In search of a great real estate brokerage

Mar 30, 2016

When you are serious about a career in real estate and want to find a brokerage that aligns with your career aspirations, selecting the “right” brokerage is critical to your success.


A fallacy exists that higher commissions should be your ultimate goal, but agent productivity statistics repeatedly reveal that this is not case. If you receive 100 per cent of the commission, you have to ask yourself what kind of support and services you can expect from the brokerage. The answer should be obvious: you get what you pay for, but this is fine for some.

John Lusink, vice-president at Chestnut Park Real Estate in Toronto, says, “A brokerage’s financial stability question only seems to surface when the economy starts to weaken, but realistically you should always be thinking about this. I also see a shift occurring in the industry back to the ‘truly’ full service, responsive brokerage models, especially as the public and our provincial regulatory bodies focus more on professionalism and competency.”

Bill Phillips, CEO of CoPilot Business Coaching in Vancouver says, “According to the National Association of Realtors, the primary reason that agents leave a brokerage is due to the manager. It is important that you are culturally and ethically aligned with your manager. A good manager is objective, knowledgeable, responsive and available either on the phone or via text during ‘extended’ real estate business hours. Before you join a brokerage, run a simple test. Place a call to the manager and count the minutes until they respond. This should be your first and most telling test.”

Richmond Hill, Ont.’s Daryl King, president of the Daryl King Team at Royal LePage Your Community, says, “As a team leader, I looked for a brokerage that understood the needs of a large successful team and supported our efforts by maintaining a strong public relations presence, and maintained very active involvement in the community and local charities. Vivian Risi, owner of Your Community, excels at brand promotion and community activism, which perfectly supplements my team’s efforts. I wanted a brokerage that also invested in marketing and delivered a culture of success.”

In Vancouver, “A great culture is absolutely paramount to operate a successful brokerage,” says Jonathan Cooper, vice president of operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group. “Culture radiates from the firm’s leadership to all members of team. A strong, vibrant culture will be evident whether you are talking with the managing broker, the receptionist or someone in the marketing department,” he says. “Culture plays a major role in the long-term success – or failure – of a brokerage.”

Louise Remillard, president of Profusion Immobilier in Montreal says “Training and development is very important when choosing a brokerage, and it does not matter if you are new to the business or experienced. You should ask the brokerage to provide you with their monthly training schedule to ensure they are delivering all that is communicated during the interview. I would look for the depth and breadth of the courses, along with receiving information on their mentoring and coaching programs.”

Bill Johnston, manager and general counsel at Bosley Real Estate in Toronto, says, “You need to look at the suite of support services that are offered from a brokerage during your due diligence process. Does the company have legal support services? Does it have a marketing department? Does it have a responsive administrative and accounting department? Ask for an office tour so you can feel the energy and vibrancy of the office environment. Ask other Realtors about the reputation of the company as this will reveal some important information. I always tell people, you get what you pay for, so do your homework.”

At Zolo Realty in Toronto, president Mustafa Abbasi says, “When conducting your due diligence on a brokerage, find out what kind of lead generation the company is providing to their salespeople. Are the leads scrubbed and vetted or are they transferred as raw data? Are the leads generated from their main site, a third-party site or from an affiliate web site?” He adds, “Lead generation can be an important ingredient to your success, especially when your traditional sales channels run dry.”

In my previous REM article, In search of a great real estate manager, some other research indicators were disclosed, such as the “agent to manager ratio” and “average productivity per agent”. These results reveal how many salespeople and brokers a manager must support, which is usually a good indicator of responsiveness; and the average salesperson production levels in the firm.

In summary, the key elements you need to research when looking for a new brokerage are:
  • Objective, knowledgeable, responsive management
  • Strong brokerage leadership
  • Strong, inclusive and supportive culture
  • Strong training, mentoring and coaching programs
  • Varied support services
  • Financial viability of the brokerage
  • Strong marketing and branding, and community involvement
  • A good agent/manager ratio
  • A good average productivity per agent
  • Lead generation
  • Reasonable commission splits, fees and expenses

Many salespeople fail to remember that it costs money to run and operate a brokerage and you want to ensure it is a win-win situation for both the salesperson and the broker/owner. Selecting a brokerage should not be taken lightly and your due diligence should be a well thought-out process. Create your list of questions prior to the interview and you will get much more out of the experience. Selecting a good brokerage can be the difference between being a mediocre salesperson and a superstar.

Originally published by REM Online


Don Kottick, FRI CRES

Written by Don Kottick, FRI CRES

Don Kottick is the President & CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. Don is a senior real estate executive with a proven track record of operational and brokerage management success. Prior to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Don was the Executive Vice President, Corporate Development for Peerage Realty Partners. He continues to be a Director for the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and is currently the Past-President/National Director of the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC). Prior to this, Don served four years as Director at Large on the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).