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Don’t join a real estate brokerage before you ask these questions!

Don’t join a real estate brokerage before you ask these questions!

By Kathy Schmidt, Broker/Owner, Schmidt Realty Group Inc.

Finding the best brokerage for you is critical!

So you’re thinking about making the leap! Doing the thing you’ve longed to do and become self-employed in a field that’s always interested you. That’s wonderful! I remember making that same decision more than two decades ago and I’ve never looked back!  Deciding to become a real estate agent is step one. Step two is finding the right brokerage to partner with to launch your business, grow your knowledge and speed up your success!   It’s so important to find the right “fit”. Taking the time to get the decision right the first time will save you so much time and money!

Here are some vital questions to ask when choosing a brokerage:


Getting your license from the Real Estate Council of Alberta is your required first step. You’ll learn a lot about the legalities about practicing real estate. The course is full of important information about your fiduciary responsibilities and more.  What it’s not full of is all the “What do I do/say now???” scenarios that will make up your day to day life as a new REALTOR®.  For that you’ll need to rely on your brokerage.  Ask for specifics about their training program, if they have one.

Questions to ask:

  • Who teaches it?
  • Is it “live” or recorded?
  • How long is the program?
  • What topics are covered?

After training, you’ll need ongoing support to grow and sustain your real estate career. In our ever-changing industry it’s vital to stay on top of new rules and regulations as well as current issues faced by consumers.  Will you have the backing you need when challenges arise?

Questions to ask:

  • Will you have a mentor after your initial training?
  • Can I meet them now to see if there’s a good fit between you?
  • How available are they to me? How often can I access them?
  • Will they be compensated for mentoring me?

Training and support provide a strong base, but it’s important to remember that your colleagues and your work environment are also very important. How important is the company culture to you? Do you enjoy a collaborative environment, or are you more of a lone wolf who prefers to work independently?  Learning more about your potential working environment is important to ensure you’ll be happy where you work.

Questions to ask:

  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • Do you have a set of agreed values or a mission statement?
  • How are any disagreements between agent/staffs resolved?
  • How available is the broker to assist me and the other agents and staff with issues?

You’ll want (and need!) to get your name out there once you’re licensed.  The right brokerage will have a plan to help you do that, in a way that aligns with your personality and your values. You’ll also want (and need!) to get the word out about your listings!  Understanding the role your brokerage plays in each of these areas is so important and varies dramatically between brokerage models.

Questions to ask:

  • What is your brokerage philosophy about marketing?
  • What is the primary way that your agents find new clients?
  • How will you help me find new clients?
  • How will you help me stay in touch with my clients to increase referrals?
  • Will you provide me with a CRM (Client Relationship Management software)? And will you train me to use it effectively?
  • Will you provide me with a monthly newsletter I can send out to my sphere?
  • Who is responsible for creating, organizing, and paying for the marketing of my listings?

It’s important to remember that you’re starting a business, and running a business takes money.  You’ll have expenses as well as commission revenue.  Understanding what you pay for and what the brokerage pays for is essential to create a plan for your personal success.  Don’t fall into the trap of choosing your brokerage based on the lowest monthly brokerage fee.  Whether you pay for your marketing and other costs as part of your brokerage expenses, or you organize and pay for all of those costs yourself, the expenses associated with being a successful REALTOR® will have to get covered. Also, training, mentorship and support cost the brokerage money. If those are services you value, you’ll need to be prepared to pay for them. The business you do by receiving strong training and mentorship will more than make up for the additional costs you incur. Make sure you understand the whole picture of each brokerage’s fee structure so you can compare them apples to apples.

Questions to ask:

  • Is there a direct cost to me for any training I receive?
  • Is there a direct cost to me for having a mentor?
  • Who pays for signage, key boxes, MLS fees, photography, staging, measuring, social media advertising, brochure printing, client gifts etc for my listing… me or the brokerage?
  • What is the monthly fee I would pay to the brokerage? Can you provide me with a written summary of my costs and the brokerage services today?

These are just some of the answers you need to have before you can choose your brokerage. Having a good one-on-one conversation with the broker will no doubt lead to other topics that will be helpful to you.  Speaking of which, don’t choose a brokerage before you sit down with the broker.  He or she is the final decision maker for the company. Meeting them will tell you a lot about the how the brokerage is run and will help you decide if it’s the right “fit” for you and your new real estate business.

Starting a career in real estate might mean you’re finally getting to do the work you’ve always wanted to do!  That’s so exciting!  But remember, you’re also starting a business.  Partnering with he right brokerage will ensure you not only have a strong initial launch, but you’ll also have a strong and healthy long-term career. Take your time and choose wisely to make a choice you’ll feel good about for years to come!

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