You passed your licensing exam- now what?!
You completed all your classes. You waited in anticipation for your exam date to come. You braced while waiting for the results to be handed to you- you passed! You race out of the testing center to let everyone know your success. But now what? There is a plethora of information available to new agents and the following information was gathered with the hopes of setting you on the right track to a successful real estate career.
Once you have done the work of passing your exam, one of the first crucial steps is to find a broker to sponsor you. Often times, you can actually secure this step during your pre licensing course and even prior to passing your exam. This step is major in setting your path to success in real estate. It is important for you to research local brokerages and take the opportunity to meet with as many brokers and owners as possible; remember, you are interviewing them for the right fit just as much as they are interviewing you. Some items to think about when interviewing with a company is the local and national reputation of the brokerage, the type of agent and office environment they are seeking, growth potential and other benefits.
As a brand new agent, commission structure is important. Many brokerages will offer similar compensations and typically start at similar splits, some offering percentage increases after so many transactions or sales dollars while others will cap your contribution at a certain dollar amount. Your commission structure is negotiable and you can’t be afraid to ask for an increase as your production increases and you start to grow your business. In addition to your split, most brokers charge a fee per closing to cover your Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance. Larger, corporate brokerages may also charge an additional percentage off of your percent of the split that will be paid to corporate. It is important when interviewing to ask questions about every item you will see deducted to get a true idea of what your take home will roughly be on each transaction. While commission is an important aspect of finding the perfect brokerage, don’t allow it to be the only thing that guides your decision. The other aspects of support a brokerage offers can far surpass what you may make in a small commission percentage difference. One company may offer a 5% higher split but they have no training or technology support. The money you will spend on a monthly basis for training and technology could far surpass that 5% which you will only be receiving upon a successful closing. Let’s take a look at some of those other factors you want to focus on in a brokerage.
As an agent brand new to the industry, training should always be top of mind as you search where to hang your license. Certain brokerages do an excellent job of providing the training resources that you will need as a new agent such as small group training, one on one couching, weekly or monthly team meetings and much more. While some agents can be successful without the additional support, it’s important for you to determine if you feel you can navigate these new waters on your own or if you are the type of person who thrives being educated and working with others. That is a large deciding factor with which brokerage you will end up with. As my broker often says, “you don’t know what you don’t know” and it can be beneficial to have people around you who do!
Technology has increasingly affected the real estate industry but it has become the backbone for much success and growth during these recently challenging times. Technology is a key factor in growing your business and whatever brokerage you choose to join you need to make sure that they are up-to-date and willing to continue to advance the resources available to you as an agent. The costs can add up when you start investing in many of the tools you will use constantly including but not limited to; MLS dues (perhaps multiple states if you work across bordering states), social media marketing tools, marketing design tools, eSignature services CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools and many others. If your broker is able to provide this to you as a perk, it is definitely something to take in to consideration as there can be heavy cost out of pocket for these tools.
Some other startup expenses that you may not think of right away include your license fees, local, state and national dues, business cards, signs and posts for listings, riders for those posts for the various stages of a transaction, name tags or other “swag” that allow you to market yourself while on appointments, costs towards flyers and mailers should you choose to farm to any neighborhoods and these are just a few costs to name. Some brokerages absorb some of this cost for you whether it be providing the signs and posts while you buy the riders, covering the cost of an initial amount of business cards and even getting you some office swag to help you to hit the ground running. All of these items are costs to business that can add up relatively quickly so it can be essential to budget these costs up front as you prepare to get your license.
As a new agent, you assume everyone you know who will be buying or selling real estate will go through you, especially family. But often times that is far from the truth. It is more common than not that a family member will know multiple realtors and use someone else. Agents often hear that someone they know bought or sold with another agent just because they didn’t realize you were a realtor! While this folds in to being top of mind with your database and sphere of influence, it is a sharp reminder that we have to be able to procure leads outside of the family and friends that we have. This is another aspect where your brokerage comes in to play- do they provide any leads within the office? Are they marketing you any specific way to help drive leads towards new agents? Are there referral programs within the office for being the procuring agent or working as a showing agent for other members of the team? While you are building your foundation in real estate you will often be helping members of your office and each office culture handles if there is compensation for this assistance differently. Some offices have systems in place while others have grey area. This can cost you a lot of time with little compensation as a result. Just because you are a new agent doesn’t mean that your time isn’t worth compensating, so don’t be afraid to advocate for that.
We all have to walk before we can run and that is the same thing when you are starting off on your real estate career. Once you have landed yourself amongst a brokerage that will allow you to thrive, you have to get to work! Reach out to members of your office asking if you can tag along on any appointments or cover open houses for them. Covering open houses is a great way for new agents to build their database as often times the listing agent allows the covering agent to keep all of the leads they procure at that open house. Start building a database of everyone you know and spread the word- sometimes clients come from the least expected areas of your life and they end up being clients for a lifetime. Follow up is essential, especially with technology. When people reach out, make sure to follow up right away and keep them on your radar. They might not purchase this month or this year, but if you are top of mind they will remember you when they do make the decision to make a move in real estate. There are also various organizations around depending on where you are licensed so find one that speaks to you and get involved- this is one of the best ways to build your business, confidence and create a network of reliable vendors. Numerous resources are available to you through your state, local and national associations so make sure to reach out and attend events whether they are in person or virtual. One of the biggest pros to this pandemic has be the pivoting of many in person events to virtual events which allows much more accessibility at a much lower cost. Make sure to continue to educate yourself through classes at your local board, online and through these virtual events.
Often times we think that working where a friend works or for a big name company will allow us to be successful in the real estate industry, but that isn’t always the case. Perform due diligence on your behalf just as you would on behalf of a client. Don’t be intimidated to ask a lot of questions. Find your broker, set your budget of incomes and expenses, stay involved in the community and start selling! One of the greatest advantages of being a realtor is controlling your destiny so with every up and down, make sure to enjoy the journey. If you are thinking about getting your real estate license and want to know more, please feel free to reach out to me- I am thrilled to help anyone take the plunge in to a new career in real estate.
Rhode Island Association of Realtors:
Massachusetts Real Estate Licensing:
National Association of Realtors:
Ashley Almeida, Realtor