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As a real estate agent, finding the right real estate brokerage is essential. It can make or break your career.
While you are technically working as an independent contractor if you are a real estate agent in Pennsylvania, in order to get your license you must have a sponsoring broker.
And this is a big decision. The real estate brokerage you choose will determine your income. It affects how much you make on each transaction to your professional network to the office supplies at your disposal. Like we said, your brokerage is a big deal.
So how can you find the best real estate brokerage in Pennsylvania? There are a few tell-tale signs that will help you decide if the real estate brokerage you are looking at is the right fit for you.
First thing’s first- you need to make sure the brokerage you are looking at is licensed to operate in Pennsylvania. Make sure everything is legal and they have all their paperwork in order by checking the license number for any brokerage you are considering working for.
Double-check that their license is currently active (all real estate licenses expire at the same time – May 31st of each even-numbered year) and see how long they have been licensed in Pennsylvania. You want to choose a brokerage that is somewhat established for your job security.
Most real estate agents get paid on commission, so this will be your main source of income. In order to get paid, you have to make sales. And part of your commission is going to be split with your brokerage. There are a lot of different structures to commission splits and different stipulations that come along with that. For example, your brokerage may have franchise fees, caps, and office fees.
So how does commission split work? Let’s break it down for you. If you sell a $200,000 home and the average commission in your area is 6%. That 6% is the first split between the buying and selling agent. That leaves you with 3%, which means you will get $6,000 from the sale. Then, you will have to share that with your broker. If you’re on a 60/40 commission split that means you take home 60% of that $9,000, or $3,600. That is before expenses and taxes.
Also, keep in mind while your commission split may not seem great at first, commission splits often get better with experience and sales volume. You should look forward to the potential commission split you could get at a specific brokerage before writing it off.
For example, you may start at a 70/30 split (70% to the agent and 30% to the broker) but after $1 million in sales volume, it slides to 80/20.
While this is an important part of working with your brokerage, the most important part of the commission split is that the brokerage makes it very clear how the money is split and how you will get paid. Ultimately, a fair commission split will depend on a multitude of other factors including your market, the broker’s support and resources, and the business in general.
As you are just starting your real estate career, the reputation and brand of your brokerage are extremely important. Their work culture and tactics will become the building blocks of your career as a real estate agent. And while clients may not know who you are, if they trust your brokerage, you can win the sale.
Even the big-time national brokerages that may seem respectable may not have a great local reputation. Since each branch is under different management, you never know how the business runs in your specific area.
You also need to ask yourself questions about the work culture. How much support do I want from my co-workers? Would I work best in a smaller brokerage with a more tight-knit community, or do I want a bigger company that gives me more independence?
To get a good idea of a brokerage’s culture and reputation, you can research online from sites like Yelp and Nextdoor to first look at what customers are saying. You can also go straight to the sources and talk to agents who work at the brokerage to decide if you could see yourself in their shoes.
The real estate field is constantly changing and it takes continuous education to stay on top of your game. Brokerages that are invested in your success as a real estate agent in Pennsylvania will offer further education and encourage agents to gain as much knowledge as possible.
Look for a brokerage that offers extensive mentoring, free training, and marketing collateral. Specific training for new agents is also a major plus at a brokerage. Also, check that the lead brokers of the brokerages have certifications and extensive education and training themselves.
Another aspect of support from the brokerage to look into is its mentorship program. Having a mentor is a great asset to real estate agents who are just starting their careers. It can put you on the fast track to closing deals and navigating through a sometimes complex industry. If you are looking at a smaller brokerage, ask the broker if they would be willing to mentor you. At a larger brokerage, check to see if they have a mentorship program that partners new agents with veteran agents.
As we stated earlier, you will earn your income as a real estate agent through commission on sales. But, if you don’t have any leads, you won’t make any sales, therefore you won’t be making money. Therefore, helping you generate leads is an important aspect of the brokerage you choose.
In Pennsylvania, you will find that some brokerages are better than others at generating leads for their agents. Opportunities to generate leads include open houses, working the office phone lines, getting leads from busy senior agents, and networking events. Ask each brokerage you talk to how their agents get leads and whether they offer lead generation support for new agents.
Getting leads is going to get your name out there and put you on the map as a local real estate agent in Pennsylvania, which is exactly what you need when you start your career.