Selling Soulfully with Jennifer Allan


The Salaried Real Estate Agent - Part II

Last week sometime I posted a blog questioning whether or not a salaried model of selling real estate could work. Personally, I think it could, and will even go so far as to say that the public might be better served under that model. And I'll probably expound on that opinion in the near future.

But not surprisingly, most respondents didn't much care for my idea of the salaried real estate agent. Various objections were raised, including the rather ego-centric one of "But I don't WANNA work on salary! I like being my own boss!"

And hey, I agree - I, too, enjoy the pay-for-performance compensation structure of the traditional real estate model and I love the challenge of never knowing if next month will be my biggest ever... or, um, not even close. And I most certainly have no desire to punch a time-clock.

But that wasn't really my question - whether or not "we" like the idea for ourselves. The question was whether or not it is a viable business model. And again, I'll likely pontificate more on that later.

For now, though, let me ask this question. Would you have gotten your real estate license and gone into the real estate business if:

  1. The average SALARY (that is, guaranteed pay) was $75,000 + benefits & bonuses, and
  2. You had no sales responsibility (that is, your job was to manage the transaction, not procure business)?

Just curious - your thoughts? (And no, I'm not thinking of opening up my own salaried shop - egads - SO not my thing to manage people!)

Part III Here...

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The More Fun You Have Selling Real Estate, the More Real Estate You Will Sell! 
(True Story)
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Comment balloon 22 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • January 16 2010 09:04AM


It is a very interesting question. I'm sure someone out there may have tried this somewhere???

Posted by Duane Murphy, Broker- Owner-Real Estate - (Expert Real Estate Partners LLC) over 8 years ago

True, this is an interesting thing to think about.  At one point I may have jumped at this opportunity. I know my wife wishes I would find a model like this.

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) over 8 years ago

Jennifer - The salary model will appeal to some people but not others. 

Posted by FN LN over 8 years ago

Hmmmmm.. Considering that the current model is to pay to produce, what you propose is so much different.  Where is the incentive to work the weekend, at night... or heck to return the phone call?

In the mortgage world there has been the salary model come and go. typically the best will make considerably more on commission, and the transactions will be easier for the client.

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 8 years ago

Salaried agent, hmmmm. I have to think long and hard about this one. On one hand, it means much easier than to try to work my tail off than now. $75K is alot of money. But then again, before I dream my own dream of the constant paycheck - WAIT, isn't this 100% compensation model the true test to our industry? Only the fittest , the best of the pack survive. Let the not so good let themselves go.

So, it's a very long way to say: I dont we never get this way: SALARIED.

The reason I quit my corporate job is to see how far my abilities can take me. If you tell me how much I'm worth, hmmmm.... no way. It wouldn't be challenging enough for me.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co.) over 8 years ago

I like being my own person.  Every job I have had that required me to set at a desk and log hours has been a failure for me.  I have worked on commission or been self employed for most of my life. 

I understand where you are coming from.  However, do you know any body that would pay for us to sell homes that will pay even if we fail or they list too high?  Not many I suspect.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 8 years ago

JA, seems like great pay for an exceptional personal assistant. 

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 8 years ago

Thanks for your comments - please keep them coming. I'll reserve my comments til later... but I appreciate all your thoughts!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 8 years ago

Considering the average agent doesn't make anywhere near $75k and has no paid benefits, I could see a lot of people, especially new agents, jumping on this.

Posted by Lisa Heindel, New Orleans Real Estate Broker (Crescent City Living LLC) over 8 years ago

RedFin agents work on salaries. Their model seems to be working OK. many builders have paid their agents by salary for years. I guess for me it would depend on how large the salary was and whether I'm the one paying or the one receiving..

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 8 years ago

As a new agent, I'd jump on this!  And then once I got really, really good, I'd want to set out on my own to really let myself fly. Does that make me ego-centric? Probably. But I left a job that paid more than 75K to start in this crazy business called real estate. I did it so that I could open up my potential and feed my passions for staging and selling real estate. But it's tough at the beginning, no? -- Tanya in Montreal

Posted by Tanya Nouwens, Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager (RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC. / Tanya Nouwens Inc. over 8 years ago

Hi Jennifer ~ It doesn't really call out to me.  One of the many things I love about real estate is that I can decide how much money I want to make. And a salary? That sounds like a boss would be involved.  Ugh!  I still skip in to work seven days a week and somehow I don't think a salaried position would generate the same enthusiasm.


Posted by Elizabeth Bolton, Cambridge MA Realtor (RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA) over 8 years ago

Well, $75k is not a lot of money around here.  You really need to be in the six figures in our area not to be living hand to mouth.  Now, as a new agent, I would have jumped on this.  New agents may use this to get started in my area, but as they learn that they can do better on their own, they will go the more traditional route.  Although this wasn't initially an issue, I have to say that I do like being my OWN boss too much to go the salary route.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 8 years ago

I would have taken that job! Thats better than many attorneys get starting out. Will the idea work? Yes, but you would need a huge change in thinking!

Posted by Dennis Swartz, MBA, GRI...experience counts! (Full Circle Property Management) over 8 years ago

I don't think this is a model that I would encourage.  Considering that 6% of the agents do 94% of the business, I'd have a lot of trouble feeling comfortable with the 94% in that model.

Posted by Sally Lawrence, Broker, CHS, e-Pro, SFR, REALTOR® (Advantage Real Estate) over 8 years ago

I'll speak up again from the broker's side of the table.

Let's say I have 4 agents at $75,000 per year.

Let's say the average sales price in the area is $300,000.  Assuming 3% per transaction, the 4 would need to close about 34 sides per year to just to cover everyone's salary.

Now let's say Suzie closes 24 escrows per year, and Mary only closes 6.  Is Suzie going to be happy about earning the same salary as Mary for more than double the production? 

Johnny and Jimmy close 2 each.  What do I do with Johnny and Jimmy, especially if Jimmy is a veteran who is really good at mentoring the others?

I know Redfin works on a salaried model, as BB pointed out.  And I think it could probably work for larger, corporate style brokerages.

For a small, independent office with just a few agents, I think it would be a financial nightmare; not to mention all the extra management stuff of taxes and employee regulations.


But to answer the question you actually asked:  It would depend.  I imagine there would be an employment contract, and certain terms would be dictated in that contract.  My decision would be based on what those terms are... Certain things I would be required to do; or not do?  Certain work hours? Certain production level?


Posted by Cheryl Johnson over 8 years ago

"But to answer the question you actually asked:  It would depend.  I imagine there would be an employment contract, and certain terms would be dictated in that contract.  My decision would be based on what those terms are... Certain things I would be required to do; or not do?  Certain work hours? Certain production level?"


That's pretty much my answer as well. In theory, your question is one I would probably say yes to.

Posted by Julia Odom, Chattanooga Homes for Sale (Select Realty Professionals) over 8 years ago

Ok - I guess I tend to be obsessed with numbers.  Statistics was a big part of my life for many years, so I keep trying to work out the numbers on this - and the logistics:

Ok - so let's run the numbers....I'm assuming a 2-2.5% commission so 2.25.  We have a wide range of pricing but the median sales price in our city is about $400k. To break even you would need over 8 transactions per agent.  But that doesn't include benefits, retirement, insurance.  Also, the leads are coming from the office so marketing is a big issue.   So now we are probably looking at more than $100k- $120k per year, per agent.  That's a little more tha 12 per agent.  Let's say you have 10 agents - that's over 120 deals.   Yikes, you better have very strong lead generating system in place.  That kind of volume is going to be very difficult to come by around here.  Other parts of the country appear to have more deals per agent as the norm, but around here that's a nearly impossible number to meet.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 8 years ago

Excellent points from Ruthmarie!

A few more thoughts:  As a beginning agent, I'd probably love it.  As least I'd love it until I got canned for not meeting production quotas.  :-)

As a broker, it's giving me a headache just thinking about it.

Posted by Cheryl Johnson over 8 years ago

As with anything, if it is done right I think it would be a good thing.  I think many sellers and buyers think we are already anyway and then just get the commisssions as a bonus.

I sat at a settelment and was chatting with my buyers - "Wait aminute, you don;t get paid unless we settle?" Uh, hello - no!  All of the money and time I spent with you was just becasue I enjoy your company! :)

Hmm- sounds like a good blog post!

Posted by Bridget Cella, e-Pro, Realtor (Re/Max Connection) over 8 years ago

Just posted Part III!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 8 years ago

I think NAR says the average full-time Realtor made $35k last year.  If that's the case you'd have a lot of below average real estate agents trying to latch onto this.

That said, if you are breaking it down to a hunter/farmer type model (hunter gets the deals, farmer harvests them after they are in place) you always pay the hunter a lot more money since it's a lot harder job.  In fact, would the farmer/servicer even need to be a Realtor?  Couldn't a broker just pay an Admin to manage the deal after it's in place (like I'm sure many do already)?

Posted by Bill Wallace, William Wallace (Bridge Realty) over 8 years ago

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