Inman Interview: Unedited

Josh Harley and Fathom Realty were featured on Inman news on February 21st, 2017. Below is the complete, unedited, interview between Josh Harley, CEO of Fathom Realty, and Gill South, Staff Writer with Inman News. The original article on Inman can be found here.

I understand that you launched Fathom after 2 years as an agent. How did you get your start and where did the idea for Fathom come from?

I became a Realtor around April of 2007 and joined Keller Williams. My plan was not to become a Realtor but rather to build a company around my ability to generate leads. I originally chose KW because they offered a CAP on the commission split and later grew to love them for many other reasons. I still respect them above all other traditional real estate brands. They gave me a platform and a base of agents from which to build a team. I built a small team of agents within my first few months in real estate. I was focused on generating real estate leads while my team was focused on closing those leads. I learned a lot of hard and valuable lessons early on but I will always be grateful for the experience.

I eventually chose to leave KW simply because I felt we could accomplish so much more if we were not paying the high commission splits. At first, my team was wary of making a change. They felt that if we left KW and went to a no-named brokerage, our clients would not want to work with us. Being new to real estate and not having any preconceived bias, I challenged that notion. As much as I loved KW, they never sent us a single lead. We were too busy to attend any of their training classes. We paid for our own website, CRM, marketing, and all our branding was focused around our team. I couldn’t justify the large commission splits we were paying to KW because it left very little profit after our own team splits. I had some of my team members ask our past clients if they could remember what brokerage we were with and why they chose us. Of all the past clients we spoke with, only one person remembered that we were with KW. All our past clients chose us because they came across and registered on our website, or saw one of our yard signs, or were referred by a friend. None of our clients chose us because we were with a specific brand. When we asked if they would have worked with us if we would have been with a smaller company, all of them, without fail, said they chose us because of who we are and what we offered, not for who we were with. Since then, NAR’s own research has backed this up. Per NAR, only 3 percent of home buyers chose their Realtor because of the brand they are with.

After around a year with KW, we left to join a 100% commission brokerage based out of Houston. They had around 1,000 agents but offered nothing. They turned out to simply be a license warehouse and who’s support was deeply lacking. It was disappointing because I saw huge potential in this model but recognized that they were too inexpensive. There wasn’t enough revenue to provide proper training, technology, or even adequate support. It is my understanding that this company is now out of business. I had been a licensed Realtor for a year and a half when I decided there had to be a real estate model that bridged the gap between the large traditional brokerage who took equally large commission splits, and the 100% commission model where you paid nothing and received nothing in return. We are in a time where the brokerage can offer very little that the agent can’t already get on their own.

I received my broker’s license shortly after my two-year anniversary as a Realtor and I officially launched Fathom in January 2010. The idea was to provide everything the large traditional brokerage provided while charging a low commission split modeled after the 100% commission companies. The 100% model wasn’t new, but up to this point I had not found one who I felt was doing it right and was determined to fix that.

The 100% model wasn’t new, but up to this point I had not found one who I felt was doing it right and was determined to fix that.Josh Harley

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In the Inc. 500 you came no. 457 in 2014, no. 128 in 2015, and no. 244 in 2016, and you started Fathom in January 2010?

That is correct. We have seen some tremendous growth because our agents recognize the value we offer. More and more agents are beginning to recognize that we are the brokerage of the future. There are many agents who are still sitting on the fence thinking that it sounds too good to be true, or that moving away from their big-box brokerage will hurt their business, but that’s just not the case. Once a top-producing agent moves over to Fathom and other agents see their business thrive, they too make the move to Fathom. We just have to be patient.

A model like Fathom allows an agent to make more money when the housing market is weak. The pie may get smaller due to the economy but your piece of the pie is now larger. An agent with Fathom will take home as much money closing only 8 homes as another agent closing 12 homes and paying a 30 percent commission split.

Equally important, as more and more competition comes in from new companies like GoldenKey and Open Door who are knocking down the commission rate, agents will need to move to a 100 percent commission company like Fathom to be able to compete and still provide for their families. We’ve seen commission rates down as low as 4 percent. I believe we are the future for traditional Realtors.

More and more agents are beginning to recognize that we are the brokerage of the future.Josh Harley
 

When you were with Keller Williams, you mentioned that there were very few agents in the office at any one time. Why do you think that is?

This was going back 7 years. I cannot speak to their office traffic today. However, when I am speaking with agents who are considering joining Fathom, a few of them are concerned about the fact we do not have physical offices. I always ask them about how often they actually visit their current brokerage’s office. The vast majority will admit that they go to the office once a month or less. They no longer go there to meet clients or make copies. They only go to pick up their commission checks. This is not an issue for us because our agents receive their checks at closing and in states where that is not allowed, we direct deposit their commission immediately upon it clearing.

If you walk into almost any real estate office in any town across the United States, you will find relatively empty halls. I’m sure there are exceptions to this but not many. The KW office where I was a member in McKinney was, and is, the most beautiful office I have ever seen and yet, even with their 200 agents, I never saw more than 10 agents at any given time. Technology has advanced so much that agents do not need the office space and if they could choose between a big office or better commission splits, they would almost always opt for better splits.

Some agents I speak with will ask about meeting their clients. The question in return becomes, if your office is in Dallas but your client lives 20 minutes away, would you make them drive all the way out to meet in your office just to drive back out to tour homes, or do you go to them? If your goal is to build a personal, long lasting relationship, is it better to meet them in an office where you sit behind a desk in a position of authority, or in a more casual environment where you are equals and friendships can be built? If you want to meet in an office, there is no shortage of Title Companies, or Lenders who would be ecstatic to let you meet in their conference room because they now have an opportunity to win that client as well.

Technology has advanced so much that agents do not need the office space and if they could choose between a big office or better commission splits, they would almost always opt for better splits.Josh Harley
 

In most of your markets, you do not have offices. Do you have any ways your agents can get together regularly in their markets?

In our larger markets, our agents have opportunities to get together on a weekly basis for training, mastermind meetings, and social events. Smaller markets have fewer opportunities simply because not enough agents show up. In those markets, we offer at least two opportunities per month for training and mastermind meetings, and as the market grows, so do the opportunities. This is an area we need to work harder on and have committed to making this a priority. Although we are virtual, real estate is a people business and we need to come together. Culture cannot be built in a vacuum.

Although we are virtual, real estate is a people business and we need to come together. Culture cannot be built in a vacuum.Josh Harley
 

What is the difference between you and other 100% commission brokerages?

I hate to tell people that we are a 100% brokerage. Instead, I explain that we are a full-service brokerage that offers the industry’s best commission plans. The reason I hate to say we are a 100% commission company is because there are so many out there who are simply license-warehouses. I am not a fan of companies that operate this way. They often give us all a bad name.

What truly makes us different from other 100% companies are several things. First, agents receive equity in the company. This helps ensure our values and vision is aligned. Second, successful agents attract successful agents. In the beginning, we only accepted higher producing agents which helped us maintain a strong reputation and a higher transaction-to-agent ratio. Over time, we allowed newer agents to join with the agreement that we would mentor them to become successful agents. Our DD’s are now allowed to hire lower producing agents who show a desire to grow their business. If they are willing to invest in their business, then we will invest in them. Unfortunately, not all agents follow through… such is life. What all of that translates into is a higher percentage of high producing agents. Currently, our average agent in Fathom closes 12 transactions per year, and our average full-time agent closes 16 transactions per year. It’s not that we do not care about lower producing agents. Just the opposite. It would bring me no greater join than to help every agent who joins Fathom grow their business by 50% or more. In fact, that is our number one priority as we continue to grow and improve Fathom.

Fathom offers everything that a traditional big-box brokerage offers except office spaces… and in some markets, we even offer that. Not all 100% commissions do this. Some have offices and support but lack technology and training, while others offer some technology but lack timely support for their agents. Very few of our competitors offer what we do. Some try to ‘check off all the boxes’ but few actually do it well, and that helps us stand out.

When you ask an agent what their top 4 priorities are, that list usually boils down to support, commission splits, training, and technology… and sometimes one of those can be traded out for real estate leads. Office space is rarely on their list.

One more area that makes Fathom stand out is that we give back to our agents when they have needs such as sickness, death, or injury within the family. This year, we are also giving out scholarships for college and trade schools for our agent’s children. I am proud to be able to give back to our agents who give so much to our communities.

I hate to tell people that we are a 100% brokerage. Instead, I explain that we are a full-service brokerage that offers the industry’s best commission plans.Josh Harley
 

In your business model, you are paid a monthly fee and transaction fee and that’s it, so you rely on decent sales volume with your agents selling on average 12 homes a year?

In regards to fees, we keep it very simple. We have a monthly fee and a simple transaction fee. That’s it. E&O is included. A lot of our 100% commission competitors tout low transaction fees and then add layers of other fees, effectively nickel and diming an agent to death.

Even with our low fees, a market with 100 agents generates over $540K in revenue. By keeping our expenses low and streamlining our services, we have managed to maintain very healthy margins. Additionally, we strive to help each agent grow their business and close more transactions. As they say, high tide floats all boats. The more successful we can help our agents become, the more successful we become, and as a side benefit, the more agents they refer to Fathom.

I’d like to clarify what I meant about being streamlined. Rather than having a marketing person, compliance person, bookkeeper, recruiter, and so forth in each market, we centralize it which allows us to accomplish more with fewer people and overhead. Each department still works very closely with the local managers and our agents to support them so it still feels like they have local support. Many of our agents have shared with me that they’ve received more support while with Fathom than they ever had with their previous brokerages. I love to hear this because it’s exactly what we are striving to do. We are not perfect for it’s not for the lack of trying. An agent should never have to wait for an answer. We run a tight, well-oiled machine which allows us to reduce our overhead and therefore increase our profitability. There are only two ways to make money. Increase your revenue, and decrease your expenses. We work hard to do both.

Many of our agents have shared with me that they’ve received more support while with Fathom than they ever had with their previous brokerages. I love to hear this because it’s exactly what we are striving to do.Josh Harley
 

What kind of technology do you provide agents? Anything proprietary?

Right now, we have two propriety technologies that we offer. The first is a social media platform that allows us to post content on our agent’s behalf to help them stay front of mind. We also developed an amazing platform for our Hometown Heroes, which is a company that allows agents to better service and give back to our veterans and local hero communities. We are currently building more tools now but these will take some time to roll out. In the meantime, we offer agent websites that our agents can customize, a CRM, email marketing, call and text capture for their signs, single property websites, a transaction management platform, video training, and so on. The more technology we can offer to help streamline our business and allow agents greater flexibility and mobility, the better.

The more technology we can offer to help streamline our business and allow agents greater flexibility and mobility, the better.Josh Harley
 

You mentioned social media help from your social media company. What does that entail?

When an agent joins, we give them the first year of social media marketing for free which includes 4 posts per week on their Facebook business page. If they want to add LinkedIn and Twitter, then it’s an additional $20 for the year. On their second year, this service becomes $59 per year. This year, it is our goal to lower that to $25 per year and eventually free to Fathom agents.

Do you provide any help with lead generation or is that up to them?

In the beginning, we used to provide leads to all our agents. When I ran my small team before starting Fathom, we closed around 5% of the leads we generated. As Fathom grew, the conversion rate dropped closer to 1%. At that conversion rate, we lost money. Even at 2%, it would have been sustainable but not at 1%. We eventually dropped the leads program because when an agent does not invest in the lead generation, they tend to care less about the leads and therefore the follow up and ultimate lead conversion suffers.

Now, we focus on helping our agents generate their own leads through training and through our social media marketing services. We also have a smaller leads program where our agents invest their own money and we use 100% of that money to generate leads on their behalf. We keep no extra splits for those leads but that service is limited because there are only so many leads we can generate in each market.

I also own a company called Hometown Heroes where agents can generate a lot of high quality buyer and seller leads through the program. It is a program that was launched back in 2007 and is designed to give back to veterans, first responders, teachers, and medical professionals. To date, we have given millions of dollars back to our local heroes. We have one agent who has closed over 400 homes through the Hometown Heroes program over the last several years. Additionally, we offer new agent mentorship programs and ongoing coaching programs that help agents generate even more leads for themselves. As they say, teach a man to fish, you feed them for a lifetime. I have tried to move away from handing out leads and have focused on teaching our agents to generate their own leads.

I have tried to move away from handing out leads and have focused on teaching our agents to generate their own leads.Josh Harley
 

Do you help your agents with how to get ROI on their marketing?

We teach a lot of classes on where to invest your marketing dollars, how to best convert those dollars into leads, and how to convert the leads into clients and closings. This is an area we can always do better on and we are currently working on several classes that focus on this very topic.

Over the years, what I have found to be more successful than investing in Internet leads or postcard marketing, etc., is to invest in your sphere of influence. Too often, agents do not understand that you must invest financially in your sphere to see the greatest results. This is a lead source that can give you the greatest return on your investment and provide the most leads of any other source. Internet leads should be a supplemental source of business and your sphere should be your primary focus.

I love your comment, “you must invest financially in your sphere to see the greatest results”. Any ideas what this investment might be for example?

All too often, Realtors will invest financially in lead sources like Zillow, and Realtor.com but not in the most valuable lead source they have and that is their sphere of influence. Just because someone is your friend, past client, member or your Sunday School class, and so on, does not mean they will naturally and automatically send you referrals. Like any other marketing, it is important to stay top of mind with the people in your sphere.

A lot of my agents will ask me how to build a solid referral business and this is what I share with them. First, you must build up and strengthen the personal relationships in your sphere of influence. This is the one skill that all the best Realtors in every market have in common. It’s the foundation of your real estate business and yet it’s the one area that most Realtors are weak in. Now I know to say “most” is a strong statement but the evidence is on my side. Per the National Association of Realtors, 73 percent of people say they would use their Realtor again but less than 25 percent actually do. Why is that? Because this is an area so many agents have either taken for granted or have become lax in over the years with their focus being diverted to social media and third-party lead sources.

If you don’t already have a rock-solid relationship with everyone in your sphere, then reduce your list down to 100 people. If you are starting with less than 100 people, that’s okay. Start there. Nurture those relationships and build up slowly until you have 100 people. You can build up your sphere to around 150 people but this is usually where your return on investment will diminish because it’s so hard to maintain a strong personal relationship with too many people.

Stay in regular contact with the people in your sphere. Call, text, or private message each one of them on a monthly basis. That’s only 3 people per day and very easy to manage. Block out time each day, without fail, to communicate directly with your sphere.

Try to personally meet with everyone in your sphere at a minimum of once or twice a year, with quarterly being ideal. The more often you meet, the better the relationship. The better the relationship, the more referrals you’ll receive. You can meet with them for lunch or coffee, or even stop them in the hallway at church and have a personal, heartfelt conversation with them. The point is, you need to build a real, honest, and caring relationship and that’s hard to do over Facebook, email or a newsletter.

Speaking of newsletters, send out a monthly printed newsletter to everyone in your sphere where you share home maintenance tips, local events, and so on. On their birthday, Christmas, and other meaningful times, send hand-written cards. This is one area you should never skimp on. People still appreciate a heart-felt handwritten card and it will help you stand out from other Realtors who are bombarding them with marketing.

Call the people in your sphere on their birthday and consider giving them a small gift. 100 gifts with a $15 price tag comes to $1,500 per year but even one referral pays for this gesture several times over. At Christmas or Thanksgiving, pop by with another small gift. It can be a gift card or even a honey baked ham. Regardless of what it is, it will be remembered and appreciated.

Did you notice that much of what I suggested above costs money? You can’t be afraid to spend money on your sphere of influence to nurture and solidify those relationships. If you have to spend $1,000 per month but you close 3 homes per month from their referrals, you can’t tell me that it was not the best money you’ve ever spent. I would trade $12,000 in expenses for $200,000 in commissions any day, and so would any other Realtor in their right mind. You don’t have to spend that much to get the job done but I’d encourage you not to skimp in this area. If you don’t have $1,000 to spend each month, then build up to it, but do it. You’ll be glad you did.

You can’t be afraid to spend money on your sphere of influence to nurture and solidify those relationships.Josh Harley
 

Have you ever fired an agent for lack of productivity?

We have fired a lot of agents over the years but never due to a lack of productivity. Once we have committed to an agent, we will not let them go. Instead, we try to motivate them and better train them. If they choose to let their business lapse, then it’s frustrating but life happens. They are now part of our family and we care about them.

The agents we fire are let go due to a lack of ethics. I do not tolerate lying, cheating, or any other unethical behavior. Our brand is more important than our revenues. I recently turned away an agent who closed 200 homes per year because she dropped the F bomb a dozen times in our initial meeting. I later found out she had several complaints filed against her. We let an agent go who closed over 100 homes per year because he thought it was okay to do business in a way that most would find ‘gray area’. I want Fathom to be a company that others look to as an industry leader and a respected member of the Realtor community.

Our brand is more important than our revenues… I want Fathom to be a company that others look to as an industry leader and a respected member of the Realtor community.Josh Harley
 

How much training do you have at Fathom? What does it comprise?

We offer a lot of training at Fathom. We offer live webinars every week, hundreds of online training videos and written tutorials as well as local live training once or twice a month. This is an area that we are focused on increasing and improving. In some markets, there is training available every week. We recognize that agents can’t always attend live classes so we try to make everything available online. We are still working on perfecting that but it’s a major focus for us.

You keep the Fathom company branding low profile so agents can have their own brands?

I am a big advocate of agents branding themselves. It helps them capture more business and in turn, they earn more money. That’s healthy for everyone. It also establishes a sense of good will. Our agents know that we place them above ourselves. Fathom agents do not work for us, we work for them.

I have seen time and time again that an agent’s brokerage or brand does not matter as much as the agent does. Even NAR’s own research shows that only 3% of homebuyers chose their agent because of the brand they were with. If I can give an agent everything that a larger brand can give them in terms of technology, training, and support, does that 3% loss in clients really matter to the agent’s bottom line? For example, if an agent closes 36 homes per year but pays a 30% split to their broker, they paid out $65K in splits. On the reverse, if they are with Fathom and would have closed 36 but 3% chose not to go with them, then they only lost 1 deal or $6,000 in lost commissions. They still saved $61K because they only paid us $3,325 in transaction fees. Even if they had a $21K CAP, they still saved $18K. The interesting truth is, when the typical agent joins Fathom, their business does not decline, it almost always increases. That is because they have more to reinvest back into their marketing.

I am a big advocate of agents branding themselves. It helps them capture more business and in turn, they earn more money.Josh Harley
 

Are you the majority shareholder?

Yes, I am the majority shareholder. Originally, I gave equity to all our leadership to include our local District Directors (area managers), and now have given equity to every agent in the company. Our agents have helped us grow and become successful so I believe they should share in our combined success.

How do your agents earn equity?

Fathom offers four ways for our agents to earn equity. Our agents have helped us grow and become profitable so we believe our agents should share in our combined success. As a Fathom agent, you immediately earn shares when you join Fathom. You earn additional shares for each year you are with Fathom. You earn shares for every real estate sale you do. Lastly, you earn shares for every agent you refer and who joins Fathom. In other words, as you help Fathom grow, so does your equity in Fathom Realty!

Our agents have helped us grow and become successful so I believe they should share in our combined success.Josh Harley
 

How have agents responded to the equity?

Agents were very excited when we announced our agent equity plan. I have never had an agent ask for profit sharing or equity so when we gave it to our Fathom agents for Christmas, they expressed gratitude and shared with me that this gesture further solidified what they already thought about Fathom. That we are a company who truly places serving others as our first priority.

What do you think of the Keller Williams’ profit share?

I like that Keller Williams offers profit sharing. I have the greatest respect for KW. With that said, I don’t like that their profit sharing is complicated and only a small percentage of their agents ever actually benefit from it. Some KW agents benefit and some even earn a lot but there are so many who don’t. Most agents can’t even explain how the profit share is earned and distributed. With Fathom, it is simple, easy to understand, everyone receives it, and there are no games that we can play with it to avoid paying out.

We are a company who truly places serving others as our first priority.Josh Harley
 

Do you have an in-house tech department?

We have an agent-services department that is available to our agents who have questions on how to use the technology we offer. We also have an in-house tech department where we build some technology in-house. We currently have some very large projects under development and we look forward to rolling those projects out to our agents soon.

You are currently in 18 states in 62 markets. How big do you want to get? What are your growth plans this year and in the next three to five if possible?

When I consider this question, I am torn. I do not want to see Fathom grow just for the sake of growth. I want to grow with purpose. I have observed too many companies who simply see their agents as numbers on a spreadsheet, and as a means to gain power and wealth. I believe this is an unhealthy way of running a business. Sure, it works for many companies but I want Fathom to be a company that we all can be proud of. I want Fathom to be more of a family than a cold, self-serving brokerage.

I believe Fathom will grow to 10,000 agents and 100,000 transactions in the next 5 years. Many believe we can exceed 20,000 agents with some of the strategies we are beginning to roll out this year but I won’t get ahead of myself. Fathom is not about me. Fathom is about the amazing men and women who make up this company. The only way we will ever grow to 10,000 or even 20,000 agents is if our current agents continue to believe in, and share, our vision. To that point, over 23% of our agents have been referred by other agents and in several markets, our referral rate is as high as 43%. We are seeing that number continue to go up across the board and that was before we ever rewarded our agents for referring other agents. In January 2017, we added 70 new agents and 50 of them were referred by another Fathom agent, so I believe we are on the right path.

The only way we will ever grow to 10,000 or even 20,000 agents is if our current agents continue to believe in, and share, our vision.Josh Harley
 

On the phone, you mentioned that you will go into smaller markets as long as the manager is willing to work as an agent co-operatively with the other agents, earning the 100 percent commission like the others. Can you clarify that here?

You are correct. Most companies like ours focus on large markets with a lot of agents. I recognized that this means our model is not serving agents in smaller markets and that is not fair to them. I came up with this co-op idea as I was visiting family in Kansas where small farm communities rely on co-ops to survive. Just like in those small towns, someone must be responsible but the purpose is to benefit the group, not just the individual. All members benefit from the arrangement, the commission structure, the technology, the training, and everything else Fathom has to offer. Now we can roll out to markets with as few as 5 agents and everyone wins.

You mentioned you only go to places where you find good leaders. How do you find people?

In markets where we already have a presence, we always promote our leaders from within. In new markets, most of our future leadership finds us. Whether they come across an article, or a Facebook post, or some other means, they take interest, research our company, and reach out to us through our Fathom Careers website. We have run some ads on job sites in the past but the majority of our current leaders have come to Fathom through recommendations or happenstance. Over the years, we have become more and more discerning as to who we hire into a leadership role.

Do you have a big layer of management, operational people? Or is that the district managers only?

That depends on your definition of big. Our District Directors (DDs) are our first layer of management. Our DD’s report to Samantha Guiggio, our Senior Vice President. Samantha is an amazing leader who started out as an agent, became a member of our agent leadership council, then was promoted to District Director, then VP, and now Senior Vice President. Samantha reports to Marco Fregenal, our COO. We also have a CTO, a VP of Finance, a Director of Marketing, and a National Training Manager. Of course, we also have a lot of support personnel. We used to have a local agent leadership council made up of our agents, but many of them were promoted to District Directors when we grew larger. This year, we plan to implement the leadership council again in the districts that are starting to see a lot of growth. This helps us groom future leaders from within the company. They are not managers but help ensure our agents are served.

Who do you see as your competition?

We focus on the traditional firms as our primary competitors. We do not focus on other 100% commission companies. We get a lot of agents who come over from other 100% commission firms but that’s not our recruiting focus. When it comes to recruiting, our value proposition is strongest against traditional brokerages. It’s hard to argue when all things are equal but you save tens of thousands of dollars in commission splits with Fathom.

When it comes to our other offerings such as technology, training and support, we try to offer everything that the national brands do, and where possible, more. Otherwise, we keep our heads forward and focused on what we are doing and not on what anyone else is doing. Worrying about the competition is unhealthy, but so is sticking your head in the sand.

It’s hard to argue when all things are equal but you save tens of thousands of dollars in commission splits with Fathom.Josh Harley
 

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Real estate provides us with an incredible opportunity to share life with so many people. Everyone has a different reason for buying or selling a home. Maybe they’re upsizing a home because of marriage or the birth of a child, or maybe they are downsizing because of divorce or even death. Life happens and you are right there in the middle of it all. You have an awesome responsibility to be there for them in a greater capacity than just as their agent. There are not many things I can guarantee in this life but there is one. It is a truth that transcends time and religion. We all need love. We all need someone to care about us and be there for us. Your clients are no different. As altruistic as this sounds, there is an incredible side effect that comes from caring about others. When someone knows that you truly care about them, they will grow to have a vested interest in you, and in your success. There is no greater way to generate referrals than to stop thinking about your business and simply care about others. The success will come.

There is no greater way to generate referrals than to stop thinking about your business and simply care about others.Josh Harley

When looking for a 100 percent commission brokerages, what are some good questions agents should ask?

If you are a successful agent, then you probably already have your own website and CRM, and you need very little training or support. For you, most 100% companies will work but you want to focus on their reputation and their accounting practices to makes sure you get paid in a timely manner. A brokerage’s poor reputation can often cloud your own reputation if they are not well liked, are dishonest, or just warehouse agent’s licenses. Ask closing attorneys and title companies about the brokerage’s reputation. They tend to be unbiased and have a fair assessment. You can also ask members of the local association about the brokerage’s reputation, just keep in mind that some of those members are biased because we are slowly but surely stripping away their market share. Lastly, ask the brokerage’s current agents about how they are treated. Does the broker go to bat for you or throw you under the bus? Do they support you in a timely manner? Lastly, find out what technology and marketing services they offer which will help you further offset your own expenses. If what they offer is good, why pay for technology or marketing that you can otherwise get for free.

At the end of the day, 100% of nothing is still nothing. So, for agents who are not as seasoned or close a lot of business, then you want to look for a company that provides you with the training, technology, and support you need to maintain your current level of business and help you grow from there if that is your desire. Commission splits are important but so is having the tools and resources you need to be successful. If that brokerage offers everything that is important to your success, have a solid reputation, AND provide amazing commission splits, then make the change. You’ll be glad you did.

At Fathom, one trend we have seen is that our agent’s business tends to increase when they join our brokerage. Not because of our brand name but because we give them the resources they need and more importantly, they now have significantly more money to invest in their business. Imagine, an agent who closes 12 homes per year will see an increase of over $18,000 in their commissions simply due to our low commission plans. How many more leads and closings can you generate if you invest even half of that savings back into your marketing?