What Are The Best Brokerages for New Agents?

February 15, 2022
Family,Couple,Consultations,With,A,Lawyer,Or,Insurance,Agent.,Law

The first few years of your real estate career are incredibly important. It’s when you’ll be able to put your new skills to the test and see if being a real estate agent is the right fit for you. And the brokerage or team you join after getting your real estate license can have a giant impact on your budding career.

For example, it’s where you’ll make your first connections with other real estate professionals. You’ll also learn tips and tricks you’ll keep with you for the rest of your career. And the habits you form while there (both good and bad) will impact how successful your real estate business will be—even after you leave the firm. 

So it’s crucial to choose a brokerage that will give you room to grow in a positive and energizing environment. The only hitch is that there are over 90,000 brokerages in the U.S. That’s a pretty big field to pick from. But before you start panic-Googling whatever comes to mind, take a moment to cut that field in half. You can do this by figuring out what type of brokerage or team is the best fit for you. 

IMPORTANT: If you already have real estate experience under your belt, you should check out our guide, Best Real Estate Companies to Work For.

First, decide if you want to work for a traditional brokerage with access to offices, equipment, etc. Some agents like the interaction that a traditional office space provides, so they tend to go for brokerages like Keller Williams, RE/MAX, or Coldwell Banker. These brokerages often have some sort of training class when new agents join to help them learn the ropes. 

Other agents however, enjoy the flexibility of working for a virtual brokerage. This allows agents to have more freedom without having to worry about competing agents looking over their shoulder. There are also fewer fees associated with more modern, virtual brokerages. Because of these benefits, more and more agents are making the switch to Fathom Realty, eXp Realty, and Real (Real Broker)

This article goes over the pros, cons, and ‘best fit’ for the three main type of organizations new real estate agents should consider: 

  • National brokerages
  • Local firms 
  • Real estate teams

3 Things to Consider As You Evaluate Your Options

getting a real estate licenseAs you learn more about different types of real estate firms and teams below, keep these three questions in mind. They will help you critically evaluate if a national brokerage, local firm, or real estate team is the right choice for you. 

1. What are your short-term and long-term goals? 

When you are still getting your real estate license and before you even start searching for your first brokerage, ask yourself what your career and personal goals are. You might have slightly different short-term and long-term goals. Or, your goals might support and build on one another. 

For example, are you looking to start out somewhere you can get hands-on experience working next to a seasoned agent? Do you want to play an active role in shaping the future of the brokerage you join? Does the brand of the real estate firm matter a lot to you, or would you prefer to be with a firm where you can stand out? 

All of these are great questions to ask to help get a better idea of what your business goals are. 

Personal goals are usually tied to the type of commission you can expect at different brokerages. It’s best to have a good idea of how much and how fast you’ll be able to make money before joining a firm or real estate team. Ask yourself if you want to prioritize the size of the commission, or how quickly you can get paid. When you’re just starting out, you often can’t focus on both at the same time. 

2. What can the brokerage offer YOU? 

woman working in coffee shopAs you research different brokerages and real estate teams, make sure to consider what the organization can offer you. 

Things like training, mentorship opportunities, and networking with fellow real estate professionals are invaluable for new agents. There are also a bunch of real estate software tools (e.g. CRM and lead generation) that can help make your job easier. Some firms also offer more in the way of business support and marketing materials. For example, certain brokerages may offer discounts on things like office supplies and tech. 

Brand recognition can carry a lot of weight too. There will be customers who feel more comfortable working with an established real estate firm rather than taking a chance with a smaller brokerage. Even though you’re the one who’s going to be doing the daily grind, think about what the brokerage can offer you. 

3. What do peer reviews say about the firm? 

counting moneyNo brokerage website is going to give you as much insight as a first-hand experience will. And since you’re searching for your first brokerage, reviews from fellow real estate agents are the closest you can get. 

Reviews from AgentAdvice.com or Glassdoor are great places to look for authentic reviews from other real estate professionals. For example, feedback from reviewers can let you know what types of resources a brokerage provides for new agents. 

Some brokerages may also be a better fit for more experienced agents, or agents that prefer selling in a specialty market (e.g. international or luxury properties). Here are some examples of reviews from real estate agents and their experience at different brokerages: 

I enjoy being with eXp! I love the comradery, the cloud-based business model, their revenue share model, and access to work from anywhere with a computer and internet access. They also have weekly meetings and pieces of training, which is useful, especially for new agents.” 

~ Anthony R. | eXp Realty Reviews

Only apply if you have experience, because they only hire the best of the best. My broker doesn’t hire new agents. Compass leads the rest of the real estate world in technology and vision.” 

~ Roy B. | Compass Reviews

“Everyone has good things to say about the Coldwell Banker brand. The training given to new agents wasn’t extensive. And when you are just getting started, there are so many tools it is overwhelming. I am sure the tools are more useful if you have been in real estate for years but when you are new it is just too much.”

~ Anonymous Agent | Coldwell Banker Reviews

The training is good if you are a new real estate agent. Good communication from team leads. I am on a 70/30 split and pay about $70 a month in fees.”

~ Leesa G. | Keller Williams Reviews

 

National BrokeragesMultiracial,Meeting,With,Foreign,Sponsors.,Company,Studing,Finance

If you’re interested in working with a firm that has a strong brand and large network of real estate professionals, consider national brokerages.

Pros 

There are a handful of key pros that national brands can offer newbie real estate agents. The most obvious is the reputation that comes with the national name. This is especially important for new agents just starting their careers. For new agents that don’t have a few years of experience under their belt, a strong brand can lend needed credibility with future clients. It can be nice to have a national name backing up your personal reputation while you work on building up your own brand. 

National firms also provide new agents with the opportunity to socialize with other successful real estate professionals. And you’ll be able to learn a lot from watching them run their own real estate business. 

Excellent training classes and access to a giant network of national professionals are two other perks of working with a national brokerage. Access to more and better real estate technology tools is a plus too. For example, many national brands may offer online marketing and website building tools to help you get your own business started. 

Cons 

However, there are a few potential negatives that come along with working with a national brokerage. One of the biggest drawbacks is that it can be hard to stand out at a national firm and make a name for yourself. 

New agents may not get much in the way of new leads either, at least at first. As a new agent, you should think about this carefully. Most new real estate agents need to put in a lot of time making cold calls and doing other lead generation activities. It can take months for new agents to make a sale. So any leads from your brokerage can make a big difference. 

While there tend to be great training courses for new real estate agents offered at national brokerages, the hands-on experience isn’t always the best. There’s usually not much hand-holding in terms of figuring out how to successfully generate new business. 

Best fit for you

National firms aren’t for everyone. But they might be a good fit for you if you’re extremely self-motivated and don’t mind the competition that comes along with being one of many new agents at a national firm. 

Or maybe you’re confident you can make your future customers happy and are looking for some national brand credibility to help you book meetings. If this sounds like you, a national brokerage might be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you would prefer to work closely under the guidance of a veteran real estate professional for a few years, a local firm may be more up your alley. Or if you are looking to learn the ropes when it comes to real estate investing, then it’s best to explore other options. 

Best National Brokerages to Work For:

Keller Williams keller-williams-logo

Agent Split: 70%
Fees: $50

Keller Williams began franchising in 1991 and has since become the largest real estate agency based on agent count. They have offices all over the world.

The company works to develop interdependent relationships with their agents. They believe that a successful relationship is based on the strength of both the agents and the company itself. They thrive on a culture that puts God and family first and business second.

They also have a profiteer program that allows agents to bring in additional income by recruiting agents to the company. They are known for providing excellent training and they have established a reputation as thought leaders in the industry.

Though most agents reported having a good experience working with the company, others complained that they felt pressured to pay for training. Some also mentioned that they wished they were provided with more leads.

Keller Williams Training: 

Keller Williams University is a portal of real estate courses that are available to KW agents at any level. The courses offered by KW University cover all the information about the real estate business. These award winning real estate courses are updated on a regular basis to deliver accurate information to the agents and help them master the market of the moment. 

Through the Keller Williams University courses, agents will receive the most honest and the most accurate outlook of the current economy of the real estate business and help agents to thrive in the market no matter how bad the economic situation is.

The courses offered by Keller Williams University are designed to teach agents about the systems and methods that are used by every successful agent in the real estate industry. They updated frequently to offer the most honest reviews about how the industry is at this particular time. 

Keller Williams Company Culture: 

Keller Williams’s rapid growth and success (even during the housing crash of 2008) has resulted from the excellent leadership and company culture.  It borrows from the dependent real estate brokerage model (business-oriented with low-splits), and the independent flat-fee brokerage model (client-oriented with high-splits) to create an interdependent relationship that fosters the mutual benefit of both parties.

At the heart of the franchise is a code of shared beliefs and values. “God and family first, then business.” This set of shared value is called WI4C2TS:

  • Win-Win or no deal for mutual benefits.
  • Integrity
  • Customer-first approach.
  • Commitment is expected in everything. For instance, agents are encouraged to work full time.
  • Communications focused on seeking understanding.
  • Creativity is encouraged as ideas are seen to bring results.
  • Teamwork which entails people working together to create more results.
  • Trust solidified by honesty.
  • Success sought from making agents more productive.

Keller-Williams-Logo-historyKeller Williams Branding: 

Keller Williams has a very recognizable brand now, but they haven’t always. They got rid of the curly cursive “KW” in 2013 in hopes of creating an easier to read brand for flyers and open house signs. Though their branding isn’t groundbreaking or even than exciting , their relatively conservative brand guidelines make it easy for agents to apply to their individual or team marketing.

As the years go on, agents are getting more creative about how they can transform the KW brand to fit their needs. 

Keller Williams ProsKeller Williams Cons
Training offered at all levelsNo flexibility in commission splits
Positive company cultureLots of pressure to recruit new agents
Commission + Profit-sharing revenue company wideAdditional fees can add up

 

RE/MAXReMax Logo

Agent Split: 95%
Fees: $400

ReMax is a real estate company that believes it differentiates itself from the competition. It focuses on providing excellent service and building trust.

The company advertises its agents as having more experience than the average agent as well as the ability to go above and beyond. Their global reach into 100 countries means they have more international buyers interested in relocation.

ReMax provides its agents with several training and technology opportunities including customized curriculum that allows them to create marketing videos that can be easily shared on social media.

Agents that have worked for ReMax say the company offers exceptional training along with a great reputation and a solid infrastructure. However, many mentioned that it was more suited to experienced agents as opposed to those just starting out.

RE/MAX Training:

Launched in 2007, RE/MAX University is the go-to learning resource for agents, brokers, and owners. It is a continuation of the Re/Max Satellite Network (RSN). New real estate license holders can access content from anywhere and 24/7. Additionally, there is an innovative tool called the “My Ru Trax” that allows learners to custom build their curriculum based on their needs. More complementary learning resources include webinars and exclusive talks from renowned speakers. Re/Max also offers designations & certification programs.

RE/MAX Company Culture:

By focusing on their agents, RE/MAX has grown their company, market share, and national presence substantially. The brokerage works tirelessly to be recognized as a premier graduate school for real estate professionals, creating an environment that is positive, ethical, professional, cheerful, and energetic.

remax_logo_before_afterRE/MAX Branding: 

“Above the crowd” is RE/MAX’s way of differentiating itself from the competition. And the franchise has built its brand image by focusing on quality services, creating trust, and ensuring that buyers associate its brand assets, most importantly the Blue, White & Red Hot Air Balloon with real estate. 

RE/MAX agents are presented to buyers —often in national ads — as being more experienced & going beyond what’s expected of them. Their ability to find international buyers is also highlighted thanks to the brand’s global reach of 110 countries. Another talking point you’ll often hear frequently is that Re/Max agents outsell everyone else. Of course, this can significantly vary by office.

Strong brand name aside, RE/MAX does a good job of providing the tools and resources needed to run your business. 

RE/MAX ProsRE/MAX Cons
Strong leadershipDesk fees are monthly
Flexible commission splits for experienced agentsBrand restrictions
Very recognizable brandTraining is limited

 

Century 21Century 21 logo

Agent Split: 50%
Fees: $50

Century 21 was founded in 1971 and has thousands of independently owned and operated franchised broker offices around the world. They claim to have a scale and reputation to lead the real estate industry into the future.

The agency is known for sharing knowledge with their agents. The people in their offices work as whole and guide each other when it is necessary. They provide their employees with excellent tools and training.

Workers that had anything negative to say about the company claimed that some of the training programs required expensive fees. They also said that they weren’t getting a high enough commission split.

Century 21 Training: 

Everyone receives ongoing training at Century 21, including associates, managers, and brokers. Additionally, Century 21 University has numerous courses available online and in class. Associates can attend webinars and receive certifications & designations from the NAR thanks to accredited courses.

Century 21 Company Culture: 

Insights gleaned from Indeed.com reveal that the typical agent spends their time at the office or in the field showing homes. Agents also have the flexibility of working from home or part-time

The atmosphere at Century 21 has been dubbed both “competitive and challenging.” 

Some of the pros of working at Century 21 include: 

  • The chance to work and learn from other agents. 
  • Brand recognition. 
  • Good training programs. 
  • Lots of tools and amazing support staff
  • Friendly and supportive atmosphere. 
  • Good management. 

There are also drawbacks of working at Century 21. For instance, some agents complain about not receiving salary or healthcare benefits. That said, this is the typical practice at competitor brokerages as well, where compensation is wholly commission based. 

Screen_Shot_2018-03-15_at_8.42.06_AM.originalCentury 21 Branding: 

Century 21 has been focusing on rebranding for a number of years. They are ditching their old, traditional black and yellow logo and taking on a new, sleeker approach. The new brand features modern lines and letters in gold, however, agents and teams can still choose between gold and black lettering. 

The company moved to this more timeless approach to be more adaptable. They say with the new, cleaner design agents can create business cards and flyers that better fit their brand. 

Century 21 ProsCentury 21 Cons
Great social media presence No healthcare benefits
Good training programsMediocre training programs
Recognizable, sleek brandingNo company-lead lead generation options

 

eXp Realty exp realty logo

Agent Split: 80%
Fees: $85

eXp was founded right after the Great Recession of 2008. It was created as a cloud-based program with lower overhead that could thrive in that economy. It allowed brokers and agents to move their real estate practices to a 100% online format.

The low cost of operating results in no desk fees for agents, no franchise fees and high commission splits. They have a revenue sharing plan for agents interested in investing in company stock. Agents can also log into a virtual program for training resources and to network with other agents, attend meetings and interact with staff.

However, if you are not tech savvy, you do not have to engage in the online platform and you will still be able to take advantage of eXp’s lower fees and higher splits.

Agents who work for eXp have said positive things about the company’s technology and training opportunities. Others say they miss the interaction that comes with a traditional office setting.

Need more information on where to start as a new agent? Check our our guide for new agents for more info.

eXp Realty Training: 

At eXp, you can go to the Cloud, and it will take you right to the eXp calendar. There, they offer training classes on anything from scripting, to how to sell a hundred properties a year using YouTube SkySlope. There are classes listed for basic training, attracting agents through your mission statement, goal setting for agents, farming on a budget, real estate fundamentals, advanced training real estate business planning, and so many others topics. There are dozens each and every day, so it’s easy to hop on and see what makes the most sense for you. 

eXp Realty Company Culture: 

The interesting thing about eXp, is that you have healthcare through Clearwater Healthcare and benefits, a very robust healthcare benefits provider. So if you don’t have health care they’re going to provide really good options for you. 

There’s also something called Express Offers. eXp essentially has investors in most states of the United States, so you can sit in front of a seller and have the ability to entice them by letting them know that you can bring them a cash offer. This gives eXp agents a greater ability to compete with the buyer. So eXp has created a digital brokerage model where you have a nice capping model, you can have rev share, you have the option to earn stock, but then you also have the ability to go out and make cash offers to attract sellers, which is kind of cool.

eXp Realty Branding: 

exp logoeXp understands that not every agent will want to use the company logo prominently.  Some may be intent on building their own brand and may want to stick with a logo they have used in the past.

If this is the case, it’s totally fine. As a matter of fact, eXp provides agents with marketing materials and resources that make creating their own brand as easy as possible. With a few clicks of the mouse, they can personalize their choice of hundreds of marketing templates, no design skills necessary.

eXp has a strong branding voice. Agents can put their best foot forward by using the current eXp logo or one they create for their personal brand. This is part of why the company, and the agents that work for them, stand out from the crowd.

eXp Realty ProseXp Realty Cons
Extensive video training libraryHeavy focus on recruiting
Commission structure that fits new and old agentsEverything is done digitally
Access to benefitsNo brick and mortar office locations

 

Coldwell Banker coldwell banker

Agent Split: 60%
Fees: $50

Coldwell Banker is a franchise brokerage founded in 1906. It has independently owned and operated branches. The agency has strong brand recognition and offer agents support and training.

The company prides themselves on loving people. They value excellence and honor workers with the ability to see possibilities despite obstacles.

Unlike other companies in the industry who describe themselves as ‘tech firms’, Coldwell describes itself as a real estate company. However, they still supply their agents with state-of-the-art technology including personal web sites and CRN systems that help agents located buyers.

Agents that have worked with Coldwell Banker say the company has a great reputation and provides excellent training and a caring environment. Others say it can improve in its ability to support real estate teams in their offices.

Coldwell Banker Training:

Coldwell Banker is known for bringing many new associates on board. They offer many training opportunities to sharpen the agents’ business skills with up to 13,000 clock hours allocated yearly. Courses are reviewed periodically to keep pace with the changing world of real estate. 

Examples of their training opportunities & programs include: 

  • Coldwell Banker AMP: “AMP” stands for Accelerated Marketing Partners and seeks to boost the productivity of new agents quickly. 
  • The Coldwell Banker University boasts of experienced instructors with courses offered online and in-person. 
  • Coldwell Banker Bain: Features certified real estate programs taught by 25 certified instructors.
  • Coldwell Banker Mentor Program:  Most offices provide in-house mentoring whereby experienced associates take new agents under their wing.

Coldwell Banker Company Culture:

Coldwell Banker prides itself on loving people. It also values excellence with a special significance placed on its “true blue” color.  According to Coldwell Banker, it denotes an endless sea and vast sky showing the company’s practice of seeing possibilities despite obstacles.

CB’s recognizes the importance of connections in real estate. They organize Gen Blue events that bring together agents, brokers, and managers annually.

Coldwell Banker is conscious of the fact that real estate is a woman’s world based on agent count. And has identified that women are underrepresented when it comes to ownership. That’s why they are making strides to have more women in ownership and broker positions. The brand won the Women’s Choice Award® in 2018.

Coldwell Banker has a strong reputation in the industry, and the brand is respected internationally. 

northstar logoColdwell Banker Branding: 

Coldwell Banker is changing its logo after nearly 40 years, and adopting a fresh mission.

The brand will incorporate input from the network in the process of the rebrand, dubbed “Project North Star.”

In 2020, the company started slowly rolling out their new logo which featured their letters “CB” and a white star in the right corner. CB is very proud of their new rollout, even though it has been slower than they initially expected. 

Because the company wants consistency across the board, the branding is less flexible than what you’ll find at other companies. 

Coldwell Banker ProsColdwell Banker Cons
Successful new agent programsVery few lead gen options
Impressive company events and conferencesFees aren't always consistent
Recognizable brandNo incentives for teams

 

 

Local Firms 

Local, or boutique, brokerages are another great option to consider. These types of firms operate either locally or regionally and tend to have smaller offices. Compared to national firms, boutique real estate brokerages are more specialized to meet the needs of the local market. 

Pros 

woman studyingLocal firms have a few distinct advantages over national franchise brokerages. If you’re a new real estate agent wondering if a local brokerage is the right choice for you, consider these factors. 

Since the firm is local, it may have a stronger relationship with local clients and real-estate-adjacent businesses. Another big benefit of working with a boutique brokerage is the individual attention and help you’ll receive. 

As a new agent, one of the most important things to consider is what type of mentorship opportunities are available at your brokerage. Since they have smaller offices with fewer agents, there’s usually more room for more experienced real estate agents to take a new agent under their wing. Mentors often have more time to devote to showing new agents the ropes and offer advice and consultation than real estate agents at larger brokerages do. 

There are also fewer agents to distribute leads to at local firms. Meaning new agents also have a better chance of winning some brokerage-generated leads than you would at a national firm.

Cons 

But there are a few cons to be aware of if you’re considering joining a local brokerage. 

The biggest drawback is that local firms don’t have the brand recognition that most national firms do. This is especially important to consider since It can be difficult enough already for new agents to land a deal. There might also be fewer networking opportunities than there are at national firms. But there are plenty of other networking opportunities you can seek out as well. 

Local brokerages tend to not have as much or not as advanced technology as larger firms do. This isn’t a problem for all agents. But if you’re hoping to make your lead generation process as efficient as possible, ask about the types of tools your new brokerage uses. 

Smaller firms might also have less online traffic, less recognition outside of the local area, and smaller marketing budgets. 

Best fit for you

woman thinkingKeeping all the pros and cons in mind, local brokerages can be a great fit for some new agents. If you want to spend quality time with a mentor learning the ropes, a smaller firm might be right for you. 

There can also be more of a feeling of camaraderie within smaller offices. Agents may be more willing to help each other out, and there’s definitely less competition for office-generated leads than there is at national firms. If you’re looking for a more welcoming and less stressful environment, a local brokerage might be a great fit. 

Real Estate Teams 

A real estate team is another great option for new agents to consider. Teams are typically made up of an experienced, successful agent who leads the team. They typically have a handful of newer agents working under them. You can find these teams at both local and national brokerages. 

Pros 

real estate instructor teaching students

You will still be associated with either a local or national brokerage if you’re working as part of a real estate team. However, being on a team comes with a few key benefits that you won’t find if you work by yourself. 

The biggest advantage to working on a team is access to more and higher quality leads. As part of the team, you’ll share in a small piece of the commission from deals the team lands. This can be a great way for new agents to start making money faster. If this is one of your personal or career goals, consider joining a team. 

Joining a team can also be a great option for new agents because you’ll have more support than if you were working alone. For example, you’ll have access to a whole team of mentors willing to teach you how to run a successful real estate business. Teams can be great for new agents that are either struggling to find new business or very budget-conscious. 

Cons

One of the main cons of working on a team is related to how quickly you’ll get new leads. Teams often feed new agents more leads, but you’ll receive a smaller portion of the commission because of the structure of the team. Since there are multiple agents involved in deals, the commission needs to be split in multiple ways. 

So working on a team means faster but smaller commission checks. Essentially, agents trade working on their own business and brand in return for better lead generation capability. 

Best fit for you

Joining a real estate team at either a local or national brokerage can be a great fit for newbie agents. If you’re concerned about how quickly you’ll be able to start making money, joining a team may be the right call. New agents that are hungry for new experience but that also want to learn from seasoned real estate agents would be well served by a team. 

But if you want to pour your heart and soul into building up your own brand as soon as you start, a team likely isn’t the best fit for you. 

What’s Next? 

studying for licensing examAfter you’ve considered all the pros and cons, done your own research, and talked with a few brokerages—it’s time to make your decision. Is a national brokerage, local firm, or real estate team the best fit for you? 

Once you have your answer, make sure to consult peer reviews to find out if your dream brokerage is all it’s cracked up to be. AgentAdvice.com has brokerage reviews from real estate agents across the country about their experience at different firms. Find reviews of some of the most popular real estate firms here: 

After reading through some first-hand experiences, make a shortlist of your top 2 – 3 brokerages and start making some calls! You should set up meetings with each of your top choices to ask more questions about: 

  • how the firm handles commission splits
  • how it distributes office leads
  • what the office culture is like
  • and what mentorship and networking opportunities are available
Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 5/12/2022

Comments

2 comments

    Marco Marquez

    Question: I just passed my State Exam in NJ (was license in FL some years ago). Looking for to join a broker to sale my own home, represent myself and safe (as much as I can) of the sales commission. Any suggestions in what firm should I target?
    Thanks

    Jenny L.

    As you're just getting started, I'd highly suggest that you should join a team. Even if it's at a virtual brokerage like Fathom or EXP, the best way to learn is by doing, and surrounding yourself with winners, and doing what they do. Just my 2 cents.

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