Active Rain April 2, 2010

Is it All About the Commission Split? I Think Not.

Let me first say that no good agent will work for less than they feel they deserve. However, I know agents who could leave where they currently are for a higher split yet choose not to change brokerages. Entropy? Fear of change? What makes an agent stay for a lower split, not leave for a a larger split, or, in some cases, leave a higher split for a smaller one? 

When I first got into the business in 1996 I was given what I thought at the time to be a generous split of 60%. It went up to 65% after my first year. I never thought to ask for more, and leaving the firm for another was unthinkable. Had I not met my wife and moved back to Westchester I might still be there. The broker was like family.

In my career I have seen agents leave companies to start their own firms like I did, or dock their licenses under a different broker. Some do it fairly often. I know that some of the movements are lateral. But why does an agent leave a company? There could be a number of reasons.


  • Lack of support- They might feel that they are not getting the training or tools they need to grow. 
  • Lack of appreciation- They might feel that their broker does not acknowledge their efforts, disrespects them, ignores their suggestions, or ignores them altogether. Show me an agent that feels like they work for someone else and not themselves and I’ll show you an agent with a foot out the door. 
  • Lack of income- If marketing support, transaction assistance, or leads were promised and not delivered, many agents feel that it is time to change the scenery. 


Once an agent makes a decision to seek greener pastures they begin to look for a place that is different from their current home. They might want more income (can’t blame them), they might want more respect and input, or they might seek a stronger leader. So why does an agent choose one company over another?

Support, respect and income, yes, but I think it has more to do with relationships. The agents that join my company, for example, all have one thing in common: they want me, or at least the leadership and help I offer. They either want the administrative support that come with Ann and Ronnie or the marketing and leads they know I can help them generate, but above all agents want respect and appreciation. They want to know that their thoughts won’t fall on deaf ears. They want a shoulder to cry on sometimes and a “hurrah” when they do well. Splits? Yes, nobody works for free, but in the right environment 60% of a lot beats 95% of almost nothing.

If it were all about the split, the 95% and 100% models would eat everyone else up. They don’t. They have their market share, but leadership, support, mentoring, and, yes, marketing and prospecting also trump raw percentages. 

This was said to me in a different industry, but any good broker who is building a team will recognize the wisdom. Agents don’t work for their broker. The broker works for the agents. Brokers who do not understand this often end up working alone.