According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) research, the median agent tenure at a brokerage is five years (even less in the COVID era), so it’s likely that at some point in your career, you’ll consider making a switch. But how do you decide which company is best for you? Through research and interviews, we evaluated dozens of real estate companies based on the criteria that matter most to you. We selected our top five from a field of big-name brands, plus we chose a company whose fresh approach is shaking everything up.
Best Real Estate Companies of 2022
|Keller Williams||(Best Overall) Agents at all stages of their career|
|RE/MAX||High-performing, established agents|
|Coldwell Banker||New agents|
|eXp Realty||Part-time agents|
|Compass||Agents who want to work the luxury market|
|Side (Market Disruptor)||Winner of the 2022 Disruptor Award|
Not Getting Enough Leads From Your Current Brokerage?
If you’re frustrated with the number of leads you’re getting from your brokerage, you’re not alone. Most major brokerages don’t provide leads to their agents, and if they do, they come at a steep price. If this is you, check out The Close’s #1 pick for Real Estate Lead Generation in 2022: Market Leader.
Market Leader guarantees a minimum number of leads every month, offers solid tools for client nurturing and follow-up, and plugs directly into all the major real estate CRMs. Before looking to another brokerage to solve your leads problem, we encourage you to check out Market Leader.
The Best Real Estate Company to Work for Overall: Keller Williams
Keller Williams Stats at a Glance:
- Year Founded: 1983
- Number of Offices: 1,100
- Number of Agents: ~181,000
- Current CEO: Sajag Patel (acting)
- Best Known For: A training-first mentality and a strong profit-sharing model
Keller Williams once again takes home our prize for the best real estate company to work for because they continually excel in the areas that matter most to agents.
Keller Williams’ competitive compensation plan, commitment to creating a culture of success on all levels (including prioritizing women in leadership), and their extensive training and professional development resources make them an amazing company to lead our guide. Keller Williams also made the top of our list because of the work they do to create career-lasting relationships with their agents.
Keller Williams Pros
Keller Williams Cons
Keller Williams Revenue & Commission Structure
Keller Williams agents make money in two ways: through commissions earned from the purchase or sale of real estate, and through a program the company refers to as profit-sharing, but which is more of a recruitment and retention strategy from which you can make additional cash. Here are the details on each.
Keller Williams’ Commission Structure
Each Keller Williams office (or, as they call them, Market Center) has what’s called a cap. The cap is a certain amount of money that each agent will pay to Keller Williams to support the company at large.
Each Market Center has its own cap, determined by local market conditions, operating expenses, and so on. Keller Williams agents at each office have the same cap; it doesn’t matter if you are a 20-year veteran or a brand-new agent.
|3% on $250,000 Sale|
When an agent receives a pre-cap commission, they keep 64% of it, 30% goes to the Market Center, and 6% goes to the national brand as a franchise fee. Once you hit the cap, you keep 100% of your commission—no hidden fees, no sneaky percentages—that’s it.
Agents can also receive a secondary commission when someone they recruit closes a sale, something the company labels “profit-sharing.” If someone you invite to the company closes a sale, whether they’re a member of your team or not, you get a piece of the company’s share of the commission.
Profit-sharing at Keller Williams is multilevel, meaning that if the person you recruited turns around and successfully recruits other agents, you’ll see a portion of the company’s share of their sales too.
Keller Williams Company Culture
Keller Williams’ company culture is focused on constant improvement and support. They are widely regarded as an industry leader in training and professional development.
Their development mindset isn’t only a top-down approach. Thanks to the Keller Williams profit-sharing structure, agents benefit directly from the success of their recruits. Thus, agents develop mentorship relationships, making Keller Williams a very team-oriented real estate company to work for, even in the absence of any official “teams” in a particular Market Center.
Keller Williams Branding
Keller Williams has an extremely recognizable brand throughout the U.S. and Canada. Though their branding isn’t groundbreaking or exciting, their relatively conservative brand guidelines are high-quality, consistent, and easy for agents to apply to their marketing.
Real Estate Branding: How to Build Your Brand (+ Case Studies)
Best Real Estate Company to Work For—Established High-performing Agents: RE/MAX
RE/MAX Stats at a Glance:
- Year Founded: 1973
- Number of Offices: 3,532 (U.S.)
- Number of Agents: ~138,500
- Current CEO: Nick Bailey
- Best Known For: A global brand of some of the consistently best-performing agents in the industry
RE/MAX is a great place for high-performing, established agents to take their business to the next level. Though they offer tools, training, and mentorship for agents at any stage of their career, the RE/MAX system is set up to benefit a market’s top performers the most.
RE/MAX Commission Structure
RE/MAX doesn’t have a brand-wide policy about splits, desk fees, and caps; each of those decisions is negotiated at the local level.
Though we wish they provided the same transparency on commissions as Keller Williams, RE/MAX does offer agents lots of flexibility in terms of how they receive their commissions.
With a split range topping out at 95%, experienced agents with a proven track record can get paid more on the front-end of each commission, allowing them to leverage that revenue toward time-sensitive needs, including marketing and promotion.
What Is GCI & Why It Matters to Every Real Estate Agent
Their generous splits often come with higher desk fees, but for most rock star agents, the higher desk fees are worth the investment to further other aspects of their business.
RE/MAX Company Culture
The RE/MAX company culture is built around success and leadership within the communities they serve. Of the top 200 agents of 2021 according to Real Trends (by transaction sides), a staggering 59 of them are RE/MAX agents. This is a brand synonymous with performance, especially for those who know the business well.
An agent who operates on a high level knows that their personal brand and reputation are going to be supported and enhanced by the market reputation of both their brokerage and the other agents who belong to it.
RE/MAX has a strong presence in the vast majority of major metropolitan markets across the United States. RE/MAX’s iconic hot air balloon is one of the most unique and recognizable symbols in all of real estate, according to a Millward Brown Demographic Ad Tracking Study in 2017.
The Best & Worst Real Estate Logos (+ Pro Design Tips)
Best Real Estate Company to Work For—New Agents: Coldwell Banker
Coldwell Banker Stats at a Glance:
- Year Founded: 1906
- Number of Offices: 3,100
- Number of Agents: 92,159
- Current CEO: M. Ryan Gorman
- Best Known For: A legacy brand that might be the most recognizable real estate company in the country
In a bit of a surprise, Coldwell Banker has emerged as our pick for the best real estate brand for new agents due to their consistent commitment to training and mentorship of new agents.
Their commitment is demonstrated by their top-down training resources and constant encouragement (and funding) of their franchisees to effectively spur professional development. Their dedication to agent growth makes them a great choice for someone just starting off.
Coldwell Banker Pros
Coldwell Banker Cons
Coldwell Banker Commission Structure
Even though the commission and fees at Coldwell Banker are reasonable, they aren’t anything to write home about. Here are the details:
- No company-wide policy for cap, split, or desk fees; all are negotiated at the local level on an agent-by-agent basis
- Universal 8% per commission franchise fee even after you hit cap
Coldwell Banker Company Culture
Throughout our analysis of Coldwell Banker company culture, we kept coming back to the same phrase: client-focused. They live this value with something they call “Big Blue Culture,” which can best be summarized as a “relentless pursuit of the best possible client experience.”
This sort of client-centric focus is great for new agents who are still learning the ropes as far as interaction, sales, and best practices. Corporate leaders, all the way down to local franchise officials consistently refer to this aspect of the company’s culture.
From Family-Owned to Billion Dollar Brokerage: How Servant Leadership Built a Real Estate Empire
We spoke with Tracy Bacigalupi, Vice President of Marketing for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies, the largest Coldwell Banker franchisee in the country, and here’s what she had to say about the resources available to agents to get them into the swing of Big Blue Culture:
“Coldwell Banker has an amazing amount of resources that it provides to Realtors and brokers on a local level. Our programs like CBU (Coldwell Banker University) provide an incredibly rich and customizable approach to training that is perfect for experienced agents and people brand-new to the business.”
Coldwell Banker Branding
Coldwell Banker is a legacy brand that’s been associated with trusted real estate service since the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Its recent rebranding and logo updates show that the company is committed to moving forward and building a business that has an exciting future, not just a storied past.
We’ll admit it—we were skeptical at first to see changes to a trusted logo, but they come with a new-and-improved set of marketing resources that facilitate every agent’s efforts, but especially those of new agents.
Best Real Estate Company to Work For–Part-time Agents: eXp Realty
eXp Realty Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Offices: 0
Number of Agents: 80,000
Current CEO: Glen Sanford
Best Known For: Being the first mainstream, completely virtual brokerage
You haven’t even read our explanation yet, and we can already hear what you’re thinking. “What?! A virtual brokerage beat out other major brick-and-mortar brands?!” Yes, yes it did.
And here’s why: When it comes to being a part-time agent, there are three things that are important to you.
Making the financials work: If you have lots of upfront fees and costs due outside of a transaction, the math can sometimes make your real estate side hustle impossible. With eXp Realty, you don’t have to stress about that.
Working at your own pace: Your growth should be on your own schedule. eXp Realty has you covered.
Remote company culture: You need a company that really embraces the remote working lifestyle. eXp Realty lives remotely.
Can You Be a Part-time Real Estate Agent?
eXp Realty Pros
eXp Realty Cons
eXp Realty Revenue & Commission Structure
The eXp Realty commission structure is simple and easy to understand. Similar to Keller Williams, eXp Realty also offers a revenue-sharing program for agents you recruit to join the brokerage. They also offer some stock options for high-performing agents. Here are the details.
Every agent in the company has a cap of $16,000. Splits are 80/20, and after you meet that cap, you keep 100% of your commissions—no desk fees, no royalty fees, no franchise fees.
|3% on $250,000 Sale|
Revenue Sharing: Better Than Profit-sharing
Similar to Keller Williams, eXp Realty also offers passive income options, paying you a percentage of the commission made by any agent that you recruit.
While Keller Williams offers agents a share of profit (which can be a relatively thin margin depending on your Market Center), eXp offers a share of revenue. This approach puts more money in the pockets of eXp Realty agents who can recruit. It also makes recruiting a potentially more profitable pursuit than at Keller Williams.
eXp Realty also offers stock options to agents after they’ve hit certain performance marks each year. Stock options generally only benefit high-performing agents, but anyone can work toward this goal, whether they’re working part time or full time.
eXp Realty Company Culture
Since eXp is a completely remote business with no brick-and-mortar locations, the only real option for developing a company culture is through a virtual environment.
eXp offers a LOT of livestreamed training and networking (up to eight hours of live content per day). A massive library of prerecorded material is also available on eXp’s virtual campus. Seriously, you’ll find thousands of hours of on-demand training on just about every subject you can think of.
Through these tools, it’s pretty clear that the eXp Realty company culture is all about providing agents and teams with the tools they need to create an individualized path that makes sense for their business. eXp Realty agents seem to be very excited about this sort of self-reliance and support.
We asked Gogo Bethke, a high-performing agent with eXp Realty, about training opportunities and company culture. Here’s what she told us.
“The best that I’ve ever experienced on any level, period. There are so many different groups of eXp agents, so many different platforms that they (eXp Realty) provide access to.
“And, you can’t get more convenient than eXp. I could be sitting with my feet in the sands of Mexico and attend a live session on post-closing occupancy in the eXp virtual classroom. I’ve been with multiple real estate brands across my career, and I have never seen anything like what eXp offers.”
eXp Realty Branding
The eXp Realty branding strategy is a little different than others on this list. Since eXp Realty is the only company that isn’t built on the franchise model, you’d think that they’d have a strong, centralized brand presence. But, given the fact that they don’t have any brick-and-mortar locations and the success of the company is really built off the success of each individual agent and team, this isn’t the case.
The eXp Realty branding is minimal, limited, and often a very minor part of an agent’s marketing. Yes, it appears on business cards and yard signs, but it’s likely not a logo you can picture in your head, and the standards to which it has to be applied are loose.
Best Real Estate Company to Work the Luxury Market: Compass
Compass Stats at a Glance:
- Year Founded: 2012
- Number of Offices: 426
- Number of Agents: 25,000
- Current CEO: Robert Reffkin
- Best Known For: Operating a high-end, technology-forward business targeted at the country’s most lucrative markets
You can’t talk about luxury real estate services in the country’s most lucrative markets without including Compass Real Estate in that conversation. The smallest (and youngest) company on our list, Compass Real Estate has pushed hard into the highest net worth communities in the U.S. quickly. This is something they’ve been able to achieve because, like eXp Realty, Compass isn’t based on a franchise model—they’re centrally owned and operated.
Compass is on our list because they’ve branded themselves as a company with capable, experienced luxury real estate professionals, and they have the consistent brand to back it up, complete with luxury office experiences, high-end technology, thoughtful, personalized communication, and more.
How to Become a Luxury Real Estate Agent—10 Easy Ways to Break Into the Luxury Market
|Compass Pros||Compass Cons|
Compass Commission Structure
There is no standard cap / split commission structure at Compass; each of these deals are negotiated individually with incoming agents. The good news is that Compass believes strongly in attracting/recruiting/accepting only the strongest agents in the markets they’re active in, so if you’re at the negotiating table with Compass, chances are they want you to be a part of their organization as much as you want to be a part of their organization.
We’ve heard various reports about the commission structure from agents, ranging from a 60/40 split for brand-new agents all the way up to a 90/10 split for seasoned top producers.
Compass Company Culture
The company culture at Compass is noticeably different than it is at the other brands on our list. The Compass company culture is much more of a “hustle-harder” environment—what we’d liken to a finals club at an Ivy League university more than the break room of a Main Street cafe.
For instance, Compass has (or at least had for a while) a very popular “6 am Club,” where hustlers are up early, working together, sharpening one another and their businesses.
Compass isn’t afraid to spend some money. They’ve made some very interesting tech acquisitions to help bolster their agents’ business, like customer relationship management (CRM) powerhouse Contactually.
Overall, it’s clear that Compass and its agents are hungry for success, organized around getting after it aggressively, and aren’t there for fun—they’re there to win.
Everything about Compass—from the facade of their office buildings to the stock of their postcards—feels high-end, bespoke. One of the true benefits of running a centralized brokerage model like Compass is that you get ultimate control over the consistency of brand, image, and quality—something you just can’t have when you’re operating a franchise model with thousands of independently owned offices.
2022 Disrupter Award: Side, Inc
The Disrupter Award is offered each year to a real estate company or brand that is turning the traditional real estate brokerage model on its head and finding a ton of success doing it.
This year, the clear winner is Side. Founded in 2014 by regular Inman Connect panelist Guy Gal, Chief Tech Officer Edward Wu, and Chief Broker Officer Hilary Saunders, Side does things differently.
First, they believe that brokerages should work for agents, not the other way around. This means that all the prospecting, marketing, coordination, admin work (and more) that you spend the majority of your time on is done for you.
Second, Side is not looking to build out a roster of just any ’ole agents. Side is very clear that they’re only looking for the best of the best in the markets they serve. The typical Side agent closes north of $40 million in sales volume every year, on average. This means that their headcount is small (not so for all the other companies on our list), but everyone there is an absolute shark.
Finally, Side appears to us here at The Close (though, to be fair, they haven’t said this explicitly) to be built as a team incubator. So much of Side’s value to top producers gets magnified when they build a team under this structure. We can’t imagine they’d turn away the best solo agent in a major market because they didn’t want to form a team, but the writing on the wall seems to say that it’s central to their approach.
With a market valuation of nearly $2.5 billion in their last round of fundraising and whip-smart advisers like Clelia Peters on their board, Side is likely to continue to push hard into the luxury real estate space.
Now, we want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts on our picks. Do your experiences line up with what we’ve found? If you’re a real estate professional working in a local office, whether a major brand or a mom-and-pop shop, we want to hear from you.