How real estate brokers could instantly improve the industry

According to broker Teresa Boardman, recruiting shouldn’t be limited to warm bodies. Improving the industry starts with brokers and the quality of their agent recruitment.

Do you receive Inman Broker’s Edge? Make sure you are subscribed here.

The agent recruitment season is well underway. I don’t understand why anyone would want to recruit me, but they do. I even received a pair of socks last week from a company that will “knock my socks off”.

The messages are all pretty much the same. It’s about better “technology” and the ability to make more money. They all have great “cultures”, and some want me to join their family. We all want new families, don’t we?

None of the recruitment messages are specifically aimed at me. I’m just a name in someone’s database. The data may have been captured and sold, and I may have been marked or classified as someone who might close up shop and go work for someone else.

It’s a numbers game, and the company with the most agents will have the most home sales, because agents sell homes. There are brokers who are responsible for hundreds of agents, and some who are responsible for thousands across multiple offices.

Brokers are responsible for the supervision of their agents and the reason fringe and really bad agents are allowed to work as real estate agents.

It wasn’t until I started my own business that I really noticed some flaws in the system. Like the time an agent with an expired license made an offer on one of our listings, and his broker didn’t know the license had expired.

There have been times when we’ve helped agents from other companies write offers and shown them how to use various tools in our MLS.

Have you ever tried complaining to a broker about an agent? Good luck with that. Brokers tend to defend the actions of their agents, which is not helpful at all when things go wrong.

I called a company and asked to speak to the unlicensed agent broker I mentioned, and the person answering the phone wouldn’t give me a name. What do you say about a real estate company if no one admits to being the broker?

As a broker, any agent you wouldn’t trust to sell your mom’s house or help your firstborn buy their first home shouldn’t be working in your business or under your license.

How Brokers Can Revamp the Industry

We don’t talk about what we can all do as brokers to improve the industry.

Here are some things real estate brokers can do that could raise standards in the industry:

  1. Recruit and retain the best and don’t be afraid to ask someone to leave. A bad agent hurts all agents, especially when they end up in jail and on the news.
  2. Make commission structures partially dependent on the level of training and education an agent receives each year. Add a bonus or percentage to their commission split.
  3. Don’t assume that the agents who make the most money provide the best customer service or that they are the best agents or that they are ethical.
  4. Instead of focusing on in-house training on how to promote the brand, run sessions on how to better serve customers. Organize group discussions on how to handle various common issues that arise in real estate transactions.
  5. Have rules and standards that agents must follow if they want to work under your brand.
  6. Know who your agents are and be available to chat or help resolve an issue if something goes wrong.
  7. Send surveys to other agents asking about their experience working with your agent.
  8. Know who your agents’ customers are. Some agents work with criminals.
  9. Reward behaviors, such as compassion and patience or excellence in marketing or communication skills.
  10. Model an agent doing something that raises the bar or goes above and beyond, not just the agents who make the most money.
  11. Focus on knowledge sharing rather than profit sharing. Everyone in your office should make a profit selling real estate.
  12. Suppose there are incompetent agents in your office, and help them get up to speed or do us all a favor – and let them go.
  13. If someone complains to you about the behavior of one of your agents, listen to them and be open-minded. Listening can prevent lawsuits and save lives.
  14. Stop thinking of agents as “workforce”.
  15. Look at your brokerage’s listings in the MLS. Don’t allow terrible images or all caps ad descriptions.
  16. Check periodically to make sure your agents have active real estate licenses and that you have their current addresses.
  17. Let everyone in the office know that you are the broker and the best way to contact you. Post this information in your lobby and on your website.
  18. It should be harder to get a broker’s license than it is, and it should be harder to start a real estate company – it’s too easy. Brokers have called me and asked me what the difference is between a contract amendment and an endorsement. To be fair, at least they asked privately instead of guessing or asking on Facebook.

A good broker is attentive and supportive of the agent, catches mistakes, and helps agents through tough times.

The number of real estate agents may have recently peaked at 1.5 million. If there is a market change, we may see some agents leave. Now might be a good time to clean up. Let’s do everything we can to make sure the best agents and those with potential stay — and the rest leave.

Kristan F. Talley