Previously published on Inman
If you’re a top agent at a traditional brokerage, you’re renting your brand.
Think about that. You’ve achieved incredible success helping your clients build equity through ownership, and you don’t own your brand. All the hard work you’re doing is contributing to someone else’s equity, not your own.
Top agents, now is the time to explore starting your own business. Here’s why.
You deserve to own the business you run
Top-producing agents function like business owners. The only thing is: They don’t actually own the business they’re running. Which means if they ever decide to leave real estate, they can’t profit from their years of hard work.
Judy Cuong and Samantha Tov knew there was no path to ownership at a traditional brokerage. So in 2018, they partnered with Side to create their own company: Portfolio Real Estate, based in Elk Grove, California. Side acts as broker of record and manages Portfolio’s back office, but Judy and Samantha own the brand. And as their business grows, so does their company’s asset value.
“Now that we own our company, we have an exit strategy,” said Judy. “Not many agents have that.”
“We can sell the business someday,” Samantha added. “We can leave it as a legacy for our children. That’s powerful.”
“Now that we own our company, we have an exit strategy. Not many agents have that.”
– Judy Cuong, co-founder of Portfolio Real Estate
The sooner you start investing in yourself and building that equity, the more rewards you will reap down the line. Don’t let a shifting market scare you away from investing in your future.
You should be able to operate your business your way
If you hang your license at a traditional brokerage, you have to follow that brokerage’s rules — which aren’t always designed with your best interest in mind.
“Traditional brokerages have dual interests,” said Steven Huang, co-founder of San Francisco-based Ascend Real Estate. “On the one hand, they try to help their agents do more transactions. On the other, they’re trying to increase their own brand equity. But the marketing that does a great job building their equity isn’t necessarily what helps you, the agent, sell more properties.”
When you start your own company, you have control over how you market and operate your business.
“I used to be the passenger in my brokerage’s vehicle,” explained Kofi Nartey, founder of Beverly Hills-based GLOBL RED. “When I partnered with Side to start my own company, that shifted — now Side is the engine in my vehicle. I get to decide what the car’s colors are, how fast to drive it, and where I want it to go.”
“When I partnered with Side to start my own company, that shifted — now Side is the engine in my vehicle. I get to decide what the car’s colors are, how fast to drive it, and where I want it to go.”
– Kofi Nartey, founder of Beverly Hills-based GLOBL RED
You matter more than your brokerage
Many agents believe they need a massive brokerage’s name on their signs to secure business. But the truth is: Your clients choose to work with you, not your brokerage. In fact, according to a recent study from NAR, only 1% of buyers and 4% of sellers consider the agent’s brokerage the most important factor when selecting an agent.
Rama Mehra, who founded San Ramon-based Asante Realty in 2020 after 10 years at the same company, was hesitant to move her team away at first.
“I was going from a big-box brokerage to being on my own,” she explained. “I was nervous about how people would perceive it. The big boxes subconsciously instill this idea that you would be a nobody without them. But across the board, my clients were extremely supportive. I received tremendous encouragement.”
“I was going from a big-box brokerage to being on my own. I was nervous about how people would perceive it. The big boxes subconsciously instill this idea that you would be a nobody without them. But across the board, my clients were extremely supportive. I received tremendous encouragement.”
– Rama Mehra, founder of Asante Realty
Not only that: Her business has exploded since making the shift.
“When we started, I thought we’d be lucky to reach $60 million that year,” she said. “We hit $80 million.” Last year, they nearly doubled that number, transacting $147.7 million. Agents like Rama, top producers with outstanding reputations, don’t need to rely on their brokerage’s brand name recognition.
You are the brand your clients choose to invest in, no matter what logo is on your sign. Why not make that logo your own?