According to National Association of Realtors research, the median agent tenure at a brokerage is five years, so it’s likely that at some point in your career, you’ll consider making a switch. But how do you decide which real estate company is the best one for you to work for?
There are many factors to consider here. That’s why, through research and interviews, we evaluated dozens of real estate companies based on the criteria that matter most to agents. We selected our top five from a field of big-name brands, plus we evaluated a company whose fresh approach is shaking everything up.
Best Real Estate Companies to Work for in 2023
Not Getting Enough Leads From Your Current Brokerage?
While we wouldn’t counsel switching brokerages for just one reason, many agents get the itch because they’re frustrated with the number of leads they’re getting. Most major brokerages don’t provide leads to their agents, and if they do, they come at a steep price. If this sounds familiar, check out The Close’s top picks for lead generation, where Market Leader once again captured the top spot in 2023.
Visit Market Leader
Best Overall Real Estate Company to Work For: eXp Realty
eXp Realty Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Offices: 0
Number of Agents: 86,000+
Current CEO: Glen Sanford
Best Known For: Being the first mainstream, completely virtual brokerage
You haven’t even read our explanation yet, and we can already hear you saying, “What?! A virtual brokerage beat out other major brick-and-mortar brands?!” Well yes, yes it did.
As agents face the uncertain headwinds of 2023, they are looking for a brokerage that is flexible, low-cost, and focused on agent success. eXp Realty was one of the first major virtual (or cloud-based, as they say) brokerage disruptors, and they continue to perfect a model that works for agents and their clients.
Founded in 2009, eXp Realty is in 24 countries and has more than 86,000 agents. The fact that it’s a top, award-winning place to work signifies a real shift in the industry. eXp just won the top spot in transaction sides in Real Trends Top Real Estate Brokerages for 2023, and, perhaps more importantly to agents, eXp increased its revenue share 20% last year, climbing over $202 million dollars, which is more than any other brokerage. Furthermore, eXp issued equity to agents and brokers that equaled over $42.5 million in 2022.
With a 7% increase in agent count over the last year, it’s clear that there’s something attractive about eXp Realty’s remote-work approach. Since eXp Realty has operated remotely since its founding, the company has found smart ways to solve some of the challenges of virtual work with its robust learning program, mentor system, and strong company culture.
eXp has shown that breaking the mold allows agents flexibility and greater chance at building wealth, which might just be what this industry needs.
eXp Realty Pros
eXp Realty Cons
eXp Realty Revenue & Commission Structure
The eXp Realty commission structure is simple and easy to understand. eXp Realty also offers a revenue-sharing program for agents you recruit to join the brokerage. Plus, they offer some stock options for high-performing agents. Here are the details:
Every agent in the company has a cap of $16,000. Splits are 80/20, and after you meet that cap, you keep 100% of your commissions—no desk fees, no royalty fees, no franchise fees.
|Pre-cap Commissions||20% to eXp||80% to Agents|
|3% on $250,000 Sale||$1,500||$6,000|
Revenue Sharing: Better Than Profit-sharing
eXp Realty also offers passive income options, paying you a percentage of the commission made by any agent that you recruit.
While a traditional brokerage like Keller Williams offers agents a share of profit (which can be a relatively thin margin depending on your market center location), eXp offers a share of revenue. This approach puts more money in the pockets of eXp Realty agents who like to recruit. It also makes recruiting a potentially more profitable pursuit than at Keller Williams.
eXp Realty also offers stock options to agents after they’ve hit certain performance marks each year. Stock options generally only benefit high-performing agents, but anyone can work toward this goal, whether they’re working part time or full time.
eXp Realty Company Culture
Since eXp is a completely remote business with no brick-and-mortar locations, the only real option for developing a company culture is through a virtual environment.
The company offers a lot of livestreamed training and networking (up to eight hours of live content per day). A massive library of prerecorded material is also available on eXp’s virtual campus. You’ll find thousands of hours of on-demand training on just about every subject you can think of.
Through these tools, it’s pretty clear that the eXp Realty company culture is all about providing agents and teams with the tools they need to create an individualized path that makes sense for their business. eXp Realty agents seem to be very excited about this sort of self-reliance and support.
We asked Gogo Bethke, a high-performing agent with eXp Realty, about training opportunities and company culture. Here’s what she told us.
“The best that I’ve ever experienced on any level, period. There are so many different groups of eXp agents, so many different platforms that they [eXp Realty] provide access to.
“And you can’t get more convenient than eXp. I could be sitting with my feet in the sands of Mexico and attend a live session on post-closing occupancy in the eXp virtual classroom. I’ve been with multiple real estate brands across my career, and I have never seen anything like what eXp offers.”
eXp Realty Branding
The eXp Realty branding strategy is a little different than others on this list. Since eXp Realty is the only company that isn’t built on the franchise model, you’d think that they’d have a strong, centralized brand presence. But, because the success of the company is really built off the success of each individual agent and team, this isn’t the case.
The eXp Realty branding is minimal, limited, and often a very minor part of an agent’s marketing. Yes, it appears on business cards and yard signs, but it’s likely not a logo you can picture in your head, and the standards to which it has to be applied are loose.
? If you prefer a brand with higher recognition, consider Keller Williams, RE/MAX or Coldwell Banker, all of which are also on our list.
Visit eXp Realty
The Best Real Estate Company for Teams: Keller Williams
Keller Williams Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 1983
Number of Offices: 1,100
Number of Agents: ~200,000
Current President: Marc King
Best Known For: A training-first mentality and a strong profit-sharing model
Keller Williams is once again on our list of the best real estate companies to work for because they continually excel in the areas that matter most to agents.
The company’s competitive compensation plan, commitment to creating a culture of success on all levels (including prioritizing women in leadership), and their extensive training and professional development resources make them an excellent choice for agents at any stage of their career.
Keller Williams Pros
Keller Williams Cons
Keller Williams Revenue & Commission Structure
Agents at Keller Williams make money in two ways: through commissions earned from the purchase or sale of real estate, and through a program the company refers to as profit-sharing. But unlike a traditional profit-sharing model where a company offers employees payments or bonuses based on corporate earnings, it’s more of a recruitment and retention strategy from which agents can make additional cash.
Each Keller Williams office (or, as they call them, market center) has what’s called a cap. The cap is a certain amount of money that each agent will pay to Keller Williams to support the company at large.
Local market conditions and operating expenses determine each market center’s cap. All Keller Williams agents at each office have the same cap; it doesn’t matter if you are a 20-year veteran or a brand-new agent.
When an agent receives a pre-cap commission, they keep 64% of it, 30% goes to the market center, and 6% goes to the national brand as a franchise fee. Once you hit the cap, you keep 100% of your commission—no hidden fees, no sneaky percentages—that’s it.
Agents can also receive a secondary commission when someone they recruit closes a sale, which the company labels “profit-sharing.” If someone you invite to the company closes a sale, whether they’re a member of your team or not, you get a piece of the company’s share of the commission.
Profit-sharing at Keller Williams is multi-level, meaning that if the person you recruited turns around and successfully recruits other agents, you’ll see a portion of the company’s share of their sales too.
|Pre-cap Commissions||64% to Agents||30% to Market Center||6% to Franchise|
|3% on $250,000 Sale||$4,800||$2,250||$450|
Keller Williams Company Culture
The company culture here is focused on constant improvement and support. Keller Williams is widely regarded as an industry leader in training and professional development.
That development mindset isn’t only a top-down approach. Thanks to Keller Williams’ profit-sharing structure, agents benefit directly from the success of their recruits. The mentorship relationships that develop from this make Keller Williams a very team-oriented real estate company to work for, even if you’re not on an official team in your particular market center.
Keller Williams Branding
Keller Williams has an extremely recognizable brand throughout the U.S. and, increasingly, the world. Though the branding isn’t particularly groundbreaking, its relatively conservative look and usage guidelines are high-quality, consistent, and easy for agents to apply to their marketing.
Real Estate Branding: How to Build Your Brand (+ Case Studies)
Visit Keller Williams
Best Real Estate Company for Established Agents: RE/MAX
RE/MAX Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 1973
Number of Offices: 3,532 (U.S.)
Number of Agents: ~144,000
Current CEO: Nick Bailey
Best Known For: A global brand of some of the consistently best-performing agents in the industry
RE/MAX is a great place for high-performing, established agents to take their business to the next level. Though they offer tools, training, and mentorship for agents at any stage of their career, the RE/MAX system is set up to benefit a market’s top performers the most.
RE/MAX Commission Structure
RE/MAX doesn’t have a brand-wide policy about splits, desk fees, or caps; each of those decisions is negotiated at the local level.
Though we wish they provided the same transparency on commissions as Keller Williams, RE/MAX does offer agents lots of flexibility in terms of how they receive their commissions.
With a split range topping out at 95%, experienced agents with a proven track record can get paid more on the front-end of each commission, allowing them to funnel that revenue toward time-sensitive needs, including marketing and promotion.
Their generous splits often come with higher desk fees. For most rock star agents, the higher desk fees are worth the investment to further other aspects of their business. But if you’re just starting out, you may have to pay hundreds of dollars a month in fees, whether or not you close a deal and whether or not you use the office.
RE/MAX Company Culture
The RE/MAX company culture is built around success and leadership within the communities they serve. Of RealTrends’ top 250 agents of 2022 by transaction sides, a staggering 58 of them are RE/MAX agents. This is a brand synonymous with performance, especially for those who know the business well.
An agent who operates on a high level knows that their personal brand and reputation are going to be supported and enhanced by the market reputation of both their brokerage and the other agents who belong to it.
RE/MAX has a strong presence in the vast majority of major metropolitan markets across the United States. RE/MAX’s iconic hot air balloon is one of the most unique and recognizable symbols in all of real estate, according to a Millward Brown Demographic Ad Tracking Study.
The brand’s 2023 marketing campaign is centered around a core message, “The Right Agent Can Lead the Way.” According to Abby Lee, RE/MAX senior vice president of marketing and communications, the campaign conveys “core qualities of a skilled and experienced RE/MAX agent: patience, transparency, and empathy.”
The Best & Worst Real Estate Logos (+ Pro Design Tips)
Best Real Estate Company for New Agents: Coldwell Banker
Coldwell Banker Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 1906
Number of Offices: ~3,000
Number of Agents: ~92,159
Current President: Liz Gehringer
Best Known For: A legacy brand that might be the most recognizable real estate company in the country
In a bit of a surprise, Coldwell Banker has emerged as our pick for the best real estate brand for new agents due to their consistent commitment to training and mentorship of new agents. Demonstrated by its top-down training resources and constant encouragement (and funding) of their franchisees, Coldwell Banker effectively spurs professional development. This dedication to agent growth makes them a great choice for someone just beginning their career.
It’s important to note that Coldwell Banker is owned by Anywhere Real Estate Inc., an umbrella company that includes other name-brand brokerages in its portfolio, including Sotheby’s International Realty, Century 21, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and Corcoran.
Coldwell Banker Pros
Coldwell Banker Cons
Coldwell Banker Commission Structure
Even though the commission and fees at Coldwell Banker are reasonable, they aren’t exceptional. Here are the details:
- No companywide policy for cap, split, or desk fees; all are negotiated at the local level on an agent-by-agent basis
- Universal 8% per commission franchise fee, even after you hit cap
? If the 8% franchise fee is a deal-breaker for you, consider Keller Williams (no franchise fee after you hit cap) or eXp Realty (no franchise fee at all).
Coldwell Banker Company Culture
Throughout our analysis of Coldwell Banker company culture, we kept coming back to the same phrase: client-focused. They live this value with something they call “Big Blue Culture,” which they summarize as a “relentless pursuit of the best possible client experience.”
This sort of client-centric focus is ideal for new agents who are still learning interaction, sales, and best practices. Corporate leaders, all the way down to local franchise officials, consistently refer to this aspect of the company’s culture.
We also really like Coldwell Banker’s commitment to professional development through their learning portal, CBU. Agents can take online, self-paced classes on marketing and strategy, as well as issues like fair housing.
Coldwell Banker Branding
Coldwell Banker is a legacy brand that’s been associated with trusted real estate service since the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Its recent rebranding and logo updates show that the company is committed to moving forward and building a business that has an exciting future, not just a storied past.
We’ll admit it—we were skeptical at first to see changes to a trusted logo. But they come with a new-and-improved set of marketing resources that facilitate every agent’s efforts—especially those of newbies.
Visit Coldwell Banker
Best Real Estate Company for Luxury Agents: Compass
Compass Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 2012
Number of Offices: 426+
Number of Agents: 28,000+
Current CEO: Robert Reffkin
Best Known For: Operating a high-end, technology-forward business targeted at the country’s most lucrative markets
You can’t talk about luxury real estate services in the country’s most lucrative markets without including Compass Real Estate. The smallest company on our list, Compass pushed hard into high-net-worth communities in the U.S. This is something they’ve been able to achieve because, like eXp Realty, Compass isn’t based on a franchise model—they’re centrally owned and operated.
Compass branded itself as a technology company serving capable, experienced luxury real estate professionals. And they have the consistent brand to back it up, complete with luxurious office experiences, high-end technology (a tech suite that cost $900 million to build), and thoughtful, personalized communication.
?Compass in 2023?
It’s clear Compass is still figuring out how to become profitable, and the downturn in the market has had an impact on its stock price and debt ratios. While leadership is optimistic about the future, Compass is going through a very public, very drastic period of cost reduction that could make it difficult for agents who are joining the brokerage to negotiate the best deal.
We kept Compass on the list because, despite all of the volatility and WeWork comparisons, it’s likely not going anywhere. Compass might have to pivot and adapt, but it was recently ranked the number one brokerage in terms of sales volume in the Real Trends Top Real Estate Brokerages (for the second year in a row). It’s a brokerage that is hungry for not only success, but market domination, and agents who are along for the ride might just reap the benefits.
How to Become a Luxury Real Estate Agent
|Compass Pros||Compass Cons|
Compass Commission Structure
We’ve heard various reports about the commission structure from agents, ranging from a 60/40 split for brand-new agents all the way up to a 90/10 split for seasoned top producers. However, there is no standard cap or commission split structure at Compass; each of these deals are negotiated individually with incoming agents.
The good news is that Compass believes strongly in attracting, recruiting, and accepting only the strongest agents in the markets they’re active in. So if you’re at the negotiating table with Compass, chances are they want you to be a part of their organization as much as you want to be a part of theirs.
Compass Company Culture
The company culture at Compass is noticeably different from other brands on our list. It’s much more of a “hustle-harder” environment—what we’d liken to a finals club at an Ivy League university. For instance, there’s Compass’ very popular “6 am Club,” where agents get up early, work together, and sharpen one another and their businesses.
Compass isn’t afraid to spend some money. They’ve made some very interesting tech acquisitions to help bolster their agents’ business, like customer relationship manager (CRM) powerhouse Contactually.
Overall, it’s clear that Compass and its agents are hungry for success, organized around getting after it aggressively. They aren’t here for fun—they’re here to win.
Everything about Compass’ look and feel—from the facade of their office buildings to the stock of their postcards—feels high-end and bespoke. One of the true benefits of running a centralized brokerage model like Compass is that you get ultimate control over brand consistency, usage, and quality—something you just can’t have when you’re operating a franchise model with thousands of independently owned offices.
2023 Disruptor Award: Real
Real Stats at a Glance:
Year Founded: 2014
Number of Offices: Licensed in 45 states and Canada
Number of Agents: 9,000+
Current CEO: Tamir Poleg
Best Known For: A centralized brokerage with generous splits, opportunities for real equity, a collaborative culture, superior technology, and an agent-first philosophy.
A few years ago, we would have bet that Real was the biggest brokerage you’d never heard of. It was, as a rival brokerage explained, a quiet lion in the corner of the room. There was no real fanfare when it went public and there haven’t been any massive PR campaigns. Instead, Real has been stealthily doing what works: recruiting and retaining agents, teams, and brokerages, so that it is now active in almost every U.S. state and across Canada.
Real has put a serious premium on attracting talented agents and making it worth their while to stay. Its straightforward and generous program of splits and stock options allows agents to not only take home more money, but build ownership in their own businesses.
While Real’s model is very similar to eXp Realty’s, it is still much smaller. This can give agents a chance to build equity and be a big fish in a smaller pond. When comparing Real to the monolith that is eXp, or the roller-coaster of a market darling that is Compass, Real is disrupting the industry by just doing what they do well—quietly, effectively, and to the real benefit of agents across the country.
3 Foolproof Team Models: Hiring, Splits, Lead Gen + More
With no monthly fees, Real has an 85%-15% commission split and a $12,000 cap. There are also interesting investment opportunities, so, for example, an agent can choose to invest up to 5% of their commission split into stock and receive a 15% bonus at the end of the first year. Plus, when agents hit their cap, they receive more shares and more opportunities to invest back into more stock. The company’s recruitment and revenue-sharing programs are also pretty top-notch, giving agents a chance to build teams and set up passive income down the line.
|Pre-cap Commissions||80% to Agents||15% to Brokerage||-5% of Commission Investment in Stock||+15% Annual Bonus for Stock Investment|
|3% on $250,000 Sale||$6,000||$1,125||$375||$900|
Real is all virtual and positions itself as a technology-forward company. We’re hearing a big buzz about its proprietary mobile cloud-based tech, designed to make an agent’s life a little easier while maintaining a client-first service mentality.
While it is scaling quickly (Real added 1,000 new agents in January 2023 alone), it seems to be doing so thoughtfully and sustainably. Agents are not only attracted to its technology-forward philosophy and generous splits, but that opportunity to really feel, both culturally and financially, part of something expanding and exciting.
Real’s investment in technology extends to its branding. The company’s Breakthrough Broker portal allows agents to access customizable marketing resources, create digital and print assets, and print and ship marketing materials.
Let’s Talk Boutique Brokerages
We’ve covered some of the biggest names in real estate and touted their commitments to training, mentoring, branding, and financial incentives. But the truth is, a big, national brokerage may not be the best place to work for every agent. In fact, it often isn’t. Large brokerages are usually built on a franchise model, which means every independent office is different. So, for example, while Keller Williams as a company values mentoring new agents, your individual franchise office might not.
We encourage every agent (whether they’re looking for their first brokerage or wanting to switch brokerages) to also consider a boutique brokerage in their local area. We happen to be big fans of smaller shops, and here’s why:
- Generally, your broker is personally invested in your success.
- There’s potential for a lot more face time with the boss.
- Smaller brokerages often feel like a team, or even a family.
- You generally have more control over your individual branding.
- There is often opportunity for better or at least more individualized support.
- Often, local brokerages are heavily engaged in and striving to make a lasting impact on their communities.
- Boutique brokerages may have better reputations in a community than their big-name competition.
In fact, our own Jodie Cordell made the change from a big-box brokerage to a boutique one. Here’s why she’s never looked back:
“Making the switch to the independent brokerage, Spence Properties in Crestview, Florida, was the best decision I ever made for my real estate career. In my smaller brokerage, I am able to tap into the vast knowledge, skills, and experience of my broker and broker associates. They provide the mentorship I was looking for, and my fabulous brokers made my meteoric rise to real estate success possible. I love my small brokerage and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Take Pinnacle Realty Advisors, for example. This mid-sized boutique brokerage currently operates out of seven states (including Texas and Florida) and is growing. While smaller than others on our list, it demonstrates a tangible commitment to helping agents become the best real estate professionals they can be with generous compensation plans (just transaction fees—agents keep 100% of their commission), innovative technology, and top-notch educational resources. You can take advantage of their decades of knowledge and expertise right now by downloading their latest e-book on the current state of the real estate market.
Download Pinnacle’s e-book
Over to You
Now, we want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts on our picks. Do your experiences line up with what we’ve found? If you’re a real estate professional working in a local office, whether a major brand or a mom-and-pop shop, we want to hear from you.