The #1 Myth in Real Estate

Nov 11, 2014

Real estate agents are independent contractors. I get it. They often move from one brokerage house to another. This movement is part of the business.

When my husband and I first became partners in an Engel & Voelkers firm several years ago, I knew we’d need to implement very specific systems in order to be successful. Leadership, strategy, and high performance are, after all, the essence of my consulting practice.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I repeatedly heard one specific mantra: “You can’t tell agents what to do or how to do it. They’ll leave if you do.”

Can I just say it? This fear-based conversation makes absolutely no business sense whatsoever.

The notion that real estate agents hate accountability is the #1 myth in the industry.

Good real estate agents don’t object to accountability because they are self-motivated and disciplined professionals. Accountability matters. Even in real estate. As owners/brokers, however, we, too, have to be accountable to our agents. We have to be leaders who understand the difference between demand and influence.

Wise leadership dictates that we view our agents as internal customers. When we learn to focus more on their desires and goals and less on ourselves, everybody wins.

I finally met someone who agrees with me. The renowned, and, yes, controversial, Mike Ferry.

Maybe it’s time we rethink our systems in order to bust up this myth on agent accountability.

Value-Based Recruiting

No matter the industry, people are people. They want to be successful, and they want to work with other people who are successful. Recruiting top performers in this industry is not easy. If you establish an organizational culture that is based on values (as opposed to greed), you’re going to draw a higher caliber of agents.

We have a responsibility to define our organizational culture and crystalize the values within that culture. We then recruit from this foundation.

Ferry reminded us of some additional basics:

  1. Have an established criteria for the type of agents you want to recruit and why.
  2. Create a list of pre-qualifying questions so that you don’t waste their time or yours.
  3. Define the value and benefits of what you have to offer potential agents.
  4. State your expectations up front.
  5. Think and act like a leader who is committed to agent success.

How you recruit and train as a owner/broker makes all the difference. At E&V, we’re not just looking for warm bodies. We’re reaching out to respectable professionals who embrace accountability. We’re building an elite team of agents who understand the value of competence, exclusivity, and passion for the lives they are living and the work that they do.

Training and Development

Most real estate firms have systems for training and development. If you’re experiencing a revolving door of agents, as most firms have at one time or another, it may be time to revamp those systems.

Think of training as the nuts and bolts of real estate. How will you train your agents to prospect, market, and sell? Ferry reminded us that 90% of those who come into the industry do so without experience in sales or business. As owners/brokers, it’s our job to train them on how to effectively do both.

Development, however, is far more personal. It means that you’re helping your agents grow as human beings. At E&V we’re doing this by expanding our development to include individual one-on-one coaching.

I’m excited to watch our team members dream big and come to realize personal and professional goals that are meaningful to them and their families.

Remember, agents aren’t commodities. They are people. When we train and develop, it’s our responsibility to help them reach their highest potential. When we do this, we not only grow our own business, we help them become more profitable and better people along the way.


According to Ferry, retention is our best recruiting tool. I totally agree. Yet, for some reason, it’s often the last thing we focus on. Maybe our existing agents come and go because they no longer feel valued or supported. Loyalty produces loyalty.

We’re working hard to improve our internal relationships such that we build trust and loyalty among our agents. A supportive, efficient, and productive environment can only lead to more meaningful and prosperous lives.

The Engels and Voelkers brand stands for Competence, Exclusivity, and Passion. We don’t want these words to ring hallow across the back of our business cards. Our goal is to have them represent a way of life for our team.

I encourage you to think about how you can raise the bar for your own agents. When all is said and done, yes, real estate agents come and go. I’d like to think that when and if they leave our organization, they are better people than when they initially walked through the door.

Maybe it’s time we all stepped up our game within this industry. A big thank you to Mike Ferry for reminding us all that values and accountability still matter. Yes, even—no, especially— in real estate!