If you haven't yet selected a real estate office to bless with your presence, here are some ideas to ponder.
Be assured that there is a place for you. If you are marginally presentable looking and have a pulse (most days), a real estate office will "hire" you. In fact, the interview process is more about you interviewing them, rather than the other way around. Big Name companies specialize in recruiting and training new agents fresh out of school and will be happy to talk with you. You might even feel a little flattered at their attention and persuasive recruiting tactics!
That said, smaller boutique companies may not recruit rookie agents. If they do, they tend to be quite selective, so if you prefer to start your career at a boutique firm, you may have to actually sell yourself to the broker. Brokerages in small towns or resort communities may also be a little harder to break into than those in a metropolitan area.
When I first got my license, I was told that the urban brokers (where I wanted to work) wouldn't even talk to brand new licensees. Being shy, I didn't push the issue, I just interviewed in the suburbs and received "offers" from every suburban company I talked to. I chose to work in a Big Name office in the foothills outside of Denver because it sounded glamorous to sell mountain real estate. Never mind that I knew nothing about mountain real estate, or cared, really. I couldn't relate to the other brokers in the office or to any of the prospects I gathered who wanted a mountain lifestyle. I was a city girl and I understood city dwellers.
After nine months, I transferred to another office in a suburb of Denver. That was an even worse fit for me; while I didn't really connect with mountain buyers, I was utterly baffled by suburban ones! Tri-level homes built in 1975 with popcorn ceilings just weren't my thing. Six months later, I moved again, this time to a boutique firm in central Denver. Ah, the euphoria and camaraderie of working with agents who knew the difference between a Bungalow and a Cottage, a Denver Square and a Victorian.
My point is that you should strive to work in an office that fits your personality and interests, whether it is a specific neighborhood or market, an age group, a market specialty or just general ambience. Some offices are quite formal and stuffy; others are somewhat casual or even dumpy. You'll find corporate firms to be beige, boutiques more colorful and eclectic. Opportunities for referrals and good open houses will come more naturally (and be more enjoyable) if you are working in an atmosphere that feels like home. You will probably "know" when you're in the right place. Wait for that feeling.
However, don't fret if your first office doesn't work out. It's no big deal to move and, after a year in the business, you'll have a much better idea of what you're looking for.
A Word About Splits & Fees
You'll drive yourself batty trying to compare the financial implications among the different brokerage firms you interview. Some charge you an up-front fee which pays for your signs, your first business cards and your E&O insurance. Others charge no fee and provide all these items, but offer a lower split. (As you probably know, your split is the percentage of your commissions you get to keep. If you are on a 60/40 split, you keep 60%, your brokerage firm gets 40%.)
When you're brand new, there probably isn't a lot of room to negotiate the split or fees. Just select the company that seems to best suit your personality and your need for training and/or personalized mentoring. You can worry about negotiating a better split after you've proven yourself.
Your relationship with your broker and the general warm fuzzy feelings you have (or don't have) are far more critical to your success than any minor variations in fees. Your initial split and/or fees paid won't dramatically affect your bottom line if you are at all productive. But if you don't feel good about the place you're working in, your productivity and motivation will be greatly affected.
So... Go with your gut... and... Get to work!
copyright Jennifer Allan 2007