Interviewing for a Position at a Real Estate Firm

Dated: August 15 2020

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Female estate agent showing mid adult woman around property
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Real estate brokers-in-charge are nearly always in the recruiting mode. If they have desk space available, many will take on almost anyone with a valid license and a desire to work. Don't wait for the broker to advertise for salespeople. You can just call the broker yourself.

Some firms may require that you commit to a full-time job in real estate, and not hold a second job; while others will hire agents who work part-time. A few allow agents to be associated with the firm, even if they don't work on a regular basis. This allows someone with a salesperson's license to remain on active status, rather than go inactive, as they are technically under the supervision of a broker.

How to Select a Real Estate Firm

Even if you are considering a particular real estate firm, it's recommended you interview with several before you make your final decision. The following tips can help you determine the right agency:

    • Notice which for-sale signs are most common in your desired work location. The firm with the most listings isn't necessarily the best place for a new agent, but because of their strong presence in the local market, they should be considered a potential employer.
    • Pick up local real estate publications such as the free magazines available at supermarkets and other businesses, and examine the ads that stand out.
    • Check your local Chamber of Commerce or city visitor's center. Search for firms that provide handouts to potential residents. Find out if they are promotions for individual agents or for the agency in general, which benefit all agents.
  • Look at television, radio, and other advertising to see what agencies dominate those areas.
  • Ask a few local agents which agencies they recommend, of course, recognizing that real estate agents may favor their own firm.
  • Check the internet for popular real estate sites such as Zillow and Trulia to see which real estate firms are selling properties.
  • If you're in a small market, talk to them all.

Maintain Control of the Interview

In most job interviews, your goal is to convince the interviewer that you are the best person for the job. However, in real estate, you are also interviewing the broker to determine their suitability as an employer.

The majority of real estate agents are independent contractors, not employees. While agents have a fair amount of freedom, they are also responsible for most of their business expenses, so it's important to know what training and other benefits a firm offers before you accept a position.

How to Interview the Broker-in-Charge

successful real estate career is dependent on your desire to succeed and your willingness to persevere during a slow beginning. The rate of your success will depend on your work habits, but choosing the right agency can help jump-start the process. To determine a suitable agency, it is important to find out the requirements and benefits, as well as any assistance in helping you to succeed as a new agent.

In terms of training, determine the following:

    • What type of training is offered for new agents? If a broker's answer is none, that agency is probably not the best place to begin a real estate career.
    • Does the firm have a designated trainer, perhaps the broker or another experienced agent who acts as a mentor for new agents?
    • Will you attend classes?
    • If part of a franchise, are there local or regional training sessions for new agents? If so, who pays for the training?
    • How many new agents have the firm hired during the past year? How many of those agents are still with the firm? A revolving door of agents is a red flag.

Sometimes creatively called "opportunity duty," there may be times you are scheduled and required to work at the real estate office:

  • Are all agents scheduled for floor duty, and if so, how often?
  • Are phone leads, walk-in customers, and referrals given to the agents on duty when those leads come in? If not, how are they distributed?
  • Will the brokerage train you to work the floor?

Advertising is a major expense for real estate agents, so anything the agency pays for is a plus:

    • Does the firm pay for the typical agency ad where listings are showcased or are you required to pay for the space occupied by your listings?
    • Does the firm pay for any portion of property ads? 
    • What types of advertising does the firm do? For instance, newspaper, radio, television, internet, for-sale publications, bulk mailings, Chamber of Commerce, and other local promotions.
    • Does the firm have a bulk mail permit? The expense of a bulk mailing is typically yours, but many firms pay the yearly permit fee.

Regarding computer equipment, digital cameras, and other technology:

  • Does the firm provide computer equipment to agents, or are you expected to bring your own to the office?
  • What types of software are loaded on office computers? Are all agents allowed to use the existing software?

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Tammy Broxson

Tammy Broxson is the Broker Owner of Broxson Real Estate Group, a boutique real estate brokerage in Florida. Tammy is also a State of Florida Real Estate Instructor and a mentor to other real estate p....

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