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How to Choose a Real Estate Brokerage to Work For

How to Choose a Real Estate Brokerage to Work For

If you’re wondering how to pick a real estate brokerage to work for, you are in the right place. Read on to learn how to find your new employer, things to consider, and more.


Disclaimer: REthority is supported by ads and participation in affiliate programs. We may earn a commission when you click our links. The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal or financial advice.


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When you become a real estate agent, you have to find a brokerage to sponsor you. This brokerage will act as your real estate mentor, and in the best-case scenario, they’ll support, guide, help, and elevate you as an agent. 

That isn’t always the case, unfortunately – ask any experienced agent – so choosing the right brokerage to align yourself with is incredibly important.

How to choose a real estate brokerage to work for (2)

You want a brokerage that knows your niche, is trusted and well-liked locally, and offers a few unique benefits for its agents. Above all, choose a brokerage where you’re comfortable and treated well. Don’t trade amenities for happiness.

Statistics show that happy agents sell more homes, and finding the right brokerage is the first step. The brokerage you choose will set the tone for the start of your career in the real estate industry.

A little preparation and research can help you make the best decision. Read on to learn everything you need to know about finding a real estate brokerage to work for.

Planning Ahead

Before you start your journey to find the best brokerage, it’s wise to do a little planning and preparation. 

 
As the featured image for a piece on how to choose a real estate brokerage to work for, Notebook with an action plan and sticker today on wooden desk with cup of coffee and muffin

Roobcio/Shutterstock

Here are some things to consider:

  • Make a list of the brokerages conveniently located near you. Search online, ask around, and check for real estate signs in the area to build your list. 
  • Write down some “interview” questions to ask your potential brokerage. This is different from a typical job interview because you’ll be acting as your own boss, not an employee. 
  • Talk to local real estate agents about their brokerage. What do they like about it? Would it be a good fit for new agents? What would they change about it? Is there another brokerage they’d be more likely to recommend?

With a little planning in place, you’ll feel more prepared for your mission. Let’s look over some of the criteria your brokerage should meet and a few things to consider when you make your selection.

What to Look for in a Brokerage

Not sure where to start? Below, we’ve listed the top considerations you should have in mind while you choose the brokerage that is best for you.

 
Fake Classified Ad, newspaper, business concept symbolizing the things to look for in a real estate brokerage

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These are the basic criteria your brokerage should meet to help you get off to a great start as a new real estate agent or realtor. 

Specialties and Niches

Find out if the brokerage specializes in a specific sector of real estate, like lake homes or commercial properties. You can take off your list those that specialize in areas you’re not interested in working.

Local Reputation

Your brokerage absolutely must have a good reputation locally. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from the start.

Pick a brokerage with a bad reputation, and you’ll be negatively associated with it. Pick a brokerage with a positive reputation, and locals will automatically associate you with that earned trust. 

How do you find out what the brokerage’s reputation is like? Ask! Don’t just ask other agents.

Talk to people you know who have bought or sold a home in the area, vendors, and contractors that work with the brokerage, and look for online reviews and ratings. 

Commission Splits and Fees

Your commission as a real estate agent is your bread and butter. But your brokerage may have policies in place to split that commission with you.

They may also have another form of payment for the support, marketing, and/or leads you may have gotten from them. 

This can be intimidating or disheartening when you’re starting out, but it’s essential to recognize the value you’re getting, or should be getting, in return for that commission split or a flat fee. 

You can expect to split the commission 50/50 to 80/20 with the brokerage. If they’re charging a flat fee, the amount can vary widely.

You might pay a fee of $200 per closing, no matter what your commission ends up being. In addition to commission fees and splits, you may have to pay more fees to cover marketing, desk fees, transaction fees, signs, and more.

Make sure you are clear on how much you’d owe the brokerage every month for these additional items.  Be careful when you’re choosing a brokerage based on commissions and fees.

As real estate investor Mark Ferguson at InvestFourMore put it, “Many agents who choose the broker that charges low fees fail because they never sell any houses.”

Brokerage Size and Number of Agents

Some want to join a smaller, boutique brokerage to get a little more one-on-one attention and support in the first year and beyond.

Some want to join a larger brokerage to feel a bit more secure long-term (more sales opportunities may be available in these environments). Sticking with your preference will make sure you’re comfortable in the setting. 

It’s not enough to just take a look around in the brokerage office to find out how many total agents work there. Some agents don’t spend much time in the office.

Ask how many agents are currently working with the brokerage to get a sense of what size group you’re joining. 

A large brokerage comes with a lot of benefits, but if one-on-one support is what you’re looking for, you may not find it there.

Lead Generation and Marketing

How does the brokerage support its agents’ marketing and lead generation efforts? How much do they charge to offer the help? Make sure to find out.

Your brokerage may run ads online, on billboards, or in print that don’t focus on a particular agent but market the brokerage as a whole.

Those ads can still benefit you as an agent, but you’ll want to consider setting aside a budget to begin running some of your ads. 

Some brokerages help new agents get started with required floor time. This is time that the brokerage requires the agent to spend in the office, answering phones, and performing other light administrative work.

With this setup, walk-ins and new leads can be directed to the new agent to help them begin building a clientele. 

Find out what your brokerage’s policies are on advertising, marketing, and leads. It’s much easier to compare different options when you know what their policies are on important issues like these. 

Training Programs

Larger brokerages are more likely to, but smaller brokerages may also offer training programs for new agents.

Most real estate agents feel unprepared to start selling houses after completing their required courses and getting their real estate license. 

Brokerages know this. That’s why they’ll offer classes or programs that can help new agents get the education and material they need to be more successful. Find out what, if any, training programs your brokerage list offers and how much they cost. 

Company Culture

Don’t forget the importance of a good, stable company culture! There are lots of brokerages (and other businesses) that look great on paper and hit every mark, but have a terrible company culture that creates problems short- and long-term.  

While you can’t possibly know everything from a single phone call or office visit, serious problems are often pretty apparent from the start. If you walk in and aren’t treated with respect, it’s not likely to be a place you’ll be happy.

Office Space

Finally, consider the office space you’ll be occupying. Is it big enough? Cramped? Dingy? Airy and bright? What’s the street access and parking situation like?

You’ll be bringing clients here to sign paperwork or to hold short meetings, so the office space must reflect the kind of brand you want to create as a real estate agent. 

Top Brokerages in the United States

If name recognition and long-standing, good reputations across the nation are what you’re looking for in a brokerage, consider one of the top brokerages in the United States.

 
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These are taken from the RealTrends annual list of the top brokerages by volume. 

  • Keller Williams Realty (Voted #1 for agents in all career stages)
  • RE/MAX (Voted best for established, high-performing agents)
  • Coldwell Banker (Voted best for new agents)
  • eXp Realty (Voted best for part-time agents)
  • Century 21 (Voted best for agents targeting millennials)

Keller Williams

Keller Williams has an undisclosed cap on the commissions they’ll take from agents. After reaching the cap, agents get to keep 100% of their commissions. Before that, however, agents will pay a total of 36% of their commission in marketing and franchise fees.

RE/MAX

RE/MAX allows each franchise and local office to determine their fee and commission split structures. Every location has a different desk fee, franchise fee, commission split percentage, and commission cap.

Coldwell Banker

Coldwell Banker also allows each franchise location to determine their commission caps, splits, and desk fees.

Unlike Keller Williams, which will enable agents to keep 100% of their commissions after hitting the cap, Coldwell Banker requires agents to pay the 8% franchise fee. 

eXp Realty

eXp Realty is a virtual, fully remote brokerage. It has a set commission cap and split and doesn’t have to charge desk fees (no brick and mortar office).

The eXp Realty commission cap is $16,000, so once an agent meets that amount, they’ll keep 100% of their commissions. Before reaching the cap, agents will split the commission 80/20. 

Century 21

Like RE/MAX and Coldwell Banker, Century 21 leaves the figures for commissions, caps, and splits up to each franchise location.

There is a standing 8% franchise fee that will apply even after an agent hits their commission cap. Century 21 does not charge desk fees. 

Choosing the Right Brokerage for You

We’ve looked at how you can plan ahead, the considerations to keep in mind when you start your search for the best brokerage, and a few of the nation’s top brokerages (plus their commission and fee structures).

 
Beautiful female employee in suit is smiling during the job interview as an image for a piece on how to choose a real estate brokerage to work for

George Rudy/Shutterstock

You know what to look for – now, it’s up to you to decide which brokerage is the best fit. Successful agents don’t start at the top. Advancing begins with choosing the right support system to create a launchpad for your career. 

If you make your decision based on the right criteria, you can’t go wrong. A supportive brokerage that is fair about fees and commissions and also helps with marketing and lead generation.

It also has a great company culture and track record can help you start off in the real estate industry on the right foot. 

How Do You Choose a Real Estate Brokerage to Work For?

If you’re asking the question “How do you choose a real estate brokerage to work for,” we hope you’ve found your answer in our guide.

When you do make a decision, it’s a reciprocal relationship. You’ll help them sell houses, and they’ll help you further your career. Make sure it’s a brokerage you’ll be proud to represent.

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