There are enough real estate brokerages in Northern Colorado to make your head spin. But there’s only one like Equity Colorado, where agents’ fees are low and morale is high.
“Our Realtors wonder why agents would work anywhere else,” says Nancy Umbreit, owner and managing broker of Equity Colorado’s Northern Front Range division. Among the many perks of being part of the Equity Colorado team is the commission structure. According to Umbreit, the brokerage takes only $500 per transaction on sales up to three million dollars. In contrast, a typical brokerage would take a much larger chunk. Take a $500,000 property for example. Approximately six percent of that price, or $30,000 would go toward commission fees. As the seller’s agent, for example, you might receive half of that $15,000. Meanwhile your brokerage would be entitled to up to 30 percent of that amount ($4,500), leaving you with $10,500. As an Equity Colorado Realtor, on the other hand, you’d get to keep $14,500.
How do Equity Colorado let their Realtors keep so much of their commission? “The overhead is very low,” explains Umbreit, who has been with the brokerage since they opened their Northern Colorado office in 2010. With a conveniently sized 1500 square-foot office space at 710 Kimbark St. in Longmont, agents don’t pay for office space or amenities they don’t use. The office is equipped with conference space and a few private offices available for rent. However, with the ability to work from anywhere they can find a WiFi connection and a laptop or a phone, most Realtors have no use for it. “They don’t have to pay for an office if they don’t want to. They also don’t have to pay for a big fancy office for me to sit in,” says Umbreit.
“Recent transfers from large brokerages have been pleasantly surprised at how little they miss the resources they were paying for at their prior offices,” she says.
At Equity Colorado, a monthly fee of $59 gives Realtors access to the building, errors and omissions insurance, a personalized website and software to help them run their business.
And while they have the opportunity to take part in education offered by the branch, they aren’t required to do so. One popular offering is a mentoring program that’s designed to teach brand new agents “the things they should have learned in school that [schools] never teach.” And while Umbreit strongly encourages her rookies to enroll, she never requires anything that’s not absolutely necessary. “I don’t like the word mandatory,” she explains.
The rules, she says, are simple: “Be ethical. Be straight up. Get your paperwork done.” Also, she says her agents are not supposed to sass her. “But they all do,” she says with a laugh.
While Umbreit sends out a weekly newsletter to keep her agents apprised of the latest rules and regulations set forth by DORA, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies and CAR, the Colorado Association of Realtors, she prides herself on letting her agents be autonomous. “I pretty much let my agents all run their own businesses,” says Umbreit. “I’m not running their business for them. And I have no right to.”
While Umbreit gives her agents the independence they desire, she also gives them the support they need. Their low monthly fees include plenty of access to Umbreit, whose wisdom and experience would make her a valuable asset to any Realtor. Over her real estate career, which spans 30 years, she’s worked for other companies and run her own office before joining Equity Colorado. Now, with a ten-year history at Equity Colorado, she’s the longest standing branch manager in Colorado. And she’s happy to share her knowledge with her team whenever they need her. “They have access to me 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Umbreit is serious not just about knowing real estate; she also prioritizes knowing her team.
“My boss says I walk around with my arms around all my agents,” she says with a chuckle. “I want them to enjoy what they do.” While she’s looking to grow her 90-agent brokerage, she doesn’t want to get so big that she loses her personal connection with her team. “I know every single one of my agents,” she explains. That means knowing their spouses, their kids, and what’s going on in their lives. Some of the agents who leave larger firms to join Equity Colorado say that at their old office “nobody ever knew who I was.” Umbreit has a picture wall in her office where she hangs a photo of every agent along with their business card. “If someone calls me on the phone and I’m not placing their face, I can walk over to that picture wall and now I know who I’m talking to.”
A smaller office is conducive not just to building community but also to keeping agents and clients healthy amid the pandemic. Of the office building, she says, “Most of the time it’s just me and my assistant in there.” Not having to come into a large office with many other agents means a greater chance of staying healthy. Moreover, Umbreit makes sure no one is in the building who doesn’t need to be – and that includes custodial staff. Since coronavirus started, she and her assistant have been performing all the cleaning, including frequent wipe-downs of high-touch surfaces. While housekeeping is not an official part of her job, she feels it is necessary in order to make sure agents and clients are safe.
Umbreit feels Equity Colorado’s low Realtor turn-over rate is a testament to the supportive environment her brokerage offers. After pausing to ponder where her realtors go when they do leave, this is what she comes up with: Some retire, one left to try growing marijuana, and another left to brew beer. But rarely, she says, does anyone leave for another firm, unless they’re offered a management position. Why? Certainly the generous commission structure plays a role. Also, says Umbreit, “I’ve always got their backs.”
Contact Equity Colorado
To learn more about working with Equity Colorado in buying or selling your home or to join their team, call Nancy Umbreit at 303.579.0970, or visit the office at 710 Kimbark Street in Longmont. You may also e-mail NancyRealtor@msn.com. Visit Equity Colorado Northern Front Range Online at: https://www.equitycoloradorealestate.com/northern-office.html.
By Pam Moore, At Home Colorado.
Photos by Jonathan Castner. Mugshots courtesy of Equity Colorado Northern Front Range.