realty Direct, Century 21, Windermere, John L Scott, Wiechert, NextAge, Ebby Halliday -not a franchise but has multiple offices in Dallas area, Cryeleike, Avatar, HelpUSell, Sotheby’s International, Red Carpet, Real Living, Assist-2-Sell, HomeLife International, Realty World, United Country).
Not sure how to interview a broker? I'll share those in next week's blog post or contact us to get a copy via email.
BEFORE YOU START
Whether you are brand new to the biz or you have been around the block a time or two, it is critical that you know what you do and don’t want before you start interviewing brokers. Take a little time to do some self-reflection. Here are some things to consider before you head out to conquer the world.
Do I want to be in a large office or a smaller more intimate environment?
Do I require a lot of one on one attention or do I prefer to work independently?
How important is the office location to me?
Will I require a workspace or will I work from home?
How much support do I need in learning the business?
What is my budget for start up and for my monthly outlay?
What are my values and philosophies, both personal and business?
The more you know about yourself and your work habits, values, and beliefs, the more you will get from the interview process. Some brokers may try to “sell” you on joining their company. If you are firmly grounded in what is important to you, you will better evaluate whether their offerings are a fit or not.
If their primary value to you is that they will provide you with LEADS, be skeptical. The reality of this is typically a false one. Not that they don’t try, but frankly we are not familiar with ANY company that can feed enough leads to their agents to make it worth their while to be there. You are better off in the long run learning to fish than to be fed. The promise of leads is NOT a value proposition for you to hang your hat on.
Since this was the initial interview and you are presumably going to be talking with multiple offices, make sure you leave with some written information. This will help you to recall what you discussed and to compare notes when you are reviewing your findings.
If they don’t offer them voluntarily, ask for references, a copy of the independent contractor agreement (ICA), and a list of the fees charged by their company/office.
POST INTERVIEW HOMEWORK
Now that you have conducted your interviews, it’s time to begin the process of elimination.
The first elimination round is easy. If it felt wrong, funny, weird, awkward, or just flat crappy... just say no. It may not be a specific reason - the company, manager, office building, etc. just didn’t resonate with you. File the information in the NO WAY file with notes as to why you made that decision. This will be helpful later if you get a call from the broker following up and you question which one it is you are speaking with.
In the second round, review your initial personal reflections and what you said was important to you. Compare your notes with that list. This is about making sure you aren’t letting a really good sales job from the interviewer distract you from what is TRULY important to you. If your values, beliefs, preferences and needs don’t match up with that of the brokerage, move on. Again... make notes and file in the NOT NOW file.
At this point you are probably down to 2 to 4 companies OR you may be down to one company with multiple locations. Some things to consider:
Speed of the leader = speed of the pack. Strong and effective leaders typically attract and groom successful and profitable agents. If you didn’t interview with the primary leader of the brokerage (manager, team leader, broker/owner), set up a second appointment and make sure you get to meet with them. Even if it is briefly.
Call references. Call the agents that were provided to you at the interview and then pull a list online of other agents in the brokerage and ask them some questions. Verify information given in the interview. Ask them what they love and what they don’t love about their office, manager, colleagues, environment, commission split, etc. Ask them why they stay there. Don’t be shy.
What questions are coming up for you as you compare and contrast the companies left standing? Write them down. Plan to go back for a second meeting and get your questions answered.
Attend a weekly sales meeting, training class, or event that is hosted by the broker or at the broker’s office. Get a feel for what their office is like by being an active participant. It is one thing for the manager to tell you that it is a “Happy” and “Fun” or “Productive” place to work. Make it your mission to check it out for yourself. The fact is that everyone has a different definition of fun, happy, and productive!
Once you have made a final decision on which brokerage is right for you, make sure that you get anything and everything in writing. If the manager gave you any special incentives or promised you anything that isn’t in their paperwork, get it IN WRITING.
You may as well start now because in real estate, putting things is writing is the key to long-term success (and staying out of court!).
And last but certainly not least... don’t settle. If you are two weeks in and you are wishing you had gone another route, do it sooner than later. Yes, you may have already bought business cards and told your closest 200 friends that you were proudly affiliated with XYZ Company. Suck it up. Make the move. Better now than later - I promise.
Need a guide?
Nikki and Chris can walk you through the entire interviewing and affiliation process. Give us a call or send us an email to schedule a free consultation.
Job Interview: By bpsusf (http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfbps/4607149870/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Tapping Pencil: By Rennett Stowe (Tapping a Pencil Uploaded by Atmoz) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Woman Thinking: By Maria del Carmen Bianchi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Job Interview: Image by Alan Cleaver
|Nikki Buckelew is the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation. A veteran REALTOR® of over two decades, she holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. As a professional speaker, coach, and trainer, Nikki is committed to empowering, equipping, and educating real estate sales and senior housing professionals seeking to better serve the mature market segment.