Real estate interview questions: Choosing a broker
Real Estate Interview Questions
When you’re choosing a real estate brokerage, it’s helpful to be armed with a collection of great real estate interview questions.
How long has your company been in business?
- You want to be sure they are financially stable enough to stay in business through the tough times. Real estate is cyclical, just like any market. You want a company that has staying power.
- The age of the company doesn’t NECESSARILY translate into staying power, but it’s an indicator. There are other things to consider that will give you clues, such as their market share, number of agents, number of offices, etc.
What is your role here?
- You will most likely be interviewing with a sales manager or recruiter. In smaller companies, you may be interviewing with the owner. It’s not overly important which one is in front of you, but you want to know who’s who.
How many agents work here?
- There is no right or wrong answer here, but you probably want a place that’s fairly large for your market when you’re new in the business. They will generally have more resources such as training, technology, specialized staff members, etc. Smaller companies are more susceptible to swings in the market.
Do you have a coaching program for new agents?
- It’s helpful to have a dedicated coach for your first few transactions. Be sure to check on any cost associated with a coach (which is usually worth it).
- If there’s a coaching program, you will want to understanding the length of time you’ll be in it, what is the financial arrangement, what will the coach do and not do for you.
What is your current market share?
- Bigger is better, but there are other factors to consider as you make your decision. A red flag here is if they sound like they are dodging the question, or simply don’t know the answer.
What is your mix of business between buyers and sellers?
- They get bonus points if it’s slanted heavily on the seller side. Having a healthy seller business is important for any brokerage for a variety of reasons. They provide marketing opportunities, open house opportunities, etc.
Who are your biggest competitors?
- A red flag here is if the answer includes something about a competitor that makes the interviewer seem bitter or jealous. Trash talking is never a good sign. Again, it’s not so much what the answer is, but it’s something you should know.
What sort of real estate training do you offer? Who does the training?
- You want to hear that the training is varied and ongoing, and that the people providing the training are experienced and successful in the real estate business.
What are your policies around marketing and branding? (This is one of the most telling real estate interview questions)
- Is it focused on the company or the individuals?
- If the company “brand” is at the forefront, this means you are probably talking to a brokerage running the old fashioned business model.
- It will be difficult to build your own brand underneath their umbrella. That’s fine if that’s what you’re looking for, but you should know before you dive into it.
- Are you allowed to do your own marketing or are you forced to use their options? Do they have designers or printing companies you will be forced to use, or can you find your own solutions? Is there a cost associated with custom marketing materials?
- The first thing you want to know here is how much control the company wants to maintain over their agents.
- The second thing you want to know here is if they are using their agents’ marketing efforts as an extra money-maker for the office. Steer clear of places that can’t or won’t clearly answer this question. Some brokerages like to work deals where they get kickbacks from suppliers of marketing materials, business cards, etc.
- The third thing you want to know is how much the company will contribute to your marketing. If you are talking to an old fashioned brokerage, they will likely subsidize some of the marketing cost (in exchange for keeping more of your commission dollars). If you are talking to a barber shop or interdependent brokerage, you will be responsible for most or all of the marketing (in exchange for being able to keep most of your commission dollars).
How would you describe your company culture?
- There is no right or wrong answer here, either. I guess the only possible “wrong” answer would be no answer at all. This will be a matter of personal preference. Some people function well in a hardcore sales environment, some people like a highly social environment and some people don’t care at all. The things you want to hear revolve around SERVICE, HONESTY, ETHICS and RESPECT. They may not use those exact words, but you should get the idea with their answers.
Do you allow agents to build teams?
- Whether you plan to eventually build a real estate team or not, you want to be with a company that allows teams. Why? Because it means they are interested in helping their agents build a business that has real value. If you can only be a stand-alone agent, your ability to build a business that has real value (to sell someday?) will be limited.
What sort of technology tools do you offer your agents?
- Most agents end up finding their own technology solutions, but it’s great if the brokerage is paying for some of that. There are a gazillion technology providers, so be sure to ask lots of questions about whatever they show you.
What’s the commission arrangement?
- This might be the most important of all the real estate interview questions! I wrote a separate post about the prevailing compensation models in the real estate business. You can read about it here. Be sure you get examples of how the commission structure works and take good notes.
What monthly and annual fees do you charge your agents?
- There are inevitably going to be some regular fees. What you want to know is how many of them are “office” fees (desk fee, insurance, tech fee, training fee, etc.) and how many are regular fees that all real estate agents pay (MLS, Realtor Board dues, continuing education, etc.)
Does your company have any sort of profit sharing system?
- Keller Williams was the first major company to start sharing their company profits in a big way. Many other companies are now offering some sort of profit sharing as well. Click here if you’d like to learn more about Keller Williams profit sharing.
Do the agents “own” their databases, or do those belong to the brokerage? (This is also one of the most telling real estate interview questions)
- This is a critical real estate interview question. You want an answer that sounds something like this: “Your contacts and your database belong 100% to you and you can take them with you if you ever decide to leave.” If you get a different answer that sounds like the company wants some control over your contacts or your database, politely end the interview and keep looking. YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR DATABASE. Nobody should ever have control of that besides you.
What happens to my business if I ever leave your company to work with a competitor? (This is one of my favorite real estate interview questions)
- This is like asking for a prenup–even if you have the best of intentions, you want to know what happens if the day comes when you don’t love each other anymore. The things to look for here are what happens to your commission split on any pending transactions and what happens to your active listings. In most states, the brokerage technically “owns” all of the listing agreements even if those are your clients. Any reputable brokerage will release your listings to you should you ever decide to leave and they won’t mess with your commission structure on any pending deals. Unfortunately, there are many brokerages who will be nasty to you if you leave. Just get it in writing so there’s no confusion.
Do you have any other real estate interview questions you think we should include? If so, please let us know in the comments.