What a managing broker is and why you shouldn’t hesitate to call yours with questions and concerns. - Michael McVinney
Contact Michael McVinney, a NY licensed Real Estate Broker. Michael McVinney is also licensed in PA.
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What a managing broker is and why you shouldn’t hesitate to call yours with questions and concerns.

I sometimes catch flak in this sub for suggesting that people call the managing broker of a real estate brokerage and I wanted to take a minute to explain their function. For the purposes of this post I’m going to abbreviate ‘managing broker’ to ‘broker’ and refer to the ‘realtor/agent’ simply as ‘agent.’ I invite other industry pros to weigh in if my experience differs from theirs because my knowledge is going to be specific to my market.

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An agent is a licensee who works as an independent contractor or 1099 employee under the supervision of a broker. (There are situations in which a licensee works as a W2 employee but usually those are administrative support positions.) We have to ‘hang our shingle’ under a broker in order to work so we choose the brokerage before we are even licensed most of the time because the testing agency has to know where to send your license if you pass.

Agents don’t really interview for a ‘job’ at a brokerage; rather, we interview the broker to see if we want to work for them or not. The decision is usually based on three primary factors: the overall reputation of the brand, resources offered (office space, software, advertising, leads, etc.), and how much we have to pay to use the brand and the tools.

The role of the broker is to make sure we know how to do our jobs and to help us fix problems when something goes wrong. It’s important to remember that your contract is with the brokerage, not the individual agent. Therefore it is in the brokerage’s best interest to make sure your agent is a good fit for you and that you are receiving top-notch service from that agent. The brokerage risks losing you as a client if they don’t manage the agent properly.

Managing us is a pretty hands-off process most of the time. The brokers do have the power to discipline us, but the only real threat hanging over our heads is being ‘released’ from the brokerage. This is akin to being fired (sort of). Laws vary by state, but agents are allowed a window of time to find a new brokerage in these circumstances. There are downsides to changing brokerages, but it’s just a matter of paying for new printed materials (name badges, business cards, etc) and learning new software.

Of course there is always the threat of having our licenses suspended or revoked but since anyone can report agent misconduct to the local and state associations, it’s not really a super power that only a broker can wield. (Although I suppose a broker has more insight into wrongdoings than a client or another agent might have.)

Mostly, the broker is there to answer questions that arise, sign off on our transactions, mediate disputes between agents, etc. This is why it’s not usually seen as ‘going over an agent’s head’ to call the broker. They are more of a valued resource working alongside us than a traditional boss.

This is why if a client or a vendor (or anyone, really) has a concern about an agent’s conduct, they should call the broker. Of course it’s best to address it with the agent first if it makes sense to do so. It could be a simple miscommunication or the agent just didn’t realize they missed a step along the way. But there are times when something just feels wrong to you and you need to ask someone besides your agent:

  • Have I attempted to explain something to you and it doesn’t make sense no matter how many different ways I try? Call my broker.

  • Not sure if something I’m doing is ethical or legal? Call my broker.

  • Feel like I’m not doing enough to earn the amount you’re paying me to sell your house? Call my broker.

  • I’m not returning your calls in a timely manner? I might be dead/sick/injured. For the love of God, please call my broker.

The worst thing that’ll happen is my broker will call me and say she backed me up, or maybe she will give me some constructive criticism so I can do better next time. I won’t ‘get in trouble’ or get fired/released unless this is like the 12th time a client has called my broker about the same thing.

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Tl;dr

If the agents in this sub say to call the broker, please heed our advice and call the broker. It’s not a lazy go-to response; we are offering that advice because it is the BEST WAY to get the help you are seeking for your specific situation.

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