Finding New Commercial Agent Talent: Tips From Veterans

The "aging-out" of the commercial real estate industry is a real thing. With the national average age of commercial practitioners at or above 60, the hunt is on for new talent. Is your brokerage on the radar for the next generation of commercial real estate leaders?

Top professionals from around the country weighed in on ways to make your brokerage a destination:

James Kilpatrick, President, NAI Northern CA: Our top two advantages in recruiting are 1) our collaborative and tech-savvy culture; 2) a truly open Salesforce platform with curated leads, analytics, and dashboards. We hold career nights and had 40 attend the last one, out of which we will hire one or two.

Soozi Jones Walker, CCIM, GRI, SIOR, President/Broker Commercial Executives Real Estate Services, Las Vegas, NV: Teach real estate. Talk with commercial professionals in the banking industry. They have a good understanding of financing terms and leases and many work on commission incentives. Work with second and third-career individuals.

Jeff Wilke, CCIM, SIOR, Managing Directo, SVN|Gulf Partners, New Orleans, LA : We look for people willing to do what it takes including being vulnerable, uncomfortable and able to say 'I do not know, I will get back to you with the answer.' I also suggest joining local active social organizations, such as the Krewes we have here in New Orleans, to network and attract talent from other industries.

Mel Wilson, Broker/Owner Mel Wilson & Associates, Northridge, CA : Consider your local business school campus. I was approved as adjunct professor at Cal State University Northridge’s Nazarian College of Business where I had a chance to review program applicants and recruited a very valued assistant.

Gene Szpeinski, GRI, Managing Broker, KW, Grand Rapids, MI: Offer opportunities on Indeed, Craig's List, and LinkedIn. Meet with students a year or two before graduation. Look for residential agents who prefer commercial real estate's more logic-based approach to sales.

Barbi Reuter, President, PICOR, Tucson, AZ: Our last four hires averaged 32 years of age, and three came from residential real estate. Because we can demonstrate a clear path to equity in the firm and a market-leading culture, it’s been a strong and positive environment for recruiting. Ideally, our team will reflect the face of our community, so we have an eye toward bringing diverse candidates in to diversify the industry marketwide.

Taking a Deeper Dive

Young Professionals Networks are an excellent source of talent. Explore NAR's resources to see what networking opportunities exist in your market: www.ypn.realtor

Lou Nimkoff, CCIM, CPM, Principal, Brio Companies, FL: I think the key to engaging younger generations is to look at things differently: be a more fun place to work, embrace technology, and understand the needs for flexible hours. Most of all, we must recognize this next generation may in fact have it right: personal relationships are very important in large transactions, and we need to be better people, not just better real estate practitioners.

Sandra Miller, CIPS, CRS, Principal, Engle & Volkers, Santa Monica, CA: I fell into the Commercial realm when an exceptional long-term client offered to teach me the ins-and-outs of commercial transactions. Today there are a multitude of ways to recruit new talent as well as to source deals due to the plethora of commercial networking events happening in the Los Angeles Market. BizNow, my local Association’s Commercial Committee, CREW, and The RealDeal all regularly host great events/meetings.

Tim Blair, CCIM, CPM, Partner, Shannon Waltchack, Birmingham, AL: We’ve had luck bringing in 27-35 year olds who were doing sales in other fields and helping them transition into commercial real estate. They’ve learned good ‘sales’ skills in competitive industries and think of themselves as ‘sales people’ not just ‘real estate people’.

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