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New Compensation Model: Building a New Model for Virtual Real Estate Agents

With time during the stay-at-home orders, Jim D’Amico of CENTURY 21 Northeast decided to work on a new model for compensating virtual agents. Here’s what he learned. 

In April 2020, Jim D’Amico, president of CENTURY 21 Northeast in Massachusetts, finally had a little time to “sway from our traditional roots,” he says. “We decided to develop a full-on model of compensation that is designed to attract agents that don’t need as much support as our in-house agent. We wanted to offer a virtual compensation model with built-in revenue-sharing that would give agents more support than they would get in a virtual or capped model,” he says.

Four months and about 40 or so versions later, D’Amico says he now has a model that is extremely competitive. “We began with let’s incorporate traditional services into a capped model and, at the same time, the brokerage would eat the franchise fee.” 

It’s been a recruiting success since the program launched September 25. “We only laid it out to about 20 agents, and 12 agents (new to the company) signed up for the program,” he says. The model hasn’t been as successful in-house. “We showed it to about 250 to 350 or our current agents and no one was interested. I found that interesting because I assumed that at least 50 agents would want to be part of it, so it tells me our traditional compensation is effective and agents are happy.”

However, he sees it as a draw for agents new to CENTURY 21 Northeast. “Coming from the outside, most people are leaning toward a virtual model. That’s twofold. In our area, the culture outside of C21 is a 100% model—low services, pay for what you want to use and as low a cap as you can. That’s the culture of our competitors,” he says.

He says his model is different, more of a hybrid. “We can still offer agents our tools such as Buyside, premier Dotloop, marketing, but they’re not taking up space. Because of that, we can scale the company faster without opening up new offices. If I have 50 agents in an office and 45 are on our virtual compensation model, I can consolidate that office.” He notes that the company has plans to venture into Connecticut. “If we can get in there and not have a lot of offices, that will be huge for us,” says D’Amico, who was named a 2020 REAL Trends Game Changer based on company growth between 2014-2018. 

“We can offer support because economies of scale are in our favor. Most of our tech accounts are enterprise accounts, so we’re able to cost leverage our products. There will be some services that a virtual agent won’t get, such as email. They’ll
pay a $99 monthly fee, and the cap is in line with the traditional cap that you’ll see from numerous competitors, maybe a smidge higher. But, we’re offering five times the amount of free tools, tech, training and services,” he says. 

Right now, he says, he’ll run it in parallel to what the brokerage does traditionally. “It’s its own branch. Once we get to a certain number of agents, we’ll have a new management force in place for it.” With the market booming, he believes that many of his current agents just don’t have the time to research whether or not the option makes sense to them. “We assume that some agents will sign on once they slow down and get a look at the economics of it,” says D’Amico.

“At the end of the day, we’re having fun, and we love that we have something new for people to consider when joining our firm.”

Are you building new compensation models for virtual agents? Have an innovative product or service you’re offering your agents? REAL Trends wants to know about it. Email tvelt@realtrends.com.

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