The Complete Guide to Recruiting Real Estate Agents

Learn how to successfully recruit and retain the very best real estate agents

Learn how to successfully recruit and retain the very best real estate agents.

Whether you’re an established brokerage with experienced agents, or a new brokerage recruiting real estate agents, this guide is designed to help you develop a successful and ongoing process for recruiting and retaining the best agents.

Real Estate Recruiting Explained

In any industry, finding the right people is one of the most important keys to success. In real estate, signing top producers to your real estate brokerage or team is one of the most important factors to sustain long-term growth.

Why? Because great real estate agents are committed to building a healthy pipeline, closing transactions, and maintaining a robust network of happy clients.

That level of commitment is likely why top-producing agents earn more than four times what their novice peers bring in. Even more, top-performing agents offer specialized knowledge and extensive experience that enables them to create the conditions necessary for hassle-free closings, valuable referrals, and repeat clients.

Without these top producers and their extensive professional experience, companies may find themselves struggling to keep production high and their clients satisfied.

This guide will help you understand why recruiting real estate agents should be a long-term top priority and how you can recruit (and retain) the very best agents.

Recruiting Real Estate Agents Is an Ongoing Process

Much like with winning clients or closing a deal, attracting the best real estate agents requires thoughtful strategic planning.

Commission splits, tiers, and thoughtful strategizing aren’t everything. 

Top-performing agents are increasingly motivated by flexibility, mobility, and opportunities for professional development.

In response, any successful recruitment strategy must be able to fulfill these expectations to attract and retain the best talent in the real estate industry.

Recruit Real Estate Agents Before They Start Looking

The best agents are always employable because they bring success with them. In response, the best real estate agents are rarely in between jobs.

Unfortunately, many brokers keep the recruitment process on the back-burner when they should be prioritizing it to ensure they maintain a funnel filled with desirable new leads.

In other words, the right time to start recruiting is now, and the right time to stop recruiting is never. That means you’ll be actively recruiting agents working for a broker, but it also means you’ll be top-of-mind when they make the switch elsewhere. 

You should also keep an eye out for new real estate agents at competing brokerages who are making a name for themselves. Often you can cultivate that relationship and offer even more in terms of support, coaching, and opportunity—especially if they’ve signed up under less than favorable commission terms.

Continually Invest in Your Company Brand

It’s much easier to recruit real estate agents when you’re a market leader and not a market challenger. Sure, there are benefits to both, but being the market leader with brand recognition comes with some great perks. Prospective agents will recognize your company name, logo, and brand—and with it, they will quickly understand your strong value proposition. 

Consider investing in paid ad campaigns, social media marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that will help evaluate your company name. The results of these efforts extend beyond gaining new clients—it garners the attention of the area’s top-producing agents and agent teams. 

How to Find Out What Great Agents Want

Recruiting the best real estate agents involves working out what is important to them. Is it more favorable commission splits? A better work-life balance? Here are some of the ways you can find out what they value most.

Get Out and Meet Them

A great way to find out what great agents want from a brokerage is to simply ask them.

Find top-producing agents in your area or niche and offer to take them for dinner. Ask them what would make them consider moving to a new brokerage.

This has two benefits. First, you find out what great real estate agents want from an employer. This helps you focus your employee incentives and recruitment efforts.

Second, you know what the best agents in your area or niche want. This means that you could offer it to them. If you can’t at the moment, get back in touch with them when you can.

You can also ask these agents if they can recommend anyone who is looking to move. Be sure to enquire about promising new agents whose talent you can develop.

Know What Other Brokers and Brokerages Offer

The most successful brokerages will be actively recruiting real estate agents before they’re even looking. These agents are one of two types of job-seeker: active or passive. 

Knowing what to pitch and how to negotiate with an agent is critical to nurturing ideal prospects.

The primary reason that passive job-seekers switch companies is for more money. In other words, agents who aren’t looking for a new brokerage are likely happy and content, but earning more under the same conditions is certainly favorable. 

However, agents actively searching for a new brokerage often want better opportunities or a healthy work-life balance. For these job-seekers consider offering a different way of working (e.g., a remote culture), or better ways for them to improve their skills and grow their income.

Don’t Just Offer Money to New Real Estate Agents

Recruiting agents is tough when you first start out. You may not have the money to compete with established brokerages for talent. Therefore, offering other benefits is a good recruitment tactic in the beginning.

For example, younger agents may be interested in training and development opportunities. Older agents, on the other hand, might be more interested in flexible working arrangements.

Other benefits you could offer include:

  • A company car
  • Equipment such as the latest phones, tablets, and laptops
  • More days off
  • The opportunity to work with a certain type of client
  • Insurance plans such as healthcare, dental plans, and life insurance
  • Company pension with contributions
  • Other benefits, such as free gym memberships or cycle to work schemes

Find New Ways to Retain Top Producers 

Real estate business owners know that it’s cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones.

The same rule holds true for recruitment. In fact, not only is keeping your current agents more cost effective than investing in finding more, but they can also help you find new agents at a cheaper cost.

Empower your current agents to help recruit. Invite them into the process as decision-makers, and you’ll often find that they will develop new ways to improve the process and close the deal on the best new talent.

Additionally, keeping your top producers with your company enables you to highlight more stories of success, growth, and accomplishment—almost free social proof initiatives for marketing and brand awareness.

Where to Find Great Agents

Putting job ads online will get you a lot of applications—but they are unlikely to be from the best agents. 

To find the best real estate agents you need to cast your net wider and be more proactive and creative in your recruitment channels.

Here are a few ways to do this.

Attend Real Estate Industry Events

Attending industry events is another option to explore when searching for potential agents. Your local real estate association is likely to hold regular networking, professional development, and lobbying events.

Here is a great example from the Chicago Association of Realtors

As you can see, the organization hosts a range of different events throughout the year. Some are fun and informal, while others are more focused. The more informal ones are better for having direct conversations, but any event is a great opportunity to meet good agents. 

Use Social Media

Social media is a great way to extend your company’s reach beyond a website or word of mouth. The same goes for your agent recruitment.

💡Regularly publish posts that celebrate your agents. This shows that your brokerage is great to work for and that you care about your agents.  

Below is a great example from Asheville Realty Group’s Facebook page.

💡Create a campaign that aims to get more real estate agents to follow your brokerage. This could include guides to becoming a realtor, or what the latest regulatory changes mean for agents.

Here’s a good example from Diane McCown’s Facebook page.

💡When it’s time to recruit, post a link and include a personal message asking if anyone is interested. If you have done the two points above properly you should get lots of interest.

Here’s a great example from Reali on LinkedIn.

Offer Sign-Up Bonuses

Personal relationships are the best way to find successful agents—using other people’s networks helps you find even more of these opportunities.

Offer bonuses for agents and staff who refer a new agent that signs up with the brokerage. You could also extend a similar “finder’s fee” to anyone in your network who can do the same.


You can use SEO to draw interest from agents and budding realtors searching for job opportunities online.

Do this by identifying the keywords that agents might search for and then producing blog content that is optimized to target these terms.

If you get it right, your article will rank high on Google’s search results and you’ll get a lot of interest.

This method requires a lot of technical knowledge and tools and you will probably need the help of a professional SEO agency. 

For more information, check out our guide to real estate marketing.

Here’s a good example of the kind of content you may wish to produce, from Nicki & Karen.

Host Real Estate Agent Events

Whether it’s within real estate or another industry, people get excited about working for a company that they’re familiar with. Consider hosting events that seek to build these types of relationships.

You could host talks from veteran agents about their journey to success, or from accountants about how to maximize income and lower taxes. Real Estate agents will find these topics useful and compelling.

The more an agent enjoys these types of events, the more often they may attend—giving you a chance to build long-term relationships and consistently demonstrate the value of your company.

How to Recruit Real Estate Agents

1. Offer a Simple Transaction Process

Top-producing agents love tools that are simple because they don’t require hours to learn, use, or maintain. Whether it’s your broker transaction management software, intranet system, CRM, form tools, or anything else—top real estate agents want to get in and out in as little time as possible.

Your agents likely don’t want to spend time entering data into a system. Instead, they want to use a system that quickly helps them stay on track. Top agents love simple tools because they are easy to learn and use, and fewer “moving parts” make simple tools more reliable than complicated ones.

Imagine meeting with one of the top agents in your area and telling them that if they come to work with your brokerage, they have to learn an entirely new process and give up the tools and workflows that have made them successful.

Worse, tools that need 24/7 technical support force agents to stop and delay work until issues are resolved. For many brokers, these types of issues are not going to help close the deal.

2. Offer Adaptable Technology

When you recruit a new real estate agent, especially one that’s a top producer, it means that you’re bringing on more than just a person.

Top real estate agents come with a set of tools, processes, and systems that they’ve used and that have directly contributed to their success.

Unfortunately many brokerages require real estate agents to use their tools or software because they pay for all-in-one solutions, or because they want all leads collected by the company.

Instead, offer technology solutions that allow them to continue working in their specific way.

Some top producers work exclusively with clientele who prefer pen and paper—it’s essential to enable them to continue supporting their clients in the best way.

Other agents come with an extensive list of leads and clients that they don’t want to share out, so ensuring they can continue using their tools is imperative.

Additionally, top brokers know that recruiting and supporting brand new agents is an entirely different task than recruiting top talent.

Recruitment requires a versatile system that can adapt to each agent type and need.

New real estate agents require hand-holding, more intense coaching, and greater oversight. The work required of them should not impact your top agents.

Those top agents don’t want to spend time learning an over-engineered process when they’ve been using a system that works well for them.

3. Offer Tools That Help Agents Become Even More Productive

While many real estate agents have a workflow that operates well for them, others may need tools that can help them increase their productivity.

For these agents, it’s important to offer tools that are simple and can help keep them on track.

Consider implementing transaction management systems that are easy to learn and use.

A versatile system that allows real estate agents to submit paperwork by email, upload, or scan ensures that no matter who you recruit they will have a seamless way to submit documents to the brokerage.

Additionally, you can utilize tools that offer automated task reminders based on the most critical transaction milestones—such as acceptance, close date, loan approval date, or the option period.

Even better, make sure your systems can automatically sync with your new agents’ calendars. 

4. Offer Technology That Works with Other Tools

In addition to providing software tools that are adaptable to different workflows and enable agents to become even more productive, it’s important to offer options. 

For many brokerages, agents are still independent contractors. As such, they often cannot be required to use your tools. 

Make sure that your transaction management system allows agents to use their favorite other apps

Some real estate agents prefer the tools provided with their association membership or by the state, while others prefer their systems for collecting signatures and processing forms. 

Forcing them to navigate yet another tool that they don’t need or want is the quickest way to frustrate current and new real estate agents and over-complicate the process.

5. Provide Insightful Production Reports on Demand

Every top real estate agent has their style, but one thing remains constant: the need for consistent and insightful production data

Offer agents the ability to quickly view their production and hone in on deals that are missing critical documents or that require attention. 

Allow agents to quickly find client contacts or transaction information from any of their previous deals. 

Ensure that they can view these reports, filter and sort results, and see precisely what they need as they require it.

Doing this will ensure that new real estate agents are confident they won’t have to waste time driving into the office or spending time with a third-party support team.

6. Give Access to Income Statements in Real-Time

When it comes to the end of the year, brokers aren’t the only ones rushing to get ready for tax season. Agents feel the same pressure and want their financial information quickly and on time. 

Consider providing automated monthly financial reports with the previous month- and year-to-date information on gross and net income from the commissions they’ve generated. 

Take it a step further and make it clear to new prospects that they can also view all of their financial information in real-time

This will save everyone time, and for new agents looking to work with your brokerage it’s a great way to provide a clear and consistent picture of their earnings.

7. Offer Commission Structures That Motivate

Brokerages generally offer some pretty standard commission structures to agents: splits or flat fees. 

It’s essential to consider your commission structure and evaluate whether it motivates agents to perform. 

For example, higher-than-typical commission splits can encourage agents to continue investing in finding new clients, as every sale will grow their income. 

For top agents with deep client bases and long rosters of experience, flat fees can be even more motivating because your agents will keep nearly the full commission earned on every transaction.

Keep in mind that when recruiting real estate agents who are new the flat fee is less appealing because the fixed cost is a certainty, while production is not.

8. Offer Attainable Commission Plan Incentives

A great way to help recruit top agents seeking ways to increase their earnings is to offer commission plans with more incentive. For example, some brokerages will offer different splits based on the lead source—something that top agents love.

Another tactic (whether you offer splits or a flat fee) is to provide a commission cap where the agent will earn 100% of the total commission, or where the fee is waived.

This also works well for any high-producing real estate team because you can offer the team lead 100%, while other agents remain on a commission plan that splits the commission with your company.

9. Highlight and Recognize Your Real Estate Agents’ Success

Consistent recognition of great work is another way to build an influential company culture that new agents and top talent want to work for. 

Consider shout-outs on social media, annual events to highlight the top producers, and rewards for productivity. 

Do the same for the new real estate agents who are quickly making a name for themselves, or those who have shown meaningful initiatives to get better. 

You may also consider changing the relationship with agents deserving of recognition. Give them a leadership role in the office, ask them to help direct and coach new agents, or pay for learning opportunities outside the brokerage.

10. Support Your Agents 

Becoming a successful real estate agent, broker, or team is a challenging process. There’s a ton of competition, and many of those competing agents have years of experience or a strong brand behind them. 

One of the best ways to improve your company culture is to establish a process to support every real estate agent—no matter their level of experience. 

Meet with them to discuss their needs, what’s working, and what’s challenging. Help them improve what they do well and overcome the challenges they encounter. 

Genuine and authentic help says a lot about your company, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to increase word-of-mouth referrals. 

In addition to personal support, consider offering tools, software, and reports that can further enable and support agents’ success.

11. Coach Agents to Help Them Achieve Their Goals

Coaching isn’t always effective, and good coaching is rarely cheap. Offer each new real estate agent access to high-quality coaching and consistent mentoring opportunities. 

These types of opportunities are rare—many brokerages believe that coaching should come from real estate veterans, rather than from professional coaching. 

Great coaches are often companies, rather than individuals or someone in the office that assumes the role of part-time coach. 

These types of companies provide effective services and proven results because they develop accountability and motivation for agents, as well as the brokers and teams too.

12. Support Team Opportunities

Top agents are often ambitious and are continually looking to the future. Many don’t believe they’ll remain a real estate agent throughout their entire career and instead have their sights set on building their own brokerage or team. 

Unfortunately for brokerages with owner-producers, this can feel like an unhealthy relationship. Leads are held close and not shared, and a top real estate agent will passively be looking for the next opportunity. 

Make a point to support your agents and their goals. Help them develop top-producing teams that can take your brokerage to the next level. 

As with any employee they may eventually leave, but a genuine interest in helping them succeed will ensure that your pipeline of prospects never runs dry. 

Often, new and talented real estate agents alike will be eager to work with a brokerage that can support them. 

How Paperless Pipeline Can Help You Recruit Top Real Estate Agents

For more than 80,000 real estate professionals, Paperless Pipeline is the software of choice for real estate transaction management because it’s purpose-built software with one goal in mind: to help the country’s top real estate companies close more deals and grow their business.

  • Paperless Pipeline is simple. It doesn’t require a technical support team that needs to be available 24/7.
  • Paperless Pipeline is versatile. It doesn’t force admins and agents to learn an entirely new process from the ground up.
  • Paperless Pipeline is adaptable. It doesn’t compromise the closing of any of your active transactions.

With a proven blend of mobility, simplicity, and sophisticated technology, Paperless Pipeline is perfect for drawing top-producing agents to your company and keeping them there! Try it today without a credit card or commitment, and see for yourself why the country’s top brokerages trust Paperless Pipeline to help them recruit and retain successful agents.

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