One of the most common questions I see real estate agents asking all the time is how to choose a broker or if they should switch. Seriously, it is CONSTANT.
And you know what? I totally get that!
The broker that you choose to hang your license with does have a legitimate impact on your potential for success.
Now, don’t get it twisted. Anything and everything that goes right or wrong in your business is 100% on you! Therefore, your broker is not the one to blame if you’re not happy with how things are going. However, there are things that your broker can do or not do that can slow you down and hold you back or act as an additional obstacle.
One thing I am not going to get into today is splits, so if that’s what you came for, you won’t find it. There are a million and one different opinions on splits and I think you need to decide what makes the most sense for you in that arena.
Instead, my goal with you for today is to examine the most common things that a broker can do, often unknowingly, that will hurt you more than help. This is not about bashing brokers because they are trying to learn their way too. In fact, I hope there are brokers out there reading this with an open mind so they can better serve their team.
I just want you to walk away from this article:
Confident in your ability to assess a broker
Protected from the common traps that bankrupt agents and brokers
More aware of yourself, your business, and the relationship you have with your broker
As usual, I’m serving up some tough love in this one. But if you are willing to be open-minded to this proven advice from someone with your best interest at heart, I promise you’ll be better for it.
Is Your Brand Being Stifled?
One of the most common conversations that I have with my new clients is about their branding. Many agents are tricked into thinking that they are required or better off to leverage their broker’s brand rather than develop their own.
Just because you are currently with a big-name broker, does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t be developing your own brand.
Just as the very existence of this article proves, you will most likely switch brokers at least once. In fact, NAR reported back in 2017 that on average, agents switch brokers three times in a ten year period and 86% are independent contractors making that very easy to do. So why would you want to keep having to start over every time you switch brokers? Your clients will be confused and you will be the one that suffers for that financially.
You MUST develop your own brand which is based on the desires and fears of your ideal clients. I won’t go too deeply into that here, but you can learn about how to successfully develop your own brand in this article.
For now, you need to understand that any broker that does not encourage you to develop your own brand is selfish and too chickenshit to allow you to do what is in your best interest for fear you will take something away from them. When the truth is, once you do develop your own brand you will become MORE valuable to them.
So if you don’t have a broker that is fully supportive of you developing your own brand based around your niche, it is time to jump ship to one that will.
Do They Encourage Outdated Marketing Tactics?
If I have said it once, I have said it 30,000 times. For the love of god please stop door-knocking, cold-calling, and sending direct mail.
If your broker is telling you to do any of those things or supports you doing it, they are either scared, ignorant or both.
I get that those were once the best way to get clients. I get that they sometimes still work. I’m not debating that at all.
What I am saying is that they are no longer the best way! Think about it this way…
Would you walk into a random bar and propose to the first stranger that you see, fully expecting them to happily accept?
Of course not!
So then why the hell do you think it is okay for you to randomly approach a stranger and ask them to trust you, a stranger, with the largest and most emotional investment of their entire life? Don’t you see how messed up that is?! Don’t you see how that sounds?!
If your gut instinct or reaction is that it might result in making you money though...you’re in this business for the wrong reason and you flat-out don’t deserve your license.
Now, if you’re willing to be open-minded to get serious about developing a niche and running an altruistic business in which you give value to get value, you will never, ever have to chase after another client again.
You will never have to buy a lead again.
You will never have to ride the real estate rollercoaster again.
If your broker doesn’t understand that nearly 100% of all real estate transactions in the U.S. originate from an online search and that you should be investing 100% of your energy into digital branding and marketing, then run for the hills. Get the fuck out of that brokerage because if you don’t you will become another of the many casualties of companies like Zillow, Amazon (yes they’re a broker) and all the other ibuyers.
I already know that many agents and brokers will argue that the only way to beat those big threats is with things like door knocking but that is fear and ignorance talking. Here is the real way to beat them.
Are You The “Top” Agent?
First of all, you’re not. Every agent that isn’t new in the business tells me they are the top agent on a daily basis. However, if you are performing better than any other agent in your office you need to take a step back.
This position at the top has several really important implications:
You need to examine what is working and what isn’t in your business.
If you’ve held this position for a couple of years you have the power over your broker.
If your income, motivation, and knowledge have not all consistently increased year over year at the top, your broker is coming up short.
It is all too easy to become stagnant and complacent if you start making six figures for a few years. The best brokers will not just look at your performance and see you as just a cash cow but rather be even more motivated to keep you on the cutting-edge and push you harder.
You know that old expression about how if you’re the smartest, richest, or most successful person in a room then you are in the wrong room? That is my point.
The best brokers not only understand how likely it is you will leave but will understand that if it isn’t in your best interest to stay with them that you should move on. Many agents fear this is disloyal. But consider the fact that the loyal thing for them to do is to support your growth even if it means that you need to move on when they can’t help you grow any further.
Are You Bored?
One of my catchphrases from the beginning has been that “complacency is cancer”. I really believe that.
Every minute that we spend complacent and bored in our business is a minute we give all of our competitors more competitive edge over us. Call me crazy but owning your own business is one of the most intense and exhilarating experiences there is in life. It is both eye-opening and polarizing. It is a privilege.
If you are not jumping out of bed pumped about what you’re about to do in your business nearly every day there is a problem.
The problem could be you, but it could likely be your broker as well.
For a broker to succeed and be worthy of their position, they need to constantly be uplifting, driving, educating and stimulating you. If your business is on autopilot then you’re now reaching your full potential.
This may not be the reason to immediately leave like some of the others in this article but it is at least cause for a conversation with your broker. You should at least sit down and together take a hard and honest look at why you feel this way and if your current broker is truly the right person to turn this around and set you back on fire.
Are They Asking The Right Questions?
I became a GM at just 16 years old. One of the few things that I got right about my position of power at that young age was to encourage questions. It is so much better to ask questions than to jump in blind and create a catastrophe for yourself and everyone else around you to suffer.
Now, if you’re an agent reading this it is because you are asking important questions. However, you need to make sure that your broker or potential broker is as well.
Just like agents make major mistakes, so do brokers. One of the biggest traps brokers fall into is thinking that they need to recruit as many agents as they can. The truth is that they should be focusing on quality over quantity.
A broker that is over eager to recruit you rather than being very guarded about allowing you to join their team is a very bad sign. Any successful broker with a strong team should make it a top priority to protect that team and therefore would be leary to invite in an agent that would be a bad fit and cancerous.
No matter where you are in your career, you need to ask your potential and current brokers why they value you and why they feel you belong with their team. Make sure your ideal clients and brand are in alignment with theirs.
If a broker doesn’t have the balls to ask you the tough questions from day one and beyond, you need to reexamine your relationship with them.
Are You Trading Time For Dollars?
There are so many ways for you to make money as a real estate agent and contrary to popular belief you do not have to trade your time for every dollar you make.
While I won’t go into splits, I will say there are other ways for a broker to help you grow financially. Still, that isn’t even my main point with this one.
My point is that there are many strategic ways for you to make passive income as an agent and if your broker isn’t educating and empowering you in this way, there is a problem. It could be that they don’t know about them. It could be they are too lazy to educate you. It could also be that they are afraid they will cost them money.
The reason doesn’t matter as much as the fact that this is a sign they aren’t operating in the team’s best interest. Can you say red flag?
Are They Giving You Content And A Website?
This one is huge.
I can’t stress enough that some of the biggest brokerages in the world are either oblivious to this or willingly tricking you. It is one of the two.
Now that tech has become such a priority and agents are aware of the importance of having a website and blog, the bigger national brokers (KW, ReMax, etc.) started to offer to give you all a “website” and maybe even a blog.
There are several MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR problems with this:
The broker actually owns that website so even if you have the capability to add content to that site, they own it which is a very valuable asset. You can’t take that content when you go but in the meantime, you’re working to build a site that only makes your broker richer without doing anything for you.
Any website, page, or blog post that has been copied or reused is DANGEROUS and WORTHLESS. Since more and more people understand that they must have a blog but don’t know how or want to write them the brokers supply agents with these generic posts that are given to millions of other agents. Not only do these posts force Google to prevent people from showing up on your website due to SEO algorithms, but they do absolutely nothing to help you grow.
Since you’re going to keep switching brokerages, you need an independent website with completely original content that you can own and take with you forever. Oh and guess what?! If you do make the content and your website a priority, you can sell it for six or seven figures when you retire. In fact, I have had people hire me to write their content primarily to invest in their site as their retirement plan.
The biggest point here is that if your broker is either encouraging you to use the website or content they supply, they are either accidentally or maliciously holding you back.
What Is Your Biggest Concern About Choosing The Right Broker?
I don’t do this often but this time I want to turn it back over to you. Having read all of this, what questions do you have about assessing a broker? Aside from splits, what are your concerns? What did you read here that struck a chord with you and why? Please leave a comment or reach out to me on whatever platform you’re reading this on. Oh and don't forget the #BestRealEstateWriter so I see it ; )