Guess Who’s Coming To Real Estate? A Surge Of New Agents Prepared To Hit The Ground Running

Written by Posted On Friday, 20 November 2020 00:00

In a COVID-triggered time of job loss, furloughs, and personal introspection, it is not surprising that the rush to real estate has surged - not just for anxious buyers and sellers, but for millions who are seeking a new career.

“We’ve seen a 200 percent increase in the number of inquiries this year over last year,” said Dina Charlton, professional development strategist, John L, Scott Real Estate, a Washington state brokerage with 110 offices in four northwestern states. “They are coming from retail and sales positions, from hospitality, information technology - even from teaching and some medical backgrounds - looking to re-invent themselves and establish a career in real estate.”

Most, said Charlton, are aware of the challenges of working in a commission-only industry. “But since, in any environment, some 80 percent of new agents don’t make it into their second year, we are very exacting in what we look for in accepting a new trainee.”  

Primarily, she said, they look for two essential assets; financial stability, with at six months savings in place to give them breathing room as they begin, and total commitment to a full-time career that can require 24/7 availability.

“Our focus is on training and agent empowerment on multiple levels,” Charlton said. “We invest many weeks in training and in ongoing support, so meaningful commitment is critical.”

In all, she said, about one in five applicants are accepted as John L. Scott recruits.

“Here in Las Vegas, some 50 to 75 aspiring new agents start in our real estate licensing schools every six weeks,” said Mark Stark, CEO/owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties. “We consistently bring on 75 to 100 new agents a month - many of them millennials, which I think is exciting.”

How are all these newbies performing?

“Some 60 percent of those who committed to training are with us still,” Stark said. “The top 20 percent are doing really well. A few - those with great initiative, good social media skills and strong local connections - are killing it. At least one will earn $150,000 or more this year.”

Some 20 percent of new agents are struggling with mediocre results, Stark said, while the bottom third - those who will likely wash out - were never really totally committed.

A 20 or 30 percent success ratio for new recruits appears to be fairly standard. 

“We are always open to serious recruits,” said Nancy Malone, principal broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Woodmont Realty, Brentwood, Tenn. “Of the 15 new agents we’ve brought in since January, three were transferees from other companies, but 12 had either lost jobs in another industry or had been indefinitely furloughed.”

Three of the 12 novices - or 25 percent - “have hit the ground running,” Malone said. “They are invested in our training and mentoring programs, they are beating the bushes to build a strong database, and they are actively listing and selling. One already has two referrals from a happy client.”

While some firms are interviewing licensed newbies only, others take a different approach.

“We find great value in offering pre-licensing classes” said Rob D’Amico, recruiting and agent development manager, Century 21 Northeast Real Estate, Danvers, Mass. “Designed for people who are not yet licensed, they offer real-world training that can give a leg up to serious recruits who are willing to pay a fee to find out how suited they are to real estate sales.”

The classes offer enough training and mentoring, D’Amico said, to help them start building an SOI and learning how to use it.

“In today’s fast-paced market, we are still breaking sales records every day. January is the new July,” D’Amico observed. “There has never been a better time for committed full-time agents, even new agents, to do very well in this business.”

It’s about clarity, observed Stark. “New agents need to be clear about what to expect, how much energy they are ready to give, and what goals they expect to meet,” he said.

It’s also about culture, said Malone. “With much of today’s training and programming offered online, company leaders must find effective ways to help new agents feel they are a valued part of something larger,” she said.  “Company culture can do a lot to inspire confidence and success.”

And it’s about learning the business in a time when the ways of the world are changing.

“Real estate is one of the top few industries that will lead the country out of recession,” said Charlton. 

As leaders, she added, we need to empower new agents to succeed in a new environment.

“In many ways, the industry has changed for good,” said D’ Amico. “New agents today are being trained to work in new modes and in a new mentality. That will be a big help in preparing them to become tomorrow’s leaders.”

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Barbara Pronin

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade. She is also the author of three mystery novels and two non-fiction books.

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