From Realtor to Broker: Determining the Model

by Chicago Agent

By Amanda Lopez, AGBeat.com

When you are a Realtor with the itch to be an indie broker, one of the hardest decisions you will make is  what type of brokerage you want to build. Realizing this early on is going to end up being an integral and huge part of the rest of your story, so pay attention!

There are many brokerage models to look at in this choice. From mom and pop (literally, I’ve seen brokerages who are two people working out of home, a drop box for mail pieces (paper) and still have only a home phone to call!), to two to eight agents, 15 to 30, or the “let’s recruit anyone with a heartbeat” model with lots of overhead and expenses.

Option one: a traditionally named team 

Are you planning on building a team brokerage approach where your own name is the brand (Smith Realty)?

Pro: If you already have a well-known name in your area, you could easily expand on a full team and have total control of the company. No one else can build a team within your brand because it’s your brand. If done correctly, there have been extremely successful companies built that produce sales like a well-oiled branding machine with one to three local locations.

Con: This model can only take you so far, generally speaking. Remember, if the county next to you (or neighborhood) doesn’t know you, expansion may be harder, and you’re climbing an already steep hill with opening a new place and trying to show people why they should work with your personal name. For me, Amanda Lopez Realty or Lopez Realty, was not even an option, for obvious reasons – it doesn’t roll off your tongue at all!

Option two: a niche brand

Do you have a specific niche that you will brand (green, über-corporate, service-focused, modern homes, new construction, condos, a local neighborhood name)?

Pro: While your market may be smaller, you could potentially “own” that niche and be the most sought-after expert who no one else can even compete with!

Con: You run into past friends, family, clients and fellow agents. They say to you “Hi! Its been so long! How’s real estate going? You sell condos in that one building downtown, right? I just bought a million-dollar single-family a few blocks away!” You: “Congrats! I do sell condos, but I’m also a licensed agent who sells all sorts of homes…”

Option three: breaking the mold

Do you have a vision of a completely different type of brokerage that could be taken to any market and succeed with the right tools?

Pro: You can spread your wings, not worry about convention and have no potential limits. If branded correctly or with the right timing and people around you, you can create buzz and attract agents and clients who also believe in your brand. The sky is the limit with potential growth.

Con: You are really starting from scratch! You will most likely need a branding consultant, conduct market research, and maybe even spend more time and money on “inventing” your new company’s business model. You can easily fail if you don’t truly nurture that teeny tiny baby of a brand the right way!

Making your choice

There are plenty of franchise opportunities: brokerages that are unconventional and cutting-edge, smaller boutique agencies and traditional companies who offer larger splits to allow you rights to brand yourself under a more corporate umbrella where safety and expenses are paid. But maybe there’s a mix somewhere you can find to fuel you as well as create something you have the time and passion to grow.

There is no right or wrong. Ultimately, it’s your dream, your passion. Go for it!

Amanda Lopez is a real estate broker and founder of Style House Realty in Baltimore, Md. She has worked in the real estate industry for over six years.

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