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12-Point Company Preference Checklist

Choosing a Real Estate Company That’s Best For You

Before choosing which potential real estate brokers or managers to interview, you should consider what kind of real estate company you want to work for. There is no one-size-fits-all, so to find the business model, environment, and culture you’ll best thrive in, consider the following factors.

12-Point Company Preference Checklist
#1. Size
#2. Brand Prominence
#3. Facilities
#4. Location
#5. Training
#6. Experience
#7. Management
#8. Administrative Support
#9. Commission Schedule
#10. Culture
#11. Recognition for Achievement
#12. Specialties

1. Size
In metropolitan areas, your choice might range from companies with less than 10 agents to companies with hundreds of agents. The larger companies will might have more than one office, so office size might be a more important consideration than company size. 

You might like the excitement and buzz of a large office, or you might be more comfortable with the cohesiveness of a smaller office. That’s strictly a personal preference, and it’s only one of your preference considerations.

2. Brand Prominence
Numerous for-sale signs from one company in a particular area usually means that lots of agents work for that real estate company. It can be an advantage to tout your company’s local market share to sellers when attempting to list their property for sale, but you’ll also be competing with people from your own company more often than if you were with a smaller office.


3. Facilities
When you walk into a prospective real estate office, ask yourself whether you would feel proud or embarrassed to bring your clients there. You might be meeting your buyer clients at your office before showing them properties, and you may return there to complete paperwork if they want to buy one of the properties you showed them.

Beside the aesthetics of the office, consider its practicality: is there adequate workspace, and would you have use of computers, copier, and other equipment? Will you have access to the office after hours? Is nearby parking available for agents and clients?

4. Location
Consider how long it would take to commute to your prospective office. Of course, technology gives real estate agents a high degree of mobility, so you can check email, search internet-based MLS, and answer calls from your home, or on the fly. But you occasionally need to go to your office for meetings, completing paperwork, accessing forms and supplies, and checking postal mail. You also might feel more productive working in an office, rather than at home.

Your office doesn’t have to be near the area in which you choose to work, but if it's not, you may have to explain to clients that real estate isn’t as much of a neighborhood business as it was before homebuyers and sellers became so transient and mobile. 

Whether the real estate company is located in a freestanding building, a shopping center, or in a high-rise office tower is a matter of personal preference, but one consideration would be how easy it is for your clients to find your office, and whether you’d have consistent after-hours access.


There are some real estate companies that provide no office space for agents, but they might compensate for that in other ways. 


5. Training
You will learn many real estate principles and fundamentals in the Continuing Ed Express pre-license courses. For example, you’ll learn about real estate law and contract law, how to write purchase agreements, how to list property for sale, how to finance real estate, and how to evaluate real estate property. 

As a licensed real estate salesperson, however, you’ll need guidance the first few times when you evaluate someone’s property, list a property for sale, and to accurately structure and negotiate complex purchase transactions. For these skills, you’ll benefit from our advanced continuing education courses after you obtain your license. (Click here for a peek at our current course list.)

Ask your prospective broker or manager if someone from their brokerage will assist you when you need help, whether, and when, they offer advanced sales skills training, and ask about the background of the person or people who will be training and/or helping you.

Continuing Ed Express also offers advanced training courses you can take after you receive your license. We highly recommend you enroll in “Foundations for Success in Real Estate,” which is our comprehensive self-paced course to learn critical business planning techniques, how to balance your work-life, develop a winning attitude, find new clients, use persuasive sales techniques, and close more sales. (Click for more info)

6. Experience
If the prospective real estate company is relatively new, does it have plans to grow? Does the broker have enough time to help new agents? 

If the company is mature, is it stable or in decline? You might not get specific answers to these questions in an interview, but you’ll get a sense of them during your conversation with the manager or broker. The experience level of the manager or broker is a more important factor, though, which leads us to the next item. 

7. Management
In a medium or large company, your primary contact will probably be a salaried manager, but in a small or medium company, your manager might be the broker/owner. You should ask if the manager or broker also sells real estate, because his or her personal production could have a bearing on the time available to help you. Ask how many full-time and part-time agents the manager is responsible for. More than 50 full-time agents in one office would be a challenging workload for one manager, but many large companies have assistant trainers or mentors to also help new agents.


8. Administrative Support
Some offices handle such chores as uploading your listings to MLS, and transaction paperwork processing. The accounting department will also be important to you; ask how long after a closing you can normally expect to receive your commission.


9. Commission Schedule
All real estate companies need to earn a profit in order to survive, but there are various routes to a healthy bottom line. 

A traditional brokerage model, depending on market area variations, would pay around half of the commission to the agent, and the company would keep the rest to pay operating and transaction expenses, plus a reasonable profit. However, as the agent’s sales volume increases throughout the calendar year, the agent’s split percentage might increase. Under this model, most, if not all, the overhead expenses are paid by the real estate company.

As a hybrid model, some real estate companies charge their agents various fees to cover company operating expenses, and a somewhat assured profit. In return for agents sharing the overhead, and helping to stabilize the company’s bottom line, the company splits the commission at a higher percentage than with the traditional model, perhaps as high as 100%. Because the financial risk shifts to the agents, this model is popular primarily with established agents.

10. Culture
An office that is populated mostly with new agents can feel energized, but perhaps a bit chaotic at times. If most of the agents are seasoned, the office can feel stable, but might lack excitement, or new-agent peer support. Some combination of experienced and new agents could give you the best of both worlds.

After interviewing your prospective manager or broker, ask yourself how you feel about him or her, and the company. Your intuition should weigh in on your decision. You might also visit the company’s website, find their directory, and call a couple of agents who work there. You could ask what they think about their office as a workplace for both new and experienced agents.

11. Recognition for Achievement
Your personal goals will define how successful you will be in real estate. A money goal makes good sense, but being recognized for your achievements can also be exciting and motivating. Successful real estate companies often have ways to recognize their top producing agents, and becoming recognized as one of them might help motivate you to succeed.


12. Specialties
Most of this discussion has been about residential real estate sales companies, but you might be more interested in leasing or property management, both of which require a real estate license in most states. You will find those opportunities mostly at companies that specialize in them. On the other hand, you might have an interest in investment, commercial, or industrial real estate sales. Many general brokerages will allow you to work in those specialties, as well as in residential sales.

Other real estate sales specialties include farm and ranch, recreational property, lakeshore, and undeveloped land. Some agents work for new home builders, which involves different practices than re-selling existing properties. Some agents choose to work for a general brokerage, selling both new construction and re-sale properties. 

Ask your prospective broker or  manager what specialty options would be available for you, and whether leaders in their organization have experience in those areas. 

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