Even with an active real estate license, you can’t accept listings or work with buyers until you join a brokerage. Yet company selection often comes down to the single issue most important to the agent—commission, training, tech, company culture, or distance. This clouded judgment is what leaves so many agents regretting their choice in brokerage not long after joining.
The best real estate company to work for is Keller Williams. KW offers an excellent coaching division (and unrivaled new agent training), countless teams and brokerages ranked on the Real Trends Top 1000, the mastermind of Millionaire Real Estate Agent, and a 100% commission split.
All brokerages and real estate companies have something worth offering to agents, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t still be in business. After 20 years in the industry, I’ve seen my fair share of brokerages: The good, the bad, and the ugly. To learn about my opinion on the best real estate company to work for, keep reading.
How Important Is the Right Real Estate Company?
Your choice of real estate brokerage isn’t a year-long promise, let alone a lifelong commitment. You can join a company the day after passing your state exam, and you can leave on a whim when the company across town is willing to give you a better commission.
While the freedom to switch brokerages as you please is convenient, don’t be the agent that chooses a brokerage impulsively to “give it a try.” Instead, do in-depth research into several real estate companies to ensure that you’re making a logical choice on the first go-round.
The benefits of selecting the right company from the get-go include:
- A long-term position (agents will spend an average of four years with a company)
- Negotiating higher commission splits after proven success
- Branding that links your name to your company (it markets itself)
- Tools and supports in place to make your life (and job) easier
- Feeling confident and pushing full steam ahead into real estate
Every real estate agent joins a company with great intentions—staying for the remainder of their careers, ramping up sales volume, and helping to build the brand locally. But it’s crucial to understand that, as an agent, you have unique needs that won’t be met by every brokerage out there. Finding the right brokerage to work for can make or break your career.
The Bad & The Ugly: My Experiences With Past Brokerages
Having been in the industry for 20 years, I know first-hand that not all real estate companies are as great as they look on paper. So here’s a brief look at what I experienced on the opposing end of things—ironically, stuff I didn’t realize were breaking points for me until well after the fact.
A Constant Hand in My Pocket
I joined with the regional brokerage boasting impressive name recognition at the beginning of my real estate venture. As it turns out, this real estate company was as broker-centric and brand-centric as they come.
They had their hands in my pockets every step of the way, charging me excessive “fees” for no reason other than the fact that they could. While I was proving myself to be a high-volume producer, it sure didn’t show in my commission checks.
Being Left to Fend for Myself
I’ve also dabbled in the world of virtual, cloud-based brokerages to try my hand at real estate in a different way. While having 24/7 access to everything I needed sure was convenient, I was left to my own devices when I genuinely needed assistance from my broker. It was like they’d gone AWOL—phone calls rang until they hit voicemail, and my “advocate” was doing nothing more than collecting commission checks when I closed a sale.
Reading the Fine Print
Another thing I’ve experienced (and learned the hard way) is the efforts a broker may make to maintain complete control over an agent’s career. There’s the concept of blood money, where you’ll owe a significant portion of your commission if you dare leave your current brokerage with pending sales.
Or you may suddenly realize that, after busting your neck all year to crack that 80/20 split, you drop back down toa pathetic 50/50 split at the beginning of the next year.
Following the Money
In my two decades in the industry, I’ve seen both agents and brands come and go. So I started paying a bit more attention to what the companies and brokers were doing with their split on the commission. When you follow the money, you can get a pretty good idea of which brokerages are genuinely there to ensure their agents’ success—and which are only lining their pockets.
Do They Promote the Brand and Then Compete With Agents?
Brand-centric companies care far more about the revenue of the entire company than the success of individual agents. You may find that your broker is also acting as an agent, competing with you and your peers for the same clients and listings. Your broker should be serving as a leg of support, not snatching clients right out from under you.
Do They Make Shareholders and Wall Street Rich?
Nothing screams “fraud” quite as loudly as a broker redistributing the office profits to Wall Street and unaffiliated shareholders. Any overhead that your company earns should stay within the company—either in the form of new tools to advance agent success or a profit share system that goes back to its hardworking agents. Don’t settle for a brokerage that hands your money away like it’s nothing.
Are They Splurging in Their Personal Lives?
When real estate agents are sacrificing 50% of their commissions and are living paycheck to paycheck, meanwhile their brokers just purchased brand new BMWs, that’s a problem. Brokers undoubtedly make more than agents since they profit off of every sale within the office. However, when your success is only making their lives better, you may want to reconsider your choice in brokerage.
Do They Reinvest Profits Into Their Agents?
A fantastic broker or company will see a surge in profits as motivation to trigger further success amongst agents. For example, some companies will reinvest profits into:
- Training courses with big-name producers lending tips to new agents
- Concierge tools to streamline the housekeeping tasks of agents
- Paid-for marketing tools for agents looking to build their personal brand
Try to avoid companies that are accepting of mediocrity. Your brokerage should never be content with “good enough” and continuously strive toward being a bit better than yesterday. The more a company reinvests in its agents, the better everyone in the office fares.
The Good: Keller Williams
Even to the untrained eye, Keller Williams is a fantastic real estate company that makes it a clear “winner” in the battle between the best companies to work for. The company even solidified the title of “Happiest Company to Work For in 2018,” according to Forbes Magazine.
But I’m going to offer a bit of an insider’s perspective to prove my case: Keller Williams is, by far, the top real estate brokerage firm for agents of all experience levels.
100% Commission Split Structure
It’s safe to say that Keller Williams boasts the best commission split real estate agents will probably ever see. Rather than starting your real estate venture on the typical 50/50 split, you’ll hit the ground running with an impressive 64/30/6 split instead.
Confusing? Absolutely! Now, here’s a breakdown of what this three-part commission structure means for agents like you:
- 64% goes to you, the agent
- 30% goes to your Market Center, your home office
- 6% goes to KWRI in a royalty fee
From day one, you’ll clinch 64% of the commission you earn with every deal you close. When you hit your KWRI “cap,” which is $3,000, that 6% fee goes away, and you’re up to a 70/30 commission split—note that many brokerages won’t even offer this lofty split to agents with years in the industry.
When you hit your Market Center cap, which typically hovers around eight to ten “average-priced” homes in your local area, that 30% fee is done away with as well.
With this commission structure in mind, it’s entirely possible to be earning 100% commission less than a year into your new career. This commission split can also be reassuring and motivating, as you’ll reap the fruits of your labor the harder you work.
Keller Williams Agent Leadership Council (ALC)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a brokerage (franchise or mom and pop) that genuinely values what its agents think and want. Unlike many brokerages, Keller Williams’ brokers and managers don’t desperately clinch to 100% control over the company. Instead, a portion of the decision-making falls back on the agents through the Agent Leadership Council (ALC).
This democracy-like council is similar to a Board of Directors, allowing 20% of top-producing agents to make executive Market Center decisions on behalf of all agents within the office. ALC meetings allow for open-ended discussion among all agents within the office on things like:
- Market Center policies and expectations
- Strategies for enhancing success within the Market Center
- Issues are problems that are hindering progress
- Steps to be taken to protect company culture
- Questions and comments
Not only do these meetings allow great agents to take on leadership positions, but they also allow the remaining agents to become a part of the Market Center’s daily functioning. Each Market Center has unique needs, and the ALC serves as somewhat of a sounding board to determine what works and what doesn’t. You can be confident that decisions are being made for the good of everyone, not corporate owners looking to pocket a little extra.
Mega Achievement Productivity Systems (MAPS)
Whether you’re hot off the heels of passing your real estate exam or switching from another brokerage after ten years in the industry, any bit of industry guidance is much appreciated. Fortunately, Keller Williams won’t leave you to your own devices as you learn the ropes and build your business. The Mega Achievement Productivity Systems (MAPS) coaching division of Keller Williams will ensure success across the board.
These coaching programs are entirely voluntary and a unique approach toward igniting impressive volume and revenue for agents of all skill levels. Your options include:
- Bold: Seven weeks of training for building confidence while molding powerful skills, such as lead generation, business strategies, and language
- Group: Weekly calls and digital meetings targeting often overlooked topics—referrals, working with buyers, sales language—hosted by some of the biggest names at Keller Williams
- Mastery: Weekly one-on-one training sessions to aid in goal setting, accountability, and turning your weaknesses into strengths
Attending any of the coaching options available from Keller Williams comes with plenty of business benefits. For one, you’ll have a support system in place to teach you hidden tips and tricks for success in the industry. Secondly, there’s always room for improvement in this constantly-evolving field.
These courses can keep you on top of your game to better work with clients and up-to-date on breakthroughs in the industry.
You no longer have to wonder which real estate company has the best training: It’s Keller Williams.
New Agent Training: Ignite
The stress of being a new real estate agent is twofold: Not only are you brand new to the industry and still learning the fundamentals, but you’re also in a new workplace and trying to figure out where you fit in. Fortunately, your Market Center will take you under its wing in the early days of your career in the form of Ignite Training.
Ignite is built upon the idea that new agents don’t have to wait six months or a year to get their first listing and career rolling. As a new Keller Williams agent, Ignite courses will expose you to the fundamentals of real estate and business-building practices—what you don’t learn in real estate school. Core concepts of Ignite include:
- 10-4: 10 new database entries a day, 10 phone calls to your database a day, 10 handwritten notes to your database a day, and 10 home previews each week
- W14C2TS (The Keller Williams Belief System): Stands for “Win-win, integrity, customers, commitment, communication, creativity, teamwork, trust, success.”
- Scripts: Learn what to say when you connect with your database and how to turn leads into clients
- Getting Your Business Started: How to win buyers, set list prices, find and show homes, sell a property, submit offers, and close a deal
All it takes is a month of three weekly Ignite sessions, and you’ll have the confidence and expertise to go out on your own and drive sales. New agent training isn’t “unique” among franchise real estate companies, but no other company does it in-depth and wholeheartedly like Keller Williams.
Do you have three hours to spare? Then check out a digital version of day one of your Ignite training in the video below:
Millionaire Real Estate Agent
It’s quite clear that Keller Williams has a lot to offer its agents to ensure individual and Market Center success. However, it’s also crucial to look at the man at the helm of this rapidly-expanding franchise company—Gary Keller. He also happens to be the author of The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, a book that has wowed every corner of the real estate industry.
Here’s what you’ll learn when you crack open this incredible read:
- Three ways to drive sales as a real estate agent
- How to generate leads
- Budget, economic, and organization techniques
- Tried-and-true methods for earning your first million
There’s no doubt that you can buy this book on your own right now, take note of the tips and tricks snuck into every page, and implement them into your business today. The point is, the concepts of this book are from Gary Keller himself. They’re the foundation on which Keller Williams was built upon, and are reinforced across every Market Center.
This idea behind this book also emphasizes the culture of sharing that you don’t usually see in other franchise real estate companies. Many agents are secretive about their lead generation and client contact techniques out of fear that handing their tricks away to other agents will only benefit their competition.
Gary Keller knows what works (and what doesn’t) and is willing to share his knowledge with not just his constituents, but any agent in the industry.
When the industry benefits, we all benefit.
Don’t have hours to dedicate to reading an entire book? Then watch the video below that’ll break down the five key concepts that Keller reveals in the book:
Keller Williams Profit Share System
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see a little extra financial compensation for all the hard work you dedicate to real estate? In most companies, that’s not even an option—you get your commission split, and your broker cashes in on any profits that the company makes by the end of the month.
That’s where the Keller Williams Profit Share System shines, handing money back to the agents that made the Market Center so successful in the previous month.
The Keller Williams Profit Share System rewards Keller Williams agents who refer new agents to the company with passive income. Before meeting your Market Center cap (the 30% piece of your commission split), that portion of your commission goes toward “company dollar.”
At the end of the month, your Market Center will pay any bills to keep the office up and running. Anything remaining is “profit” and is redistributed to agents in the Profit Share System.
There are seven levels of this system, creating a tree or a chain within the company. You’ll earn 50% of the profit that came from your recruits’ contribution toward the company dollar. As the chain extends and your recruits bring on new agents, you’ll also earn on their Market Center profits. The split on profits among the seven levels is as follows:
- Level 1: 50%
- Level 2: 10%
- Level 3: 5%
- Level 4: 5%
- Level 5: 7.5%
- Level 6: 10%
- Level 7: 12.5%
This system can be a decent source of passive income, especially if you put a little extra effort into referring new agents to Keller Williams. These agents can be within the same office as you, an office on the other end of town, or an office across the country. Now, you may only earn an extra few hundred a month in profit share, but some successful agents cash in on over $70,000 in profit share each year.
This profit share system is also notable in another sense: It encourages a culture of sharing within the Market Center. Other agents within your Market Center will be far more likely to help you close deals and find buyers for your new listings if they know it’ll increase company dollars and their monthly passive income. Nothing emphasizes the “Win-Win” belief at Keller Williams quite like this program.
We know that the Profit Share System is a little complicated. Take a look at the video below to see just how your passive income is calculated with this program:
Countless Company & Brokerage Awards
Nearly every franchise real estate company has at least one or two highly successful offices or a few teams across the nation that are real national standouts. Keller Williams has an incredible national presence that is hard to compete with, including:
- Over 1,000,000 transactions in 2019
- Among the top 50 enterprise franchises in America
- More than $351 billion in sales a year
- Ownership of 29% of the top 1000 brokerages
- 106 teams and brokerages on Real Trends “The Thousand” (more than 30% of the total ranking)
Yet, the benefits of working with Keller Williams don’t stop there. The company also ranks as one of the best companies for veterans, women, innovation, global franchises, diversity, and technology. That means you don’t have to choose a Keller Williams branch halfway across the state to work for one with an excellent local reputation. The values and culture at Keller Williams practically ensure success regardless of your Market Center of choice.
Option for Part-Time
Many major franchise real estate companies are reluctant to onboard those looking to be part-time agents. After all, there’s a commonly held misconception that part-time agents are only halfway-in the career and don’t generate significant sales to make training worthwhile. Keller Williams knows that passion and dedication are fundamental, which is why it’s also the best real estate company to work for part-time.
Since you’re an independent contractor, the outlook on your career is entirely in your own hands. So long as you commit to the Ignite training, pursue MAPS coaching on the side, and stick to the 10-4 strategy, you should reap success whether you’re dedicating 15 or 50 hours to building your business. However, you’ll likely want to work for Keller Williams full-time once you become a part of your local Market Center’s community.
It’s safe to say that many prospective real estate agents overlook the importance of excellent company culture when choosing a brokerage. At Keller Williams, the motto is, “God, family, and then business,” and there’s no doubt that the company as a whole puts the needs and wishes of agents above all else. Just take a look at what a Stanford School of Business analysis found when looking at the unique business model of Keller Williams:
- Unprovoked compliments weren’t unusual
- Choosing the “right” solution rather than the popular one
- Putting the needs of the whole Market Center first
- Covering associate fees anonymously
- Taking over for another agent during a family emergency
- Making ALC decisions a part of the daily functioning
- Avoiding the snatching of agents from other Market Centers
- Putting learned tools, mottos, and beliefs into action
- Prioritizing sharing and caring over individual agent success
- Hitting lead generation three hours a day
It’s not just the positive vibe within each Market Center that makes Keller Williams the best real estate company to work for—it’s also the positive effects that this company culture has on business.
Between 2010 and 2013, the Stanford analysis also found that the average Keller Williams Market Center boasted an increase of 48 agents, nearly doubled its transactional sides (689 to 1,245), and more than doubled sales volume ($144.4 million to $299.8 million).
The average Keller Williams agent also gained an additional 1.6 sides per year and secured 82% of the profits (as compared to just 66% among agents at the average real estate company).
The unique approach toward company culture at Keller Williams has helped solidify financial and career success among brokers, agents, and Market Centers. This helps explain why Keller Williams has over 100,000 agents, and even more switching to the company every year.
While there’s no brokerage or real estate company out there that will be a good match for 100% of agents, Keller Williams is undoubtedly the best choice for most. However, despite the tools and supports put in place at your Market Center, it’s crucial to understand your role in your own success.
You cannot expect to attend a month-long Ignite training program and suddenly have listings fall into your lap without putting in the effort to get them. You need to be willing to generate leads, market yourself, put your best foot forward, and help your peers at every step of the way.