Are You Sure Your Agents Have the Right Personality for the Job?

It’s a good thing I love writing and I’m not quitting my day job — because I’d never make it in real estate.

Maybe it’s because I’m way too direct? Not friendly enough? (OMG, am I a mean person?) This is all according to the DISC test, of course. If you haven’t heard of it, DISC is a personality test that can help brokers judge who will make for a good agent based on four character traits: dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness (C). Test subjects answer sets of questions to determine which traits are their strongest and weakest.

I took the test, and it turns out I’m uber-dominant (scoring 86% on that measure), which means I’m very demanding, take lots of risks, and am a little bit of an egomaniac; pretty influential (60%), meaning I’m sociable but sort of unorganized; kinda unstable (37%), so I can be a bit unpredictable over the long haul; and totally not conscientious (21%), meaning I do things the way I want to do them and tend not to follow the rules.

(Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate myself as a human being.)

So what would my DISC profile tell a broker? That I’d be the crappiest buyer’s agent ever. Well, maybe not the crappiest, but Mark Spain, SRES, associate broker at Keller Williams Realty North Atlanta, sure as hell wouldn’t hire me as a buyer’s agent. To be fair, he didn’t exactly say that, but that’s the gist.

We at REALTOR® Magazine were lucky enough to have Spain join us recently in our Chicago office as our guest editor for the upcoming May/June issue, and he swears by the DISC test. He says he uses it in his own recruiting, and it can be an indispensable tool for brokers when deciding who to hire.

So here’s the thing about buyer’s agents: “Ideally, we look for someone who leads with a high ‘I,’” Spain says. “This person is very friendly and easy to talk with, never meets a stranger, and is not fearful of the phone. So an ‘IS’ [someone who leads with a high ‘I’ followed most closely by ‘S’] is probably ideal, but we have had success with ‘ID’s and ‘SC’s.”

An ‘SC,’ Spain explains, may be great for e-leads because they are very organized and great at managing systems and staying persistent with follow-ups. “But we really want some ‘I’ in there, even with an ‘SC.’ We want them to have a trailing ‘I’ that’s at or close to the 50 percent line if we make this hire.”

Well, that ain’t me.

While ‘SC’s and ‘CS’s tend to be the least successful as buyer’s agents, Spain says, they are perfect for support staff. “They typically soar in support roles and are the most loyal people in the world. All my admin are ‘SC’ or ‘CS,’” he says. “It doesn’t mean they can’t make it as agents, but it does mean they will have to adapt their personality more than the other personalities — and when you adapt a lot, you tend to be more stressed because it’s not natural.”

Well, hell, that’s not me either.

Now, for a listing agent: “High ‘D’ or we won’t make the hire,” Spain says.

Wait! There’s hope for me yet!

“Sellers can be tougher to deal with, and we have to have someone who is not afraid of conflict, who will be willing to tell the seller the truth,” Spain continues. “For example, ‘you need to change out this pink carpet,’ or ‘your home is way overpriced.’”

Oh yeah, I can do that.

“High ‘D’ followed by a high ‘I’ or high ‘C’ is ideal for a listing agent,” Spain says. “We would not waiver on this for a listing agent. We have done it in the past, and we won’t do it today. You can teach people skills, but people are like rubber bands — they always revert back to their natural state, especially in times of stress.”

So is there any type of personality configuration that is just a hands-down wrong fit as an agent?

“Someone who leads with a high ‘C’ is usually not the right fit,” Spain says. “This personality is super analytical and usually ends up wanting everything to be so perfect that it paralyzes them. They tend to have ‘paralysis by analysis’ syndrome.”

Well, if writing ends up not working out for me, I guess there’s always being a listing agent. (But I sorta think I’m too much of an unwieldy person for that.)