Do you like gossip? Well, hang around any brokerage the week after a top agent leaves, and you’ll get an earful. One agent is positive they get a signing bonus and a 90% split at brokerage X while another swears that they’re being groomed for a managing broker gig …
The truth? Well, let’s say that everyone is dreaming of better splits, better leads, a nicer office, and the latest shiny object brokers offer good agents, the ever-elusive signing bonus. That’s enough to make even the humblest agent dream of the big leagues.
The only problem is knowing when to make the big move. To help you avoid begging for your old desk back, we put together this list of the 17 signs that you’re ready to quit and find a new brokerage.
They mean well―they do, but we’ve all had brokers who are so “hands-on” that they end up micromanaging your deals. Of course, as an independent contractor who knows her stuff, spending a million hours a week talking through your deals with your broker is not only annoying but can make even the best agents second-guess themselves.
So, if your broker keeps sticking their beak into your deals and ignores all your polite yet firm hints that you know what you’re doing, it might be time to pack it in and look for a less “hands-on” manager.
This one should be a no-brainer for the financially savvy out there, but I’ve known a million talented agents in New York City who stuck with outdated, outmatched, and outmaneuvered brokers who don’t even offer a competitive split or help with marketing.
Of course, that magic number is up to you, but remember that the money you earn on each deal can grow exponentially in the right investment or will make your daily grind much easier to justify to your significant other.
This is one that we’ve seen far too often, and it’s such a lopsided arrangement that we always think the agent is related to the broker. Why else would they stick with a brokerage that can’t build a brand better than the one they’ve built? Isn’t this one of the main reasons you hang your hat with a broker in the first place?
Because branding can be subjective, and so many agents have inflated egos, you have to be careful to compare apples to apples. Sure, your logo might look a little more up to date, but how well does your brand fit into your local farm area?
If you need some help objectively judging your branding, check out our in-depth guide to real estate branding here.
Do you want to watch a brand new agent grow up before your eyes? Go out to lunch with them after they realize that those “optional” weekly sales meetings are about as mandatory as breathing or paying taxes.
That said, even if the meetings are boring, sitting in a room full of talented agents you like is usually an uplifting rather than soul-crushing experience. This can be a key indicator of whether or not it’s time to move on. Do you secretly loathe all the people in your sales meeting? Congratulations. Unless you’re a masochist, you’ve discovered an excellent reason to jump ship.
After all, the good energy you get from your fellow agents can mean the difference between a miserable job and a fulfilling career. Trust me on this one. You’re going to need drinking buddies who know what you went through with that last deal.
This is something that micromanagers tend to morph into if you let them. Yes, they know they’re not lawyers, and you’re certainly not a lawyer but, well, they can’t help themselves. They rose through the ranks because of narcissism and luck rather than hard work. Don’t let their hubris drag you and your hard-earned license into a potential lawsuit. Unless they’re the only game in town, and you have a strategy to ignore their “advice” tactfully, it’s not worth it.
OK, let’s get real here for a minute. Getting a real estate license is easy and, in many cities, brokers are so desperate for warm bodies that they’ll hire pretty much anyone with a pulse. That means your new office might be filled with passive-aggressive, manipulative, negative, or downright sociopathic fellow agents who are going to make you miserable.
Before you know it, you’ll catch yourself repeating the same defeatist nonsense they do. You’re going to struggle to stay positive and avoid doing deals with the agents in your office. Again, it’s just not worth it. Sure, you can ignore everyone in your office and go through your day like an ostrich, but why should you when there are positive, upbeat, nonsociopathic offices you can start working in tomorrow?
Ha. I once had a broker that was so touchy-feely that he ended up trying to get involved in relationship problems and personal disputes, and his sales meetings felt more like some kind of creepy group therapy from the 1970s. I won’t use the word cult leader here, but yeah. He was a less-charming mix of Oprah Winfrey and Charles Manson.
So, if your broker starts going all encounter group on you, then it might be time to start looking for a new brokerage.
“Our coffee, who art in the kitchen, give us our energy for our daily grind, in office as it is in Starbucks.”
Now, I’m not saying that coffee is a religion for agents I’ve worked with, but let’s just say I’ve seen my share of people praying before the coffee maker more than a few times in my day. It’s also something that your broker, if she knows what she’s doing, is going to provide for her hard-working real estate agents.
The Keurig is the assault rifle of office coffee deployment. No waiting for pots to brew, no side-eye at an empty pot. Instead, you lock and load your K-Cup, press the button, and then run back to the battlefield.
If your broker is stingy enough to offer you tactical, weapons-grade, military-style assault coffee and then take it away … well, let’s just say this doesn’t bode well for future split increases.
Like we said before, the vibe in a real estate office is more important than most people think. Yes, an accounting office can be tedious but, then again, so is accounting. It also doesn’t require you to be on your emotional A-game to make enough to pay your mortgage.
A real estate office? Hell, a real estate office is like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. You need that energy to keep heading in the right direction. Once it goes, watch out. You might find yourself needing an AA meeting because you start blowing off steam in less than healthy ways.
This is a big one. Even putting the sleazy lack of morality aside, once this kind of thing comes out in the open, your reputation might go down with the ship. So, unless you think your brand can survive getting lumped in with racists, witnessing fair housing violations is a huge red flag that your brokerage is damaged goods that you need to separate from as soon as possible.
Do you know for a fact that you’ve produced more than other newer agents in your office and your broker didn’t so much as send you a congratulatory email? If so, then it might be a sign that your broker doesn’t value talent or, worse, is too sneaky to be trusted.
Any smart broker is going to realize that if you’re crushing it for him, you can crush it for anyone. Why not find a broker who understands what you’re worth and doesn’t make you beg for a commission bump?
While not quite as crucial as coffee (hallowed be its name), snacks can mean the difference between making it through the day and jumping out the window “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”-style. Snacks are serious business.
At my last brokerage, before they got purchased by a monster real estate conglomerate that shall remain nameless, we had bagels and cream cheese, fruit, granola, and sometimes cupcakes in the kitchen. Sure, they were sometimes leftovers from meetings with bigwig developers, but those snacks made the office feel more like a sleepover than work … I dunno, maybe this one is just me?
Odds are there are quite a few people in your office right now that are just barely treading water. They don’t make enough money, they have trouble with rejection, and their deals always seem to go pear-shaped. This is pretty much par for the course for any real estate office.
But if everyone in your office, even the ones closing 30 deals a year are miserable, then this could be a sign that you’re working in a toxic environment. By the time you figure out why it’s toxic, it might be too late. Better to cut your losses and, ideally, find someplace that even the brand-new agents come to work with a smile on their face.
It never fails to amaze me at just how cheap and unprofessional some luxury brokerages are. Broken chairs, dirty glass conference table, a stained carpet, or worse, a funky smell, are a surefire way to have your buyers or sellers rethink their commitment to you as a professional. Maybe this place isn’t entirely as professional as their website makes them look?
While you may not care, or worse, take some kind of Berkshire Hathaway frugal pride in working out of a crummy office, your customers will notice. Why give them any reason, no matter how small, to not call you a year from now?
This one will only apply to agents working in big cities or with pricey rentals, but it’s an important indicator of your brokerage’s reputation in your local market. What kind of people pause to check out your listings in the window? At some brokerages I’ve worked at, the difference was night and day.
At one brokerage, we got such a steady stream of well-qualified walk-ins with deep pockets who agents would fight over who the secretary called to help them out. At other brokerages … well, we were lucky to get any walk-ins at all, and the few that we got were a decade away from being able to afford anything.
While technology generally won’t make or break a great brokerage with a history of success, it will make your life there as an agent miserable. How do I know? Well, let’s just say I’ve done time at brokerages that think the word “document” is synonymous with “unreadable photocopy.” One place I worked at in Manhattan, which shall remain nameless, still used an electronic typewriter to fill in boilerplate standard Blumberg leases for high-end rentals. It’s one thing to drag your renters into the office for a lease signing, and quite another to hand them a ditto paper lease with whiteout on sections they wanted on-the-spot corrections on.
Worse, I had friends working at other brokerages who were using newfangled transaction management software, appointment setting apps, electronic signature apps―you name it. Who do you think had an easier time nabbing new Google hires when they moved to Chelsea?
My friends usually laugh, then start to get concerned when I tell them just how personal brokers and coworkers can get in a real estate office. It’s almost like hurricane survivors who bond at a shelter. But there is always that one broker or associate broker who steps over the line and just creeps people out.
Is it worth your time to call them out? Maybe, especially if they do something that crosses the line, but most of the time it’s better just to call it a day.
Over to You
What are some signs you noticed before you decided to jump ship and find a new brokerage? Let us know in the comments.