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(Updated June 2016)

According to the 2015 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile 59% of all REALTORS® are affiliated with an independent, non-franchised company. In fact most Realtors are likely to be affiliated with an independent, non-franchised company. The decision to join a franchise or an independent firm can be confusing. The pros and cons of each option are examined in this updated Field Guide. (D. Winchester, Information Specialist)

Firm Affiliation of REALTORS®

  • 59% of REALTORS® are affiliated with an independent, non-franchised company.
  • While brokers and broker associates (64%) are most often affiliated with an independent, non-franchised company, sales agents (54%) are more evenly split between independent non-franchised and franchised companies.
  • Less REALTORS® reported an affiliation with a franchised company (37%) than with an independent company (59%).

E - EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.


Brokers on the Move?, (Central Penn Business Journal, Aug. 7, 2015). E

The Future of the Franchise, (REALTOR® Magazine, July 2015).

2015 Residential Franchise Report, (REALTOR® Magazine, 2015).

2013 Franchise Report: What They Offer, (REALTOR® Magazine, July/Aug. 2013).

Employee or Independent Contractor?, (Realty Times, Feb 13 2012).

2011 Franchise Report: What's in a Name? (REALTOR® Magazine, June 2011).

Franchise can help you afford retirement (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Sept. 24, 2011).

10 Reasons to Purchase a Franchise (Entrepreneur, Sept. 24, 2009).

Favoring Franchises (National Real Estate Investor, June 1, 2009).

The real estate franchise decision: A profile of some of the largest (

2007 Franchise Report: Affiliation up (REALTOR® Magazine, Sept. 2007).

Merge, Die or Thrive? (National Real Estate Investor, Apr. 1, 2007).

Top 10 reasons for buying a franchise (Entrepreneur, Dec. 2007).

Frequently asked questions about franchising (Franchising World, June 2005).  E

Advantages & challenges of franchising (Franchising World, June 2005). E

...or Independents?

A Growing Independence, (Journal of Business, Jun. 5, 2014). E

Independent Contractor Status in Real Estate - 2015 White Paper, (National Association of REALTORS®, 2015).

Decline of the Independent Broker-Dealer, (Investopedia, May 6,2013).

Leaving a real estate franchise to become an independent broker (AGBeat, Feb. 5, 2012).  

Independent real-estate agents skip trend to join corporate franchises (Chicago Business, Jun. 28, 2010).

Merger of independents bucks buyout trend (Realty Times, Feb. 5, 2007).

The galvanization of the independent broker (Realty Times, Jan. 2003).

Small firms dominate real estate industry, survey shows (Realty Times, Apr. 2002).

What Does the Research Say?

The shift toward independent brokerages [Special Report], (Inman, Jan. 5, 2015).

Choosing a Real Estate Office, Part 2: Franchise vs. Independent, (Placester, June 26, 2013).

5 Keys to Choosing the Right Real Estate Office, (Placester, June 19, 2013).

Comparing Different Types of Agencies (Realty Times, Apr. 16, 2010).

Franchising in residential brokerage (Journal of Real Estate Research, 2006). E

Useful Websites

Buying a Franchise: A Consumer Guide (Federal Trade Commission, Feb. 2008).

eBooks & Other Resources

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Creating An Independent Income In Real Estate! (Adobe eReader)

Free Agent Nation, (Adobe eReader)

Real Estate Confronts the Future (Mason, OH: South-Western, 2005). HD 1375 SWCR

Business lessons for entrepreneurs: 35 things I learned before the age of thirty (Mason, OH: South-Western, 2003). HD 2346 C89

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Compensation Plans for Real Estate Agents

Field Guide to Opening a Real Estate Brokerage

Field Guide to Appraisal of Real Estate Offices

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.