Last week we looked at the demographic results of a new study examining the relationship between various factors and real estate success during agents’ first two years in the business. Because the Real Estate Simulator was standardized using the profiles of agents who make over $150,000 per year in real estate, it is currently the best instrument available for predicting whether an experienced agent will become a top producer. The DISC Behavioral Assessment and the PIAV (Personal Interests, Attitudes, and Values) Assessment from Target Training International are used in other industries to identify top sales performers and to help them better understand what motivates their behaviors. Do these three assessments accurately predict new agent success as well?
To answer these questions, Igor Kotlyar and Cabot Jaffee from the Real Estate Simulator constructed a composite performance score that examined the agents performance in four core areas: Commissions, Buyer Sales, Listings Taken, and Transactions Closed. The Performance Indicator was used as the criterion measure to examine the relationship between the three assessments and job performance.
Relationships between the Real Estate Simulator and Overall Job Performance (the Performance Indicator)
Using the Performance Indicator as a composite of “job performance,” the Real Estate Simulator significantly correlated with new agent job performance. In fact, the Simulator was the only assessment that also had significant correlations with commissions, listings taken, buyers placed under contract, and closed transactions. In addition to the overall relationship between the Simulator and job performance, two of the subsections of the Simulator were also significantly correlated with the Performance Indicator as well. The Closing Score (r = .30, p < .01) and the Assertiveness Score (r = .22, p < .01) were the two subsections with the highest correlations between the assessment and the Performance Indicator.
The DISC, the PIAV, and Overall Job Performance
While the overall score from the Simulator correlated with the overall Performance Indicator, several subsections on the DISC were related to individual factors. Specifically, high scores on the “D” or dominance factor were significantly correlated to the Overall Job Performance factor (r = .45, p = .000). High scores on the “D” factor were also related to completed sales (r = .32, p = .010) as well as to listings taken (r = .294, p = .17).
In contrast, high scores on the “S” and “C” factors on the DISC were associated with low performance for new agents (i.e., high “S” and “C” scores were negatively correlated with performance.) High “S” scores (steadiness or systems approach) were negatively correlated with the Performance Indicator (r = -.30, p = .016). The same was also true for high scores on the “C” or compliance factor, which was associated with poor performance during the first year (r = -.26, p = .04). High “C” scores were also associated with fewer listings taken as well (r = -.30, p = .014).
Based upon Target Training International’s research, we expected to see a high correlation between the Performance Index and high Utilitarian scores on the PIAV. In terms of new agents, none of the PIAV subsections is correlated with the overall Performance Indicator although the “Traditional” scale had a positive correlation with some of the criteria. Specifically, high scores on the Traditional factor (people who function best with rules and order) were positively correlated with commissions and completed sales (r ranged from .268 to .289, p < .04).
Based upon the results of this study, managers can feel comfortable hiring men or women from any age group. What they should look for is the following “ideal new agent profile.”
1. High score on the Real Estate Simulator, especially in the areas of closing and assertiveness. The overall Simulator score was highly predictive of Rookie Realtor success during the first year an agent is in real estate.
2. High score on the “D” (Dominance) factor on the DISC.
3. High score on the “Traditional” factor on the PIAV.
4. Agents who are prepared to work 35 or more hours per week in real estate.
Based upon the results of this study, personality and behavioral style factors influence an agent’s success during the early stages of their career. The different assessments correlate with Rookie Realtor performance to various degrees. What these results reflect, however, is that agents who are confident, assertive, energetic, and to some extent forceful rather than self-centered or arrogant, are more likely to experience early career success.
The research findings further suggest that during the early stages of an agent’s career, personality and behavioral style may be critical to determining whether an agent will experience early success. For new agents, having the “right” personality, (e.g., assertiveness), can be more important than having strong selling skills. Selling skills certainly enhance performance for those with assertive personalities, but may not be sufficiently strong to compensate for having the “wrong” personality (e.g., indecisiveness). Previous studies using the Real Estate Simulator demonstrate that over time, selling skills become increasingly important in determining an agent’s long-term success.
In a slowing market, managers should be especially wary of hiring new agents who score high on the “S” (systems or steadiness) and “C” (compliance) factors unless these scores are supported with a “D” score that is above the 50th percentile. People who score high on the “S” and “C” factors often make excellent assistants or transaction coordinators, but lack the drive necessary to generate high levels of business during their first year. Successful experienced agents who have high “S” or “C” scores generally report that they built their businesses systematically over a long period of time. Unless these new agents have considerable financial backing, most will be unable stay in the business long enough for their systems to produce sustainable results.
Since there was no difference in the performance of agents who work for brokerages that offer in-house training and those who do not offer training, this finding highlights the importance of selecting the right people. Training speeds up production for those who have the right behavioral profile, but it is not a substitute for proper assessment and selection. Putting it a little differently, the right hires will succeed whether or not you train them. The wrong hire will not succeed, no matter how much train them. Ultimately, training works for people who are capable of benefiting from it.
The Real Estate Simulator and the DISC are two instruments that can assist both agents and brokers in determining whether real estate is the right career for a given new agent. Recognizing when someone is not a fit can help these individuals to avoid the heartbreak of a failed business as well as a substantial loss of money for both the agent and broker as well.
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