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Recruiting Real Estate Agents: 13 Signs of a Bad Fit

Here are some red flags to look for when interviewing real estate agents for your brokerage, plus tips on how to attract the highest-quality candidates possible.

Sep 10, 2019

Woman walking tightrope over a deep ravine
Image via Unsplash.com/Leio McLaren

Hiring real estate agents — both new and experienced — isn’t always an easy process. Your top recruit might tell a story that sends up a red flag. Something seems off. Should you keep pursuing?

Whether you’re actively looking to hire new agents now or considering growing your team in the future, we’ll explain what to be on the lookout for when recruiting candidates — the good signs and the bad. To gain further insight, we spoke to Andrew Riguzzi, senior vice president and founding member of a Compass team in Washington, D.C. Riguzzi has 13 years of experience with residential real estate sales, new developments, rental and leasing sales, and property management projects.

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4 Red Flags To Look For in an Agent’s Resume

Real estate agents applying for their first gig are so new, Riguzzi says, so he doesn’t put much weight on their resume but instead focuses on first impressions. However, there are a couple of things that he says are important to keep an eye on when reviewing a real estate agent’s resume, no matter their tenure.

If you’re recruiting experienced real estate agents, look out for...

  1. Inflated Sales Numbers: Riguzzi says that it’s common for experienced agents to exaggerate sales and closings to look more robust than they actually are. Cross-checking numbers on the agent’s resume with the sales database can help you verify figures. Any discrepancies would be a big red flag.
  2. Taking Too Much Credit: If an experienced real estate agent’s resume looks too good to be true, that could be a red flag. Riguzzi says it’s common to see agents take too much credit for what their teams are doing, which doesn’t show signs of a thoughtful or honest teammate.

If you’re recruiting new real estate agents, look out for…

  1. Lack of Direction: There’s one red flag, in particular, that Riguzzi says he looks for in new agents: Job jumping. If a resume contains random jobs — and a lot of them — without any real estate internships or schooling experience to go along with them, that’s a red flag. Job-hopping can be a signal that the applicant hasn’t committed to this path and might consider your job as temporary.
  2. An Average Resume: A boring resume shows a lack of enthusiasm in any job. Even on paper, Riguzzi says that he’s looking for sharp candidates who are entrepreneurial-minded. Even if the candidate has only worked in retail, you’ll want to look for how they stepped up to increase sales or supported their team.

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9 Red Flags To Look For When Interviewing Real Estate Agents

The interview process is a major deciding factor in whether an agent gets the job. Not every interview is going to be a home run. But, as Riguzzi points out, there are several big red flags to look out for when interviewing a candidate.

Red Flag #1: The agent bad-mouths previous jobs or clients.

One major red flag to be on the lookout for is agents who talk negatively about another real estate agent, former boss, or client. Passing blame (whether rightfully so or not) is never a good sign, especially about a client.

“The client is never wrong,” Riguzzi says. “You always have to tolerate them. If you do anything that wrongs them, it’s your job to make it right.”

Red Flag #2: They have too much confidence.

There’s no denying that real estate is a showy profession, and having confidence is key, Riguzzi says. But if the agent comes across like a know-it-all, that can be a sign that they may be unwilling to compromise, adhere to your company’s strategies, or learn new skills.

Red Flag #3: The agent exaggerates or embellishes the truth.

Agents need to know their details down to the specifics. When talking about their sales or details on prior listings, look for signs of inconsistencies in their stories. This could signal that they tend to embellish or exaggerate the information they provide to clients, and is cause for concern. (Misleading clients happens to be one of the top reasons why agents can be sued.) Honesty and integrity are important to your brand, and should be to your agents, too.

Red Flag #4: They say that they want to clear $1 million in sales.

Riguzzi says that he hears this one over and over again. While it’s good to have goals to aspire to, this one can be a red flag because it doesn’t say anything new or unique about a real estate agent’s professional goals. During an interview, candidates should demonstrate original strategies and ambitions, instead of just defaulting to a basic mindset of buying and selling homes to those clients with deep pockets.

Red Flag #5: The agent appears disorganized.

Being overly prepared and detail-oriented are traits real estate agents need in order to succeed. Clearly, there’s a lot of paperwork when representing clients buying or selling homes. And if there was ever a lawsuit, his or her documentation will be crucial.

Red Flag #6: They lack enthusiasm.

Whether new or seasoned, real estate agents should come to the interview excited about the prospect of working with a new team or company, Riguzzi says. The way your applicant interviews with you is the way they’ll interview with clients. If they seem bored or uninterested, that’s a red flag.

Red Flag #7: The agent came unprepared to the interview.

You’ll want to feel as though the agent did their homework before coming to a job interview. If you notice that the applicant doesn’t seem to know much about you, the company, or the community you cover, that shows a lack of investment -- not to mention, interest. It’s also a good sign of how this agent might prepare themselves before a showing or client meeting. And you certainly don’t want to get in a sticky situation when a client claims that your agent was negligent in their duties (meaning that they failed to take appropriate action about something they knew or should have known about if they’d been more diligent).

Red Flag #8: They give clients the ‘one and done’ treatment.

Asking your applicant how they plan to keep in touch with their clients after the sale is a great way to get a sense for the value they place on relationships. Riguzzi says that disinterest in continuing the client relationship post-sale can wind up costing a real estate agent — and the company — business.

“I want my agents to see their clients as a relationship and not a meal ticket,” he says.

Red Flag #9: The agent seems to focus solely on one goal: Getting rich.

Riguzzi says this one mainly applies to new real estate agents, although it can be a red flag to look for in veteran agents, too. If the applicant only talks about money and sales, that could be a sign they’re only in it to make a quick buck and might cut corners to get there.

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Using Client Reviews To Learn More About Your Candidates

Reading real estate agent reviews online can also help with your recruiting and hiring process. Riguzzi says that he uses an app called Homesnap. This platform is a database for real estate agents and brokers that contains MLS data, property tax records, and more.

“I use Homesnap to find who they did transactions with and then reach out to those people and say, ‘How was your experience dealing with this agent?’” says Riguzzi.

In doing this, he’s looking for agents that are respectful and humble. He says that bad reviews are OK, but he needs to know the story behind what transpired to get such a negative review.

“If an agent has a good story or admits to a mistake, that speaks a lot to their character,” he says. “It shows me that they can learn from their mistakes and do better next time around. But, if you’re quick to point the finger at someone else, then that’s a red flag for me. Agents need to be accountable.”

He points out that, generally, in order for a real estate agent to get a review on their website or social platform, the agent has to ask a client or employer to write the review.

“When you request a review, you're only requesting them from someone you know you’re going to get a good review from,” Riguzzi says. “The only time someone is going to leave you a bad review is if they had a really, really negative experience with the agent.”

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3 Tips for Attracting High-Quality Real Estate Agent Candidates

If your stack of resumes has been less than stellar lately, here are a few things you can do to try and recruit well-rounded candidates.

Tip #1: Create a positive workplace culture for your brokerage.

Riguzzi says that establishing a welcoming, fun, and collaborative work environment can help you to entice excellent candidates. A team that works hard and has a healthy entrepreneurial attitude is attractive to up-and-coming real estate agents, as well as those who’ve been in the industry for some time. From the look and feel of a business’ brand, right down to the values it embodies, agents want to be a part of a team that reflects who they are. Make sure your current brand is in line with the kind of candidates you’re looking for.

Tip #2: Invest in your agents.

Another way to recruit well-rounded real estate agents is to invest in the ones you already have. You can do this through free training sessions, conferences, and other educational experiences that enhance an agent’s real estate knowledge. This can be attractive to prospective candidates who are considering joining your company because it shows that you’re willing to help each member of your team become the best they can be. Riguzzi says that some companies even take an unconventional route by offering real estate agents loans to help them invest in their own businesses. If you offer these kinds of perks, consider listing them on your website - this could help entice more candidates to apply when you have new positions open up.

Tip #3: Show off your brokerage's accomplishments.

Finally, Riguzzi says that it’s important for companies to highlight the real estate agents with the most sales (and other noteworthy accomplishments) and company awards. Agents who are considering applying to your company may look at your website and social media accounts, so you want to reel them in by showing off how impressive the company is.

Just remember: As much as you might want to grow your team quickly (because there’s so much to do), being in a rush to hire can cause problems down the road. Take your time, call references, meet with your agent applicants in various settings, and look for the individuals who stand out independently — as well as within a team.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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