I Finally Got My License. Now, How Do I Choose My Real Estate Brokerage?

The sad fact of real estate is 80% of new agents are out of the business within two years. At least that's what the National Association of Realtors says, and I'm not so sure it isn't closer to 90%. Of course, much of that can be laid at the feet of the individual, but not all. Joining the right brokerage as soon as you get your license might determine whether you make it or not, no matter how "good" you are.

No real estate brokerage has ever made any agent successful. They can help greatly by giving them the right tools, but success always comes from within the agents themselves. They have to be driven, disciplined, willing to work, able to handle rejection, and above all, stubborn.

Before I go further, I don't have a clue as to how other real estate offices work or the services they provide, even other Keller Williams offices. But having been here in our Allen, Texas office and watching how it's run convinces me this model is what all new agents should be looking for.

To back up my statement, we have more market share within our areas of the MLS than the next four real estate offices combined. We are the top real estate office in all of Collin County by sales volume and have done it with less than half the number of agents as most of our competitors. Our office also has the highest gross commission income average of any other KW office in the area.

That's what I consider domination and it's not coincidence. I'll share with you what I've observed about our office and if you agree it's important, you might want to use it while interviewing within your own area of the country.

The Interviews

You're selling yourself and what you have to offer. You need to know what you're getting for your money.

Don't be afraid to ask tough, thoughtful questions in your interview. It shows you're serious about the business and not taking it lightly. Phrase your questions in a way that doesn't sound like "What are you going to do for me" although that's exactly what you need to know.

You might want to start your interviews with the top real estate offices in your area. They're doing something right to get there and you might want to be a part of it. Plus, it never hurts to be associated with the number one agency. Even though you're new, your company isn't and that goes a long way with many buyers and sellers.

Talk to a couple of smaller agencies too. In theory, you should get more personalized attention from a smaller office than a large office, and that's a big deal.

If you aren't getting the help you need from any office, large or small, something is wrong. You don't want to get the reputation of an agent who constantly bounces around from one agency to the next, but if you believe things aren't going to change for the better, it makes sense to make a move. I can promise, the next interview you're on you'll know exactly what you're looking for.

Training, Training, Training

Without question, the most important facets of becoming a great agent are training and education. This will follow you through your entire real estate career. It never stops.

Almost every day of the week, someone is in our large conference room sharing information with us. It might be an attorney advising us on what to watch for on contracts or new changes to contracts. It might be a title company, inspector, home warranty company, home builder, foundation company, or a myriad of other real estate related companies.

They love to visit with us because they're developing a face to face relationship. And we like having them because we can ask questions. This is how we all stay updated in fast moving markets.

In addition, our top agents also donate their time to teach classes to the new agents. Here's a look at our September 2019 monthly training schedule. They'll share their painful experiences and what they might have done to avoid them. They might be talking about their success stories with open houses, marketing plans, how they network, or even handling common objections. They'll share what works for them and what doesn't. New agents are encouraged to ask questions without fear of being ridiculed.

By the way, the agents leading these classes realize the agents they're talking to are their competitors, but helping others is just part of the KW culture. There's plenty of business out there for everyone and we genuinely want others around us to be successful too. It breeds a great working environment.

Of course, the agents leading the classes aren't going to share all of their secrets, nor should they be expected to. But other than those, our agents will bend over backwards to help a fellow KW agent succeed. That's what you want in any office you join.

These sessions cost nothing for our agents and if an agent with another company would like to attend, they're welcome too. Rather than being thrown out on the street as a new agent and having to learn every painful lesson the hard way and one at a time, they can avoid them by listening to more experienced agents.

My office happens to be right next to the door to the large conference room so I see who's attending those classes. Not surprisingly, the most successful new agents, the "go-getters" are also the ones who are always there attending them. That isn't a coincidence.

So What Questions Should I Be Asking?

The very first question I would ask is "What kind of training do you provide". Don't take their word for it. Anyone can say "We have great training". Ask to see their calendar of upcoming training sessions. That will tell you a lot. If they don't have a full calendar, they're just not that committed to training and I'd look elsewhere.

The second question I would ask is "Do you have a compliance department"? By that, I mean someone who checks every contract to make sure everything is correct. No missing initials or signatures and no missing addenda. Our admins do a great job of checking to make sure our paperwork is right, but we've had contracts kicked back to us when something was missing. It's another set of eyes looking at anything that goes to title. This is something new agents should be especially interested in.

The third question I would ask is "Do you have regular office meetings and what is the attendance?" Don't let them just tell you, go sit in on one. Our office meets once a week and we have an attendance of around 70-80 agents, sometimes more depending on the speaker.

These weekly meetings are where we share our new listings. Many of these never hit the MLS because they're sold "in-house". We also give any agent who wants to stand up the opportunity to thank another agent for helping them out. We call it "Fill the Bucket". We live-stream these meetings on Facebook so if you have to miss, you can see still watch it there.

The fourth question I would ask is "What do you provide in the way of coaching?" Most of our top agents and many of our new agents take individual coaching. It does cost money, but it's paid as deals close. Every agent in our office I've talked to about coaching has told me it resulted in big gains in their commissions. Someone is there to hold you accountable for what you should be doing. They're there to advise and re-energize when you're in a lull, and that happens to all of us.

And finally, talk to a couple of agents who have been with the agency for a couple of years. If they're happy, you'll feel it. If they're a little standoffish or really can't tell you something really outstanding and exciting about the office, there probably isn't anything.

What About Virtual Brokerages

I spent 7 or 8 years working out of my home office before I joined KW. I was churning out deals, but no-one knew me, not even the agents I did business with. I never met them. I was like the Wizard of Oz behind the green curtain. In a way, I was living in a virtual world.

Did this hurt my business? I can't honestly say it did, but it sure didn't do anything for my image. I was a complete mystery to my peers.

Getting to know agents personally especially within our office has helped me close some difficult transactions and also some of our team members. My fellow KW agents have come to know and trust me.

I bet if I told our team we were going the virtual route and giving up our office at KW, there'd be a mass desertion. I know our agents love the camaraderie and surrounding themselves with highly motivated and quality agents, so it will never happen for us.