Agent recruiting: Two women smiling at each other

3 things to know when recruiting new agents 

To find the right match, you need to know yourself first. Assess your strengths, determine what kind of agent you need, and always keep your eyes open.

February 11, 2023
4 minutes

Key points:

  • What differentiates you from the rest of the market? That's your selling point when you talk to potential agents.
  • When interviewing, start with a casual meeting, and let the agent do most of the talking.
  • Keep an open mind. If your criteria are too rigid, you may miss out on a great candidate.

Recruiting agents to join your team or brokerage is a lot like dating. You'll be most successful if you know yourself first.

"You need to create your ideal agent avatar," says recruiting pro Kelly White, executive vice president of talent at T3 Sixty, adding that you really can't do that without doing some work and reflection. (Note: Real Estate News and T3 Sixty share a founder, Stefan Swanepoel.)

"You've got to figure out what differentiates your team or brokerage. Maybe it's culture or the tools you provide or your commission model. And once you identify what makes you more attractive than other brokerages or teams in your market, you've got to figure out how to talk about it," says White.

For Jon-David Lenard, leader of the Lenard Team based in Long Island, N.Y., culture is his No. 1 recruiting tool. "After 40 years in business, we know our culture sets us apart. We have a repeatable and scalable way of doing things," he says. "If you're selling 100 homes a year but you're going to be a detriment to the team and our culture, we don't want you. It's that simple."

But how can you tell from an interview that someone isn't going to be a good fit? 

"Listen," says White. "Too many brokers bring candidates in for interviews and all that happens is the broker talks. In reality, those early meetings should be asking the questions that get the interviewee talking."

And don't make a decision based on one meeting. When considering a potential candidate, Lenard starts with a phone call. If that goes well, he'll meet them for coffee. Those meetings are followed by an invitation to the office.

"Especially in the beginning, I don't want to talk business," he says. "If they're immediately focused on splits and fees, I'm out."

Instead, Lenard wants early conversations to center around the person's experience and values. He wants to know what's important to them. "If all that aligns, then we can move on and start talking about selling strategies and commission models."

Brokers or team leaders looking to grow their agent count should start by considering these three pieces of advice:

1. Always be recruiting

Don't wait for an opening or a market shift to start thinking about bringing on new agents. 

"I encourage brokers and team leaders to get to know great people outside their team," says White. "Network with a purpose. Build relationships with smart, motivated people, so when they want to change jobs, your team is a logical place for them to go."

Attending professional events and building relationships is just part of the proposition, says White. "At some point you have to ask people to join you. Even if now's not the time, the ask is important because it gives them permission to think about joining you at some point in the future."

2. Look for potential everywhere

"The longer I've been at this, the more I've realized having hard-and-fast rules about recruiting means you may miss out on some great opportunities," says Lenard. He says it's important to be curious about people. Ask questions and really listen to their answers. 

If you say you'll only consider agents who've sold some arbitrary number of homes, there's a good chance you'll miss out on some great agents who could be spectacular given the right tools and leadership. 

3. Know your strengths

Reaching out to real estate schools and bringing on brand-new agents may work if you've got training and mentorship programs in place. But if training's not your thing, you probably ought to bring on team members who've already mastered the basics of buying and selling homes.

"This goes back to knowing who you are," says White. "You've got to be honest with yourself about that. That's the real key to identifying the people who will fit best within your organization."

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