We’re independent contractors swimming in a sea of blurry public perception, incessant competition and sometimes punishing market forces. In today’s residential real estate climate, I’m one of the more fortunate ones. Not only have I been in the business long enough to have achieved critical mass with my client base, I’m also practicing in metropolitan Seattle, arguably one of the best markets in the country today. With a healthy market comes greater competition. The agent roster swells with new additions as more people, sensing easy opportunity and financial success, take the ever-hopeful leap into our industry.
I’ve heard on numerous occasions through the years that approximately eighty percent of new licensees will not renew their license at the first opportunity. The good news for veterans is that ten percent of agents do ninety percent of the business. However, there is a constant flow of new blood and certainly talent with every graduating class. The cost and bar of entry is relatively low in our state; sixty hours and a few hundred dollars. Newly licensed agents are encouraged to leverage their circles of contact with the goal of building strong referral networks. Not only are veterans and new agents competing with one another in their own brokerages, the tug -of-war between full and discount service providers is relentless.
I’ve commented before that we all run our businesses very differently. I have approximately eighty five agents in my office, not one of us like another. With over 1.3 million members of the National Association of Realtors, that’s 1.3 million independent contractors trying to achieve the same goal – sell property. How then do you decide where to work? Doing so begins with finding the brokerage best suited to your personal and career goals. When I started, I determined I wanted to be a full service provider in my area. That narrowed the field of companies which interested me. Furthermore, I met with agents I knew, most of whom were licensed with the company I chose ultimately. I liked that it offered additional training beyond the state’s licensing requirements. Its reputation for being client not agent focused appealed to my sense of service. I then looked at office-specific criteria. Was it a desk or split fee office? What training and educational systems had it put in place? What was its market share? Was the broker supportive or more hands-off? What technology did it offer its agents and the public?
I bored down even further especially as so much of how you elect to approach your career is predicated on the kind of business you are capable of driving. I have a creative and technology background. People in my sphere are typically college educated, white collar workers or entrepreneurs. I live in the city, not rural farmland, so I am unlikely to be doing a lot of land transactions. People in my immediate circle tend to be hands-on with their investments, very tech savvy and up-to-date on market conditions. They purchase within a predictable price range; are deliberative, then decisive when necessary.Having weighted all these factors, I committed to a company and commenced my career. Bullet your expectations and goals, interview as many companies as you feel necessary and consider carefully the business model you expect to implement, then commit.