The reasons agents move from one real estate firm to another are as varied as the people themselves. Sometimes it even happens when you aren’t expecting it.
Glenn Wildenmann, a real estate broker with M Immobilier Real Estate Agency in Montreal had no plans to make a change. “I was at Sutton for 13 years, was comfortable at my agency, had good friends there and was annually top 10 in my office. There was nothing wrong, however I couldn’t help but notice M. I was fascinated by their approach, bringing a completely fresh thought to marketing and selling real estate. They re-imagined every detail and replaced ordinary with amazing and I wanted to be a part of that.”
The realities of switching firms can be daunting. Everything needs to be rebranded, from social media to business cards, signage, customer appreciation gifts, vehicle advertising and websites. It is a lot of work but it also means an opportunity to start fresh.
Wildenmann took advantage of this aspect of switching firms: “It presented a wonderful opportunity to roll out a new campaign: ‘I’m Moving Too’ and ‘Same Glenn, New Agency’.”
Uta Marshall, a sales rep in Prince George, B.C., made the switch from Team Powerhouse Realty to Re/Max Centre City Realty. “I was inspired to move offices solely based on finances and earning capacity. I was happy with my previous office, did well and honestly had no intention of leaving. I was approached by Re/Max and after doing my research, I felt that I would be in a position to increase my earnings by switching companies.”
Marshall offers advice for those pondering a move: “Make a large list of pros and cons. See what the working environment is like in the new office. Look closely and compare the expenses and commission sharing structure at both offices. Many offices will also give an ‘incentive package’ for you to move over. Sometimes earning more isn’t beneficial if the office environment is miserable. If it all looks good, take a leap to a new adventure!” But she adds, “Make sure to leave your old real estate firm on good terms.”
If you’ve established that you are ready to switch firms, shop around to ensure you pick a company that is the best fit for you. Terra Suffel, a sales rep in the Greater Toronto Area, moved from Right at Home Realty to Re/Max before settling in at One Percent Realty. Suffel suggests you question the following when considering a new brokerage:
- What are the fees? What do I get for them?
- What’s the culture like? Is there a high turnover rate? Why? (Call around to other agents to get a good picture of the reputation of the brokerage.)
- What is the support staff like? A brokerage’s staff is your staff too. Be sure they will represent your business well.
- Market penetration. Are there just too many agents from the same brokerage in your chosen area? A different brokerage may help you stand out from the crowd.
- Commission splits. How much of your hard-earned money actually goes into your pocket at the end of the day?
Other things to consider include:
- What kind of training will I receive?
- What type of mentoring or coaching do they offer?
- How available will the broker be?
- Is lead distribution offered to agents?
- How much office equipment, software, tech support and other tools are provided?
Keep it uppermost in your mind that no matter which firm you work for, you are ultimately in charge of how successful you are. No broker, no franchise, no firm is the magic bullet. In the majority of cases, you are the one who makes or breaks your real estate career, not where you hang your license.
Suffel shares what she would say to someone contemplating a move: “What do you want? If you are looking for support and training, I would say a big established brokerage is the way to go. Never stop learning from those around you. Ask questions! Find out what works and what doesn’t. Your fellow agents are usually happy to help someone starting out. If you’re looking for more independence and lower financial outlay, there are a lot of great new shops on the market. Real innovators.
“Personally I was tired of the status quo in the business and was looking for a brokerage that supported my desire to shake things up. Traditional brokerages are just that – traditional – so if you’re looking to do something different, a boutique or innovator brokerage is where it’s at.”
If you can be choosy, pick the ideal time to switch firms. Avoid making the change when you are ramping up to your busy season. If you have a slew of closings on the horizon, consider holding off your move until you are paid.
Check your contract to see if you can take your current listings with you to a new firm; in most instances, listings belong to the broker, not the sales associate. In that case, lining up your listings so they expire just as you are about to make the move may be advantageous. Timing is also critical when it comes to deciding when to share the news with colleagues and clients.
One salesperson who asked to remain nameless made an interesting point: “Agents believe the grass will be greener somewhere else but they never consider that they take their greatest obstacle along to the new firm – themselves.”
Before you make the jump to another organization, ask yourself what you want to achieve by switching firms. What is your goal?
Wildenmann leaves us with some final thoughts: “Ask lots of questions; not only of the agency and the brand, but of yourself. What’s missing? What’s your purpose for making a switch? Don’t change for the sake of change. Different is not a reason to change, better is a reason to change.”