Staff Manual/ Office Manual for Real Estate Companies
If you manage or own a real estate company, or any company for that matter, a well thought-out office policy manual is a must.
Why? It gives sales associates a solid understanding of your company’s mission and goals from their first day on the job, helps to avoid unnecessary confusion, and communicates company policies on e-mail, advertising, and other important topics.
A good policy manual establishes trust, prevents misunderstandings and clarifies expectations for both the broker and the agent.
Not having a written policy manual is one of the biggest mistakes a broker-owner can make. When creating one, you’re forced to think through all of thorny issues that may come up in the day-to-day course of business — from commission disputes to dress code problems — and create a solution. Office policy manuals also help reduce turnover. You should ask recruits to review the manual before choosing whether or not to come on board.
What Topics Should the Manual Cover?
Your manual should encompass all of the basics: your mission statement, personnel policies, and general procedures such as office attire, sales meetings, office conduct, terminations, and vacations. However, it’s also important to include policies and procedures specific to real estate. Here are some suggestions. Remember, this list is meant only as a guide — it’s not all-inclusive.
Business Procedures. In this nuts-and-bolts section, be sure to include company policy for presenting offers, disclosure statements, delivering paperwork, and holding open houses. It also should include information about lockboxes and keys — where they’re kept and how they’re managed.
Commission and Fee Structure. Include splits, bonus plans, referrals, entitlement to commissions, and how you will resolve interoffice and intraoffice disputes over commissions.
Acknowledgment Form. Ask salespeople and staff to sign the form to confirm that they’ve received the office policy manual and understand company policies.
As you determine what to put in your manual, you also have to figure out who will write it. Your best option depends on the size of your budget and whether or not you already have a core manual from which to draw.
The best way to start writing a policy manual is to purchase one and revise it to meet [your] needs. It’s necessary to have an attorney review the document before it’s printed and distributed to staff. Your office policy manual should be attractive and user-friendly. It shouldn't be a chore to read.
That means using clear, concise, and uncomplicated language. Let someone else read the manual and ask for feedback; what’s clear to you may not be to a third party.
Remember: an office policy manual is a living document. Develop a maintenance plan to keep it accurate. Update the policy manual as laws and the organization's priorities change, and schedule regular reviews of the manual and update accordingly.
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