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From Real Estate Agent to Branch Manager

From Real Estate Agent to Branch Manager

You've been selling real estate for 20 years, and you're starting to feel a little burnt out. You don't want to leave the field entirely, but you need a new challenge. Have you considered becoming a branch manager?

Branch managers are the realty industry's coaches, while individual agents are the players who get the glory of hitting the home runs -- selling the overpriced listing, signing the difficult buyer or convincing the Smiths that relocating to the area will be a good move.

Those who make the shift from selling real estate to managing others who sell real estate have a variety of motivations, but they do follow some typical career paths. Most have a great deal of experience as agents.

Taking Back Their Time

Andie Corby, branch manager for Long & Foster Realtors in Waldorf, Maryland, had 20 years of successful real estate sales experience under her belt when she agreed to hang up her listing book and manage the office. "It's better to be an agent before you're a manager," Corby says. "A lot of the problems agents come to me with are related to contracts or listings, and if you don't have agent experience, you don't have anything to draw upon to help agents with those problems."

What motivated Corby to make the switch? The chance to work more regular, although still long, hours. "You have the potential to make more money as an agent, but your time is never your own," she says. "You're always on someone else's schedule as an agent. You're working weekends, evenings and normal day hours, unless you're disciplined enough to say, 'I don't work Wednesdays or Tuesdays.'"

Corby also found a manager's hours more to her liking than her old agent hours. Now Corby's typical day starts at 9 a.m. and ends around 7 p.m., except for one night a week when she teaches a class for agents and conducts a sales meeting. "The good thing is I always have Sundays off, which I didn't have before," she explains. "And some Saturdays, I'm not in the office, although I'm always on call for the agents."

More Brainpower, Less Horsepower

Being there for the agents is another difference for managers. "If you want to be a manager, you've got to want to support a lot of other people, whereas as an individual agent, your goals involve your own productivity and income," Corby notes. "As a manager, you just switch hats."

Jim Woodley, manager of DeWolfe Real Estate's Wellesley, Massachusetts, office, says he accepted the challenge of managing agents knowing he might make less money. "But it was a time in my life when I was much older, and I'd learned a lot about what I thought would work well for an agent," he says. "I felt I could run an office that would enhance the agents' productivity, because I'd been there.

"I gave up potential income, and what I got was the opportunity to delegate and have a more structured life," he says. "I work smarter hours. There's more brainpower and less horsepower required."

Rewards in Recruiting

Branch managers also have to recruit new agents, so they need good networking skills and the ability to work with different personalities. "My expertise was in providing a creative atmosphere for the agents," Woodley says. "I was able to combine that with good recruiting skills, so I could recruit good people and provide them with what I had promised them."

As they move from agent to manager, most Realtors will get some type of on-the-job training as well as special training from their brokerage. And they tend to have superiors and peers with whom they can network when a particularly tricky situation arises.

While they don't get the short-term and more intense satisfaction agents get when they sell a home or land a good listing, managers do have their own payoffs. "To recruit people and see them do well as agents is very rewarding," Woodley observes. "Not until you do it do you realize how good it is."

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