The Complete Guide To Recruiting Real Estate Agents In 2023

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

The real estate industry has been experiencing a slump during 2023. Mortgage rates are approaching 7% and the existing U.S. monthly home sales fell by 3.3% between the start of May and the end of July.

Believe it or not, this is a great time for realtors to recruit new real estate agents.

Why? Because many agents have seen their production and commissions fall. Those who were considering a move will be more motivated to switch brokerages and get a better deal for themselves.

This guide is designed to help you take advantage of this situation by developing a successful and ongoing process for recruiting real estate agents and retaining them.

We’ll explain how to create a great recruitment process, including what attracts top real estate agents, the best ways to recruit them, and how to retain them once they’re working for you.

First, we explain why recruiting real estate agents should be a long-term top priority.

How to Recruit Real Estate Agents Explained

In any industry, finding good people is key to success and real estate is no different. Signing top producers to your real estate brokerage or team will give you a competitive edge and help 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 why top-producing real estate agents earn more than four times what their novice peers bring in. Top-performing agents also offer specialized knowledge and extensive experience, resulting in hassle-free closings, valuable referrals, and repeat clients.

Without these top producers and their extensive professional experience, companies may struggle to keep production high and satisfy their clients.

The real estate recruitment challenge

The problem is the best real estate agents are almost always employed because they bring success with them. For this reason, they’re rarely in between jobs.

Most real estate agents you approach also won’t be interested in moving brokerage. They will either be happy where they are, or the perceived risk of moving will outweigh the benefits. 

To overcome this, successful real estate recruiters have a process for nurturing long-term relationships with talented real estate agents. This ensures their brokerage is the one top talent thinks of when they’re ready to move.

Unfortunately, many brokers keep recruitment 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 new real estate agents is now, and the right time to stop recruiting is never.  

How to Create Your Real Estate Agent Recruiting Process

The key to a successful real estate agent recruitment process is to treat it in the same way you would lead generation. You need to have a purposeful, planned-out process that gradually nurtures relationships with real estate agents until they are ready to move.

We recently spoke to real estate industry veteran and top recruiter, Robb Campbell. He shared his real estate recruitment strategy with us. 

To summarize, the seven steps are:

  1. Buy or create a database of real estate agents with the experience you need in your area.
  2. Hire someone to perform outreach calls and get real estate agents to commit to a 15-minute conversation with you. 
  3. During the scheduled call, ask the agent how business is going and about their future.
  4. Try to get an in-person meeting. Tell the agent that you know they’re happy where they are and that you want to build a relationship in case anything changes in the future.
  5. At the meeting, tell them about your real estate business over a coffee or shared meal.
  6. Hire someone else to follow up with the agent after the meeting to see if they need more information.
  7. If the agent isn’t ready to move yet, stay in touch by drip-feeding communications to them. 

Robb says that with this system, every agent he speaks to thinks of him when they eventually consider moving brokerages.

Pro Tip: Continually invest in your company brand
Recruiting real estate agents is easier when you’re a market leader and not a market challenger. 
Prospective real estate agents will recognize your company name, logo, and brand. They will also understand your value proposition. 

Consider investing in paid ad campaigns, social media marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that will help elevate 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. 

3 Ways to Find Out What Great Real Estate Agents Want

Recruiting 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.

  1. Get out and meet them

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

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

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

Second, you’ll 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 people if they can recommend any agents looking to move. Be sure to enquire about promising new agents whose talent you can develop.

  1. Understand what motivates agents

Some agents will actively be looking for a new company to move to, while others will only consider a move if it comes their way. Knowing how to pitch to different agent mindsets is critical.

For example, agents not looking for a new brokerage are likely happy and content, but earning more under the same conditions is certainly favorable. 

However, agents actively looking for a new brokerage often want better opportunities or a healthier work-life balance. To attract 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.

  1. Don’t just offer money to 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. 

The good news is commission plans aren’t everything. Top-performing agents are increasingly motivated by flexibility, mobility, and opportunities for professional development.

Therefore, offering other benefits is a good recruitment tactic in the beginning.

For example, younger agents and rising talent may be interested in training and development opportunities or additional support and mentoring. 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

6 Ways to Find Great Agents

Putting job ads online will get you lots 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.

  1. Attend real estate industry events

Attending industry events is a good way to meet real estate agents. Your local real estate association will likely 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 informal ones are better for having direct conversations, but any event is an opportunity to meet good agents. 

  1. Use social media

Social media is a great way to extend your company’s reach beyond your 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 current 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 a good response.

Here’s a great example from Reali on LinkedIn.

  1. 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.

  1. Empower your staff to recruit real estate agents

Your agents will have their own personal networks that offer great recruitment opportunities. Invite your current agents to take part in recruitment. 

They will likely begin inviting their own contacts to interview, and also suggest improvements to your recruitment process. 

  1. Use SEO

You can use SEO to draw interest from agents and 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 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.

  1. 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, they’re likely to attend more regularly—giving you a chance to build long-term relationships and consistently demonstrate the value of your company.

10 Ways to Retain Real Estate Agents

Attracting great agents is only one part of the process. Once they have joined your real estate brokerage, you’ll need to create and maintain a great working environment. Here are some tips on how to do this:

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—experienced agents want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

2. Offer adaptable technology

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 the leads collected by the company.

Imagine meeting with a top agent and telling them that to work with your brokerage, they must learn a new process and give up the tools and workflows that have made them successful.

Instead, offer technology solutions that allow them to continue operating in the way that suits them best.

For example, some top producers work exclusively with clientele who prefer pen and paper. In these cases, enabling them to continue supporting their clients this way is essential.

Other agents prefer not to share their leads and clients, so it’s essential that they can still use a separate CRM.

You need versatile software that allows real estate agents to submit paperwork via email, direct upload to a platform, or scanning. This ensures that no matter who you recruit they will have a seamless way to submit documents to the brokerage.

3. Offer tools that increase agent productivity

Some real estate agents may need tools to help them increase their productivity.

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

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.

It’s important to ensure that your systems can automatically sync with your new agents’ calendars. 

4. Provide insightful prodcution reports on demand

Real estate agents need consistent and insightful production data to be effective.

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.

5. Provide 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 prospective agents that they can also view all of their financial information in real time

6. Offer commission structures that motivate

Brokerages generally offer two 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 finding new clients, as every sale grows their income. 

Flat fees can be even more motivating for top agents with deep client bases. That’s because they keep nearly the full commission earned on every transaction.

On the other hand, flat fees are less appealing to new agents because the fixed cost is a certainty, while production may not be.

7. Offer attainable commission plan incentives

A great way to help recruit agents seeking ways to increase their earnings is to offer commission plans with more incentives

For example, some brokerages will offer different splits based on the lead source—in other words, they get a more favorable split if they generate the lead themselves. Top agents love this incentive, as they receive a lot of referrals and repeat clients.

Another tactic (whether you offer splits or a flat fee) is to provide a commission threshold. Once the threshold is exceeded, the agent earns 100% of the total commission, or their 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.

8. Recognize and celebrate your real estate agents’ success

We mentioned earlier that celebrating agents will attract talent. But it’s even better for retaining agents. 

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.

9. 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 experience level. 

Meet with them to discuss their needs, what’s working, and what’s challenging. Help them improve what they do well and to 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 support agents’ success.

10. Support team opportunities

Experienced agents are often ambitious and continually looking to the future. Many have their sights set on building their own brokerage or team. 

If you are an owner-producer then you may not want to share leads. This can lead seasoned agents to feel like they are being held back. They will eventually look for another opportunity. 

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

As with any employee, they may eventually leave, but a genuine interest in helping them succeed will help maintain production and good relations. 

How Paperless Pipeline Can Help You Recruit Top Real Estate Agents

Paperless Pipeline is the transaction management software of choice for more than 80,000 real estate professionals. 

It’s purpose-built software with one goal in mind: to help the country’s top realtors close more deals and grow their real estate 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.