Whether you’re leaving for a new opportunity, because you’re mad or simply because you’re ready for a fresh start, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make a change. Here’s how to leave a brokerage on good terms, even when there are complex feelings involved.
There are as many reasons for leaving a brokerage as there are people who leave. Maybe you’re leaving for personal reasons or because the company culture is just not a fit for you. Maybe you’re leaving because you need more flexibility or because of a personality conflict with your current broker. In some cases, you may be leaving because of dishonest dealings or problematic attitudes at your brokerage that have recently come to light.
Whatever the case, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make the switch from one brokerage to another. Here’s how to leave your brokerage in a way that you can feel good about.
Don’t use company resources to transition
If you know you’ll be looking for a job, that’s something you should do on your own time using your own resources. Don’t involve your current workplace in your job search. Not only is it unprofessional, it’s downright disrespectful.
Don’t use your company email, work computer, copy machine or office supplies to prepare or send out resumes or to communicate with your prospective brokerage. Don’t sit in the office talking to other brokers on the phone or let down current clients and colleagues in favor of time spent with your prospective new broker.
Don’t disrespect your broker
Even if you don’t much like your current broker, there’s no need to be disrespectful as you leave. After all, your broker gave you a chance and, presumably, has helped you to learn the ropes if you were a new agent when you arrived or, if you were a veteran agent, has facilitated the growth of your career.
Have a discussion with your broker when you’re ready to begin looking for a new brokerage. Don’t let them find out through the grapevine that you’ve decided to move on and don’t let all of your fellow agents know before telling your broker. Even if your personal relationship isn’t the best, be professional in the way that you relate and offer them the courtesy of a timely heads-up.
Don’t air your grievances
You may think that leaving your brokerage gives you the chance to let everyone know how you feel. Now is your big opportunity to finally tell folks exactly what you’ve always thought about them, right? Wrong.
There’s a reason real estate is a relationship business. The agent you tell off today may be sitting across the table from you on your next transaction. The admin you snub on your way out the door may be getting their feet wet before becoming a big-time broker down the road. Burning bridges is a terrible idea since you’ll likely see some of the same people on the path ahead. Keep your thoughts to yourself.
Don’t undermine your current brokerage
Similarly, you may be tempted to talk down your current brokerage to everyone who’ll listen. You may want to tell them how incompetent everyone is, how unprofessional and what a misery it was for you to put up with them for as long as you did. In most cases, you will be the one who comes off looking bad, either because of your behavior or because of the bad vibes you’re giving off.
Aside from that, the Realtor’s Code of Ethics Standard of Practice 15-2 states that Realtors have:
The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, and their business practices includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly publish, repeat, retransmit, or republish false or misleading statements made by others. This duty applies whether false or misleading statements are repeated in person, in writing, by technological means (e.g., the Internet), or by any other means.
In other words, if your insults are based more in your perceptions and personal beefs than in reality, you could find yourself in ethical hot water.
Don’t give in to pettiness
Not speaking to that person you’ve always disliked. Not returning phone calls in a timely manner. Not dealing with that troublesome office manager. The last days or weeks at the brokerage can seem like a perfect time to give in to all of your worst instincts. Don’t.
That office manager may be the one who’ll ensure your last commission check gets to you on time. That person you’ve always disliked may end up following you to the new brokerage. Those phone calls you didn’t return may include a potential lead or two. Continue to do your best work and keep your reputation intact.
Try to focus on the positives
Even though you may be excited to move along to your new brokerage, for your peace of mind it’s best to try to focus on the positive aspects of your current brokerage. Did you learn anything? Did you make at least one or two friends or connect with some amazing clients? Did you find a solid mentor? What can you take away from the experience that’s good?
While you may legitimately have frustrations with the place you’re leaving behind, if you can focus on the positives you’ll transition to your new brokerage with a different perspective and a better energy. That will help you to hit the ground running and make you more successful in your next professional environment.
If there are serious matters to address, do so professionally
Of course, sometimes you’re leaving for more serious reasons than a personality conflict or a more favorable split. Perhaps you’re leaving behind a truly toxic work environment, harassment or unscrupulous business practices. You may need to address the behaviors you’ve witnessed once you’re away from your current brokerage.
In this case, you’ll want to have the counsel of a trusted legal adviser. They can guide you through the process of contacting the appropriate corporate representative, your Board of Realtors, Professional Standards Commission or Division of Real Estate to provide relevant information in a timely manner.