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Picking the wrong agent is a costly and time-consuming affair, yet many recruiters don’t seem to have a definitive plan about who they should recruit. Others take the point of view that a candidate is worthy so long as they “can fog up a mirror” and are able to pay fees. If you take that point of view, you are likely in the “people business” and your raison d’etre happens to be real estate. In which case, turn to the next page. I’m not offended.

The average cost to a broker who hires the wrong person, given to me by seasoned recruiters, can be more than $8,700—and will likely dampen the morale of staff around them. It is certainly worth your while to invest time and effort in easily learning more about the candidate you want to have on your team. For those looking for long-term stability in their organization, I offer the following advice: Know the benchmark.

It amazes me that many of the seasoned brokers and owners I speak to daily do not have a measure of agent production. It is only through this knowledge that the above-average professional should be hired.

The average “ends” for the last 12-month period vary from 3-8 units in different MLSs. It is also fair to say that nationally, almost 50 percent of licensed residential real estate professionals do not make enough money to sustain their careers.

For some readers who are in a position to give great training to new, struggling hires, this may possibly work out well. For most of us, the recipe of hiring people who will not make money ultimately ends with a demoralized staff not conducive to high morale or profits.

One of the techniques I recommend I call the “comfort graph” (see below). By charting the performance of the MLS (in red) and the performance of your prospective candidate (in green), you can quickly see if the candidate performed according to normal expectations.

If the market is doing poorly, you can hardly expect your staff to produce stellar performances.

Conversely, if the market is hot and the candidate does poorly, that would indicate a lack of talent or ability. There is comfort in knowing that a sales representative’s performance is in tune with the market activity.

What you are looking for is someone who actually outperforms what the overall real estate market is doing with a performance level of Leit Olenspiegel (see below).

You will note that Leit follows the market trend and in some months exceeds it.

Picking the right people for your team should not be a guessing game. You can spend many hours doing your own research, or you can make intelligent, informed choices with tools that are available.

Another example is that of Lee Olenspiegel (below) who seems to have taken a mountain climbing hiatus in February and March.

Lee underperformed the MLS seven out of 12 months, leaving only three months (December, January and April) where he outperformed his MLS.

Using this technique, you can pick staff that perform in a more consistent manner. It is just one of the many tools you can use to recruit better staff.

Leon Y. d’Ancona is CEO of REality®. For more information, please visit