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What to weigh when considering becoming an indie broker

The indie itch

So, the itch has gotten to you. You know, the indie itch… You’ve found yourself increasingly discouraged, just not truly motivated. That spark you had when you first got licensed is gone or dwindled. You just feel something missing. You feel blah.

Perhaps your current brokerage just isn’t helping to fully develop you, you are clashing with another agent in the office, your manager doesn’t seem interested in keeping up with today’s world, your current company was branded fifty years ago as the place to be and the ship suddenly passed it by three years ago, or maybe you just feel like you have so many ideas as to how real estate SHOULD be and you are on a true mission to eradicate and change an industry from the ground up. There are plenty of reasons why the “independent” in you may be rearing its fantastic head! Ahhhh yes!

Dreaming aside…

But really… Dreaming aside…What are your core reasons? Do you feel a passion burning inside that you just can’t shake? If so, please read on. If not, you may exit now!

There are several things to seriously consider when truly thinking about your wants:

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  • What do you love (not just like) to do? Do you love to work with buyers and sellers? Do you love technology? Do you love to handle accounting or dealing with agents issues?
  • Do you want to manage a whole office?
  • Do you want to make more money? (note: at first, you will most likely make less, but if done well… who knows?!)
  • Do you crave more control over the brand which your current brokerage offers?
  • Do you want to see your own name on a sign (and no, this is actually a pretty normal characteristic of a successful entrepreneur, so it’s ok if you do!)?
  • Do you want to be a broker that runs a company, a team leader with buyers agents, marketing specialists and admin help, a visionary brander, or an agent that has a better split?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Be honest with yourself! No one is perfect at everything! By acknowledging this, you should start focusing on surrounding yourself with others that possess those missing opportunities.
  • Are you tech savvy? Do you believe a corporate franchise really offers better tools? You would be really surprised at the amount of technology available to small companies that can rival the biggest “big box.” So what if you don’t have billboards quite yet surrounding the world? Let yourself think that could someday happen! In today’s game, I would say that if you don’t have a real knowledge or at least someone on your team that does, being a branded team under another company may be the way to stay.

Other considerations before jumping ship

Do you need extra classes for your brokers license? How long does this take? In my market, it typically takes six months to wait for all the needed classes to be offered in one location. I’m personally not known to be the most patient person, so I decided it would be a good idea to take all my classes in three months… traveling all over the state (two hours each way) to catch each series as it came. Oh, and did I mention I was a single mom with no financial support and still an active working agent? So no excuses here, people!

But seriously, if six months works better, that’s perfectly ok too. Even after I finished my full time job as “real estate student,” I still took another six months building a small reserve budget, getting legal paperwork together and finalizing the “brand.”

Realize that owning your own company doesn’t mean you will make more money, have more time or be able to take weekends off. You’ll most likely work more, have ten times the amount of bills and be responsible for employees, agents and expenses!

It is a tough decision, and while it is a move I personally made, it is much more complicated than slapping up a “hiring agents” sign and sitting back to collect residual income. Becoming an indie broker is a major responsibility, but with great risk can come great reward – carefully consider your personality and your goals before making your final choice.

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Written By

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 6 years and prior to that studied advertising, branding and web design. Refusing to believe the real estate industry had to be bland and boring in design and appeal to everyone, she set out to bring some style and technology into the mix. Amanda can most likely be found with coffee that got cold, great shoes, her mind in the sky and her evernote app open.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Lainie Ramsey

    February 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Great article! I would say my decision to pursue becoming an independant broker really comes down to just a few things: I am a mobile agent that works out of my car and my own house, I do all my own marketing, I pay for my own signs, lockboxes and I have a very prominent web presence. I do not have a desire to become a big company or have many agents working under my license. My goals are simple – I want to have my own company that is branded around me and I want to keep more of my own money. People work with me because of my expertise, not because of my company. It is a daunting task, but I know I can do it!!

  2. Grace Walter

    February 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Great article Amanda! Although I am not in this industry, this is solid advice for anyone that is thinking about entrepreneurism! You are right, you have to really want it and be willing to work hard to get it.

  3. Charles Mackenzie-Hill

    February 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Great article! The indie Broker has a nice ring to it. Pretty sure working from smaller units and cars will be far more likely now with the internet. We also feel as small units that videos will pay a huge part in ones marketing. Also believe if one can get the videos right your clients can be viewing listings as if they were there in person silting in the comfort of their own home or office be it in front of their own 42 inch plasma or on a bus with a smart phone. All the technology is there to provide answers to the entire necessary question in an easy to understand format.
    Absolutely , a great time to be, as you call it and Indie agent

  4. Lisa Heindel

    February 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    My partner and I made the jump to indie broker just a few short weeks ago. After spending 3 years branding ourselves, generating our own business and basically being on our own anyway, it was the next logical step. I had no desire to build a team within someone else's brokerage. Currently, it's just the 2 of us and any agents that we end up bringing on board will be carefully vetted, because we don't want anyone to screw up our vision of what our company will be.

  5. Amanda Lopez

    February 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Congrats to you ladies for making the switch! There is always a lot to think about and whether you decide to be a small team or brand, the feelings of it being your own are the whole reason it's worth it!
    Charles, you are right that the technology is there for those who chose to embrace it. It's also great to know how many solutions there are to compete with any of the bigger budgeted companies. Besides nationwide branding reach, the tools are there and often better utilized per local agent to obtain leads from website from SEO than a majority of large brokerages (notice I didn't say third party non brokerage sites! I still think they are the main ones which the agent or brokerage can compete with. At least in my market, large brokerage sites often come up page 5-6 of search results. One being trulia, zillow, Redfin then it's about 6-7 smaller companies, then corporate)

  6. stephanie crawford

    February 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Great job! I am considering going indie – I already work at a boutique brokerage. Would LOVE to see more “how to” indie articles. Perhaps interviews with the Jay Thompsons and Krisstina Wises of the world.

  7. Amanda Lopez

    February 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Stephanie, please stay tuned! I’m glad you enjoyed 😉 I guess some of these points rang true if you are considering it while at a boutique now!
    Krisstina has several outlets I am sure you can tap into to learn from and I’m not sure about Jay but perhaps you can ask around. There are a lot of people who can offer solid advice, experience and perspective too that may hit a different type of chord for each person. Best advice I ever got from a competing broker…
    “There is enough to go around for everyone. Don’t ever lose sight of that or let anyone make you think different.”

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