Top Real Estate Brokerage Reviews

How to pick the best brokerage


With nearly 90,000 real estate brokerage firms in the United States, you have a lot of options. Before you get lost in the massive number of choices, it's important to make sure you're considering all of the most important factors before making your selection. Picking a brokerage is an important choice - and we've outlined the most important considerations here to help make things easier.

What to consider when choosing a brokerage

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you know that your brokerage will not only serve as your employer but should help you grow along with the industry. In 1981, the most common way to find an agent was through word of mouth. Although referrals are still an integral part of the business, agents are now leveraging digital advertising as a supplement to their door knocking and cold calling methods to attract new clients. Millennials now make up nearly 65% of first-time homebuyers, which means that we need to find ways to attract them as clients on platforms that they’re consistently using, such as social media.

One thing to remember as you’re picking a brokerage is that for many of your clients, this could very well be the largest single transaction in their life.  You want a brokerage that can guide you through the process and give you the support you need.

Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the benefits of joining a real estate brokerage, let’s take a look at some of the questions that you should be asking.  The remainder of this page aims to help you get a good handle on these critical factors:

  1. What is the commission split?
  2. What’s the brokerage culture?
  3. Is the brokerage well-reviewed online?
  4. How does the brokerage help you generate leads?
  5. What training or support is included?
  6. What type of real estate brokerage is the right fit?

Since most real estate professionals are paid on a commission basis, it’s essential to understand the structure of the split between the agent and the brokerage. Brokers will typically offer different commission structures, and some may even offer salaried positions. 

If you’re someone that is looking for a consistent paycheck, then it would make sense to opt for a broker that offers a salary. Keep in mind that most brokerages that offer a salary offer a meager salary compared to what you could potentially make in commission. So if you’re hungry to grow and earn, commission is the way to go because, if done right, you can rake in the earnings.

Let’s take a look at how the commission is calculated. Let’s say, the overall commission for a transaction is 5% (2.5% for the buyer’s agent and 1.5% for the seller’s); for a $500,000 sale, as a buyer agent you’d be looking at $12,500 and as a seller agent, $7,500. Now, the commission still gets split one more time between the agent and the broker. If it’s a 60/40 split, you’d be making $7,500 if representing the buyer and $4,500 if representing the seller.

It’s important to negotiate the terms of your commission split when joining the brokerage and bear in mind, different brokerages offer different splits. These are dependent on the services and training they provide you, your market, and the general going rate of other brokerages.

According to NAR, REALTORs® work about 35 hours per week. Although the majority of an agent’s time will be spent with clients, that still leaves a lot of time to be spending with people at the office!

In order to be successful, you want to surround yourself with a team that caters to your needs. Whether it be financial results, support, training, or whatever is important to you from a company culture standpoint, you want to ensure that it’s a culture match. “Brokerage hopping” is something that is frowned upon in the industry, so you want to ensure you do your due diligence before selecting a brokerage, as it can either help you grow in your career or be a reason for hindering your trajectory.

Let’s do a thought experiment here. When’s the last time you visited a restaurant for the first time? What were some of the first few steps you took?

Most people take a look at the restaurant’s reviews and then the menu. Humans are creatures of habit and tend to take a similar approach whenever selecting any new product or service. After all, there are tons of options out there, and we want to pick the one that best suits our needs. 

If a brokerage has terrible reviews, it may not be a great brokerage to work for. Buying a house is a substantial financial investment, and consumers want to make sure that they’ll be well taken care of during this time. A bad review can potentially be a roadblock for that brokerage to generate new client leads, which means the possibility of less business for you.

Cold calls, door knocking, expired listing outreach, word of mouth. These have been the standard methods of real estate lead generation for decades. Times have changed, has the brokerage you’re considering changed with it?

We live in a digital-first age, and as such, you want to partner with a brokerage that can help you generate leads and provide training on how you can scrape your own. We’ve seen brokerages split leads lists with their agents, provide coaching on how to generate leads, and provide a sales process that helps turn those leads into closed business.

When picking a brokerage, it’s crucial to understand what they will do to help you generate leads and close business. After all, there is a high likelihood that you’ll be on a commission structure, and if you aren’t closing transactions, you’re not making money.

Generally, you want to align yourself with a brokerage that has a track record of success. You’d hope that this track record is built on strategies that have been refined over time and can be replicated to aid in the success of newcomers such as yourself.

There are a few things that are standard for all agents: prospecting, lead nurturing, closing transactions, client loyalty, client advocacy. Prospecting entails activities such as door knocking and cold calling. Essentially, it’s casting a wide net in neighborhoods that you want to target and then seeing if there are fish that you’d want to catch within those areas. 

Once you’ve prospected, the next step is lead generation. Think of prospecting as the introduction, where you exchange pleasantries, build rapport but don’t necessarily close the deal and bring the person on as a client. Lead nurturing is the act of turning that prospect into a client. For example, you may have spoken with someone interested in selling their home but not right away. So, you’d want some form of lead nurturing activity in place to consistently be top of mind for them without being annoying so that when it comes time for them to sell their home, they want to do it with you. These activities could be as simple as monthly follow-up emails showing the average price of homes sold in their neighborhood and other industry statistics.

Now, some time has passed, and Joe Customer has decided they want to sell their home with you. What are some ways that you can maximize the sale price of their home, blowing their expectations out of the water to the point that you become their family’s go-to agent? In this loyalty phase, you can engage in activities such as Christmas / birthday gifts, courtesy follow-ups, and other forms of communication to add a “human touch” to your services. Once again, you want to touch base (a lot less frequently from before) so you’re still pinging them maybe once a year, but in a polite manner.

If your clients are satisfied with your services and keep you on board as their agent, chances are you’ve done a good job. In an age of digital marketing, word of mouth and referrals are still king. You can compare a client referral up against any form of marketing, and it will yield the highest conversion rate with the lowest cost per acquisition than anything else. When your clients are happy, they will bring you up in conversation with their friends and family when it’s their time to make a transaction, so it’s important to build long-lasting relationships.

We just covered a variety of areas, so let’s bring it back to the topic at hand. No matter what stage you are within the client’s journey, you’re going to need some direction on how to maximize your results while minimizing your time. When you’re working for a brokerage that is well established, they should be able to provide you with training and coaching that helps you crush broker and personal sales targets. The key word here is coaching, so although it’s their job to train you, it’s also up to you to be coachable and understand and retain the information.

The key to success in any industry is defining your goals and putting in place the right tools to help you get there. Selecting the right real estate brokerage for you is imperative as there are so many options available.  These are the main categories of brokerages you’ll encounter:

National brands such as Keller Williams and RE/MAX tend to carry a level of cache associated with their name. These brokerages are well-known across the nation, have various franchised brokerages, and consumers trust them. 

Independent brokerages are standalone brokerages not affiliated with any big name. These tend to be smaller operations and are more preferred by millennials. Why? Because they associate those big name brands as the brokerages of their parents and want to carve their own footprint into the real estate world.

Luxury brokerages are the ones that deal in multi-million dollar properties. One of the most recognized names in this category is Sotheby’s. Brokerages such as these tend to be pickier when hiring real estate agents, as they deal in low volume, high-value transactions.

Virtual brokerages offer the support of a brick and mortar entity, without any desk fees and sometimes even provide 100% sales commission. Real is just one of these types of brokerages – they offer an 85/15 split to start, which transitions to a 100% agent commission after $12,000 paid to Real in a year.

Finding a sponsoring brokerage is easier than most new agents think.  Do your own research and read some reviews online to create your initial set of brokerages you’d like to work for.

Once you’ve got your initial set, place a few phone calls to find out if they’re looking for new agents.  Some brokerages are better than others when you’re first starting out – so make sure to ask what the ramp up process looks like if you’re new to real estate.

Once you’ve chatted with a few, really the power is in your hands.  This is a two way interview, and the relationship needs to be a good fit for both parties to be successful.

Takeaways

The task of selecting a real estate brokerage can be daunting. We hope that this page provided you with tools to help ease the transition into real estate as a career. Remember to interview a few brokerages before coming to your final decision. Good luck!