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What Are Managing Brokers Actually Managing?

A New Manager

Today’s my first day as the new Managing Broker of one of our brokerage offices. For 6 years, I’ve been a real estate agent. A year ago, I got my broker’s license. Since New Year’s, I’ve been “training” to be a Managing Broker. It’s exciting — I’m excited. It’s the beginning of a new journey in real estate.

Most of our Managing Brokers continue to sell real estate. I will do the same. However, with rank comes responsibility — instead of just dealing with problems that arise in my own transactions, I’ll be dealing with everyone else’s too. In a busy office of 40 agents, this will no doubt keep me very busy.

What Do Managers Manage?

Real estate sales is different than just about every other industry. Agents are all independent contractors — whether they act like it or not, they all are running their own businesses — Me, Inc. Thus, apart from making sure that agents do not run afoul of the law or the REALTOR Code of Ethics, or various company policies, there is very little control that a Managing Broker actually has over the agents in his or her office.

So what do we manage?

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  • Reputation — an agent’s and a company’s reputation are the most important assets in real estate. Mess up and forever tarnish your image in the eyes of the public. One agent screws up and it can (rightly or wrongly) diminish the reputation of the entire office forever.
  • Motivation — a managing broker’s job entails keeping the agents in their office motivated. Whether the market is good, bad, or otherwise, it’s the manager’s job to keep the agents focused on their goals. Agents who don’t have their goals in writing should meet with their managing broker to discuss this. A Managing Broker must be a cheerleader for the office and their agents.
  • Education — one of the largest roles any broker can fulfill is to educate the agents in the office about the newest developments in the market, the laws, the policies of the MLS, etc. Moreover, making sure that brand new agents are up to speed about the ins and outs of real estate is crucial to the success of the office. This is why we have a mentoring program in place.
  • Ethics / Law — more than anything else, a broker is responsible (and liable) for ensuring that agents do not do anything unethical or illegal. I’m fairly certain that my background as an attorney and having practiced real estate law helped in my selection to be a managing broker.

Unlike traditional managers in the corporate world, managing brokers do not tell their agents what to do. We may advise on how to do it. We’re there to answer questions and help an agent discover a solution.

Perhaps I need a Couch in my Office

In training to become a Managing Broker, my “mentor” explained that the most important attribute of a manager is the ability to listen. Listen to what an agent says — listen intently. And then ask a question — “Is that it? Is there anything else you want to tell me,” wait and listen some more. According to him, agents rarely, if ever, tell the full story. You need to listen, listen, listen and listen some more.

We all repeat the maxim that “Buyers are liars. And sellers are too.” Now, before I go accusing any agents of this character trait during my first day on the job, let me just say, that I’ll wait and listen. Hmmm… How does that make you feel?

Some New Things to Focus Upon

As an agent, my focus has always been on how to get more prospects, how to sell more homes, how to help my clients and how to solve their problems. Since I’m still selling, these priorities will still remain.

However, there will be some new things to focus my energies as a manager. Yet the same skill sets will be applied. As a broker, the priority shifts to recruiting new agents for the office, helping agents focus on and exceed their goals, making sure that the office is profitable, and maintaining an esprit du corps within the office.

I’m looking forward to this new adventure.

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Any advice from those who have been down this road is appreciated.

Written By

Brian Block practiced law until he heard every single attorney joke and decided becoming a real estate broker was a more fun way to earn a living. Proud of the plaques and diplomas adorning his office wall, he's even more proud of his marriage to a beautiful and talented ballroom dance teacher and fellow entrepreneur. Every day, you can find Brian, doing what he does best – advising Northern Virginia home buyers and sellers. If you want, you can follow him on Twitter @blockrealestate.



  1. Matt Stigliano

    March 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Brian – While managing perhaps you should work to strike this from the real estate lexicon:

    “Buyers are liars. And sellers are too.”

    Is it any wonder our reputation is less than stellar when these sorts of things were passed around offices for years? I actually heard this at licensing school. Whether its an old phrase or not, it needs to go away. We change language to adapt and this is one phrase that I will fight to my death to get rid of.

    For the record – its not a maxim for me, its just plain disgusting that we would say that, then turn and smile at our clients and tell them we’ll take good care of them.

    (Other than that, I enjoyed the article and if I can pass on anything I’ve learned from my broker and the way he deals with us, it would be to learn how to motivate each individual separately. What works for one agent, might not work for the next.)

  2. Missy Caulk

    March 23, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I managed for a year and hated it. I had a sign on my door, “do not disturb” because as you know RE/MAX Brokers sell too.

    No one listened everyone thought they were the exeception.

    Yes my advice get a couch.

  3. Brian Block

    March 24, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Matt, I agree. While I wrote that “we all repeat the maxim,” it’s not a phrase that I’ve ever used or ever believed — just a trite one that I’ve heard over and over from others.

    Missy, I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy your experience with managing. I doubt I’ll ever have a “do not disturb” sign on my door however.

  4. Cindy Jones

    March 24, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Brian congratulations on your new role. I’m curious on your opinion of being both a manager and a “competitor” with the agents in your office. Do you anticipate any issues with agents who may consider it a conflict of interest?

  5. Brian Block

    March 24, 2009 at 8:17 am


    I don’t see myself as truly in competition with the other agents in the office. Most of my business comes through the internet, referrals from current and past clients, and sphere of influence, I don’t anticipate crossing paths with many of the agents. Everyone has their own ways of marketing and I don’t plan on sending postcards to anyone else’s farm. Besides, there’s enough business to go around for everyone.

  6. Matt Stigliano

    March 24, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Brian – Good to see you agree. I was a bit concerned as when I read it, it sounded as if you were saying the phrase yourself. Perception of the written word is a difficult thing sometimes.

    The good thing is that you’ve inspired me for a post, so I can’t complain there.

    PS I had a feeling that an AG writer wouldn’t have this feeling towards their buyers – Lani and Benn are too good at picking people to allow that to happen.

  7. Dee

    March 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I was in the same position for a short time, did the non-compete deal but missed selling!
    I’m BIC of my current company in my MLS area but it’s set up differently than other companies so my selling doesn’t conflict with the agents that I bring on. Heck, half of them are in other markets!
    Much success with your new position, I’m sure you will be a great asset!

  8. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Brian- Best wishes on your new position- I agree that you can manage and produce without competing. Even ass the CEO of my company I am still productive as a listing agent, and have been for my entire career. There is not one of those listings that would have gone to my company if I were not here, so that doesn’t strike me as competition either.

  9. BawldGuy

    March 25, 2009 at 10:41 am

    The cliché about buyers/sellers reminds me of the first time I heard the expression, back in 1969. I too questioned the validity of the old saying. An old salt told me to ponder how clichés become clichés.

  10. Danilo Bogdanovic

    March 25, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I wish you luck in your new position. You have more patience than I do, that’s for sure.

  11. Brendan from San Mateo

    March 25, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Forgive me if I’m wrong here. But, aren’t one of managers main objectives to be as profitable as possible too? Are you guys running only on desk fees or are their commission splits?

    All the things you manage are very important but without money, companies can’t survive.

  12. FSBO ads

    March 27, 2009 at 2:47 am

    i’m curious on your opinion of being both a manager and a “competitor” with the agents in your office.

  13. Cleve Gaddis

    March 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

    A comment on “Buyers are Liars and Sellers are too.”

    When I first got into real estate I didn’t have any idea what people meant when they said “Buyers are Liars.” I felt sure that buyers and sellers were not lying to real estate agents intentionally. Over the last seven years I realized just what the phrase meant. Both Buyers and Sellers make decisions based upon the informaiton they have up to the point of decision. This information changes nearly every day during the buying and selling process, so it only makes sense that the decisions they make change along with this added informaiton. Example – the last two houses I purchased (Chicago and Atlanta) were absolutely, positively going to have a three-car garage. Want to know how many houses with three-car garages I’ve ever owned? NONE. Now you could say it’s a case of “Buyers are Liars” (because I did send my poor agent looking all over town for houses with three-car garages) or it could be that I just changed my mind during the buying process based upon what I had learned(a house with a three-car garage wasn’t in my budget). Just a thought – for what it’s worth.

  14. Judy Fithian

    April 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    What kind of compensation structure is fair for a managing broker who also sells and lists?

  15. Matt Wolff

    April 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I’m trying to find out information about Managing Broker compensation. I’ve been offered to be a managing broker of a small firm – 4 other agents. I see the question asked here, but no responses are visible. Does anyone have any thoughts they can share?


  16. Darius Bailey

    October 16, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Brian, congratulations on the new position. I’m a REALTOR® licensed in Georgia and Florida. I’m planning to open a brokerage in mid-2018 and am looking forward to it. I’m very aware that there will be challenges but when I consider the only alternative, which is branding another company and sharing $$$, my own brokerage makes more sense to me.

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