Are hybrid and online agencies now using property recruitment companies to find agents?

We ask Joshua Rayner of Rayner Personnel:

The short answer to this question is ‘yes’ but if I left it there, this would be a very short article. The full answer is that although many in the industry believe traditional and newer hybrid agencies are worlds apart, the truth is they have more in common than it might appear.

My recruitment agency Rayner Personnel acts for a number of traditional estate agents and hybrid firms so I can attest that both face similar challenges, particularly how to attract talent in the current candidate-driven market. The difference lies in the type of individuals each is seeking.

When online or hybrid estate agents first appeared on the scene three years ago, many in the industry believed this new model could not last. But with online agents reporting strong results – notably Purplebricks posting revenue of £18.7 million in the six months to October 2016 – it is clear the concept has now been proven. Despite this, jobs within hybrid estate agencies such as Purplebricks and YOPA tend to be viewed by some candidates as being less secure.

These hybrid estate agents are looking specifically for entrepreneurial individuals who are ambitious, confident and experienced in listing properties. This is because they must be willing to forego the comfort and security of a regular pay cheque for the possibility of far higher earnings than they could expect to earn as a salaried employee. Estate agents willing to give up a steady income and benefits such as health insurance and a company car have been known to earn £100,000 or more annually. Working for a hybrid agent will typically appeal to senior agents fed up of waiting to fill ‘dead men’s shoes’ at traditional estate agency firms who want to be their own boss.

But working on a self-employed, commission-only (after the first three months) basis is not for everyone. Many good estate agents prefer to take the traditional route, steadily climbing an established career ladder from negotiator to branch manager then area manager to reach the giddy heights of regional director.

Hybrid agents are transparent about targeting a very select group of dynamic individuals “who are comfortable in someone’s living room”. They are interested only in senior estate agents with experience of successfully valuing properties and, in return, offer an accelerated promotion path, support that includes lead generation, incentive trips, ongoing training and development, as well as a financial stake in the business.

Most traditional agents hoping to compete for these high calibre individuals will need to up their game. It is all about speed, making decisions and responding to your recruitment company quickly. For example, with hybrid estate agents, interviews are generally conducted over Skype rather than face-to-face and the timescale between booking the first and second interviews is often 48 hours or less. Following that second interview the clock is well and truly ticking with firms having a scant 48 hours to decide on a candidate and make an offer. As is always the case, delays do not fill candidates with confidence. Needless to say, it works both ways and on receiving an offer successful candidates are expected to give an immediate answer.

This pressured timescale hardly allows for the customary soul searching over which candidate is the best bet or wrangling with the finance director over the package to be offered. The parameters should be agreed at the outset.

 

Furthermore, the hungry go-getting candidate applying for an opening at a hybrid agent is likely to be reluctant to go through the usual battery of psychometric testing. After all, at their level they have already proven themselves and are well aware they can take their pick of tempting opportunities.

Of course, selecting the ideal candidate is only the first stage of the recruitment process and it is crucial to get the onboarding stage right, whether your company is a small independent or multi branch corporate chain. But that’s a topic for another day…

Thank you for answering the question: Joshua Rayner, managing director of Rayner Personnel, which provides a bespoke headhunting service to the property industry.

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