We Are Your Cheerleaders

[dropcap character=”T” color=”red”]The #1 complaint I have heard from agents thinking about changing brokerage is that the claim to offer excellent education, training, and mentoring was hollow. When you are new to real estate, it takes personal guidance and responsive people as well as the abyss of an intranet!  Your best authority to learn how good a brokerage is, is to ask their agents and their former agents! Make some calls and get the inside scoop.  We have successfully built a brokerage with agents willing to give a hand-up, answer questions, help with issues, and cheerlead for the success of others.

We offer you the following resources:

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  • The Owners and Designated Brokers. I answer my phone almost 24/7/365, and it is not a problem. If you are writing an offer, about to go into a threatening appointment, or are stuck on an issue, or you need a person to assist you now or very soon. Our children are grown, and Joni and I have the time to do this. Our Realtors® and our clients are our highest business priority.
  • Our business model has many Principal Brokers: We want all of our brokers to become Principals and know the value of increased prestige and credibility. We want everyone to be fully competent and be able to wear that badge. Currently we have about a dozen Principals, and 4 people who have owned their own brokerages. Each of our Principals have extensive knowledge and experience and are graciously eager to help anyone become an independent professional who in turn will one day help others
  • We have developed a culture of sharing and collaborating among all our Realtors®, and it is refreshing and satisfying to see it in action. Everyone can help someone else get at least to where they are. Bella Casa Realtors® are generous and willing to collaborate to make us all more successful.
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[pullquote]When people interview with me about a place to develop their business, after all the discussions, I ask them to call anyone (or everyone) in the brokerage and ask them questions.vWhat is the good, the bad, and the ugly? Are they who they claim to be? Do they deliver what they say they will?[/pullquote][space5]

This is the test of validity. “If I had to do it all over again, what would I have liked to help me make it?” That was our intention and our design 6 years ago, and we have not stopped doing what made us the fastest growing office in Yamhill County. Check us out!

Randy McCreith, Principal Broker
Bella Casa Real Estate Group

I Need Help! Education & Training

[dropcap character=”W” color=”yellow”]When you first get your license, you know very little about ‘how to do real estate.’ You likely have never seen an earnest money agreement, do not know where to find any forms, and wonder how you will find leads, prospective clients, and what to do to convert leads into clients. You have likely just spent more than $2,000 for your licensing education, your license, your Association dues, MLS membership and your Realtor® key, some clothes and equipment. You wonder how and when you can make that money back. You may feel weak on technology, have never received professional sales training, do not know a great deal about the area you are selling in, and you feel terribly alone in this industry. You wonder what you would even do if someone asked you for a valuation on a property or how you would show properties if someone were to ask. It is a vulnerable, and sometimes terrifying feeling.

We have all experienced this and will likely never forget it. No one becomes successful in real estate on their own. We all owe gratitude to many people for how we were treated, assisted, and for the examples we had. Our inspiration likely came from someone else, and realistically, we all had a person or two who became our backbone and kept us persevering in spite of our apprehensions and frustrations.

Continuing Education: What You Need to Know

Education is about gaining more information. It is important that you become a life-long learner. Our industry changes significantly each year and you must never stop being informed and expanding your knowledge base. This must be a passion and a hobby. Continuing your education can be a huge bonus for your career prospects. If you are a teacher you may want to continue your education to better teach your students, to advance in your job role, or to train for additional teaching areas. There are summer courses for teachers provided online for those who may want to do this for their professional development.

Some brokerages hook you with their extensive intranet libraries of information and streams of information that they bring to you. All of that information is readily available online, in bookstores, through certification courses, by way of endless class offerings by vendors and 3rd party suppliers, and constant conferences and annual conventions. I can set you up to receive regular, informative emails that will weekly overflow your mailbox. At your fingertips is more information than you can ever read, and if you tried, you would never have time for sales. There is no lack of supply, and no one has any secret information; the question for you is at what price does a brokerage’s package of information come? I think it is too expensive since it can be yours for free!

Areas of Knowledge to Pursue

  • Required Courses: The Real Estate Agency is a State of Oregon Agency that governs the legal compliance of real estate licensees. Your license requires you to maintain a minimum of 30 hours of certified continuing education for each license period. Beginning in 2011, all classes and instructors must be certified according to specific standards. You can find out more at: http://www.rea.state.or.us/REA/EDU/continuing_education.shtml. YCAR (The Yamhill County Association of Realtors®) offers 36 hours of certified continuing education each year. Classes are held in Newberg and McMinnville on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 8:45- Noon. They are free with your membership! For more information: http://yamhillcountyrealtors.org/education/
  • Forms and Documents: This is a core competency you need to learn quickly. This is a massive assignment you will have to master quickly. This requires systematic reading and then interacting with those who have learned how to communicate this well. Our Principals will help you until you are comfortable. We also have systematic discussions in our workshops and in MP3 format.
  • Sales Training: If you are a good sales person, then you are adept in psychology. It is not about teaching you how to manipulate people to do what you want, but how to serve every kind of person well and help them to make the best decision and accomplish their needs and desires. It is about communication and connecting with people. It is about seeing through the clutter and understanding the mechanics of the process, and operating efficiently and effectively. It is about creating leads, who become prospects, who become clients for life. This is both a science and an art. While some people intuitively understand this, many of us need to learn from the best in the business through sales training courses like those offered by Impel Dynamic. Whether you use your skills for good or not is an issue of your character, not an inherent weakness of sales training.
  • Basic Technology: We are in an increasingly sophisticated technological environment. Without adequate knowledge, you limit your potential. When you decide you are done upgrading your skills you are slowly killing your business. You must know how to set up your computer settings for access to sites and peripherals, learn your software, and get onto directories and websites. Electronic faxing, designing informational signatures, network settings, document management, social networking, manipulating pictures, etc. are all very important. For document management, you might be using Sharepoint as this is very popular. If that is the case, then you will want to take a look at these sharepoint web parts as they allow you to tailor Sharepoint to your requirements. If this is all a bit alien to you, then you might want to take some courses to further your knowledge. The ITSM Zone may be a good place to start, as they offer different courses that will allow you to develop your understanding of service management. They will help develop your skills to manage your own technology infrastructures and control your computing elements with ease.
  • Area Knowledge: Our products are homes and properties. You must become the expert of towns and neighborhoods, of a myriad of local issues, climate distinctives, and issues you need to caution people about (like a bypass). You will be asked about schools and businesses, about shopping and restaurants. You will be selling condos and vast rural properties – each of these have amazing complexity. You need to learn property values and why two statistically identical houses have dramatically different values. Did you know the difference in rainfall between Grand Ronde and Sheridan is over 50″ per year? Might that be important to a buyer?
  • Risk Management: This is a broad area of knowledge that is right at the top. It incorporates almost every other area, and we must relentlessly pursue this. Your value is in protecting and informing your clients, but your colleagues also depend on you to know what is right and good and profitable. You must know where the pitfalls are and how to appropriately solve problems. We all suffer when someone fails, so we all have motivation to be aware of changing laws & regulations, and issues.

Training: How To Do Something

  • Workshops: Bella Casa offers practical interactive workshops on Friday mornings for any agents wanting to attend. These revolve around key issues and current questions and concerns. What we do is determined by the immediate need as expressed by our Realtors®. There is a time for questions and discussions about anything, even if it is not related to the topic of the day.
  • Our affiliated businesses like title companies and mortgage companies offer much training to all Realtors®. Many will offer free software for you and access to the kinds of data they have. Some Title representatives also train on marketing and advertising, social networking, and other practical services.
  • If you want to learn how to build a business by referral, Brian Buffini offers extensive training online and through seminars and conferences. Others offer specific real estate training on various models, wide ranging issues through books, online, dvds/mp3s, and more. Realtor.com (NAR) has a vast library of information and training to be tapped into. Our State Association and our MLSs also offer training.
  • Certification Courses: You can advance your knowledge and skills by buying certification courses offered by OAR and NAR (GRI, ABR, CRS, and many more). There are also useful 3rd Party certifications in the business and sales industries.

Our Values & Principles

Bella Casa Real Estate Group is growing, has established an exceptional reputation, and is successful because we believe in lofty values and basic principles which define us. Here is an overview of what we aspire to and practice.

1. Our most basic requirements for any Realtor®

  • You must be legally squeaky-clean. We are not looking to see how close we can get to the line without transgressing it; we are trying to see how perfectly we can meet the legal requirements in the letter of the law and in the spirit of the law.
  • You must uphold high ethical standards. We are Realtors® because we belong to the National Association of Realtors®. We belong to NAR because we subscribe to a carefully delineated Code of Ethics for our practice. At the core of the NAR Code of Ethics is the Golden Rule. We also want people who will uphold the highest level of business ethics, exceptional standards of conduct, and employ the industry’s best practices.
  • You must be committed impressive levels of customer-centric service. Genuine service is first an attitude. I am a servant meeting the needs of my clients. The best Realtors® understand that those who always put the client first and work for their interests will be the most successful, benefit financially, and enjoy longevity. Reputations are built and destroyed based on the quality of customer service.

2. We are professionals

That is more than a statement of our work; it is a statement of our character. The most basic expression of a professional is that you exhibit wisdom in self-control. You choose to do only what is good and right, not what you may want to do or say under pressure. If you cannot control your emotions, reactions, attitudes and provocations for the purpose of doing good, then you will not achieve what is possible.

3. We value independence and autonomy

We all need a hand up and we all benefit from the united resources of experience, education, and the gifts and talents of each other. That is why we are a cooperative and share generously with each other. But we do so as those who have grown up and developed our own businesses according to our own designs. Some people always want someone else to give them more and do things for them. People who are dependent by nature and satisfied looking to others to take care of them do not fit our business model. We each function independently and autonomously. As such, we can choose to cooperate, not because we can’t be successful on our own, but because we see the value we can realize from cooperating with like-minded professionals.

4. We value cooperation

We formed a cooperative! Our Realtors® are gracious and generous. We foster a culture of sharing and helping. We collaborate when there is greater value together than we can know on our own.

5. We are colleagues who practice collegiality

We are competitors who respect each other as equals in standing. We are not hierarchical and so our cooperation is based on shared values and commitments. We make progress through consensus. What may distinguish us is what we earn and accomplish. We respect each persons right to become what he or she imagines.

6. Creativity

Everyone is unique in some ways and many of us reflect different perspectives. We encourage you to think outside the box, to explore fresh ideas, and create your own unique identity. In no way are we a cookie-cutter brokerage of conformists. You have liberty to experiment and explore. If you maintain your values and commitments, they will keep you on sound footing.

7. Reputation

Our Reputation is the most valuable asset we have. A good reputation can take a life-time to build but can be destroyed in a day. No amount of money (or any its benefits) is worth the loss of your reputation. Carelessness and compromise are dangerous. The love of money above all else is deadly. Maintain your values and commitments and you will be spared a great deal of suffering or humiliation.

8. Accountability

If you are independent and autonomous you are accountable. No one else takes that responsibility for you. You live with your consequences, good and bad, and you experience the satisfaction of the fruit of your efforts. When we are wrong we admit it. It is better to learn from something than to assign blame. It is better to apologize and make appropriate amends than to argue and dispute a failure.

9. Integrity

Integrity means that our values, our standards, our commitments, and our morals are fully integrated into our full person. It is not an act, an image, nor is it a manipulation or a deception. You are what you aspire to be. You are for real, genuine, and sincere. Hypocrisy usually cannot be hidden forever.

10. Generosity

We contribute to the communities which allow us to become successful. Professionals are giving people. We value the efforts of all who work to create a better lives and communities. We are active in our churches, local government commissions and task forces, we support local charities and non-profits. We are members of service clubs and business and community associations. We sponsor a wide variety of community events. Our Realtors® support our Annual Realtor® Auction each October.

The First Six Years

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

It was early spring of 2007. There were tremors in the housing markets of California, but no one here worried much about it. Joni and I lived through the February 9, 1971 San Fernando earthquake in Southern California but we never expected anything like that when we moved to Oregon. California is home to earthquakes, even in their housing industry. Their prices routinely grow sky-high, and then get shaken back down to the ground.  We’ve learned to ignore it as an inevitable event. Little did we know, within 4 months of Bella Casa’s inception the mother of all quakes would shake the nation’s housing industry.

So much for foresight and good judgment! But if we lacked understanding about the size of the sub-prime quake, we did not lack vision and direction for what we knew would be the brokerage of the future. The colonial era of brokerages was past, and the new era was to be built upon a new model, one we call a professional cooperative.

We began on the 15th of March, 2007, with Mary Jo, Tanya, Joni, Amy, Randy, and Mary. Soon Rena, Olya, and Grace made the move. By March 15, 2008, our first anniversary, Robin joined us as our 30th Realtor® making us the largest brokerage in McMinnville, and among the top three for size in the County.  But while size may be a commentary on the attractiveness of our model, alone it may only mean we put on a better party!

Our goal has always been to be the brand of choice for our area, the greater Yamhill County area, one of the most beautiful places on the earth! We are accomplishing this with a sterling reputation, which we value more than gold and the highest level of competent service available for our clients. Since the past is the best predictor of the future, we are very optimistic!

Why Consider Bella Casa?

[dropcap character=”T” color=”blue”]The last time I checked, only half of the real estate agents in America were Realtors®, and only half of those were members of a recognizable national or regional company brand. I suspect that the latter number is substantially less after the decimating recession we’ve experienced. Witness many  independent brokerages emerging and the multiplication of personal or boutique brands.  Realtor® teams – functioning like mini-companies – have exploded onto the real estate landscape. Sole proprietors have become common.  Something is fueling this decentralization trend. What is it?

[pullquote]The old models are dying, conventional thinking is being challenged, and the handcuffs of large brokerages, be they golden or iron, are not effective anymore. [/pullquote][space5]

We have shown that technology has leveled the competitive landscape. Now every Realtor® can access all the knowledge, tools, and sophisticated business methods that were formerly reserved for the big brands only. The individual has been set free.

Admittedly, it is a bit of a mess in our industry right now, as all transitions and paradigm shifts are. Some of this change is ugly, embarrassing, and threatening; some novel ideas will die for good reason. Change is unsettling to most people; it stirs-up insecurities and fears. But much of this will improve life for many brokers and provide finer services for the public. True professionals have opportunities to flourish and entrepreneurs can craft their magic. There are so many new opportunities in the marketplace right now. It is amazing to think about it!

Bella Casa Real Estate Group embraces much of the change in our industry.

Our brokerage is built on a principle of the independence and autonomy of professionals.  Ironically, we want people who do not need us! Why then join a brokerage at all? Because those of us who can function successfully alone know that there are good reasons and valuable benefits for cooperating together.

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  • Together we will fare better in the marketplace by building a powerful, attractive, and ubiquitous brand with a stellar reputation

  • Together we can afford a more professional and visible office to meet with our clients.  We share costs of higher quality equipment and products like a comprehensive, local, and powerful custom website.

  • By working closely with the finest Realtors® in the area and cultivating a culture of equality and sharing, we will all mature professionally, solve problems with better knowledge and experience, and reduce risk for our clients.

  • Some of us need professional assistance, training, mentoring, and apprenticeship. We all did at one time and we are glad to help each other with a hand-up. But we will celebrate the day each broker becomes an independent and autonomous broker no longer dependent on the brokerage.

  • When brokers stay because they choose to, then we are truly successful as a cooperative.

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I am more than happy to speak with you and share all that Bella Casa has to offer. I truly believe that we offer the best professional opportunities and compensation package around. Give me a call anytime.

Randy McCreith, Principal Broker
Bella Casa Real Estate Group
cell: 503-310-9147

Our Evolving Industry

[dropcap character=”H” color=”red”]Historic revolutions, which overturn social order and radically change the way people live, are often initiated by conquest (The Roman Empire), by political Coup d’état or civil war (our Revolutionary War), or by new technology (the printing press). Technology peacefully but fundamentally changes the status quo and is the great leveler of people in our world. Knowledge, tools, and privileges formerly reserved for the elite, the wealthy, and large corporations, is made available to the masses. The printing press fueled the expansion of the Reformation and the Renaissance, the development of nationalism, and the ability of the common person to know more and affect more individually.

If everyone is affected; who gains and who loses?

The technology revolution of the past few decades has radically reshaped the competitive business landscape. Some think this trend will make obsolete the need for real estate agents. We do not think Realtors® will become unnecessary, especially if they attempt to stay up to date with technological developments and make use of social media marketing for realtors for example. However, we do believe that technology is obsolescing, or at least minimizing, the power of the national brands or large regional firms. The riches which used to be their exclusive domain are now in the hands of any broker! The individual Realtor® today is empowered with limitless information and resources, and immediate accessibility to anyone on the planet. You can also utilize marketing tools like offerwall ads to market yourself on people’s phones. Who could have guessed even just a decade ago that you would be able to advertise yourself in the palm of someone’s hand?

What do I gain with a national brand or a large real estate firm?

In our industry, national brokerages and large real estate firms used to provide valuable and necessary services that were beyond the individual’s real estate agent’s reach. They had national and world-wide reach. Their deep pockets could provide expensive national advertising, sophisticated business systems, and impressive marketing collaterals. They could amass extensive resources for agents while providing unifying and confidence inspiring branding. In exchange, they had large numbers of agents working for them and a significant income from their commissions.

The fruit of independence and autonomy

Equipped with today’s technology, Realtors® have the ability to be fully independent and autonomous in a way that was unimaginable to former generations. Yes, it does require the need for load testing from time to time, but the benefits outweigh the negatives considerably. Not only can we reach the entire world directly, but we can be found by anyone on the planet with a few clicks of a mouse or a message sent from a phone. Direct and instantaneous communications worldwide by cell, text, instant message, email, social networking sites, or live video stream have set us free from offices and unnecessary expenses. Today we can utilize virtual assistants in Australia for our marketing alongside the advice given in this article, buy industry products world-wide, find web-based training and knowledge from our laptops or phones, collaborate with the finest business resources available, and use the most powerful software applications.

Are you becoming obsolete?

Real estate remains essentially local and personal. Home buyers and sellers today are more educated and sophisticated about real estate because of technology, but they still need “field guides” and expert information specialists. There is a greater need for protective representation and expert counsel to help clients build wealth and make good investments. We still need boots on the ground to execute all the logistics. Real estate is not like researching and buying commodities, financial products, or travel reservations. It is personal, geographical and local. We maintain that as the real estate industry continues to grow in complexity, the local Realtor® becomes all the more important.

Why We Recruit

[dropcap character=”I” color=”gray”]It is common in business to recruit the best talent or those with the potential to be among the best. It is part of the competitive nature of the free marketplace, and it forces everyone to make better products, offer better services, and provide a better work environment for people. This is something we pride ourselves on; we believe we offer a fantastic package which is why we demand the very best from our employees. Before we hire anyone, we even pay for an afp police check, such is our commitment to making sure we only ever employ those who will benefit the company. These are the many benefits of what a competitive nature in some people can do, however, if this the type of environment at the moment there are plenty of opportunities for you to improve. One of the ways you could work towards a better work environment is by participating in team building exercises, whether you’re looking for team building in Denver or somewhere more local to you, there are plenty of guides out there for you to take advantage of in order to become a more successful team. Recruiting is not meant to be a hostile act! Sometimes Realtors® come to us from offices where our respect for the owner is high, and we are friends. There are good reasons to recruit; here is what motivates us to do it.[space5]

[pullquote cite=” – by Geri Weitzman” align=”right”]Sometimes we just have to create what we want to be a part of. [/pullquote]1. Everyone does it.

In one sense, it is defensive. A basic principle of business is, “if it’s not growing, it’s dying.” No business lives forever, some just live longer than others. We know other brokerages are constantly trying to lure our brokers away. If we did not promote our brokerage’s features and benefits, then we could find our business in decline. If our Realtors® are successfully recruited away, that may be a barometer something is wrong and we need to improve our competitive position. We are grateful that our work environment and our financial arrangements are attractive.

2. At any given time Realtors® are looking for something better.

We believe we have something better to offer many brokers. As business people develop, what was good for them at one stage of their growth later becomes a hindrance. A new agent may like a dependent environment where there are lots of benefits. However, this usually comes at a high cost. As they become more independent and wish to retain more of their commissions, they look for better business opportunities. We all do it – for most people it is called ‘looking for a new job’ or looking for a better position with a competitor. Recruiting is our way of communicating with Realtors® in our marketplace and letting them know what their options are.

3. There is exceptional power in collegial synergism.

When the best are assembled, they become both an inspiration and a resource for future great Realtors®. If we can attract and retain the finest in the industry, then the reputation and credibility of all our Realtors® is enhanced. If our brokers can see the various models of success vividly and close up, they can find their own fit quicker and gain a detailed road map to success. If we are successful in assembling generous and gracious professionals, then together we can do so much more than the sum of the parts or that anyone might be able to do alone.

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  • A collective knowledge base and library of experiences will help us all solve problems better

  • The practical wisdom arising from a group of professionals is priceless

  • Developing deep professional relationships adds richness to our lives

  • Newer or younger Realtors® bring fresh ideas, methods, perspective, and creativity to entire brokerage

  • Each contributes to others success in a variety of ways

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We believe there is enough business for everyone, and that if we help others succeed, then we will all have the advantage of a more professional environment and the reputation of Realtors® in general will be improved in the community. That is good for everyone!

4. Competition is good for everyone.

Competition raises the bar of professionalism. Without it, people get sloppy and operations degenerate into bad service for clients, which results in damage to the reputation of Realtors® and our industry. We are all vulnerable to it, and so we wake up every morning determined to do a great job for our clients, help our colleagues, and continue to improve our costs and services making our business the best there is. When that happens, there are many rewards, both financial and non-tangible! Competition also helps cull the bad apples from the barrel. It is not illegal or an ethics violation to be a nasty and miserable person to work with. With competition, the good Realtors® are floodlighted and receive the business while the bad look bad and lose. We can be more professional, do a better job, raise the awareness of those who are a credit to our profession, and let the market cull out the others for everyone’s benefit.

5. Growth of the brokerage provides more income to cover the shared services of our professional cooperative.

The optimal size allows our Realtors® to pay less individually, and when there is more growth, it allows for new opportunities in areas where our brokers want to work and expand their businesses. The end of our business plan is driven by our Realtors®; after all, it is a professional cooperative!

Randy McCreith
Principal Broker, Bella Casa Real Estate Group
Cell: 503-310-9147

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.