How do you choose the best real estate brokerage to work for? Maybe you’ve just gotten your license and are now faced with a buffet of real estate brokerages to choose from. Or perhaps you’re a fifteen-year veteran looking to take the next step in your real estate journey. Whichever position you are in, it’s important to know where you want to go. Once you know this, you can find the right real estate brokerage to take you there. This article examines both these items in depth to get you on your way to starting or developing your career in real estate.

Your Relationship With Your Real Estate Brokerage Matters

Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned professional, you probably know that real estate is all about building the right relationships. After all, trust is how you will get people to let you guide them through one of the most important financial decisions of their life. But, there are other important relationships to consider too. You will have to build relationships with other agents, lending institutions, home inspectors, and, of course, real estate brokerages. Choosing the wrong real estate brokerage can really hold you back in your growth and stifle your career. By the same token, finding the right brokerage for you can help you flourish.

When you interview with different real estate brokerages, remember this: Your number one job is not to position yourself as a good fit for them. Your number one job is to determine whether working with them will be right for you.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

Before you can know what kind of real estate brokerage to work for, figure out the kind of agent you want to be.

The most important research method for finding a new real estate brokerage is self-reflection. Whether you’re straight out of college, or into a decade long stint with a National Brokerage, it’s important to take stock of who you are. What do you want? Where would you like to go? If you don’t know where to start, it could be time to revisit first-year psychology with a Myers-Briggs personality test. If you don’t feel like getting all Freudian, we have a list of questions below to get you started.

Are You A Team Player or Lone Wolf?

Basketball team stacking hands together
There is no “I” in Team

Are you an extrovert, who gains energy from being around people? Or an introvert, who thrives under your own company? Real estate brokerages differ in how much support and independence they offer their agents. So, you need to discover whether a team environment would foster the right growth for you or whether you ought to consider venturing off on your own.

Even if you have a preference for being a lone wolf, it may be beneficial to set this preference aside to reach your goals. Maybe you’re in real estate for the lifestyle, the freedom to work anywhere, or the income potential. All these goals need to be considered before deciding whether to work with a team or on your own. Real estate brokerages with large teams offer shoulder to shoulder work with agents who have years of experience and access to a network of clients. While this is ideal for new agents, it may be unnecessary for a veteran with experience.

The National Association of Realtors conducted a 2018 survey and found that 26% of agents work in a partnership or with a team. Although teamwork is popular, it is not necessarily the right option for all agents. If your goal is to increase your commission or to build a name for yourself in a particular community, you may need to work more independently.

Note: Whether you work as part of a team in a real estate brokerage or independently, you should always use supporting talent to help you grow. If you want to build a successful real estate business, it should always be your plan to have helpful support.

Do You Want A Commission-Based Or Fixed Salary?

Determine your financial needs and find a brokerage that can meet them.

Speaking of commission, most agents operate on a commission-based contract. The more homes they sell, the larger their paycheck. More experienced realtors may be comfortable operating from a commission-based position since they’ve spent years building client networks. However, new agents may prefer a salary so they can earn income as they learn the ropes of the industry. With either option, before you can find the right real estate brokerage to work for, research their compensation structure. 

Though commission-based work is popular, it can also signal a lack of investment in agent training and development. Commission-based real estate brokerages can encourage agents to “get the deal done” and earn money while neglecting customer service. Even if customer service isn’t neglected, you need to ask yourself this: Is it the kind of service that forges the bonds of a relationship that is likely to stand the test of time? Or are their clients transactional and likely to forget about the agent after a few years go by? It’s important to learn how to help clients meet their needs. Commission can cloud an agent’s judgment causing them to focus on profit over people. What’s more, a transactional real estate brokerage can add to this pressure. Regardless of the real estate brokerage you choose to work with, a client-first mentality will build up your reputation and network, making you more money over the long run. 

Salary compensation structures foster a “client-first” attitude in a real estate brokerage. With less pressure on agents to close deals to earn their income, these brokerages prioritize creating positive client experiences.

For new agents commission work is more or less inevitable. We recommend having money set aside to pay living expenses as you gain experience and build up your network. Relying on a commission to keep you afloat can place extra pressure on you and potentially hurt your sales and approach.

What’s Your Real Estate Niche?

What pulled you into the real estate business? Was it residential homes? Large commercial buildings? Condos? Know which properties you want to sell and focus on letting others know it too. It may feel counterintuitive at first, but honing in on a target market actually helps you grow your business. This is because people will come to know and trust that you really are an expert in your particular area. If you become the go-to agent for estate sales, for example, whenever there’s an estate sale that needs to happen, your name will be top of mind. You will be able to get better quality referrals because you will be able to offer the efficient and expert support that that situation requires. 

In addition to knowing which properties you want to sell, it helps to know the type of clients you want to work with. Make sure your skillset meets the needs of these clients. Some agents are really great with a certain community of people because they understand their language or culture better. Others connect best with people based on their stage in life. In either case, there will be commonalities in needs and wants, so figuring this out can help you offer the best service.

For example, if you hone in on a community of empty nesters who are looking to downsize, their values and priorities will be a little different from young families looking for their first home. And with those differences, you may be able to recommend more appropriate legal referrals, mortgage support, the whole gamut. The goal is to be happy with the properties you’re selling and the clients you’re dealing with. The happier you are, the better your performance will be.

Finding The Real Estate Brokerage For You

Close Up Photo of a Person Wearing Suit Jacket

What’s The Culture?

The workplace environment in a brokerage is dependent on its culture. A smaller brokerage will be oriented towards teamwork, operating as a family, with agents sharing workloads and tasks. If you crave independence, the culture of big brokerages will reward you. The best way to obtain information about a brokerages’ culture is to ask key questions during interviews. Try some of these questions from the Ontario Real Estate Association:

  1. Do you offer training? If yes, what kind? Is there a cost? 
  2. Can I speak to some of your salespeople? 
  3. Which market share do you have? What are your market strengths? 
  4. Will I have an office space, a desk in a common area, or a shared desk?
  5. What is your commission plan?  

These questions will give you insight into a brokerages’ culture. Additional research is needed to discover a brokerages’ reputation and tone. To do this you need to research as if you were a client or customer. Find reviews, visit their websites, profile members of their team, and develop a general feel for the company. Working for a brokerage with a positive reputation will make you more trustworthy to clients and help you grow as an agent. 

Three’s A Crowd

You are now ready to choose a real estate brokerage to suit your needs. There are three types of brokerages:

1. The National Franchise Real Estate Brokerage

These are companies selling the right to use their company name, business model, and brand to interested real estate agents. After selling a percentage of their franchise to an agent, they take a commission payment on every deal closed by the realtor. 

National franchise real estate brokerages offer premium reputations and brands, which are advantageous to new agents who need support. New agents also get perks such as office spaces across the country, keeping them close to their niche markets. They also offer extensive training programs and software. However, most software and training is dedicated to helping the company turn a profit, not necessarily advancing and growing an agents’ career. 

If you enjoy working in teams, this may not be the option for you. Instead of fostering teamwork, there is often fierce competition between agents. This may intimidate younger agents and leave a harsh impression of the industry. In addition, the advantage of an established brand behind your personal sign no longer offers the clout it once had. Sure, people still naturally trust the names they’ve heard of in the past. However, based on what we know of how homeowners and homebuyers choose a real estate agent to work with, the brokerage that represents them is no longer a big factor.

Overall, there are perks and drawbacks to choosing a national franchise real estate brokerage. Ultimately though, if you’re looking to gain experience and access top tier resources, a national franchise real estate brokerage may be a good choice for you. 

A boutique brokerage can let you flaunt your creative talents

2. The Boutique Real Estate Brokerage

Boutique real estate brokerages are small and usually owned by individual companies or real estate agents. Don’t let the size of these brokerages fool you. In 2009, the top 12 brokerages in the United States were boutique real estate brokerages. They reported making over a billion dollars in sales! These brokerages will give you personal attention and help you grow as a realtor. If you have a creative side, Boutiques will let you flourish. Their policies are not as strict as National Franchise brokerages, giving you room to experiment.

Due to their small size, boutiques have less access to software and offer fewer perks than larger real estate brokerages. If this is important to you, avoid boutiques and opt for something bigger.

3. The Online Real Estate Brokerage

An online brokerage is designed for real estate veterans who have access to their own resources.

Online real estate brokerages allow you to work independently, from the comfort of your home. Sound appealing? Since there is no physical office space to pay for, you receive a larger commission percentage on each sale. Working online allows you to flaunt your creativity and be as unique as you want with your marketing. 

Online real estate brokerages are the best alternative for agents who aren’t afraid of cutting off human interaction and working alone. However, with all that freedom, you also sacrifice some structure and accountability that may be implicit in a more traditional office setting. Another side-effect of isolation is missing out on potential networking opportunities found at other real estate brokerages. In terms of resources, you are on your own. We recommend online brokerages to seasoned agents with a solid network of clients to contact. Experienced realtors often need no additional training or resources to excel. New agents may struggle with the abundance of creative freedom and lack of resources within online real estate brokerages.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

Finding the Right Real Estate Brokerage

In the end, it’s not about the real estate brokerage. It’s about you. Several real estate brokerages can meet your needs and take you where you want to go. Once you clearly define your goals and who you are, you can align yourself with a suitable brokerage. Remember, if you have preferences, sometimes you must set them aside to progress and grow. Some agents want to work alone coming out of college and build a name for themselves in the industry. Yet they fail to see how a few years working beside experts on a team can help them build their future brand.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice one of your preferences in the present to progress and grow. Once you learn the ropes of real estate or advance your seasoned career, you can reunite with those preferences. 


The Balance – How Do Real Estate Teams Work?,brainstorm%20offer%20strategies%20for%20clients

OREA – Selecting A Brokerage