What does the Glassdoor employer site tell us about real estate?
Little known to the real estate industry, Glassdoor, a giant employer review/job search and compensation site, has made huge inroads into corporate America and through-out the world. According to the company, over 600,000 employers are reviewed on Glassdoor, and hundreds of thousands of jobs can be located at the site. Employees use it to check their salaries compared to others in similar jobs. Millions of employer reviews have been posted.
What does this have to do with real estate brokerage?
It’s clear; we are amid yet another periodic shift of commission dollars from brokerage to agents. It’s not just Compass that’s moving this, but also brokerage firms across the landscape of the industry. Realogy’s NRT unit has, for some time, selectively recruited top producers with signing bonuses, but they are not the only ones. Further, some 15 years ago we saw the emergence of firms such as Realty One Group and HomeSmart, among others, which offered low, flat-rate plans of fixed dollar monthly and transaction fees. EXP Realty is also following a low-cost structure where top producers keep most of what they generate. Add to this the consolidation of market share among fewer, high-producing agents, and it would appear to be a perfect storm for brokerage firms.
But the data we collect from the industry about high-producing teams and individual agents suggests that no huge shift is taking place among these high producers. The great majority are affiliated with well-known local and national brand companies. From our research with the California Association of Realtors® last spring, we know that teams highly value the strength of local and national brand names.
So, we can say that for now, there is no big shift in top-producing agents and teams away from traditional realty firms towards the low-cost models that are now in their own growth mode.
We note that if all agents cared about was the cost of the brokerage, then every national brand and leading traditional realty firm would be out of business.
One idea would be for real estate brokerage firms to invite Glassdoor into their world. Perhaps having your agents and employees feel free to comment on the virtues of your firm would be worthwhile for both recruiting and retaining your agents. Yes, you get some bad with the good, but imagine the power of great reviews and the ability to address shortcomings in what you are offering. Leaders can gauge what they need to focus on in terms of improving their services, culture and relationships.
We don’t know all the costs, restrictions and reporting that Glassdoor offers employers, but it seems to us that if we allow the battlefield for agents and teams to be about cost solely, many will lose. But if we dig deep into how our agents and employees view our companies, perhaps traditional realty firms can build stronger and deeper relationships with their staff and agents to the extent that the cost of doing business for agents will be viewed in a more balanced way.
One last little note. Among the founders of Glassdoor is Rich Barton, co-founder of Zillow. Once again, he has built a tool that creates transparency where there was little before.