A FEW WORDS ABOUT YOUR CAREER IN
REAL ESTATE
….

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When you think about it, picking the right career and company in any type of industry is not something you do every week. Perhaps that’s why many new licensees who go out looking for a Real Estate Company to affiliate with often aren’t totally prepared to pick the right combination of company and broker for their particular personality. In truth, the residential real estate industry has a poor track record of developing systems to help new licensees make more educated decisions about who they ought to join.

Keller Williams would like to put a stop to that here and now. Upon printing this package, you are now holding a valuable resource, a framework if you will, that will help you do four things:

1)
Help you lay the groundwork for how to go into an interview situation with the right frame of reference,
2) Point out some of the most common mistakes new licensees often make so they can be avoided,
3) Provide you with the most critical questions that you need answers to during your interview and
4) Acquire the answers that allow you to compare brokerage companies on an “apples to apples” basis. 

For many new licensees, without this type of information, you are totally at the mercy of what the company wants to tell you, instead of what you might need to know!
Understand too, that using this tool puts you miles ahead of the usual new interviewee a broker sees in their offices everyday. They may be very uncomfortable at first because, in most cases, they are used to doing the interviewing. They might expect a very experienced agent to be asking these questions, but not someone new to the business. That’s okay, explain to them that you thought it prudent to use a checklist of questions you had so that every possible nugget of information could be acquired. In fact, it might be just as easy for you to ask the questions in this case. Keep in mind; it is logical for the broker to ask you questions also, which you want to encourage. Even if you’re not hired, they will be impressed!

Last, but not least, it will probably occur to you that any company willing to go to this effort to provide you this format probably has a lot on the ball themselves. You would be correct, and just to prove it; we suggest you include the local Keller Williams office in your community on your list of “brokers to see”. It probably won’t surprise you to know that Keller Williams has a very positive response for every question on the attached list. Come check us out, over 12,000 new licensees have so far and never left!  Click here for a Career Worth Having.   If you are in Texas you may also want to check out this guide to getting your license from the Texas Real Estate Center- Obtaining a Texas Real Estate License.

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Here are some of the mistakes we see many new agents make:

Mistake #1:
Not interviewing enough companies!
Make no mistake; picking your broker has a lot to do with your eventual success in the real estate industry. So talking to at least more than one broker seems to make obvious sense, and it does! A very high percentage of new real estate agents often go to work for a broker that was recommended to them or a good friend of theirs happens to mention that you can come to work “at our place.” Sometimes this is fine; sometimes it’s a disaster. The key is to talk with at least three (3) brokers in your area so you can gather enough data to feel comfortable comparing your notes. One of those three will likely be a good fit and you’ll know it when you complete the interview process.
Mistake # 2:
Not grasping that companies are not the Same!
As is true in almost any industry, most brokerage companies tend to fall into three distinct categories: 1) Young growing companies 2) Mature larger operations and 3) Older companies with owners looking to sell or retire. T

These companies can either be independent operations or belong with a franchise affiliation. Other than the fact that most real estate organizations belong to the local Board of Realtors, the differences in how those companies operate can be as varied as snowflakes. In addition, younger companies may be more aggressive and active risk takers where a more mature operation is more apt to stay with “what we’ve always done.”

The key is to recognize what type of company you’re talking too. The questions we include in this package (The Interview 100) are designed to help uncover those issues that will be of concern for you. If you go in understanding there can be marked differences in how you, as an agent, are treated by the organization, you’ll be able to identify just what type company you’d fit in with.

Mistake #3:
   Not starting with enough financial capacity!
If the company you’re talking too has an economic program based solely on commissions collected by you, you’ll need a financial cushion to get started. It is a very difficult task to get into real estate on a shoestring. Most agents today would offer that the average amount of time one can safely expect to have to go without expecting that first commission check should be somewhere around five to six months.

Yes, it is possible to do that faster, and no doubt brokers can tell you stories about their fastest “rookie” agents doing it in three months, but the realities are that there is a lot to learn and invariably, the new challenges need 100% of your focus without the added concern about where money is coming from.

Mistake #4:
 Who’s doing the interviewing?
Believe it or not, you are. Most potential agents think they are being interviewed, but the reality is that it is you who should be in the hiring position. Think of it this way, you’re about to hire this broker as your trainer and consultant for the next few years and pay them “X” amount every year for that privilege. Are they worth what they want you to pay them? That’s what’s at the heart of using this program.

By asking all 100 questions attached to this interview packet, you’ll be doing the interviewing and it will be a snap to show the brokers you’re quite serious about this decision. Most importantly, the answers you get help to make a straight “apples to apples” comparison.
Mistake #5:
 Asking to verify what’s being said!
You’ve heard the term, “the proof is in the pudding.” Whenever a broker makes a statement that can be backed up with data or something you can see, you need to ask for that. For example, they expound on their new agent training program, you ask to see a copy of the material. They say they have 48% market penetration, you ask to see the actual numbers. They say they have a mission statement, you ask where it is posted?

In other words, almost everything a broker talks about can be visually witnessed, if indeed it exists. If they say they have a training calendar, you’d like to see it. In short, ask for the proof that something exists. One of the greatest follow-up tools you can use in this regard is to ask to see a copy of their roster. Then write down three agents’ names at random, and make a point of calling them that night to ask them some of the same questions you felt might need re-visiting and to gain an overall feel for the office. This will be a very enlightening conversation. You now find out if they not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. As we say, “the proof is in the pudding.”

Mistake # 6:
Realizing how critical Training and Accountability are!
If you are a new agent to real estate, the ability of the Broker to get you trained and then offer career accountability are critical indeed! Pre-licensing courses can vary tremendously in what they teach new agents to real estate. Many of those courses are, by their very nature, geared to help you with a licensing exam, so their value in the real world may not be that high.

New agents have needs that create special training in at least no less than four core areas. Financing, contracts, and working with both buyers and sellers are the least that you should expect in any new agent course. Look at who teaches it and how the course is structured. Having the ability to work in the field is helpful while you’re training. If the company uses a “mentor” be very careful that the mentors are of the quality you’d want to learn from and that the system is highly structured.

The most critical step for new agents is what happens after the training is over? Is there a type of “career start” program geared to get you on the right track with what you are supposed to do? This is the hidden weakness of many companies in that many have programs for new people, but it is in their lack of follow-up systems where leadership and accountability are missing just when they’re needed most!

Mistake # 7:
   Where’s the Leadership?
Perhaps the most misunderstood ingredient in most agents’ successful careers is the impact having a strong management team and agents that think like partners in the organization. If you truly have leaders running the company, they will inspire a high level of learning and accountability into the company.

Look at the most innovative and profitable companies in any city, USA, and you’ll find a learning based environment where everyone is constantly the “master” student. Strong leadership has a habit of creating a strong “culture”. When you ask experienced agents why they are with their company, their answers invariably tend to the “I like the people I’m working with” variety. It means, they like the atmosphere, the culture that the leaders in that office have created.

Top agents gravitate to this type of atmosphere, and smart new agents sense that they want to be around these types of winners. Consequently, when you start asking around about different firms in an area, you’ll find that 20% of the best firms, tend to have some of the best people, the old “20/80” rule. 

Mistake # 8:
 Realizing who actually drives the Industry!
At the heart of all real transactions, there was an agent who developed a relationship with a customer, who turned into that agent’s client. Real estate is a very local, “what’s going on in your city” type business. A recent National Association of Realtors study indicated that buyers and sellers actually are more apt to choose an agent, not a company.

There is a revolution now occurring in the industry, and many brokers are becoming wise to the fact that, indeed, they don’t actually control the customers, their associates’ do. So the goal of you, the potential associate, is to find a broker who believes that you are the central reason that the firm is or should be successful, not the company. Keep in mind, this is not the goal of many companies who might have you believe that they are the reason you have success. As you gather the answers to the questions in your interview packet, which type company you’re visiting with will become “loud and clear.” The choice will be easier to make, and you should be well prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities in one of the last great bastions of capitalism! Best of luck making the right choice!

The Interview 100
(Questions every Licensee should ask their potential Broker)
The Concepts behind the Company
1.  Can you give me a brief history of the Company?
     Who are the owners? Why was it started?
2.  Is the company an independent operation or a franchise?
3.  How many offices do they have and where are they?
4.  History of the current management?
5.  Does the company have a mission statement? Values? Core beliefs?
6.  How many agents work here? How many are new agents? Experienced?
7.  How many agents would bring you to capacity?
8.  What is your typical turnover rate of agents?
9.  What professional designations do your agents hold?
10. What is the historical record of closed volume this office has done?
11. What type of market penetration numbers do you have?
12. What affiliations does the company have?
13. Does the company own affiliated businesses? Do the agents share in this?

TRAINING SYSTEMS
1.  Tell me about your training philosophy?
2.  Do you have a New Agent training program? How is it structured?
3.  Can I see the program?
4.
  What is the cost of the program?
5.  Who are the instructors and what are their backgrounds?
6.  Where is it held and at what times?   Do you have a training room?
7.  Is fieldwork encouraged during the program?
8.  Is there a follow-up career launch type program to help get started?
9.  Is there a system in place to encourage early accountability?
10. What Board of Realtors training is available?
11. What type of ongoing training do you do? Can I see your training calendar?
12.  Is there an office orientation program?
13. What type of advanced training is available and who teaches it?
14. Do any courses provide licensing credit?

BUILDING MY BUSINESS
1.  Does the company have a philosophy on how I should build my business?
2.  How does the company help me establish priorities and goals? Examples?
3.  Do we receive help establishing a business plan?
4.  Can I “brand” myself and my business? If so, how?
5.  What legal status do I assume with the company? Independent Contractor or otherwise?
6.  Is there a contract required? Can I see a copy?
7.  Do you have a Policy/Procedures Manual? May I see it? Do I receive my own copy?
8.  Does the company offer systems to help build my business? What are they?
9.  In regard to building my branding:
     a.  What does your signage look like? Are there options?
     b.      Are personal logo’s (slogo’s) allowed?  
     c.       What card design is used? Flexibility?
     d.      Collateral and advertising materials you use?
10. Can I acquire Builder accounts on my own? If not, how are they handled and at what cost?
11. Can I acquire Relocation accounts on my own? If not, how are they handled and at what cost?
12. How does the company handle incoming referrals? Do your agents consider a fair system?
13. Does the company have an advertising policy? Explain how it works? Who pays for it? Can I do my
      own advertising?

14.  How are sign and ad calls handled in the company?
15.  Do you have a floor time requirement?
16.  Can I direct my own sign and advertisement calls to me directly?
17.  Do you require Errors & Omissions insurance? Who pays for it? What happens if there is an overage in
       that account collected from the agents?
18.  What is my exposure in the event of a lawsuit?
19.  Do you help with my accounting?
20.  If our relationship was not successful, who owns the rights to my listings?
21.  If I were to leave, how are my pending commissions handled?

ECONOMIC PROGRAMS

1.  How does your commission/compensation program work?
2.  Can you take me through a “live” example by the numbers?
3.  What is the office procedure for getting paid on a closing?
4.  Are agents in the office on different plans? Explain them?
5.  What is the initial and ongoing cost of my affiliation with the company?
6.  Can I hire a personal assistant? Can they be licensed? Does the company charge me a fee for the
     assistant? What commission program does the assistant fall under?

7.  Do you have a profit sharing program with agents? How does it work?
8.  Are their other investment opportunities with the company? How do they work?
9.  What is the policy and cost if I buy or sell real estate personally?

MANAGEMENT ISSUES

1.  What is the manager’s priorities and basic responsibilities?
2.  Do they list or sell property as agents of the firm?
3.  Describe the additional staff and their responsibilities?
4.  Is agent input encouraged? If so, how is it acquired? 5.      Describe your meetings in the office?
     Frequency? Is attendance required?

6.  Who establishes office policies?
7.  Describe the type of culture you create in the office? How is this done?
8.  List the reasons an agent would be asked to leave your firm and why?
9.  Do you share the company books with the agents? If so, how often?
10. How are “housekeeping” items conveyed to the agents?

TECHNOLOGY ISSUES

1.  What is the company’s basic philosophy in regard to using technology?
2.  Does the company provide high-speed internet access and at what cost?
3.  Are the printers/computers/machines in the office networked? Can I hook into this network?
4.  Do you provide specific software/ What are the programs?
5.  Do you provide voicemail?
6.  Do you provide e-mail? Is it private?
7.  Do you provide a web site for the agents?
8.  Do you provide any type of computer training?

9.  Do you provide software training?
10. Does the company have a web site? An Intranet site?
11. Are their presentations available that are electronic from the company?
12. Do you encourage using Personal Data (palm pilots) Assistants? How?
13. Does the company provide marketing templates?
14. Does the company provide forecasting electronically?
15. Can I do my accounting electronically?
16. What type of long-term technology support can the company offer?

PHYSICAL OFFICE ENVIRONMENT

1.  Does the office look like a professional environment?
2.  Who and how are customers and clients greeted?
3.  How many conference rooms are there?
4.  How many research rooms are there? Can you look at them?
5.  How many computers for general use and what software do they have?
6.  Printer situation? High speed/ Color/ Laser?
7.  How are incoming and outgoing faxes handled?
8.  Copiers situation? Cost associated with them?
9.  Other research tools available to help you? What are they?
10. Do you maintain a training facility? Can I see it?
11. Do you maintain a computer lab?
12. Is the general office cramped?
13. Is there adequate parking? For clients?
14. What type of desk arrangements are there? What are the specific policies on this?
15. Are there expansion plans?
16. Is the heating and air conditioning adequate?
17. Are there security issues to deal with?

DO YOU WANT TO BE A PART OF THE FUTURE OR THE HISTORY OF THE REAL ESTATE WORLD?   CHECK OUT THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY THAT WILL GIVE YOU THE EDGE IN YOUR REAL ESTATE CAREER.


WE ALWAYS WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO ANSWER THESE AND ANY OTHER QUESTION YOU HAVE ABOUT A CAREER IN REAL ESTATE.

Please contact me at:
R. Bruce Lynn
214-675-6992
rb@teamlynn.com


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