If you’ve decided to join a brokerage in your market, what you bring to the table is not the only thing that matters. As in any relationship—personal or professional—both sides need to know what the other brings to it.
Maybe you’ve narrowed your options down to three. But they all look so good, you’re hoping something jumps out at you during the interviews to make the right decision obvious.
The best way to make sure that happens is to ask the right questions.
Researching your brokerage options
To some extent, you can narrow down your options by looking at the published stats for each brokerage to get a sense of how they’re doing in their market–and how they’ve grown (or slipped). Don’t be the person to ask questions that can easily be Googled or found on a brokerage’s website.
Once you’ve eliminated brokerages that don’t appeal to you, consider what you’ll ask those still on your list. Asking the right questions gives you a sense of how each team could impact your development as a real estate professional.
You want your final choice to provide the training and support you need to fast-track that growth and help you reach two of the most important goals for new agents as quickly as possible:
- Double-digit sales
- Double-digit reviews
We’ve broken the top questions into specific categories, all of which have a real impact on your development as an agent, as well as on your long-term satisfaction with the brokerage itself.
We’ll start with training.
Questions to ask about training
Joining a brokerage with systems in place to provide the training you need—from the beginning and on an ongoing basis—is critical to your success as a real estate agent.
Ask the following questions to identify which brokerages have the training you need:
- What type of new agent program do they have?
- What does onboarding look like?
- What does daily training look like? What time does it start, where is it, and how can I show up?
- What kind of daily training can I get on Zoom or in the office, so I can ask questions, role-play, and strategize?
- Do you have a mentor program? And if so, how does it work?
- What type of continuing education classes do you offer, how often, and what do they typically cost?
- Are the classes all in person, or do you offer online classes?
- Who can I contact if I have questions about a contract? And would this person be available after 5 pm if I’m in urgent need of help?
Questions to ask about leads
To get double-digit sales and double-digit reviews as quickly as possible, you need clients—which start as leads. So, one of the most important questions you’ll ask is whether homebuyer or home seller leads are provided.
If the answer to that question is “Yes,” the next questions will get you a clearer picture of what you can expect:
- How will I receive leads?
- How are these leads distributed among your agents?
- Is there a referral fee or upfront charge?
- How many leads can I expect each week or each month?
- Are the leads just website registrations—or are they actually inquiring about specific properties?
- What’s the typical conversion rate on these leads?
- How many agents have gone through your new agent program, received leads, and gotten double-digit sales and double-digit reviews in their first twelve months?
- How many agents on your team are doing 20+ transactions a year?
- Can you give me a list of all the agents and the transactions they’re doing?
Questions about the office environment
If you’ll be spending any amount of your work week in the office—or even if you’re working remotely from home but connecting with other brokerage members by Zoom—you want to know what is expected of you.
The following questions can help create a clearer mental picture of what it will be like to work in the brokerage office or to virtually connect with your co-workers on a daily and weekly basis:
- How many real estate agents work in the office?
- How often do you have team meetings, lunch & learn sessions, happy hours, etc.?
- What do you do to help promote listings, individual agents, and your office?
- Is phone duty or an in-office desk required for each agent? How many hours a week?
- How are you involved with the communities in your area?
- Are all who join this brokerage required to be full-time agents?
- Do you have quotas that need to be met—like a minimum number of sales per year?
Questions about company culture
While you’ll no doubt pick up on some of this while asking questions about the brokerage office environment, you’ll want to ask questions about company culture. Two offices can have the same set of rules but can feel completely different because of their company culture.
The more experience you have working in different environments and with different leadership, the more you pick up on this.
Culture isn’t so much about the perks you might enjoy at the office (a fully-stocked coffee bar, Taco Tuesdays, happy hours) and more about the overall atmosphere of working there. And as a potential newbie, you’ll want to get some answers from those who’ve worked there for a while.
So, be prepared to ask the following:
- Can you describe the general atmosphere of the office?
- Would it be possible to get a guided tour of the brokerage and meet some of the agents and staff?
- BONUS: Can I sit in on an upcoming team meeting or training session?
These questions will greatly impact your income each year, so write down all the details so you can compare notes later.
- What’s the commission split?
- What benefits or perks do you offer your agents?
- Do you have a commission cap?
- Do you charge any franchise fees?
- Which expenses do you cover? And which would I pay for?
- eKey (to access property lockboxes)
- Business cards
- REALTOR designation (usually $400+ per year)
- Website hosting and IDX (MLS feed)
- Do you charge any brokerage-related fees?
- Monthly office fee
- Monthly MLS fee
- Start-up fee
- Errors & Omissions Insurance (E&O)
- Desk fee
- Continuing education fee
What if they won’t answer some of my questions?
Like in any relationship, some red flags could start waving right at the first (or second) meeting, while others lay low for a bit longer.
During interviews with your top brokerages, note whether the person you’re interviewing is reticent in response to any of the above questions—or outright refuses to answer one of them.
They might excuse this by saying, “These are things you’d learn as part of your training,”—once you commit to them.
If they’re holding back on questions related to training, to leads, or your income and expenses (commissions split, brokerage fees, etc.), chances are good they either don’t have a fully organized program—or that they suspect their answers might scare you off.
On the other hand, if they respond to your questions with clearly articulated, thoughtful answers—detailing their new agent program, for example, as well as their onboarding process, what you can expect, and success stories of agents on their team, you can trust this is a brokerage willing to invest in your future as a real estate professional.
And if none of the brokerages rule themselves out, ask yourself which of them feels like the best fit, either because you deeply respect and admire the person you’ve interviewed or because you believe your skills and income as an agent would grow there most quickly (or both reasons).
In other words, don’t forget to ask yourself the right questions, too.