February 24, 2024

Real Estate Journeys

Navigating Property Ventures

Recruiting real estate agents: A complete roadmap for 2024

13 min read

If you’re a new broker or team leader you might not realize just how competitive recruiting was in 2023. The data are sobering: The Agent Movement Index, the number of experienced Realtors switching brokerages each month, was at its lowest level since 2016. Throw in the recent explosion of boutique brokerages, teams, and “teamerages” and a study that showed an astounding 70% of agents reported five or fewer sales, and even the best recruiters probably ended up with agents that brought in little to no GCI last year.

Thankfully, 2024 is shaping up to be a much better year for recruiters. The number of agents switching brokerages is ticking upward and markets are stabilizing across the country. If you want to learn how to recruit agents, now is the time. 

To help, we put together this guide to walk you through our nine-step system to recruit, nurture, and retain producing agents in 2024. Here’s what you’ll learn:


Our 9-step real estate agent recruitment plan

Whether you’re trying to recruit listing agents or those fresh out of prelicensing school, the key to successful recruiting never changes: you need a strategic recruitment plan to get results. How you build out your recruiting system will vary based on what types of agents your brokerage needs, but at a minimum it should be easy, repeatable, and scalable.

Just remember that even though agent mobility and the market are improving, competition for the best agents will still be fierce in 2024. You might not see results right away, but if you take the time to design a solid plan and stick to it, you will.

While this guide covers everything you need to know to successfully recruit agents, there is one thing we can’t do– help you troubleshoot your recruiting pain points. After all, recruiting is a journey, not a destination. Telling your story to get the specific advice you need is a big part of that journey. To help, Tom Ferry’s brand new Recruiting Roadmap course offers group coaching sessions with talented team leaders like you.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to build a recruiting plan that works no matter what the market is doing: 

1. Treat agents like potential customers, not dollar signs

When building out your recruiting system, it can help to see the agents you want to recruit as potential customers instead of leads to close. Remember: everyone wants something better, but no one wants to be sold to.

Shifting your recruiting mindset to focus on how you can help them instead of how they can help you makes all the difference.

This is a subtle distinction, but crucial for effective recruiting. When you approach an agent with the mindset of “how can I help you improve your career” they will be much more likely to answer your texts, take your calls, and (hopefully) join your brokerage or team.

So before you decide on a stage in your recruiting plan, write a script or email, or take that top listing agent out to an expensive lunch, ask yourself “How can I reframe this to help this agent succeed”? 

2. Determine the right mix of agents to recruit 

Since recruiting agents at different stages of their careers will require unique strategies, the first step to building your recruitment process is to determine which types of agents you need.

It’s important to be realistic when deciding which types of agents to target for recruitment. If you’re a brand new boutique brokerage specializing in starter homes, the odds of you wooing a top-producing luxury listing agent away from Douglas Elliman are slim. Make sure your current reputation, branding, and market niche are aligned with what the agents you’re recruiting need from a brokerage. More on this later.

Here’s a quick list of the different types of agents you can recruit and the ideal mix for a successful brokerage or team. While the exact mix of agent types you need will vary, this is a good starting point for most brokerages:

  • Producing buyer’s agents: 65%
    Ideally, producing buyer’s agents should be the bulk of your recruiting efforts. They are far more common than listing agents or top-producing buyer’s agents, but will still bring in consistent revenue. A team or brokerage with nothing but producing buyer’s agents can still be highly profitable.
  • Top-producing buyer’s agents: 10%
    While they might not bring in as much revenue as a listing agent, top-producing buyer’s agents are a necessity for every successful brokerage. Of course, they are also in high demand so will require more nurturing than producing buyers agents.
  • Listing agents: 10%
    One highly active listing agent can bring in 30% or more of your GCI each month. Since they are in high demand, recruiting listing agents is a time-consuming process and will likely require extensive nurturing and competitive commission splits.
  • Newly licensed agents: 25%
    Newly licensed agents will require extensive training and coaching to start generating revenue for your brokerage. That said, recruiting newly licensed agents as junior agents for your top producers is an excellent way to keep them happy and train new agents at the same time.

3. Find out what local agents want from a brokerage

After you’ve decided on the right mix of agents to recruit, now comes the hard part — figuring out if your current brokerage actually meets their needs. Here are two proven strategies top recruiters use to find out what local agents want from a brokerage:

Networking 

The best way to find out what different types of agents want from a new brokerage? Ask them! Take time out of your week to attend broker happy hours, training sessions, open houses, and stay active on social media. Set targets for how many agents you meet and ask them a simple question: “What are you looking for in a new brokerage?” If there’s one thing agents love, it’s shop talk about finding a better brokerage.

Survey your current agents

If you have more than 10 agents in your brokerage, send out a Google forms survey that asks what they like and don’t like about working at your brokerage. If you keep the survey anonymous, you’ll get much more honest answers.

4. Audit your current branding & services 

Once you’ve decided on the right mix of agents to recruit and know what your prospects want from a brokerage, the next step in your system is to audit your current branding and services to ensure they meet their needs. Once you finish your audit, see if you can compare your branding and services to competing brokerages. How do they stack up? Why would an agent choose your brokerage over theirs? More importantly, can you find a clear value proposition for your team or brokerage?

Training & coaching 

Believe it or not, the quantity and quality of the training and coaching you offer agents is one of the most important services you can offer in 2024. Newly licensed agents won’t produce without it, and even top producers are desperate to learn new technology and social media skills. How does your training and coaching program stack up against the competition?

If you find that your current training and coaching are lacking, you can augment them with off-the-shelf coaching classes from coaching companies like Tom Ferry, Buffini & Company, or Icenhower Coaching.

Software

Does your team or brokerage offer a sophisticated CRM that includes marketing and lead generation tools? If you want to compete with tech-forward brokerages like Compass, you’ll need to.

Lead generation services

While free leads might not be enough to convince an agent to jump ship, they can be a great sweetener for those who are on the fence about joining your team or brokerage. How do your current lead generation services stack up against the competition?

Commission splits

While money is an important criterion agents use when deciding to switch brokerages, it’s not as important as you may think. Most brokerages will offer the same highly competitive split to top producers. Most agents want a brokerage that will help support them in building their career.

Market reputation

How is your brand perceived in your local market? Do you have a consistent social media presence? Are you known for specializing in a lucrative niche or neighborhood? Do you dominate that neighborhood or niche on Zillow?

Branding & marketing

Finally, take a long hard look at your branding. How does your website, logo, and social media presence look compared to other brokerages agents might consider? Do they do a good job projecting your brokerage’s culture? Do they look professional? Stylish?

Company Culture

Like all people, agents decide on a brokerage with their hearts and justify their decision with logic. This is why your company culture is one of the most important tools you have in your recruiting tool kit. Every agent wants to work for a team or brokerage that’s happy, supportive, and successful. No one wants to work for a company with a toxic culture no matter how good the splits are.

How do I know? A few years ago I switched from a Corcoran Group brokerage to a tiny boutique firm even though their splits were lower. Why? Their company culture was a better fit for me.

5. Start building your recruiting funnel

In many ways building your recruitment funnel is just like generating leads: the money is in the follow-up. Why? Well, the best agents can join any brokerage they want, so odds are very few of them will join yours after a single phone call, lunch meeting, or email. That doesn’t mean you should add every agent in your MLS to your funnel. Instead, focus on agents that fit the criteria you decided on in step two. Pitching and nurturing 20 producing agents will yield far better results than onboarding 100 brand new ones.

Here are five proven sources to fill your funnel with prospective agents:

Your sphere 

Like client lead generation, the first and arguably the best place to start looking for prospects is in your sphere of influence. If you’ve been in real estate for more than a year or so, you should have hundreds of industry contacts to reach out to.

Your MLS

Look for agents from the last two years and look for agents with big drops or increases in business. If someone is growing they might have outgrown their current brokerage. If they dropped, they might be unhappy with their brokerage.

Real estate networking events 

Local agent happy hours, training events, open houses, or Facebook groups are all excellent places to meet agents who might want to make a switch. Just remember to focus on how you can help them instead of trying to sell them on your brokerage.

Local real estate schools

If you want to recruit brand new agents, local real estate schools can be a goldmine. A broker I know in Brooklyn went as far as offering to pay for their prelicensing courses in exchange for joining his brokerage. This is a common recruiting strategy in many parts of the country where prelicensing courses are inexpensive. In California, a basic prelicensing course at The CE Shop can be had for $139 and is often discounted to less than $100.

Your current agents

Another excellent way to find out what local agents want is to offer recruitment bonuses to your current agents. Why? Your agents can probably sell your brokerage better than you can since they can offer social proof that shows your agents are happy and productive.

This is the exact model Keller Williams has used to recruit hundreds of thousands of agents over the years. More recently, eXp has used a similar strategy and promises a kind of passive income to agents who recruit teams to work under them.

6. Segment your list & gather data on your prospects

Once you have a decent list of prospects in your funnel, segment them by years of experience, whether they’re buyers agents or listing agents, and how likely they are to make a move. It can also be helpful to gather as much data on them as you can find and add it to your CRM. This will make it much easier to make a personal connection when you follow up a week or six months from now.

Here are some ideas for data to include in your CRM for each prospect:

  • How many deals they’ve closed
  • How many years they’ve worked in real estate 
  • Which neighborhoods or niches they specialize in
  • Whether they did better or worse than the previous year
  • Their most notable transactions
  • The quality of their marketing materials 

If your current CRM isn’t flexible enough to track your recruiting efforts, you might want to consider free or cheap project management tools like Hubpspot or Trello. If you want something real estate-specific, check out our guide to the best real estate CRMs here:

7. Give them a reason to meet you

The days of picking up the phone and giving agents the hard sell are long gone. Why? Today’s recruiters are more sophisticated than you might think. They understand a simple truth about selling: everyone wants something better but no one likes to be sold to. Instead, offer them a compelling reason to meet you. Career seminars or conferences, free coaching classes or masterminds, cocktail parties, open houses, or agent mixers are all great ways to get in front of talented agents.

8. Schedule calls with your best prospects

Now that you have a segmented list of prospects, schedule time to call them. Like your first contact with a cold buyer or seller lead, your goal here is not to close them. Instead, use your initial calls to introduce yourself and learn as much as you can about their career and what they want from a team or brokerage.

If you want to include a call-to-action, invite them to an event or lunch meeting. Just remember to focus on how you can help them, not how they can help you. If anyone on this Earth can sniff out a hard sell, it’s real estate agents. Smart recruiters don’t sell on the first call. They listen.

After your calls or meetings, score each recruiting prospect in your CRM on a scale of one through five based on how receptive they were. Then, segment your list again so you know who to add to your call or email list for nurturing.

9. Create a long-term nurturing plan

After you’ve made your first calls and hopefully set up a few meetings, it’s time to create a long-term nurturing plan. Your goal here is to keep your team or brokerage’s value proposition top of mind. This way when one of your prospects is finally ready to make a move, they will have you on their shortlist.

Nurturing recruitment prospects is identical to nurturing buyer and seller leads. The best way to stay top of mind is to offer them value in each call, text, or email. That value might come from training or coaching materials you use with your current agents, or just checking in to see how they’re doing and how you can help them succeed.


Inbound real estate recruiting

Of course, the best recruiting pitch is the one you never have to make. That’s why attracting agents to your brokerage instead of pursuing them can be a highly effective recruiting strategy. Build it and they will come is a cliche for a reason. Agents want to work for successful brands and people they know, like, and trust. Celebrating your team or brokerage’s wins and supportive company culture on social media is an excellent way to get agents to want to join.

Here are some ways to entice agents to call you instead of having to recruit them:

  • Sales success in lucrative niches or geographic farms
  • Masterminds, Webinars, and training sessions
  • Demonstrating your support for agents when they succeed
  • Weighing in on local issues that affect the market
  • Supporting your local community 
  • Supporting local charities 
  • Pictures and videos of agent events and parties
  • Pictures and videos of perks you offer agents
  • Getting quoted as a thought leader in local publications

How to retain producing agents

While recruiting can be a long frustrating process, retaining agents is easy. No, really. Focus on constantly improving your brand, company culture, training, and agent support, and your new agents will stick with you for the long haul. 

Of course, the “long haul” in real estate might only be a year or two for some agents, but that’s how our industry works. Agents are only as loyal as their options. The more options they have, the less loyal they’ll be. But if you’re relentlessly focused on improvement and use our recruiting plan to keep your funnel full, they won’t only stay with you, but might even recruit their friends as well. 


Real estate recruiting: The full picture

Like lead generation, recruiting real estate agents requires a strategic plan, low-key selling techniques, and sometimes months of nurturing your prospects. The most successful recruiters take the time to research their competition, find out what local agents want, and audit their brands and company culture to make sure they offer it to them.

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