Spiking Activity in January

For the week ending 1/6/13, these charts show the spiking of activity which usually occurs in January as people make plans for the year.  The numbers in Oregon and Washington rose significantly this week.

Oregon LockBox Activity

Washington LockBox Activity

How to Interview Brokerages

[dropcap character=”F” color=”red”]For someone just getting into real estate, interviewing with brokerages can be both intimidating and frustrating. Remember it is you who are interviewing to find the right brokerage to contribute your talents! Perhaps this guide will provide some ideas to help combat any frustration.[space5]

Some interview questions are intended to elicit information. Some give insight to values and priorities, and the feel of an environment. Keep all your senses attuned to more than just the words…

[pullquote cite=”Geri Weitzman” align=”right”]Sometimes you just have to create what you want to be a part of! [/pullquote]

Tell Me About Your Brokerage/Agency/Firm/Office

  • Who owns your office? How many offices do the owners own?
  • Is this a franchise? Is the brand national, regional or local?
  • How long in business here? Why did you start this brokerage?
  • Who is the Designated Broker- the managing or supervising Principal Broker?
  • How many brokers ‘hang their licenses’ here? How many full time and part time? How many do not sell each and every year?
  • How many supervising Principals in the office?
  • How many staff members are employed? (reception, transactions, marketing, administration, technology, etc.)
  • Do you have ‘affiliated businesses’ (mortgage, warranty, title & escrow- same ownership)?
  • Mission statement? Brokerage Goals and Objectives?
  • Accomplishments in the past 5 years? What aspirations for the next 3 years?
  • Who are your top producers and what makes them great?
  • How are leads which come into the office dispersed? What is the criteria, the method, the justification, and who decides how they are distributed?
  • If I receive leads from this office or the larger firm, what is the referral rate?
  • What is the process for joining your brokerage? Who makes the decision to welcome me on-board?

What Products and Services Do You Provide? Are There Costs Associated With These?

  • Marketing and Advertising?
  • Transaction management?
  • Education, training, mentoring?
  • What services am I required to purchase and use?
  • Do you provide ‘Errors and Omissions’ Insurance? Cost?
  • Technology:
    • Is your office wireless? High speed internet? Phone? Fax? efax?
    • Do you provide a company phone number? Can I use my own cell only?
    • Do you provide a company email address? Can I use my own private email only?
    • Do you provide a company database management system? Can I use my own software for this (Outlook, MobileMe, Act, Goldmine, etc?
    • )Do you provide a website for me? Is it a page, templates to choose, or can I develop my own?
    • Apart from printer drivers, is there any software you install on my computer?
  • Do you provide yard signs, flyer boxes, lockboxes, directional signs, Open House signs, presentation folders, marketing collaterals? What are the costs?

What Are My Responsibilities As a Member of Your Brokerage?

  • Do I have required sales numbers to achieve for any given period of time?
  • What meetings am I required to attend?
  • How often am I required to be in the office?
  • Am I required to cover ‘floor-time’ (reception, phone, walk-ins); How often?
  • Am I required to do open houses or assist other agents in their work?
  • Are commission rates dictated for my listings?
  • Are there required courses or assignments?
  • Do I manage my own transaction and paperwork?

About the Compensation Package

  • What is your commission split (% for agent vs the brokerage)?
  • Do you have a commission cap (when I can make 100% of commissions)?
  • Do agents pay royalties, %, or fees to the national/regional office, franchise, or brand?
  • How much per transaction?
  • What other fees will or can be deducted from a commission check?
  • What are other expenses that may be paid to the brokerage (desk or office space, copies, services, etc.)?
  • Does your commission structure vary based on sales, success levels, or other variables?
  • Are all your agents on the same compensation plan? If not, what kinds of modifications and why? How many plans?
  • How soon are the commissions paid after a sale closes?

May I See Your Contracts and Policies?

  • What agreements will I be asked to sign? Can I take a copy of them with me today to review before making my decision?
  • May I also take a copy of your Policy Manual to review?

Describe your ‘Corporate Culture’

  • How would you describe the culture of this office? What are its characteristics, strengths and values? What is its personality? How do agents treat each other?
  • Could I get a list of all your agents and contact any of them by phone or email to interview any of them about their perspective on life in your brokerage?
  • What group projects or causes do you all work together on (past, present, future plans)?
  • What do you do in and for the community? What percentage of your agents are involved in charity events, non-profit work, service clubs, or other beneficial contributions to others?
  • Talk to me about some of your success stories? (What is highlighted here may be symptomatic of values, culture, and priorities)
  • Freedom and creativity:
    • Can I form my own image and design my own look for communications, marketing, and advertising? (websites, business cards, ads, venues, etc.)
    • Apart from the brokerage identification, do I need to put any company phone numbers, email or website information?
    • Can I structure my business the way I want to (dba, s-corp, LLC, PC, various business models, select principles, independent practices, policies, etc.)?
    • Can I be on a team or build a team?
      • Is it limited in size?Are their compensation benefits for this?
      • What limitations are there?
    • Can I choose my own commission rates for my clients?

What Happens Should I Leave Your Brokerage?

  • Are my listing clients mine to freely take with me?
  • Are my commission agreements (splits & caps) changed for current transactions in process at that time? Will I receive my full commission on any transaction I have initiated?
  • Do you uninstall any software from my computer?
  • What happens to the technology you have given to me?
    • Are emails forwarded to me?
    • Are calls forwarded to me?
    • If someone walks-in and asks for me by name, are they told where to find me?
    • Do I keep my database or do you keep its contents?
    • Will you immediately remove me from your website?
  • Are there any contract restrictions on me that survive my departure?
    • Is our relationship “at will” so I may leave anytime regardless of contract term?
    • Are there any non-compete restrictions?

Personal Responses?

  • What made you join this office? Why do you think agents select your office?
  • What benefits do you think are the most valuable?
  • What reasons have others given for leaving in the past?

This is not a checklist, just a way for you to know what to get at and where you can probe for real understanding of the office. You will find more information about specifics mentioned above in articles in this list.

I would be glad to be interviewed by you, answer these questions about Bella Casa Real Estate Group, and help you understand further why these issues are significant.

Randy McCreith, Principal Broker
Bella Casa Real Estate Group

Become a Change Agent

[dropcap character=”Y” color=”green”]

You are reading this article because you are considering a career change or a change to another brokerage. You have found a professional resume writing service to help you and now you’re ready to begin that job search. You want more and something better, something exciting which offers hope and new potential. I want you to consider more than just a change in environment and structure – let’s change the manner of real estate in our local communities. [space5]

It’s time to let ‘Old School’ ways die out!

Recently I received an email from one of our Realtors® that expressed very well what I have come to believe:

[blockquote]”I think there are some ‘old school’ agents that consider real estate a combative occupation, and they take everything as a threat or an insult.”[/blockquote][space5]

I will add that for some Realtors® the goal is conquest over other agents or offices, and the idea that “I must decisively win, and you must decisively lose.” Competition is about “us vs them.” For some, every difficulty is a call to war and every offense received is another memory in their arsenal stored for future use. It is not enjoyable to work with such people; well let’s just say it, it is miserable and taxing! It is also not good for our industry or our clients.

This same Realtor® continued,

[blockquote]”I hope in the years to come Bella Casa Real Estate Group can not only have a different culture in our office, but I hope that we can also affect other brokerages and cause them to be more willing to work together for the good of all of our clients and the community.” [/blockquote][space5]

We need to work diligently to create and maintain a professional manner and courtesy that becomes second nature. We must nurture this in our own workplace but also cultivate it anywhere in the community of Realtors® where there is fertile ground. Let me suggest some characteristics that I hope you will commit yourself to as you consider changes for the future of your business:

[pullquote align=”right”]New school practices acknowledge that a ‘win-win’ strategy is not only possible but attainable.[/pullquote]

At its core, new school practices acknowledge that a ‘win-win’ strategy is not only possible but attainable. Negotiations are about finding the crucial values of each client and finding ways to achieve what my client needs and wants – while also giving something that is important for the other client. We strain to find ways to please both parties. Sometimes both clients have to compromise to achieve a sale which is in everyone’s best interest, but even there the sacrifices can be shared equally. Why can we not have this wisdom and strategy as we work with competing brokers?

We have all witnessed winners who are gracious and those who are arrogant and belligerent. Professional courtesies go a long way toward crafting a change which we will all benefit from. Putting our industry before our individual sensitivities is good business. Forging a first-class reputation for our brokerage is about how we do business. Tolerance, generosity, understanding, patience, and wisdom are the building blocks; consistency is the regular maintenance that protects our reputation. Respect is about a lot more than power or sales numbers; it is built because of genuine character.

Moreover, it is incredibly important to make sure that employees feel valued and that hard work is rewarded. For example, there is a lot of research to suggest that workplaces that provide gifts, incentives, and bonuses for employees often score highly in terms of reported job satisfaction. Correspondingly, you can learn more about operating an employee rewards program by taking a look at the Blueboard website.

Become a Change-Agent

So as you consider changing where you work, the business model you think will offer you the best opportunity, and your goals and objectives for this next year, consider becoming an agent for change also. If you already aspire to these values, then I encourage you to patiently and methodically be the inspiration and example for improving our industry, our service to our clients, and even more so with you, the culture of Bella Casa Real Estate Group!

What is a Professional Cooperative?

We take professional very seriously.

[dropcap character=”R” color=”blue”] Real estate is a profession, not a job.  We don’t punch a time clock, yet clients depend on us for exceptional knowledge, diverse competencies, and specialized skills. We are licensed and governed directly by the State of Oregon and held accountable by the IRS as independent contractors. Realtors® must belong to professional trade organizations at the local, state, and national levels, which work to enhance professional standards and improve the housing industry for the public’s benefit. We are required to forever pursue continuing education. Our failures profoundly affect the lives of our clients. In 2002, all sales associate licensees were required to upgrade to full broker status. Today all Realtors® are full brokers.

[pullquote cite=”- by Gary Weitzman” align=”right”]Sometimes you just have to create what you want to be a part of! [/pullquote]

As professionals, we are developing our own business. The vision for that business may be grand or simple; that is one’s choice. Our businesses fund our mission, our goals, and our dreams in life. Brokers who join Bella Casa Real Estate Group are either proven professionals, or have the determination and drive to become such.

Cooperation sounds nice but it works even better.

A cooperative is a voluntary association to which we contribute, and from which we benefit. Greater value is achieved by professional cooperation than by working as a sole proprietor. We choose to share select expenses for better equipment, tools, and offices. Together we skillfully build a valuable brand and powerful reputation. Most important is the value we derive from collaborative professional relationships.

We are colleagues; our organization is flat, de-centralized, and egalitarian. One central principal broker is replaced by numerous principal brokers. While we encourage all brokers to rise to this exceptional level of expertise and respect, we are equals in the way we function together.

[pullquote align=”left”]In sharp contrast to traditional brokerages, we value independence and autonomy as the foundation for cooperation.[/pullquote]

Our brokers do not need the brokerage for them to be successful. There is no attempt to shackle brokers with dependency or handcuff them with a plethora of gimmicks and gadgets to retain them. They are free to leave at any time without consequence to their business or their clients.

We are competitors at one level, but we grow rich from what we contribute to each other, how we assist each other, and what we model to each other. Real Estate is amazingly complex and diverse. Priceless is the counsel, the ideas, solutions, strategies, and motivation we gain by cooperating with each other. Risk is minimized, our clients are better served, and we are more profitable and efficient.

Real estate can also be grueling and discouraging work. We all experience times when we need encouragement, professional stimulation, and the joy that can only come from a friend in the business who understands. A professional cooperative can be a rich and rewarding place to be. So far that dream has become a reality. If we are wise we will guard this fundamental value for future prosperity.

Owners & Investors

[two_third][pullquote cite=”- D.B., McMinnville multi-family property owner”]”As a former business owner, I appreciate the effort the Bella Casa team makes in ensuring my property is cared for and that tenants are carefully screened. What I especially appreciate is the accessibility of the team; calls and emails are promptly returned. Gary and Becky are always friendly and yet fully professional, and I suspect they treat tenants the same way – an attitude that goes a long way in minimizing problems down the road.”[/pullquote][/two_third] [one_third_last][frame align=”right” border=”0″]

Call (503) 437-4628

[/frame][/one_third_last] [one_third] [textcenter] [iconcolor icon=”tick” size=”48″]

Maximize Your Investment

[/textcenter]As an owner of one or more rental properties, your goal is to maximize your investment.  Our number one priority is to help you achieve that goal by bringing in the highest rent possible, accepting highly qualified tenants, property upkeep, quick turn around, accurate bookkeeping, and adhering to tenant/landlord laws and ordinances.

[/one_third][one_third] [textcenter] [iconcolor icon=”tick” size=”48″]

Strict Accounting Practices

[/textcenter]We adhere to strict accounting practices as we maintain records of all financial transactions, pay bills on your behalf, aggressively pursue rent collection and delinquency follow-up, oversee eviction proceedings, and securely maintain /wp-content/uploads/.

[/one_third][one_third_last] [textcenter] [iconcolor icon=”tick” size=”48″]

Property Law and Regulations

[/textcenter]There are many local, state, and federal rues and regulations related to rental properties. Compliance with fair housing regulations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable local, state and federal laws is mandatory; avoiding one law suit will more than pay for a property manager’s fees many times over.

[/one_third_last] [one_third] [textcenter] [iconcolor icon=”tick” size=”48″]

Local Knowledge of Rental Rates

[/textcenter]We know the local rental market and will help you determine the highest rental rate possible for your property.  Potential tenants know if your property is overpriced, even by $25. Proper pricing with consistent cash flow is better than an overpriced vacant property.
[/one_third][one_third] [textcenter] [iconcolor icon=”tick” size=”48″]

Marketing Expertise

[/textcenter]We market properties so they are rented in the quickest time possible, utilizing both online and offline techniques to maximize your property’s exposure, find qualified tenants, and reduce your cost of a vacant property.
[/one_third] [one_third_last] [/one_third_last] [divider] [two_third]


Office Location

207 NE 19th Street, Suite 100
McMinnville, OR 97128[/two_third] [one_third_last][pullquote cite=”- S.P., Dayton property owner living in Japan”]”The service we have received from Gary and The Bella Casa Group has been outstanding! We always know they are taking care of our home and we are receiving quality service. Since we are living out of the country, we feel very reassured knowing our home is being looked after by Gary.”[/pullquote][/one_third_last]

Why You Need a Property Manager

[frame align=”right” border=”1″]

Call (503) 437-4628

[/frame] [dropcap character=”O” color=”yellow”]Once you have invested in a rental property, the responsibility of maintaining and running the property can quickly become overwhelming. For many owners, the logical solution is to hire a rental property management company to oversee their rental property. But is this the right decision for you? Here are the top 10 reasons to consider why you should hire a residential property management company and how the benefits far outweigh the costs.

1) Rent Collection

A professional residential property management company (“PM’s”) similar to what you can find at
PCF Property Management (https://www.pcfpropertymanagement.com/) have systems and strategies to improve rent collection and on-time rent payments. This allows you to ensure swift and consistent rent collection, which is absolutely critical in this real estate market where good cash flow can mean the difference between success and failure as a real estate investor.

2) Local Knowledge of Rental Rates

PM’s have extensive local knowledge of rents and the ability to determine the highest rental rate possible for your property. With the internet and the ability to do large scale searches for rental properties, potential tenants know if your property is overpriced, even by $25. Overpriced properties sit empty while other properties get rented. Knowledge of rental rates is a key factor in fast rentals and quick cash flow. Rise Property Management in Melbourne are very knowledgeable in this area.

3) Tenant Screening

A PM requires a detailed written application from each adult with photo identification. Additionally, PM’s will run criminal, social security and public notice (bankruptcy or judgments) searches to determine if the application is accurate. PM’s will also call past and present employers, landlords and other references. This is, of course, a lot of work so having something like the services available at ihpropertymanagement.com onside can really help to take the weight off a landlord’s shoulders. PM’s have set requirements and standards for accepting or declining an applicant and thereby ensuring you comply with fair housing rules and other local and state regulations.
[pullquote cite=”- S.P., Dayton property owner” align=”right”]”The service we have received from Gary and The Bella Casa Group has been outstanding! We always know they are taking care of our home and we are receiving quality service.”[/pullquote]

4) Marketing Expertise

PM’s have years of experience in how to best market your properties so they are rented in the quickest time possible. PM’s use both offline and online marketing to maximize your properties’ exposure and find qualified tenants quicker. Most PM’s utilize 10, 20 or even 30 different techniques to rent a property quickly which reduces your carrying cost of a vacant property.

5) Property Law and Regulations

PM’s have extensive and up-to-date knowledge of property laws and regulations and will assist you in making sure you are in compliance with your local, state and federal rules and regulations. These rules and regulations include complying with fair housing regulations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable local, state and federal laws. Avoiding one law suit will more than pay for any PM’s fees many times over.

6) Tested and Reliable Professionals

Property management companies will already have vetted numerous vendors, suppliers and contractors to make sure they provided good quality work at reasonable prices. Failure to properly vet these professionals can be a costly mistake. Many owners overlook this function because they do not know how to do it or because it is a time consuming and laborious process.

7) Inspection Reports

PM’s perform property inspections before, during and after a tenancy. Additionally, most PM’s will perform routine property inspections at least every 180 days. Your PM should be responsible for preparing frequent written inspection reports for each of your properties. Faults in your property that are found quickly can be resolved before they become expensive items of disrepair.

8) Financial Records and Security Deposit Escrows

PM’s will provide detailed income and expenses reports as well as cash statements every month saving you the bookkeeping headache. Additionally, PM’s will also manage your security deposit escrow funds and make sure you are in compliance with local and state regulations. PM’s will provide end-of-year tax reports for your accountant or financial advisor.

9) Emergency Calls and Shield You From Tenants

A residential property management company will shield you from emergency maintenance calls and tenant headaches. Imagine never having to deal with late night “my toilet is overflowing” calls.

10) Low Costs

A PM should only be charging around 6% to 10% of the monthly rent collected. Assuming a monthly rental rate of $1200 per month that is a fee of $72 to $120 per month. This is less than $4 per day! Can you possibly do all these things for less than $4 per day?

11) Free Time

A good residential property management company will free up your time for doing deals that make money.

By Michel Lautensack
October 2, 2008

The author has permitted the reprinting and redistribution of this article.[divider]
[two_third] [one_third_last][pullquote cite=”- E.R., McMinnville property owner”]”Gary makes being a landlord easy. I will occasionally perform a “drive by” inspection, but otherwise my wife and I are completely removed from the process and in fact I actually forget that I have rental property. We consistently get our checks on time. I am confident that Bella Casa will serve you well.”[/pullquote][/one_third_last]

Tenant Application

[frame align=”right” border=”1″]

Call (503) 437-4628

[/frame] If you are interested in renting, here are the steps you must take along with several tips on how to smoothly navigate through the rental process. We look forward to speaking with you.

[button size=”large” link=”https://62d424.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Bella-Casa-property-management-rental-application.pdf” target=”_blank” color=”yellow” ]Download Tenant Application[/button][space5]

How to Apply

  • Each adult age 18 and over must complete a tenant application form and submit along with a $45 screening fee. (Example: Two residents over age 18 or over will submit two applications and two $45 fees).
  • Have a money order or cashier’s check made payable to “BCPM.” No cash or personal checks are accepted.
  • Hand deliver or mail the application and money order or cashier’s check to:Bella Casa Property Management
    207 NE 19th Street, Suite 100
    McMinnville, OR 97128
  • Applications are processed in the order in which they are received

Tips for Successful Renting

  • Know what you can afford to pay for rent. It’s a good idea to pay no more than 30 percent of your take-home monthly income.
  • Know your lease/rent and what you’re paying for:
    • How much notice is required before moving out?
    • How much is the security deposit?
    • What is required so that I get my security deposit back?
    • Is first and last month’s rent required?
    • Is the lease month to month, or a 6 or 12-month period?
    • Are utilities and garbage services included in the monthly rent?
    • Are pets allowed?
    • What appliances are included?
  • What amenities are included? Is there a parking space or garage, storage, laundry facilities, etc.?
  • Know what changes you are allowed to make to the property, such as painting walls, adding shelving, landscaping, etc.[divider]

Office Location

207 NE 19th Street, Suite 100
McMinnville, OR 97128

Frequently Asked Questions

[frame align=”right” border=”1″]

Call (503) 437-4628


1. Why should I hire you to manage my rental property?

Managing rental properties can be challenging. A lot of time, energy, patience and knowledge are necessary to manage a good rental property well. Most owners have too many other things on their plate to manage a property well. We can help you:

  • Market your rental property to minimize vacancies and maximize income
  • Fill vacancies with the best possible tenants
  • Maintain and keep your rental property in good condition (We handle and coordinate routine repairs as well as emergency repairs. We have the experience to avoid unnecessary repairs to save you money)
  • Track income and expenses to determine profitability
  • Negotiate rental agreements
  • Collect rent and track tenant deposits
  • Comply with federal, state and local laws
  • Respond to tenant requests and deal with problem tenants

In short, we help you to make the most from your rental property and we can save you time and money. However, commercial properties require a different style of management style. For that reason, finding a commercial property maintenance company with expertise in this specific field might be the best course of action for you.

2. Can you help me find and keep good tenants?

Often good tenants will only rent through a reputable property management company because everything, from initially viewing the property, to negotiating and signing the lease agreement, to dealing with maintenance and repairs, to making rental payments is more streamlined. We focus all our efforts in finding good tenants through our professional screening, which include credit history, criminal background, rental history, verifiable employment, and income. You should also encourage your tenants to have renters insurance, just in case something goes awry. Having Insured ASAP Insurance coverage can ensure that your tenants and your property are protected.

3. Can you help me avoid bad tenants?

Typically bad tenants will target owner-managed rentals because they can’t handle our professional screening services. They know when a property is for rent-by-owner the rent will be less and there will be less scrutiny of their financial situation. Our strict screening is designed to weed out the bad tenants.

4. Will you show my property?

Yes! While it may be inconvenient for you to take time to show your property and deal with potential renters who may not show up for their appointments, it is our job to respond quickly to requests from potential renters to view a property and property managers can also pre-screen potential tenants.

5. Can you help me with administrative and financial details?

Yes we can handle the financial operations of the property, ensuring that rent is collected and that mortgages, taxes, insurance premiums, HOA fees and maintenance bills are paid on time.

6. Can you help me with upkeep and maintenance of my investment property?

Yes, we negotiate contracts for janitorial, security, grounds keeping, trash removal and other services. When contracts are awarded competitively, we solicit bids from several contractors and recommend to the owners which bid to accept. Then we monitor the performance of the contractors and investigate and resolve complaints from tenants when services are not properly provided. We also purchase supplies and equipment for the property and make arrangements with specialists for repairs that cannot be handled by regular property maintenance staff.

7. Do you charge the tenant a security deposit? What about a pet fee?

Yesl Our policy is that the security deposit is approximately one month’s rent plus $100. Pets are not allowed without your permission. When pets are allowed there is an additional pet deposit charged.

8. Will I know what is going on with my property?

Yes! We will communicate with you throughout our contract. We will contact you at reasonable times to discuss repairs and notify you of any tenant requests to vacate. Plus throughout the contract, we will keep you aware of any other issues that may arise.

9. Do you start advertising vacancies?

Yes. We start marketing the vacancy as soon as we receive notice from the tenant of their intention to move. We will place a sign on the property. We then advertise the property on various internet sites. We also receive referrals from current and former tenants and owners and from the other agents with whom we network.

10. Do you handle problems late at night?

Tenants are given our number when they move in, and in the case of emergency, they are directed to call us. We will talk to the tenant to determine how best to proceed. Many times we can handle to problem over the phone.

11. Can I still use my favorite contractors?

Yes. We will gladly contact the companies or individual(s) you specify as long as they are actually licensed, bonded, and insured and in the business of performing the required work.

12. Do you pay bills for me?

Yes. We will gladly pay expense and repairs for you. There must, of course, be enough cash flow from the property to cover such expenses and we require you to set a reserve fund for this purpose.

13. Are your management fees competitive?

Yes. The old saying, “you get what you pay for” is always true. There are other companies that charge less than we do. There are some companies that charge more. We are somewhere in the middle. Our full service management fees, for residential properties are typically 10% (or slightly less for multi-family properties) of the gross collected rent each month. All repairs are passed on to the owners. We feel we offer a comprehensive service package and our rates are very competitive.

14. Does your management agreement give you exclusive right to sell my property?

No. We can sell your property if you would like us to, but it is not a requirement of our management contract.

15. Can you start managing my properties today?


Office Location:

207 NE 19th Street, Suite 100
McMinnville, OR 97128

Gary graduated with a BA in business administration and is also a licensed Principal Broker. He brings over 20 years of business management and real estate experience to ensure properties are managed following all applicable laws, guidelines, and with the owner’s best interest in mind.

Helpful Definitions

In any industry you have to learn a new language and sometimes have to work through the alphabet soup of acronyms. We call it Realtor®-speak. Here is a start but there is much more the deeper you get.

Your Identity Crisis!

  • The Real Estate Agency (REA) only knows you as a Licensee. Their job: to license qualified people and then regulate their licensees.
  • In our Associations (NAR, OAR, YCAR or PMAR) you are a Realtor®. This term can only be used by one who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Many times commercial brokers and property managers are not Realtors® and in some places significant numbers of licensees are agents, not Realtors®.
    • Are you a real-i-tor, or a real-tor? It is the latter; someone who works with real estate!
  • Agent refers to your function of representing clients. You act in behalf of another.
  • Sales Associate is obsolete but may still be used in a traditional firm to keep lines of authority clear. This is a term used before agents became brokers.
  • We are brokers in that we broker sales for someone and are paid commissions. In 2002 all sales associates were required to upgrade their education and be licensed as full brokers. This was in response to increased abilities and responsibilities associates were able to take on because of technology.
  • Principal Broker is a higher level of licensing which allows a licensee to function independently (think sole-proprietor) with direct legal and ethical accountability. A Principal Broker in a brokerage can also be designated and charged with supervision of other licensees and accountable for their practice. In the world of our Associations, the “Designated Broker” is the ultimate responsible and accountable PB in the office. At Bella Casa, we have multiple Principal Brokers and some of them supervise others, many do not.

Where You Will Work

  • Brokerage: This is an office where brokers work and is the most common term for a real estate office.
  • Agency: This is an office where agents work and can be used interchangeably with brokerage. Sometimes this refers more narrowly to a franchise organization emphasizing that this office is an agency of the parent company or brand (e.g. common in insurance).
  • Firm: Usually refers to a partnership type of ownership, hence law firms. In real estate often refers to multiple offices/brokerages owned by the same owner(s) even though they may share a national brand name with others.
  • Office: Used synonymously with brokerage but is particular to a branch or independent standing.
  • Corporate terms apply when offices are incorporated (Inc, LLC, S-corp)
  • Who owns the business???
    • Might be a ‘national store’; e.g. owned by C-21 or Coldwell Banker
    • Might be owned by a regional owners (Re/Max Equity Group; Prudential Northwest Properties )
    • Might be owned by collection of agents (Keller Williams)
    • Any national or regional brand might be owned by small or larger groups of investors, local or not. Could be owned by a family or individual.
  • What does local ownership mean?
    • See our article called Local Ownership Considerations.

Compensation Related Definitions

  • Commission split: What percentage of the gross commission do you get when the sale closes? From this number there may be additional royalties, fees, and expenses taken before you see the net amount your receive. As an independent contractor, you will then be paying many of your own business taxes and your own expenses before seeing your ‘take-home money’! Does this percentage slide based on sales or other considerations?
  • Commission cap: Is there a point at which your brokerage will no longer take their split and you will be enabled to keep all the gross commission?
  • Royalties: Is there a national or regional brand or corporate office which gets some of your commissions on each sale? Does it cap or apply to every sale?
  • Fees: see article on Commission Compensation to see examples of these
  • Expenses: You will have brokerage expenses (like copies, or space/desk rental), and your own business expenses like your cell phone and computer etc.

Working in Sales

  • Lead: Raw opportunity for you to explore. You hope some leads will turn out to be prospective buyers or sellers for you.
  • Prospect: A qualified lead that you have connected with who is a prospective client of yours.
  • Client: Someone who is committed to working with you for their sale or purchase, or someone you have worked with in the past.
  • Colleagues: Our preferred term for our fellow Realtors® whether in our own company or not.  At some level we are all competitors, but we also work together as colleagues in our industry.

Randy McCreith, Principal Broker
Bella Casa Real Estate Group