Hiring the Next Generation of Commercial Real Estate Brokers

We talk a lot about location, building conditions, and square footage of ideal commercial real estate properties, specifically investment properties. But now it’s time to start thinking about the most important investment for your business – the people who you hire.

With a wide range of ages in the workforce, I’d like to introduce the newest generation, Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2015), the oldest of whom are just starting to enter the workforce. This is a generation who don’t know life without the internet. The gen Z-ers just starting out know that learning the ropes, especially in your first job, can be tough. And companies are realizing their organizations have more to gain by guiding young team members and instilling good workplace practices to set them up for successful careers.

In this article, we will first look at this newest demographic entering the workforce and what they need in order to succeed. Second, since we are talking specifically about commercial real estate, we explore some of the characteristics intrinsic to a successful real estate broker.

SECTION ONE: Getting to Know the Needs of Your Gen Z Brokers

Fact or Fiction: Young People Love Learning
Somewhere along the line, people began to have the impression that because younger generations are so attached to their devices, they don’t have a love for learning. That is, in fact, false. A great way to engage and connect with the younger generation is to show them that you not only care about their future at your company but that you also care about their growth as a human being. They want to work in an environment that makes them feel fulfilled. While they want to do great work, they also want to make sure the years they invest in their jobs are a valuable part of their self-development. For this reason, it’s imperative to make sure that your new hires have access to a wealth of learning materials that will continuously help them to grow.

Value of Single-Tasking
This generation knows how to toggle between screens and social media applications like no other. This is crazy, but a study shows the attention span of this demographic can be as low as eight seconds. This is not a value to encourage, so you want to make an effort in the workplace to put value on focused attention over multitasking. Teaching these values will not only help them improve as people, but they will be far more productive.

Get Them Engaged
Z-ers have a lot to offer the older workforce. These youngsters bring an innate understanding of the mindsets and social behaviors of the youth. Encouraging Gen Z-ers to share their insights and ideas helps everyone stay fresh and relevant.

This group is entrepreneurial by nature. They are eager to work on independent projects. Companies who encourage them to think beyond the confines of their job descriptions will help them stay engaged over the long term, and will greatly increase their sense of loyalty. Offer them a platform where their ideas can be heard, recognized and, in some instances, implemented.

Work with Meaning
Like Millennials, Gen Z-ers are a socially conscious group who want to work for positive change. This demographic will challenge their employers to hold true to their word. The most important issues seem to be implementing sustainable practices and focusing on building communities and real relationships. The opportunity to participate in these groups and initiatives will help them feel more empowered and connected to their workplaces.

Provide Feedback and Rock-Solid Benefits
If you aren’t providing regular feedback, you’re failing all your team members, but especially your new ones. Schedule regular check-ins to help them feel more assured in their roles, and convey to them that you care about their personal development.

This group is not sold on flimsy perks. They’re seeking healthcare, 401(k)s, and long-term practical benefits. It can be easy to forget these young ones are still making sense of adulthood. Just because they have a good handle on their priorities doesn’t mean they have a complete handle on how they work, so be sure to guide them through.

Generation Z-ers don’t have any intention of simply clocking in and out of their 9 to 5. They want to know not only that what they’re doing matters, but how. Initiating ongoing discussions about the larger implications of a project will keep them motivated and focused over the long term.

SECTION TWO: Hiring the Right Commercial Real Estate Broker

While Generation Z-ers might be a great consideration when looking for new hires, they will need to possess certain qualities if you expect them to be truly successful as commercial real estate brokers.

Look for Passion
A good broker has to be passionate about what they do. The commercial real estate market is constantly in flux and passion is what will drive your broker to continuously learn, ask questions and go above and beyond in whatever role they are playing in the brokerage process. Passion will give them the energy and drive to surpass their competitors and come up with innovative and creative new ways of showcasing properties and improving the client experience.

Versatility & Problem Solving
A lot can happen during the process of acquiring, listing, marketing, and leasing/selling a property. Many questions will arise that your broker may or may not initially have the answers to. Hiring a broker who is a great problem solver will help to make the process exponentially easier. A broker who is versatile and flexible will understand there may be times he/she has to step outside of the box and do a little extra digging to showcase a property in its best light or to make sure a client walks away from their interaction with your broker confidently.

Unwavering Integrity
A good broker understands the importance of honesty and transparency with the client. Your broker is the face of your company when they are interacting with a client and each client wants to feel as though your company is one that can be trusted. You want to feel confident your broker will do what it takes to get the the best deal and steer clear of anything that feels fishy.

Sociability
If your applicant is a wallflower, chances are good they won’t be the best broker you could hire. A great broker never forgets a face and has no problem engaging with clients. They understand commercial real estate brokers are everywhere and the thing that will help your company stand apart from its competitors is relatability. Without connections, your brokerage business will fail. Both initiating and nurturing relationships with connections is absolutely imperative to a broker’s success.

Good Listening Skills
Whether you’re buying, selling or leasing a property, you want to feel heard by your broker. You want to know they understand your needs and concerns and will ask clarifying questions if there is anything they are unsure of. A broker that truly listens will avoid making mistakes and will have a better connection with you, with the right buyers, tenants and sellers.

Able to Handle Stress & Be Flexible
Commercial real estate is not for the faint of heart. As previously mentioned, it’s a constantly evolving industry with a lot of moving parts. Each transaction will come across its own set of snags and unexpected twists and turns and your broker will have to be ready and able to go with the flow. It’s not exactly the type of job that will have your broker sitting at a desk with clearly defined timelines for each of their responsibilities. There will be moments when they are knee deep in paperwork and the phone rings and they have to get up and meet a client or show a property. A great broker will be able to think on his/her feet and roll with the punches.

Good with Numbers
You will also want to make sure your broker has a knack with numbers (or, at the very least, doesn’t detest them). Commercial real estate relies heavily on understanding and organizing data, including market demographic studies, financial analysis reports, local research and more. A broker who can balance their outgoing personality with a passion for analytics will soar in the commercial market.

Willing to Go the Extra Mile
Lastly, your ideal broker will have no problem going the extra mile for their clients. They want to make the buying, selling, or leasing experience easy and enjoyable for the client and are willing to do what it takes to make that a reality. They understand a lot of the transaction process happens outside of normal business hours and their job doesn’t end just because they’ve left the office.

Now that you know, not only what will help your youngest Gen Z brokers succeed, but also the specific qualities that a great CRE broker will possess, you’re well on your way to expanding your team and bringing your brokerage business to the next level of service, dependability and success.

Jon Larson | Senior Associate