A pulse, a passing grade and a business card: raising the bar on real estate agent qualifications

Ed McMahon: A pulse, a passing grade, and a business card

Carnac the Magnificent: Name the three things required to become a real estate agent
Lots of talk these days about the brokerage of the future. The brokerage model is under intense scrutiny. This is a good thing.
In fact, I’m inspired by those who seek a better way.
Still, a dark cloud hovers.
One that continues to rain on their progress.

Grab an umbrella
Over a recent dinner discussion, my guest – a broker who oversees 1,500 agents – asked what I would do if I were to start a brokerage from scratch.
We had just ordered appetizers. By dessert, after answering dozens of questions, he got to his biggest concern: the agents. He wanted to know what kind of agent I would recruit, what their qualifications would be and how I would overcome the pervasive technological, social and professional illiteracy inside the agent family.
I suggested we have a liquid dessert.
Seriously, I told him, I’d invite all tiers. From top producers to relative newcomers. All would be welcome to interview.
But there would be standards.
They can leave their black book at home. Like Zappos, my brokerage would have an internal culture born from my beliefs, standards and morals and grown by people who share in those beliefs.
And if an account executive at Yelp needs to have a college degree and at least a year in sales to sell web ads to restaurants, well, then I can require at least as much of people who will be selling shelter to families. I know, hard ass!
But there is more to it. I ask myself all the time how it is that despite the billions earned through the transaction of real estate, why so many in this industry dangle by a thread above the abyss of poverty? But I guess it’s pretty obvious why that is. Few own major market share. Everyone scrapes by. Agents spend inordinate amounts of time warding off knuckleheads and brokers provide little in the way of true leadership and value back to agents. Consumers can’t distinguish one brokerage from another… because almost all of them hire too many lame agents.
This is simply no way to run a business.
My agents must be different. Better. Smarter. If I can’t get them, I don’t do it.
Raising the bar

Consider the technology knowledge, communication skills, multitasking ability, social networking finesse, customer service mojo and killer salesmanship that define today’s best agents.
Consider the combustion of consumers energizing the online marketplace and the myriad of platforms through which to communicate with them.
Consider the new opportunities that are almost too fast and too furious to keep up with.
Consider the torrent of technologies that allow every broker to strip expenses off their P&L like layers of dust caked on a collectible.
My agents would be all over this stuff.
My guest asked me if I wasn’t being a tad unrealistic, if it was reasonable to expect such things
I sipped the last of drop of my Grand Marnier.
Then chose these words carefully.
“Why not” ?I said. “Shouldn’t we aim higher?”
Doesn’t the real estate customer deserve at least that?