Going independent can be a challenging decision to make, but the autonomy and control that come with starting your own brokerage can be just as rewarding as it can be liberating. You would also be in good company; the numbers show that the majority of brokers and associates are affiliated with independent companies. For many, bigger real estate companies have too many hoops to jump through and too much red tape, which can hold agents back from being as successful as possible. For many, going independent is a solution to this.
Fortunately, the process for starting your own independent real estate brokerage isn’t terribly complicated. In fact, it’s basically just what you would do in order to start your own business in any field. The important steps can be broken down into three simple categories: making the decision, doing the prep work, and actually getting started.
Although the process is not as difficult as many might think, it is still an incredibly important decision. There are many reasons why an agent would want to hold off on going independent. People just starting out, for example, still have a lot to learn about the workplace, about the field, and likely about the specific market center before they can realistically take on an independent project like this. That lack of knowledge, however, might be tempered by doing the proper prep work. More on that in the next section.
Especially for those with experience and upset with the recruitment process or corporate setting, though, going independent can make a lot of sense. Not all logical decisions are easy to make, however. To make sure you’re ready to make this important decision, it’s important to weight the pros and cons of leaving your brokerage to go independent, and make sure your intuition and the facts actually lineup. A gut feeling isn’t always enough to be successful, and the most logical decision will only make sense if you’re willing to commit.
Once you’ve made the decision to go independent, it’s time to get to work—but not in real estate quite yet. Your business won’t just magically pop up, and so you’ll need to take time to learn and plan out exactly what you need for your specific goals and market center in order to be successful once you actually open your doors.
First thing’s first: education. You might know your stuff, but your state or region will still require specific classes in order for you to begin practicing legally. Getting the requirements and approved schools directly from the government is important, since many online schools won’t actually give you the legal certification that you require. Additional classes about opening and running your own brokerage can be incredibly valuable too, even if they aren’t required by your state.
Another key point in your prep work is creating a business plan. Remember, as much as this project is about fulfilling your personal motivations and goals, it is also about running a self-sustaining business that will put food on the table for you and possibly for others as well. You need a plan. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you formulate this plan quickly and efficiently, so you can stay on track safely.
Once you’ve made the decision and have a business plan, it’s time for another plan. This time, it’s the plan that will get everything rolling. First, you’ll need to create a legal entity to protect your work moving forward. Even with the proper education certification, practicing without creating an entity can get you in serious financial and legal trouble down the line.
Next, it’s all about the steps you will take on the way to making your first sale as an independent brokerage. Every process from interviewing to hiring and handling contracts needs to be carefully laid out in order to make sure everything is consistent and will be non-problematic moving forward. Your first sale is not when you want to find out that you didn’t think of how you were going to handle getting the proper signatures. An in-depth course that goes through all of these steps can be a good way of making sure there are no loose ends.
Once all of these steps have been completed, it’s time to hire agents and get started! At this point, it’s important to remember why you’re doing all of this in the first place. If you were unhappy with how other brokerages were operating and, specifically, with how they were treating you, you’ll want to make sure you’re not replicating those dynamics and behaviors for your new agents. The point was to make a better brokerage—now’s your chance!