The messages are all pretty much the same. They are about better “technology” and the opportunity to make more money. They all have great “cultures,” and some want me to join their family. We all want new families right?
None of the recruiting messages are aimed at me specifically. I am just a name in someone’s database. The data may have been captured and sold, and maybe I was scored or rated as someone likely to close up shop and go work for someone else.
It’s a numbers game, and the company that has the greatest number of agents will have the greatest number of home sales — because agents sell houses. There are brokers who are responsible for hundreds of agents, and some who are responsible for thousands in multiple offices.
Brokers are responsible for supervising their agents and the reason the marginal and the really bad agents are allowed to work as real estate agents.
It wasn’t until I started my own company that I really noticed some of the holes in the system. Like the time an agent with an expired license made an offer on one of our listings, and his broker did not know that the license had expired.
There have been times when we have 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 isn’t at all helpful when there is a problem.
I called one company and asked to talk to the broker about the unlicensed agent I mentioned, and the person answering the phone wouldn’t give me a name. What does it say about a real estate company if no one will admit to being the broker?
As a broker, any agent you would not trust to sell your mother’s house or to help your firstborn buy their first house should not be working in your company 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:
- Recruit and retain the best, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to leave. One bad agent hurts all agents, especially when they end up in jail and on the news.
- Make commission structures partially dependent upon how much training and education an agent gets each year. Add a bonus or a percent onto their commission split.
- Don’t assume that the agents who are making the most money are providing the best customer service or that they are the best agents or that they are ethical.
- Instead of focusing internal training on how to promote the brand, have sessions on how to better serve clients. Have group discussions about how to handle various common issues that surface in real estate transactions.
- Have rules and standards that agents must adhere to if they want to work under your brand.
- Know who your agents are, and be available to discuss or help troubleshoot when there is a problem.
- Send out surveys to other agents asking them about their experience working with your agent.
- Know who your agents’ clients are. Some agents work with criminals.
- Reward behaviors, such as showing compassion and patience or excellence in marketing or communication skills.
- Make an example of an agent who does something that raises the bar, or goes above and beyond, not just the agents who bring in the most money.
- Focus on knowledge-sharing rather than profit-sharing. Everyone in your office should be making a profit by selling real estate.
- Assume that there are some incompetent agents in your office, and either help them get up to speed or do the rest of us a favor — and let them go.
- If someone complains to you about the behavior of one of your agents, listen and be open-minded. Listening can prevent lawsuits and save lives.
- Stop thinking of agents as “headcount.”
- Look at the listings your brokerage has in the MLS. Do not allow terrible pictures or descriptions of listings in all caps.
- Periodically check to make sure your agents have active real estate licenses and that you have their current addresses.
- Let everyone in the office know that you are the broker and the best way to contact you. Post that information in your lobby and on your website.
- 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. I have had brokers call me and ask me what the difference is between a contract amendment and an addendum. To be fair, at least they asked privately instead of guessing or asking on Facebook.
A good broker pays attention and has the agent’s back, catches mistakes and helps agents through the rough spots.
The number of Realtors may have recently peaked at 1.5 million. If there is a market shift we may see some agents leave. It might be a good time to clean house. Let’s do all that we can to make sure that the best agents and those who have potential stay — and the rest leave.