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Why Are Agents Leaving Independent Brokerages?

Real estate professionals discussing their business model.

54% of members of NAR realtors are affiliated with independent companies, according to the National Association of Realtors. A growing number of agents are opting to leave behind the familiar terrain of independent brokerages in favor of exploring new horizons. This phenomenon has ignited curiosity and sparked discussions across the industry, as seasoned agents and newcomers alike consider the implications of this movement.

In this article, our goal is to understand the underlying reasons why real estate agents are leaving independent real estate agencies, aiming to provide insights into the factors that contribute to agents' decisions. With a balanced approach, we'll delve into both the appeal of an independent brokerage and the allure of joining national franchise brands.

What Influences Agents to Leave an Independent Brokerage?

Empty meeting table at independent brokerage.

Real estate agents' decisions for leaving an independent brokerage are often influenced by a combination of factors that revolve around their professional growth and personal aspirations. The allure of autonomy and control, initially attractive in independent setups, sometimes loses its shine in the face of certain challenges.

While agents value the ability to chart their own course and make decisions aligned with their strategies, they often find themselves grappling with limitations in resources and support. This leads to the consideration of alternative options, such as joining larger franchise brands, where promises of broader networks, comprehensive resources, and recognized brand names become enticing for both independent real estate agents and those associated with larger real estate broker organizations.

What Is an Independent Brokerage?

An independent brokerage refers to a real estate firm that operates autonomously, separate from larger franchise brands. In an independent brokerage, agents have the freedom to shape their own strategies, make decisions aligned with their vision, and build their brand without the constraints of a franchise affiliation.

What are Primary Reasons Agents Leave?

Financial incentives play a significant role, as independent real estate professionals are drawn to the potential for higher commission splits and increased earning opportunities offered by larger franchise brands. The allure of being associated with a nationally recognized brand, which often comes with immediate credibility and trust from clients, also factors into their decisions.

Moreover, the promise of robust support systems, advanced technology platforms, and comprehensive training resources available within larger franchise brands proves tempting for agents looking to enhance their skills and grow their real estate businesses.

What are Trends and Patterns in Agents Making the Switch?

Independent broker working at her laptop.

A discernible trend emerges in the types of real estate agents opting to transition from independent brokerages to larger franchise brands. While not limited to a single profile, agents who are independent real estate agents or those associated with an independent real estate brokerage, and seek greater stability, well-defined support systems, and stronger brand recognition are more inclined to make this switch.

Real estate agents at various stages of their careers, including broker owners and those operating within an independent brokerage, from those seeking a fresh start to seasoned professionals aiming to amplify their reach, are exploring franchise opportunities. The shared desire for access to a wider network, enhanced resources, and a more established market presence has spurred real estate agents across different backgrounds to consider this transition.

How do Personal Preferences and External Factors Affect Decisions?

Personal preferences and external factors undoubtedly play a pivotal role in real estate agents' decisions to leave independent brokerages. Their personal ambitions, long-term goals, and desire for professional growth are vital drivers in their choice to explore opportunities within larger franchise brands, whether they are real estate agents, independent brokers, or broker owners.

External factors, such as the competitive nature of the real estate industry and the need to adapt to evolving technology, further fuel the consideration of making a switch. As the real estate industry landscape continues to evolve, agents carefully evaluate their preferences and the external conditions before embarking on a new path that aligns with their vision for success in the real estate business.

How to Make the Most of Being an Independent Real Estate Agent

The journey of being an indepdent realtor is not devoid of challenges; it requires unwavering commitment and strategic direction. This is precisely where Icons of Real Estate steps in. Our coaching and training services are meticulously designed to equip real estate agents with strategies that not only overcome limitations but also propel their businesses to new heights. Whether it's navigating resource constraints, mastering technology, or amplifying marketing strategies, our expert insights and personalized approach empower agents to convert challenges into opportunities for achieving unparalleled success.  Join the iconic team today and take your real estate skills to the next level.

What is the Appeal of Independent Brokerages?

Laptop of independent real estate agent on table.

Independent brokerages offer a unique avenue for real estate agents seeking autonomy and growth. Whether affiliated with a national association, owning their own business, or part of larger organizations, agents are granted the freedom to pave their paths. This autonomy empowers professionals to tailor their approach, align with their personal brand, and effectively serve their client base, capitalizing on the opportunities independence provides.

Cultivating Identity and Community

Agents embracing independence, be it independent real estate agents or those under the wing of a real estate broker, often underscore the ownership and identity they cultivate. Within these tight-knit communities, agents contribute to shaping the brokerage's culture, values, and ethos, fostering collaboration and enduring relationships that extend well beyond transactions.

Financial Incentives and Success Stories

Beyond autonomy and community, independent brokerages frequently offer alluring financial incentives. The potential for higher commission splits and increased earnings resonates strongly with agents aiming to maximize their income. Thriving agents, including broker owners and those within independent brokerages, enthusiastically share success stories that underscore benefits such as tailored local marketing, flexible schedules, and the direct translation of dedication into tangible achievements within this supportive environment.

Embracing Autonomy with the Right Approach

Office desk with coffee and other items of a real estate agent.

While the allure of independence within real estate is undeniable, it's essential to address the challenges that often accompany it. These hurdles, though significant, offer opportunities for growth and innovation. Resource constraints, constrained budgets, adapting to technology, and limited brand recognition pose unique challenges. However, acknowledging these obstacles and approaching them with creativity, adaptability, and strategic thinking positions an independent brokerage to not only overcome but thrive. With the right mindset and innovative strategies, independent brokerages can navigate these challenges, carve distinctive paths, and offer a refreshing alternative within the ever-evolving real estate landscape.

Pros and Cons of Independent Brokerages


  • Autonomy and Control: Being an independent broker or part of an independent brokerage means you have the freedom to shape your own path, make decisions aligned with your strategies, and pivot quickly in response to market shifts.
  • Brand Building: Operating your own business within an independent real estate brokerage gives you the opportunity to create and establish your brand in the market.
  • Community: Independent brokers often enjoy a close-knit community of agents who share ideas, collaborate, and foster relationships beyond transactions.
  • Flexibility: As an independent broker or part of an independent brokerage, you have the flexibility to tailor your approach and schedule according to your preferences.


  • Limited Resources: Independent brokers might face resource limitations, including marketing budgets and access to advanced technology, which can impact their reach and ability to compete effectively.
  • Brand Recognition: Independent brokerages might lack the immediate brand recognition that larger franchise brands offer, making it potentially harder to attract clients.

What is the Attraction of National Franchises?

Franchise brokers having a discussion at a meeting table.

National real estate brokerage franchise brands emit a compelling allure, captivating agents with promises of growth, recognition, and an extensive network. These established brands offer a plethora of advantages that extend well beyond mere transactional interactions.

Building on Established Reputation

Foremost, the brand recognition and reputation associated with these giants serve as a solid foundation for agents, enabling them to leave their mark on the industry. The trust clients place in these familiar names significantly reduces the entry barrier, affording agents a valuable head start in cultivating connections.

Networking and Referral Advantage

Associating with larger franchises opens the door to a treasure trove of networking and client referral opportunities. This expansive network transcends geographical boundaries, unlocking access to prospects that might have remained out of reach for an independent realtor or an independent brokerage. This extended reach, coupled with the accompanying referrals, fosters a consistent stream of business—a cornerstone of an agent's success.

Comprehensive Resources and Training

Larger franchises also provide a rich arsenal of training and resources, equipping agents with the necessary tools for excellence. From comprehensive market insights to cutting-edge technology training, these resources empower agents to tackle challenges with confidence and finesse. The robust sense of support and guidance nurtures an environment where agents can perpetually learn and evolve.

Joining a Dynamic Real Estate Ecosystem

Real estate professionals at their computers in an office.

National franchise brands are more than mere labels—they signify entry into a thriving ecosystem of opportunities, resources, and recognition. Agents, be they independent real estate agents or those associated with independent brokerages, who gravitate toward these franchises become integral components of a dynamic community that actively shapes the trajectory of the real estate industry's future.

Pros and Cons of Joining a Franchise


  • Brand Recognition: Being part of a recognized real estate franchise brokerage gives you instant credibility and trust in the eyes of clients, which can lead to easier client acquisition.
  • Comprehensive Support: Real estate franchises offer comprehensive training, marketing resources, and administrative support, which can streamline your business operations.
  • Networking: Franchises provide access to a broader network of agents across regions, creating opportunities for referrals and expanding your reach.
  • Technology: Larger franchises often have the financial resources to invest in advanced technology, giving you access to cutting-edge tools that enhance your efficiency and client experience.


  • Less Autonomy: Joining a franchise might come with certain restrictions and guidelines that limit your autonomy in decision-making.
  • Fees: Franchisees often pay fees for branding, training, and support services, which can impact your overall profitability.
  • Less Personal Branding: While franchises provide brand recognition, it might be challenging to build and promote your personal brand within the larger franchise brand.

In Conclusion

Person using laptop computer

In the ever-evolving realm of real estate, the decision to leave behind independent brokerages is fueled by a dynamic interplay of factors. Autonomy, community, and the promise of cutting-edge support tempt agents to venture into new horizons. As you stand at this crossroads, remember that the path you choose should align with your personal aspirations and business ambitions.

Making a shift should never be hasty; instead, it should be a well-considered decision. Take the time to evaluate your strengths, preferences, and long-term goals. Consider the support, resources, and opportunities each option brings to your table.

Before you embark on a new path, explore all the options available to you. If you're an agent considering moving to a new brokerage for professional and personal development, your goal is important to us. At Icons of Real Estate, we work with top real estate agents and you too can be a part of our team. Broaden your horizons with other icons in the industry by joining us today!

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About the Author

Tomás Fonseca is the host of two popular podcasts in the real estate industry, including the Icons of Real Estate Podcast and the Ardor RE Marketing Podcast.

Known for his charismatic hosting style and infectious positivity, Tomás brings his Portuguese charm to all of his interactions, making him a beloved figure in the community. Tomás loves to travel and to deliver high-quality content and valuable insights to his listeners.

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