6 Signs It’s Time To Find a New Real Estate Brokerage

According to statistics from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), switching real estate brokerages is more common than it used to be. In 2013, the average time a real estate agent would spend at a firm was 7 years. As of 2019, it’s down to 4 years. 

Almost 90% of realtors are independent contractors, making it easier for them to switch real estate brokerages. So if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking ‘should I switch brokerages…?’—you’re not alone. 

Associate Broker at eXp Realty Devin Doherty identifies a ‘status quo mindset’ as key reason many real estate agents he’s talked with want to leave their current brokerage:

“What I’ve observed is a lot of agents making switches to get away from a person or a way of doing business. So one of the things that causes people to move brokerages is that they run into a fixed mindset, or old school thinking.” 

This fixed mindset can be related to financial compliance and pay, opportunities for business support, or cultural fit. Things like an unfair commission split, not getting along well with your coworkers, or little support for your own business can motivate REALTORS® to switch brokerages. 

Maybe you’ve been at your brokerage for a while and feel like you’re in a rut. Or maybe you’ve only been there for a short amount of time but don’t feel adequately supported. Whatever your situation, here are six warning signs to be on the lookout for. If you’re experiencing more than one of them, it might be time to consider switching brokerages. 

  1. Unattractive Financial Deal
  2. Lack of a Cultural Fit
  3. Poor Firm Leadership
  4. Little Business Support 
  5. Few Training and Education Resources
  6. Little Opportunity for Growth

Questions to Ask When Changing Real Estate Brokerages

Before jumping ship, ask yourself 10 questions to figure out why you want to switch brokerages.  

  1. Are my motivations for leaving related to finances? For example, an unfair commission split, or too many extra fees. 
  2. Is the company culture not a good fit? 
  3. Are you unhappy with the direction firm leadership is heading? 
  4. Do you feel like you have enough support for your own business? For example, marketing and promotional materials, and affiliate businesses you can work with.
  5. Does your brokerage provide you with enough training and educational resources?
  6. Does it feel like you’re settling for a ‘good enough’ brokerage?  
  7. Is switching brokerages a practical decision for your business, or are you being persuaded by a recruiter from another firm? 
  8. As an independent real estate agent or REALTOR®, are you ready to take your personal brand elsewhere? 
  9. Logistically speaking, can your business handle the move? 
  10. Do you have a list of other brokerages you’d be happy to switch to? 

If you’re interested in switching real estate brokerages, the first step is pinpointing the key reasons you want to leave. This will help you better understand your motivations for leaving and identify what you should look for in a new brokerage. 

To help real estate agents figure out if they should change brokerages, here are 6 signs that it’s time for you to move on. See which ones ring true for you:

  1. Unattractive Financial Deal

One common reason real estate agents leave their brokerage is because of a non-ideal financial package. For example, does your commission split seem unfair given how many years of experience you have? Have you been working at the same firm for many years but still have a 60/40 split? If so, you might want to consider other options. 

Some firms don’t have commission splits at all, but have a flat transaction fee (e.g. $500) per deal instead. This may be a better fit for new real estate agents that are looking to get a few years of experience under their belt. Before leaving your current brokerage, make sure to research different compensation models. This will help you find the brokerage with the best model for your business. 

Depending on your own financial goals, having the opportunity to earn passive income while at your brokerage can be just as important. Make sure to watchout for financial deals that sound great in the short-term, but not in the long term. For example, you may be able to get a 90/10 split, but have little or no opportunity to earn passive income through stock or revenue options. Don’t forget to plan for the future while looking for a new brokerage. 

For Devin Doherty, an attractive financial deal is a big part of what made him choose the EXP platform: 

“I landed on the platform of EXP because of the fact that I have the ability to help anyone I know in the world of real estate get that same deal that I got. They get an 80/20 split with a $16,000 cap, tons of training and services and virtual platforms. They also get stock options and the ability to have revenue share – so you effectively become part of the brokerage.”

If you have your eye on a few local brokerages but aren’t sure which one to join, check out AgentAdvice’s brokerage reviews. There are over 90,000 brokerages in the U.S., so finding the right one can be tricky. Reviews written by fellow REALTORS® can help you identify what your top choice should be. 

  1. Lack of a Cultural Fit

Another non-financial reason many agents and REALTORS® feel the need to leave their brokerage is because of lack of a cultural fit.  If you’ve been with your current brokerage for a few years and something just feels off, it may be a cultural issue. Here are a few questions to help you identify if your motivation for leaving is tied to the firm’s culture. 

Does your firm promote an open culture where information, advice, and deals are shared between brokers and agents?  How do they treat their own brokers, real estate agents, and REALTORS®? Does your firm make diversity and being inclusive a priority? Do they have a good relationship with other brokerages in the area? If not, this could mean your brokerage has a toxic culture. 

For Devin Doherty, “the issue of culture falls into a couple different categories: one of them is the culture of productivity, the other is the culture of diversity and inclusiveness. So you need to have a conversation about productivity within the company culture, but you also need to ask yourself ‘do I feel good being part of this [brokerage]’?” 

The relationships your brokerage has with other real estate businesses and its REALTORS® can be revealing. If you feel stressed about going into the office, this might be a sign you need to find a new brokerage. 

Reputation and Flexibility

Other aspects of culture to consider are your firm’s reputation and the amount of flexibility they give you. For example, what do people say about your brokerage? Do they often attract new real estate agents? Or is it a struggle to find agents and REALTORS® that want to be affiliated with the brokerage? 

In terms of flexibility, does your brokerage expect you to be in the office a certain amount of time per week or month? If you prefer working from home or from coffee shops (or anywhere else you feel comfortable that isn’t the office)—do you have the freedom to do this? 

Though finances are often the most important thing to consider when looking for a new brokerage, culture can be just as important. 

  1. Poor Firm Leadership

Poor firm leadership can motivate REALTORS® to find a new brokerage, and it can take many forms. For example, how does the lead broker behave? Are they friendly and transparent about the business? Or are they harder to connect with and don’t value spending time with their agents and REALTORS®? The tone of the business often reflects the actions (and inaction) of the lead broker. 

Other examples of poor leadership to look out for include: 

  • your brokerage doesn’t recognize top performing agents
  • the firm tolerates poor performance
  • it isn’t transparent about their business goals

You should also pay attention to the relationship your brokerage has with your local Board of REALTORS®, how it interacts with the NAR, and what their presence in the marketplace is. For example, do local affiliate businesses and clients consider them a trusted partner? 

If you’re wondering if it’s time to find a new brokerage, here are the leadership red flags to look for:  

  • they don’t put time and effort into connecting with agents
  • they don’t reward agents for excellent performance
  • they don’t have a strong relationship with other industry professionals

  1. Little Business Support

Lack of adequate business support can also drive real estate agents and REALTORS® away. Independent real estate agents run their own business and need access to marketing materials, promotion opportunities, and strong mentorship. Without these things, it can be hard to gain more clients and have a successful business. 

Does your current brokerage have marketing tools and materials you can use to promote your business? Are there affiliate businesses and contractors they have strong relationships with that you can use? 

Brokerages also often provide their agents and REALTORS® with access to important business technology. Examples include DocuSign, customer relationship management systems (CRMs), and lead generation tools. This technology supports real estate agents by helping deals run more smoothly, keeping client information organized, and helping you find new leads. 

The ability to generate high-quality leads is another important aspect of business support. Your brokerage should play an active role in helping source new business for its agents and REALTORS®. Access to lead generation tools makes this even easier. If your firm doesn’t provide you with tools to help you find high-quality leads, it might be time for a change. 

  1. Few Training and Education Resources

Access to training materials and education courses are a key part of your continued success as a real estate agent or REALTOR®. These resources can help you prepare for license renewal exams and apply for specific designations. And if you’re not a REALTOR® already, prep courses and training resources can help get you ready to take the National Association of REALTORS®’s Code of Ethics exam so you can earn the title of ‘REALTOR®’. 

Real estate agents also need to keep a close watch on market information and stats for their local area. Your brokerage can help you access this information and find out how to take advantage of the resources your local Board of REALTORS® provides too. 

Other Education Resources

Looking for more information about the best and most trusted real estate schools? AgentAdvice.com has collected reviews written by practicing real estate agents about different schools. There are reviews from fellow REALTORS® for real estate schools in most states.  

Schools like The CE Shop and Kaplan have courses that can help you prepare for various exams. For example, the NAR’s Code of Ethics exam, license renewals, and earning more designations and certifications. 

  1. Little Opportunity for Growth

Last but not least, make sure your current brokerage can offer you room for growth. This includes support for expanding your business, opportunities to find mentors or become one, and connecting with other industry professionals.

Some real estate agents prefer to be the big fish in a smaller pond, others prefer the opposite. Whatever your preference, make sure your brokerage can give you what you want. Above all else, make sure you’re not settling for a ‘good enough’ brokerage just because you’re scared to leave and see what else is out there. 

Some questions that can help you figure out if there is enough growth potential for you at your current brokerage are: 

Do you see yourself being able to make the amount of income you need over the next few years? 

Do you have the opportunity to earn passive income and grow your personal wealth? 

Is there enough support for your business as it continues to grow? 

Is there room for you to continue learning while becoming a mentor yourself? 

Can you make a name for yourself at your current brokerage and form strong connections? 

What To Know Before Making the Switch 

If at least one of these 6 warning signs describes your current situation, it may be high time for you to find a new brokerage. Once you’ve decided to leave your firm, there are a few things you should be aware of before making the move. 

If you’re hoping to leave your current broker on good terms (which you should!), be prepared for an emotional conversation. This can be even harder if you’ve been with your brokerage for years and have a friendly relationship. But, framing this as a ‘strategic business decision’ rather than an emotional one can help you communicate this. 

Switching brokerages may take a (temporary) toll on your business, at least until you have new promotional materials in place. There may be a gap between when you stop using your old firm’s branding and logos and start using your new ones. This may be confusing for your customers, so reach out to your list of contacts to let them know your switching brokerages.

Another common question real estate agents ask is ‘what happens to my listings?’. For listings that are on the market, you may not be able to take them with you. This is because the parties involved in the right-to-sell contract are the seller and broker. However, your broker may allow you to transfer these listings if the seller agrees to be represented by a new broker. 

Either way, have a conversation with your broker to decide what will happen to your listings. If you’re planning on leaving your brokerage soon, make sure you understand the process of transferring listings across brokerages

How To Leave Your Real Estate Brokerage 

If you’re ready to move on to a new brokerage, here are the next steps. 

  1. Find your new brokerage

First things first, do some research and find a few local brokerages you would like to join. If you’re leaving your current brokerage for a specific reason, make sure your new firm has what you’re looking for. Once you find your ideal brokerage, reach out to them and find out what information they need to help bring you on board. 

Putting in the time to do the research and making sure you’re leaving for well-thought out reasons are two key recommendations from Devin Doherty: 

“Stay in curiosity. Allow yourself to do the research. When I made my transition from independent brokerage to Kellher Williams, I looked at 11 different companies. When I made my transition to EXP, I looked at every single brokerage, every one of them. And that was because I wanted to make sure when I made the change, that I was using an evidential strategy and not just an emotional strategy to make the decision.” 

  1. Talk with your current broker

Once you’ve found a new brokerage you like, it’s time to have ‘the talk’ with your current broker. Think about what you’re going to say ahead of time. This will help you stay calm and rational while having this conversation. This might be an emotional moment if you’ve worked with your broker for a long time. 

  1. Make a plan for listings and transactions

Next, make a plan for how to deal with current listings and transactions. If possible, take care of any current listings or deals in-progress before leaving your current broker. It’s best to make the transition to a new broker at a time where you don’t have any business in progress. If you have live listings and transactions when you need to leave, talk to your current broker about what will happen to these listings. 

  1. Clean out your client data

Most real estate agents and REALTORS® own their client data while working with a brokerage. If you’re using a CRM or other lead generation tools at your current brokerages, download and get rid of any client data you have in their systems. Having this information downloaded will help you easily upload this information at your new brokerage. 

  1. Legally separate from your brokerage

After talking with your current brokerage about wanting to leave, notify your state that you’re switching brokerages. The necessary forms can usually be found on your state’s department of real estate website.

There may also be contract clauses about leaving your current broker in the agreement you signed with them as an independent real estate agent. For example, there may be fees associated with leaving the brokerage. If you’re switching to a new broker that’s in a different area, you’ll also need to join your new regional MLS. 

  1. Update your branding

After leaving your current brokerage, update your branding to remove marketing or promotional materials that reference your old firm. There likely won’t be that much time between leaving your old brokerage and joining a new one. After officially joining your new brokerage, update your marketing materials and email signature to reflect your new firm’s branding. 

  1. Reach out to your contacts

Reach out to all your local contacts to let them know your switching brokerages. This includes past and current customers as well as industry professionals. For example, this means updating affiliate business you do business with and are on good terms with. Letting your customers know that you’re switching brokerages and how they can reach you in the meantime will help ensure your business relationships stay intact. Your clients will also appreciate the transparency!