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What all should real estate brokerages pay for?

Should brokers help pay for agents’ online advertising, technologies, training, photography, or mobile devices? Let’s take a look at what some large brokers already offer.

real estate technology

real estate technology

Brokers helping their agents to thrive

With ever-improving tech and new ways to advertise every day, agents obviously need to stay up-to-date on the best technology to get ahead and keep improving. Besides honing skills, utilizing technology to your benefit can one day put you in top producer status, too.

But what about brokerages? What should brokerages be doing in terms of technology to help their agents’ businesses in terms of staying ahead of the game?

I reached out to a few brokerages to see what they provide and pay for to help their agents:

Coldwell Banker

I asked Rich Rogola, digital strategist for Coldwell Banker’s Chicago offices, what most of the company’s money goes to when it comes to websites and software that helps agents. “We invest a lot of money into our own technology and end up building a lot of that out,” he said. “Most of our marketing spending and strategy goes into generating online business for our agents, making sure those leads go back to our agents as quickly as possible and then giving them the tools to stay in touch with their clients during and after the transaction.”

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Coldwell Banker also has various partner programs. In Chicago, the brokerage has a subsidized deal for single property websites through, and Coldwell Banker also pays for agents’ listings on, Zillow and Trulia.

In addition, the company has an eMarketing platform available for free to all agents that helps them stay in touch with clients through email or social media, and provides Homebase, a secure and paperless online transaction management system, for free.

Baird & Warner

This company recently implemented a texting program available to all agents for free, according to Andrea Cordts, communications manager for Baird & Warner. Any buyer interested in any Baird & Warner property can text “BW” to the number 59559, and the user will receive information and property photos via their mobile device. From there, the listing agent will receive the user’s phone number and be able to contact the potential buyer regarding more information or a showing.

“Since it was launched in January of last year, Baird & Warner has received over 30,000 buyer inquiries from this marketing method,” Cordts said.

In addition, Baird & Warner has a mobile CRM that helps them respond to clients in a timely manner, and the company runs over 6,000 websites integrated within this system, and provides the means for agents to create individual property websites for agents to market listings. Baird & Warner also hosts a seminar called “Career Institute” every few months to make sure all agents are familiar with its tech tools.

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Century 21

The company has several partnerships, among them with,, and Trulia, which provides discounts to its agents for certain advertising packages with the various partner sites. For example, agents have a 50 percent discount with the Showcase Advantage program with Trulia and


This boutique firm of about 159 agents and four offices in Chicago pays for all of its agents’ advertisements on Trulia, Zillow, and the Chicago Tribune. The agents are on their own for their own websites.

The takeaway

To me, the most helpful tech “tool” brokerages could do for agents would be paying to advertise listings online. Are brokerage-provided CRMs of any benefit to agents? What do you wish your brokerage provided for you, and what’s better handled yourself?

Note from AGBeat: not all brokerages responded in time to be included in the story. The above is a sampling of brokerages, and is not meant to be a complete dissection of the industry.

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Written By

Stephanie Sims is the managing editor of Agent Publishing, which currently has online publications in Chicago, Houston and Miami. With expertise in evaluating housing markets, website content and social media strategy, and reporting information agents want to know about, Stephanie can be found at her desk with coffee that got cold or not eating lunch because she’s busy planning editorial assignments and interviews for the Agent Publishing websites.



  1. victorlund

    September 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    It is a great question, and the answer is grey. Brokers use these payments to recruit, others use them to justify higher broker splits, others charge technology fees to the agent, and still others just do it because they believe that their agents will be better if they have these tools that they might not otherwise buy.
    Frankly, brokers get much better deals on technology – all technology. There is an economy of scale. But there are certain areas where broker spending is competitive with the agent.
    If an agent wants to define their value to a seller, they may talk about online marketing (geeks may call it listing syndication). An agent who enhances their listing on T, Z, H, or is stepping up and investing in the success of that listing. If the brokerage does it, it levels that playing field for all of its agents. The agent must turn elsewhere – like to a single listing website or a virtual tour. Again, if the broker provides VTs on every listing – the agent looses yet another opportunity for differentiation. B&W provides a website with IDX, CRM, lead management, flyer management, drip campaigns, etc to every agent – again – leveling the playing field. In many cases, agents are already paying for these services that are bundled into their MLS dues.
    There is no answer to this question – only possibilities and competing interests. Its philosophical.

    • victorlund

      September 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      P.S. Baird and Warner offer an amazing suite of agent productivity tools – 

  2. michaeltudorie

    September 15, 2012 at 12:09 am

    @RealtyNinja Canadian content please..

  3. 85255Home

    November 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Good read, thank you Stephanie.

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