As an industry, real estate tends to be transient. Real estate agents frequently keep an eye out for greener pastures – better markets, more favorable commission splits, or access to a hot new tool. If that sounds familiar, I have some advice for you: don’t get distracted by noise. New commission splits or apps won’t magically make your job easier, and clients won’t appear out of thin air banging down your door. Think beyond one or two details and consider all the changes that come from changing brokers. Having said that, there are plenty of viable reasons why a real estate agent should change brokers. One major reason is plateauing. If you’ve hit a glass ceiling at your brokerage, and are confident that you’ve learned everything possible there, a change may be in order.
If you’re still wondering if it’s time to change real estate brokers, there are a few important areas to evaluate before you take the leap.
Are your basic needs met?
Before you make the switch, evaluate if your current brokerage meets your three basic needs as a real estate agent: training, support, and recognition. Most good real estate brokerages offer training, and only you can determine if you’re really taking advantage of all the training your brokerage has to offer. Once you’ve answered that question, consider your current broker’s reputation in the industry – and evaluate if that reputation helps you or hurts you in the negotiation process. Finally, consider if you feel valued professionally. Feeling valued creates a deeper level of trust and security at work, which frees us to spend less energy seeking and defending our value, and more energy creating it.
Have you had a conversation?
If, after evaluating how well your brokerage meets your basic needs, you’re still considering making the switch, take the time to have a conversation with your current broker. You might still decide to leave, but being honest (and respectful!) with your broker beforehand will help preserve your professional reputation. You don’t want to gain a reputation as being somebody who spreads negative opinions around without addressing them with the organization. That’s the kind of bad reputation that has staying power, and it will follow you to another organization. Plus, most issues can be dealt with within the organization, although whether or not you want to hang around while they’re fixed is up to you.
Are you a valued agent or a recurring payment?
Every brokerage has a different business model and different payment expenses. It isn’t uncommon or unrealistic for a brokerage to expect the agents to share in the business expenses, the same way you might be expected to pay for your own parking expenses if you worked in an urban office. You should get concerned if your broker seems more concerned that you subscribe to their monthly cornucopia of services that they are appreciative of your value as an agent. It’s one thing if you’re a new agent and you benefit from the services offered, its another thing entirely if you’re an experienced agent with your own brand – and little need of expensive mandatory subscriptions. Also, consider that some brokerages offer tools at little additional expense to agents – so high monthly fees can be a red flag.
Has your personal brand eclipsed your firm’s brand?
When you’re first starting out, working under a broker with a well-known brand can help you access more leads and build your own business faster. After a point, though, you might be promoting your brokerage’s brand more than your own. It’s important to step out and make a name for yourself, so your clients will look for you not your brokerage in the future. If the relationship isn’t mutually beneficial, then the relationship isn’t working, and it’s time to move on.
Have you stopped learning and turned into a teacher/mentor?
Top producers understand that agents are most effective and most profitable when face-to-face with clients. While mentoring is a valuable and meaningful component to your job, it can’t be all you do. Don’t act as an unpaid manager for your current – or potential future – brokerage.
Will your existing broker pay you full commission on pending deals after you exit?
Get your financial ducks in a row, and look through your employee manual or independent contractor agreement to find out how commissions are split once you leave. Many agreements state that the broker gets a higher split after you leave. If they can take a higher split, they generally will do it. If they agree to pay your normal commission splits after your departure, try to get that in writing. If you have some listings in escrow, it might benefit you to wait until they close to leave. Or, if your market is seasonal, plan to make the transition during the low season.
Does your new brokerage embody the lifestyle you want to leave?
Every organization, including the brokerage you hope to work for, is a reflection of its leader. Is leadership at your new brokerage living the life you want to live? Work/life balance is crucial to becoming a successful agent. Figure out what your ideal work/life balance looks like, and find the leaders that share your work philosophy. Then align yourself with them.
But, when push comes to shove, no broker or brand will MAKE you a successful real estate agent. Some will support you better than others, but the key word is support. You need to really want it – successful agents make themselves. It takes a lot of hard work to be a successful real estate agent, and I believe the future of real estate is a paradigm shift from needing to know HOW to find business, to need to know HOW TO have business find you.