Join Brick and Garden, Continued....


Yes, believe it or not, this is a Real Estate Broker Recruiting Webpage.  This page is the continuation of our Careers Page, "Join Brick and Garden."  Like our firm, this page will simply not appeal to all brokers.  But, if you have read the Brick and Garden Careers Page, "Join Brick and Garden," and the About Us section, including the rather lengthy, "More About Us," and if you are still interested, read on.


We need brokers!  But not most brokers....



More Substance at Brick and Garden


We are looking for an uncommon trait in the real estate business:  Substance over style.


Nothing wrong with style.  But all things being equal, we would rather have substance.  Our business is full of hyper-articulate, motivationally-trained, stylish individuals who are great at marketing themselves, but far less competent serving the needs of their clients.  In Texas, they call this "All hat and no cattle."  At Brick and Garden, real estate is not just about promoting yourself.  Our brokers are knowledgeable, educated, service-oriented, and hard-working.  Promote yourself?  You bet!  But let's bring some value to our clients along the way.



Further Thoughts on Broker Recruitment at Brick and Garden


We are looking for a few, good malcontents....




Malcontent:  One who is dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs.


Payment Plans


Are you unhappy with giving up 50% of your earnings for the privilege of affiliating with a traditional firm?  They do have that beautiful office, right?  Do you want to keep more of the money you earn?  At the risk of repeating ourselves, does your firm earn what you pay them?  Seriously, what is the occasional use of a conference room worth?  We recently had a discussion with a broker at one of these firms (marble lobby and all).  We determined that her office alone grosses a million dollars a year, BEFORE the first house is sold.  And yes, that is after they pay for the corporate franchise and expenses.


At your firm, are all agents subject to the same splits, expenses, and payment plans?  Why not?  Further, is your firm's payment plan more complicated than the tax code?  Why?


Commission Rates


Does your firm mandate commission rates?  That is, mandate minimum commission rates?  Why?  Who does this benefit and who does this hurt?  Well, that is easy.  This policy ensures maximum revenue to the firm - often at the expense of their agents, not to mention their clients.  And, to add insult to injury, does your firm allow some agents more flexibility in this regard than others?  Like payment plans, firms can use these policies to give preferential treatment to some agents over others.


Brick and Garden does not mandate commission rates at all.  We have one simple rule:  The total listing commission must be equal to or greater than the offered buyer's agent payout.  That is, if you offer the buyer's agent three percent, the total listing commission must be three percent or greater.  Let me just point out that this is not double (six percent), it is three percent or greater (total).  We recognize the long term benefit to the firm and to the individual broker of this flexible approach.  And, we believe that our brokers are perfectly competent to make their own business decisions.  They are, after all, independent contractors, right?  Further, since individual brokers are a step closer to the market and their clients, they are, in fact, more competent to make these decisions than the firm.


Real Estate Training


Does your firm promote expensive, proprietary, non-industry-recognized training?  Surely, this firm-proprietary training is much better than a GRI, ABR, or a CRS.  Well, that's what they say, right?  Especially when they mix in a little religion....


What's really going on here?  If agents pay for and attend this proprietary training, does this not help the firm retain agents?  Since other firms do not recognize these classes, agents may feel like they have "wasted" the time and money invested in these classes if they switch firms.  Isn't that what this is all about?


Motivational Training


Speaking of training, does your firm promote slick sales and "motivational" training?  (Glengarry Glen Ross types - okay, maybe Glengarry-lite)  Just a movie?  When I started at one of the large, local firms, the very first week I was there, they had one of these turkeys in the office promoting an upcoming "event" for another bigger turkey, and they wanted me to pay to attend.  Come to our event, buy our tapes, buy our tapes, buy our tapes, etc.  You know, topic discussions like, "Overcoming Objections" and "Unforgettable Personal Promotion."  Well, I did not attend - I had a previous commitment - a class on Septic Systems in Eastern North Carolina.


Real estate agents eat this stuff up.  These "seminars" are packed.  It is, I think, the allure of easy money.  It is much easier to "promote ourselves" to (the promise of) wealth than to actually earn wealth through competence and hard work.  Testament to the common victory of style over substance.


"Motivational training"?  If you need training to be motivated, you will not fit at our firm.  Period.


Our firm promotes good, old-fashioned, mostly Realtor and industry sponsored training with topics like Property Disclosures, Working with Investors, Home Inspections, Reducing Risks, etc.




Do you drive a clown-mobile?  Odds are overwhelming if you drive around in a "wrapped vehicle," of any description, you will NOT fit at our firm.  If you think that is an appropriate way to market yourself and your clients, you simply will not fit here.


We are not the circus.  Real estate agents should remember that we represent our clients in a six-figure business transaction.  We simply must add value.  Clients and potential clients should be served accordingly.  As we say on our "About Us" page, we approach this business with the thoughtful sobriety it deserves and demands.


It is a widely known secret in our business that many "successful" real estate agents spend more time "prospecting" for clients than they actually spend brokering client transactions.  We are not saying this is the wrong way to conduct business.  But we believe that our clients expect and deserve our serious attention.




Are you happy with your Broker-in-Charge?  Competent?  Available?  Professional?  Fair?  Enough said.




Are you a professional?  We real estate brokers should quit talking about professionalism and just act the part.  With apologies to Samuel Johnson, the "Cult of Professionalism" seems to be the last refuge for real estate agents....


Industry Volatility


These days, much is written about the developing schism in the real estate business between the old-line, traditional firms and the new-breed discounters.  We discuss this from a client perspective on our "More About Us" page.  And here, while I do not want to rehash the vigorous public debate, let me quickly make a few comments on this topic from an agent perspective.


Both of these models have problems.  In short, the problem with traditional firms is that agents are unable to compete for business.  The problem with the discounters is that they often fail to protect the best interest of their clients.  These very different problems have one thing in common - they are the result of what we might think of as "End Spectrum" business models.  That is, let's not look at the real estate business as an either/or proposition, but rather as a continuous spectrum.  The traditional firms sit securely atop the "Rockefeller" end, with their heads in the sand, and the discounters roam the "Wild West" end, where chaos reigns.  And understandably, they sure hate to deal with each other.


Fine.  Frankly, we could not care less about their problems.  We are in this business to make money.  Our flexible, "mid-spectrum" business model allows our brokers to compete with, and deal with, both ends.  We believe this is where our brokers and our firm will make the most money AND serve the best interests of our clients.


Client Representation


Failure to Counter.  When you represent the seller, do you believe it is ever reasonable to advise your client not to counter?  Perhaps, but we see this far too often in our market.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is simply pedestrian advice from a non-business-savvy real estate agent.  Seller insulted?  Only because their agent told them they should be.


Yes, of course we recognize that buying or selling a "home" is a personal, at times emotional, transition for many people.  And, real estate agents must be sensitive to this.  However, it is our job, I would argue, our duty, to provide our clients with solid, objective advice.  That is, after all, why they are paying us!  The client may or may not heed this advice.  But if you cannot provide it, you are doing your client a disservice.


Licensure Requirements


We applaud the North Carolina Real Estate Commission's recent efforts to strengthen the licensing requirements for real estate agents in our state.  We do, we really do.  However, North Carolina requires 1,500 hours of class time to obtain a license to cut hair (See the North Carolina State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners).  The Real Estate Commission requires less than 100 hours of class time to obtain a real estate license.  Both licenses require passage of a state exam.  Now, either our cosmetologists are incredibly over-educated or our real estate agents are woefully under-educated.  This really does not merit further comment.



In the real estate business there are an endless number of ways to harm your client without them ever knowing.  Promote yourself, secure a client, do a lousy job for them - and the client is often clueless.  Under-price a house and the client might just thank you for getting their house sold so quickly.  Imagine that.


There are reasons that many people do not like real estate agents.  I touched on a few above.  We certainly do not seek to improve the reputation and performance of our competitors.  Complacency, poor performance, incompetent management, crass, pushy motivational training, kitschy marketing, and greed-driven, antiquated business models supported by our competitors hurt the business overall, but benefit a firm like ours.


Our goal is to give competent professionals and their clients a home.


For a continuing discussion of these topics and more, visit our Web Log.


September 9, 2006


Reuben Moore

Managing Broker

Brick and Garden Real Estate