Thirty percent of real estate agents and 55 percent of mortgage and real estate broker-owners agree that culture is the factor that sets a company apart from the rest, according to the October 2023 Inman Intel Index results.

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Technology, training and brand recognition don’t hold a candle to a healthy work-life balance and company culture in terms of recruitment and retention, according to results from the latest monthly Inman Intel Index survey.

In a survey conducted Oct. 23-31 that drew responses from 1,200 professionals, a majority of agents, lenders and executives agreed that “culture” is the factor that most distinguishes a company from its competitors, eclipsing categories like “brand/name recognition,” “technology and education” and “commission structure,” according to results of the poll, otherwise known as the Triple-I.

A comprehensive 168-page breakdown of the survey is available exclusively to Inman Intel subscribers. Nearly 66 percent of October respondents were agents, Inman Director of Research Chris LeBarton said. November’s poll is open now.

Agent responses to the III in October 2023

Most agents said they value “company culture” above all else, including brand recognition. In total, about 30 percent of agents cited “culture” as the most important factor, followed by 24 percent who chose “brand/name recognition.” Nearly 21 percent said “technology and education.”

Mortgage originators also reported company culture as one of the most important things, although not the most important. Nearly 27 percent cited culture as the most important factor, behind 40 percent who cited name recognition and 33 percent who cited other factors as most important to them.

Agents also reported strong confidence in their brokerage’s business model, with a plurality reporting an average 4.3 confidence level in the model, which was measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “totally” confident, the results show.

Proptech executive responses to the III in October 2023

For comparison, 57 percent of proptech executives, owners and investors said their company’s biggest differentiator in the labor market was their culture/work-life balance, and those executives reported an average 4.2 confidence level in their business model.

Mortgage and real estate broker-owner responses to the III in October 2023

On the mortgage and real estate broker-owner and executive side, 55 percent of this respondent group said that their company’s biggest differentiating factor was their culture/work-life balance. After that, nearly 17 percent said technology differentiated their company in the market and 11 percent said their compensation was the biggest differentiating factor.

When real estate and mortgage broker-owners think ahead to the next 12 months, it seems many are looking to increase their headcount, with nearly 37 percent expecting it to increase and 1 percent expecting it to be substantially higher. Meanwhile, nearly 36 percent of proptech executives expect their headcount to be higher in the next 12 months.

Mortgage and real estate broker-owner responses to the III in October 2023

Mortgage and real estate broker-owners also expect recruiting and retaining talent to be a big challenge in the next year. Twenty-two percent named it as the most challenging part of their business in the next year, just behind nearly 26 percent who reported that interest rates would be the most challenging factor for them, and 28 percent who cited other factors as their biggest upcoming challenge.

These survey results also reflect an emphasis many real estate companies have put on their culture recently as agents strive to survive through a difficult market. Compass CEO Robert Reffkin touted his company’s culture at the brokerage’s RETREAT last week while stressing high-touch measures with clients during this challenging time.

Likewise, The Agency, which celebrated the launch of its 100th office last week, has continued to lean on the fact that the brokerage’s franchises are integrated as true partners to the company, with access to the same leadership, marketing, public relations, training, tools and technology as the company’s corporate offices.

Methodology notes: This month’s Inman Intel Index survey poll was conducted Oct. 23-31, 2023. The entire Inman reader community was invited to participate, and Intel received a total of 1,269 responses. Respondents for this survey were directed to the SurveyMonkey platform, where they self-identified their profiles within the residential real estate market. Respondents were limited to one response per device, but there was no limitation to IP addresses. Once a profile (residential real estate agent, mortgage broker/banker, corporate executive/investor/proptech, or other) was selected, respondents answered a unique set of questions for that specific profile. Because the survey did not request demographic information for age, gender or geography, there was no data weighting. This survey will be conducted monthly, with both recurring and unique questions for each profile type.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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