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Interview Brokers With The Right Questions Before Hanging Your License

Written by Jim Crawford on Thursday, 29 January 2004 6:00 pm
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Of all the questions that I am e-mailed about most often is “I just got my real estate license, and I want to know how to choose a broker. What would you recommend?”

Boy that’s a tough question! Reflecting on my own career, it’s a very smart one to ask! Many agents would do things quite differently if they had them to do all over!

The first thing to remember is that whichever brokerage you choose to join, don't let it be about your ego. You are not being considered by a Fortune 500 company for an executive position, the corner office, and company perks! If the broker says, “Congratulations, you have the job!” It doesn’t mean you have to take it! This is an unsalaried position we are talking about! Unless you produce real sales, and close them…there’s no payday! In real estate we get numb to the fact that real estate brokers are always recruiting, and we never pay attention that rarely is anyone turned away!

The reality is you may be unrealistic. It is not the broker's fault when you fail to do well. It is yours!

There is always a lot of turnover in our business - persons coming into the business, leaving it, and/or changing brokers. Obviously there are good choices to be made. If a broker assists your growth and profitability, you will do well. A poor choice will reflect your quick exit from the industry.

This happens more often than not in our industry. Optimism swiftly gives way to disillusionment, and failure. Perhaps it is you as the agent who chose the wrong broker. Perhaps you wanted the broker to supply the leads, or are just shopping for the best commission splits and lowest desk fees!

Because most of us in our industry are not salaried, but are independent subcontractors, much of whatever happens to us is our own responsibility. There is a lot of freedom to call our own shots, but there is no one to blame but ourselves if we fail.

Since you are an independent subcontractor, you should be holding the interview, and not the broker! It is your duty.

So you need to be prepared with real questions that require real answers. Before you sign anything, you also need to speak to agents in the office. You need to do your homework. You are looking for a nurturing environment conducive to success! The right environment enables you to make real money! Knowing you made the right decision affords you peace of mind. It’s comforting to know you’ll have support when you need it, the technology and tools available to assist you, and a market presence with a broker that the public wants to do business with!

Here are some questions you should ask the broker:

  1. How long has the broker been in real estate? What are his/her accomplishments?
  2. Is there an office manual you may read?
  3. What are the commission splits?
  4. Does the company have a 100 percent plan? What is the cost in writing?
  5. Does the broker have other splits available?
  6. For experienced agents with a prior sales history at what split will you begin?
  7. What is the broker’s commission policy? How does the breakdown apply to you?
  8. What is the commission turnaround time from closing to check-in-hand?
  9. Does the broker charge transaction fees to agents per deal side? What are they?
  10. List all fees: MLS fees, company fees, Omission and Errors, Board Fees etc…
  11. What is the number of agents in the office?
  12. How many listings do they generate a month? How many sales a month?
  13. What is the broker's market penetration or saturation?
  14. What percent of the market does the broker control? What is the broker's market share?
  15. What marketing does the broker's company do? Where can you see it?
  16. What is the percentage of producers: top, middle and bottom?
  17. Request an Independent Contractor Agreement to read before signing.
  18. What are the monthly fees for desk, and services?
  19. Are there restricted farming areas?
  20. Can you use your own loan officers?
  21. Can you use your own closing attorneys? Inspectors? Handymen?
  22. What technologies does your office have available, and at what cost?
  23. What are the costs of color copies, binding materials, presentations, and support services available? Other costs?
  24. Does the office provide: desk, shared desk, cubicle or office space?
  25. Does broker provide or reimburse: stationery, letter head, farming materials, signage?
  26. What is the company's Web presence: company e-mail, toll-free numbers, personal Websites? Cost?
  27. Voicemail, long-distance calling, call forwarding etc…? Who pays and what are the costs?
  28. Does the office provide: connection for PCs, terminals, printers, copiers?
  29. Are you required to do desk duty, or answer phones?
  30. Are office meetings, caravans held, how often, and are they mandatory?
  31. What is the company policy on: assistants, advertising?
  32. What company training is offered? How often?
  33. Is the broker available to offer advice on contracts? Available weekends?
  34. If not, does the broker assign other experienced agents to assist you with contract questions?
  35. Does the broker offer a mentor program for new agents?

Of course for every question here, there are many more that should be here. The right environment of broker, opportunity, training, technology, office and its location should all be included in your big picture. Other questions may apply to the type of company you want to be in. Do you want big name recognition, or to join a boutique niche realty specializing in luxury lofts? Do you want to do new home sales or resale homes? Do you want to be a listing agent or buyer’s agent? Whatever your choice, the right experienced broker maybe able to assist you in your career, and point you in the right direction!

But until you ask the right questions, you’ll never know!

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