Coldwell Banker surveyed 1,200 agents — half unaffiliated with CB — to better understand what matters to today’s agent. It’s not what you likely think it is.

Coldwell Banker recently solicited 1,200 agents about what they look for in a brokerage. The survey was split evenly between CB and non-CB agents. Its results showed that a brokerage’s technology offerings are critical but not quite as essential as service and support.

The 2020 Agent Priorities Report, titled “What Matters to Real Estate Agents Today,” showed that, from 1 to 5 respectively, agents prioritized: 

  1. Best-in-class service
  2. A company recognized by buyers and sellers
  3. Being best equipped to navigate the future of real estate
  4. Local expertise 
  5. Leading-edge technology and tools

A significant majority (91 percent) of those polled preferred best-in-class service.

Many often cite commission structure as a primary reason agents switch brokerages, but the Agent Priorities Report states that “while finances play a role in every agent’s decision, there are even bigger contributing factors that lead agents to change affiliation.” Namely, technology, training and a supportive culture. Income ultimately ranked sixth among those surveyed.

M. Ryan Gorman

Ryan Gorman | Photo credit: Coldwell Banker

In an interview with Inman about the report, Coldwell Banker President and CEO Ryan Gorman said the survey was about Coldwell Banker always wanting to know what agents want.

“This is the business we’re in … we serve agents, so a deeper understanding of what matters the most to agents, in my experience, always leads to higher value delivered to agents,” he said. “Right now, like in lots of industries, the pace of change is increasing, so it’s ever more critical for us to really stay on top of this.”

The industry seems to tout technology as a recruiting tool collectively on the surface, but sales and business management training are ultimately more valuable. In agreement, Gorman said there needs to be more emphasis on technology as a support tool.

“What the survey showed is that the teaching and the service are almost exactly the same level of priority as the technology and the tools,” Gorman said. “Where the real magic happens is where I can train someone to take advantage of the technology to work more efficiently.”

Gorman openly recognizes that technology is easier to talk about, and it gets more attention in industry news and the consumer mindset. However, it’s not what can ultimately best help agents.

One series of questions in the report asked about reasons agents left a brokerage. In order, the top five answers were: 

  1. A need for better training and coaching
  2. Lack of team support
  3. An unsupported culture
  4. [Lack of] local manager
  5. Lack of tools

According to the report, the agents most likely to change affiliations are those with 10 or more years of experience and top producers.

“Sometimes, when an agent is contemplating a move, they’re looking for what I refer to as an external solution to an internal problem,” Gorman said. “What they really need to do is get more serious about their business, be more thoughtful about mining their sphere and doing the highest return-on-investment work first, but it’s easier to think that perhaps a tool is the answer; that it’s technology.”

It’s the good, hard work of teaching, coaching and serving that ends up making the difference, he said.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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