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Full Version: The Rookie SWS'er Guide to Broker Interviews
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This is a special thread just for the brand-spanking new members of our crowd!

Let me give my regular disclaimer that the vast majority of broker promises with regards to training are way overblown. Any training you get will likely be all about prospecting, and secondarily, technology (learning the MLS, contract software, CMA's and such). You will get very little decent training on competence issues, such as pricing homes, working with buyers, negotiating inspections, negotiating contracts, etc. As my friend was recently told when she emailed her broker with the news that she had a $1.5M buyer lead in her first month: "Good for you! Let me know if you need anything."

Not all brokers are this dismissive about our duties to competently serve our clients, but many are. They'll promise the world in mentoring and availability, but reality rarely measures up.

If you're a SWS'er, you'll want to find an office that fits your personality. If the training is going to focus on door-knocking, cold-calling, FSBO-chasing and referral-begging (and these activities sound dreadful to you), you're in the wrong place. When you refuse to do these things, you'll be scolded; maybe even ridiculed. Pass them by. Look for an office where there seems to be respect for competence and expertise, not just prospecting and paychecks. I can't tell you exactly how to ascertain this, but I think you'll know. If, while you're interviewing, you get an icky feeling in your gut, trust that feeling. Move on.

Interview at least 5 places. If you're still struggling to figure out which one is right, you probably haven't found it yet (although I'd like my rookie friends' thoughts on that one). While no office is perfect, my experience is that one WILL stand out and seem to be an obvious choice.

But if you pick the wrong one, don't fret. It's not a huge deal to move - really, it isn't. This is not a life-changing decision.

Most pre-rookies, when interviewing, tend to focus on splits and fees. I'd encourage you to make these secondary to your overall feel for the office and the support you'll get. However, keep in mind that the "cheaper" an office is to work in, the less training and support you can expect. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true that "you get what you pay for" because you can pay A LOT to your brokerage and get zippo back. But if you're not paying much (i.e. a low split and no or low fees), it's pretty certain you'll be on your own. Those brokerages are for experienced agents who don't want help or part-time agents who just want a place to hang their license. Not for you.
Continuing on...

What are some questions to ask brokers when you're interviewing?

First of all, know that most brokers have interviewed dozens, if not hundreds of agents, so they know how to run the interview. They'll likely answer most of your questions during their "presentation." So don't worry too much about showing up with your own list of Q's.

As alluded to in the opening thread, don't focus on splits and fees. The broker will share those with you when he's ready - you won't have to ask. But here are some things you might want to know about how you're paid:

1.  How do I increase my split? (typically your split goes up with your production)

2.  Does the split re-set at the beginning of each year? (e.g. you start each year at 60/40, regardless of where you ended up, split-wise, the year before)

3.  Are there any additional per-transaction fees? (these can really add up!)

4.  What happens to your split if you leave the company and have closings after you've left? (if you have deals under contract and leave the company, your split at closing might revert back to a 50/50 or something like that. You might want to save this question for brokers you're more serious about. More on this below).

Other questions to ask, or at least get a feel for:

1.  Will there be someone available to me to help me through my first deals? (really listen to this answer. If it's anything other than an enthusiastic "Absolutely, I'll be right there with you!" - e.g. "the agents around here are always willing to help" assume that you'll be on your own. Which is bad, very bad for a rookie.)

2.  Do you have any restrictions on how I market myself? (some brokerage don't allow personal websites - seriously - or require you to use the broker's email address and general phone number on your marketing. Some of this stuff will be state-mandated, but you want as much freedom in your self-promotion efforts as allowed by law).

3.  What sort of administrative support is available to agents? (is the office open 7 days a week? do they provide showing services? transaction coordination? graphic design? You may not want to pay for a bunch of services if you won't use them, FYI.)

4.  How are incoming leads handled? (it doesn't matter too much what the answer is to this because you should not be depending on your office to supply business. However, if there's great floor time or a strong relocation department, it's good to know about. But, if you're paying top dollar to work in an office that does a lot of advertising, you want to be sure you're getting your share of what you're paying for.)

5.  Will you be allowed to take your listings with you if you leave the company? (This really is a big deal. Some brokerages allow you to take them, some don't. It's a tough question to ask upfront because it's rather negative, but you'll wish you had when you eventually leave this company. It should be spelled out in your Independent Contractor Agreement, so look for it there if you forgot to ask or chickened out during the interview.)

What other questions should a soulful newbie ask? Please share!

Oh, BTW, here is a link to a similar thread on another forum that might give you some more ideas: http://www.agentsonline.net/forums/ubbth...397/1.html


Some other questions:

"Is there a lender, title company or other vendor affiliated with the brokerage, and do I have to use them?" Your job is to provide the best for your client, not for the broker. Sometimes, and in-house loan officer is a benefit. More often, outside  lenders and other vendors are better for your client.

"Do I have to work from the office or can I work from home, the local Starbucks or my car?" We are independent contractors. If you prefer to work from home, you should be able to do so without any pressure from your broker to do otherwise.

"Are meetings mandatory?" Meetings at some brokerages (like the one I'm with) can be informative and encouraging, whereas other places' meeting are a time-waster and soul-sucker.


Wow!  You guys have given me so much valuable information!  Thank you so much!  My instructor briefly touched on the subjects but didn't elaborate.

This question may sound silly to some, but I have been working at my current job for 23 years; Do I need to bring a resume to these interviews?
Also, would it be un-professional to bring a physical list of questions to the interview or would it be best to memorize what I need to ask? 
I would hate to forget to ask something important.  ???


Sorry, I forgot to ask:  How long does a typical interview take? :-\


Renjdiana - As to your last question, the answer is: How long is a piece of string? The interview will last until it ends. If it's going well you won't even feel the time pass. If badly, you'll be out of there in 15 minutes. The last time I interviewed with a broker (my current broker), it lasted two hours. But with her it's always a mutual interview. Her interview with another of us SWSers (Erin, you know who you are) lasted even longer than mine.

As for a written resume: not necessary. No one decided in grade school they were going to grow up to be a realtor. We all come from something else, and your conversation will naturally and briefly go into your past and your skill sets. You should turn the conversation around and ask the broker the same questions -- why/how did s/he get into the business? What benefits would this office provide for you? Etc.

Keep in mind this is NOT a job interview. You're looking for comfort and support from this person, and s/he is looking to see if you can be an asset to the organization. It costs the broker practically nothing to take you on. They already own the desks, chairs, computers and phones. Most are looking for warm bodies with an apparent ability to bring in money.

One more questions to ask: What does the agency proved gratus? Cards and letterhead? Signage? If they charge, what does it cost? Who pays for advertising?

Also, what about in-house design and production capabilities for fact sheets for listings? Is there a charge? Will you have to find outside designers and printers?

Don't bring notes. Your interview should feel kind of social. This is a social business and ideally you and broker should feel comfortable with each other. If that does not happen, that might be the wrong place for you.

Good luck.


Thanks, Ed.  You have been very helpful.



Hi All,
(I lost my membership id & password and couldn't get back to the website) I've been in resale for 6 months and boy is it different from New Homes Sales (I bet there more of us out there but resale agents tend to look down on the new home agents). Any way my first 3 months were fantastic! I had a broker who met with me 2/3 times a week for coaching. And then he left! Sad

Our new broker is ....different! Training has stopped, classes not offered anymore and I'm floundering. But just as I despaired my in box had a new email from SOI. You've helped me to realize that maybe I need to be more proactive, get out there and register for classes.
Great stuff Ed & others!!!
(07-11-2009 06:08 AM)Jennifer Allan Hagedorn Wrote: [ -> ]If you're a SWS'er, you'll want to find an office that fits your personality....Interview at least 5 places.

This is wonderful advice that I am filing away for the day I finally have my license in hand! It does bring to mind a concern that has been nagging at me for a while now. How do you approach the [very successful] broker friend who is eager to have you join his team if you don't feel like you would be a good fit for his office? I have a friend who has been very supportive of me over the years as I've contemplated going into the field, and he has indicated that he would love to have me come to his office and he would throw me every lead he could get his hands on? On the surface, this seems like a dream come true, but I can't help but feel reluctant. What if there aren't as many leads as he promises? What if I don't like the split/support/atmosphere/training?

I worry that going elsewhere might mean passing up a good opportunity to make faster inroads into the local market while offending a friend, but seizing the opportunity guarantees nothing and could put me at odds with him in the future. I'd be curious to hear from others who faced similar dilemmas and what the outcomes were.
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