Recruiting: What Causes a Candidate to Choose a Particular Real Estate Office? – Part 2

by | Jul 9, 2018

by Ben Hess, Managing Director, ThirdPool Recruiting

Real estate organizations are more like communities or social groups than tightly run business units.

Predictably, human beings want a sense of belonging, mutual support, greater exploration, and greater influence over our environment.

So, they band together, form groups, and join communities.

The engineers who designed these machines were all working on transportation, but approached the topic from distinctive perspectives. While pursing the common goal of selling real estate, agents want/need to be distinct as well.

As the leader of a real estate “community” (office, team, or organization), it’s advantageous to not only understand the reasons individuals choose one community over another, but also what causes them to stay plugged in.

There is more to learn on this topic.

The insight on this topic comes from Richard Millington, the founder of the UK-based consulting company called FeverBee.  If you haven’t checked out his site yet, please do so.  You’ll learn a lot from his insights.

The Art of Attraction

In a previous blog, I shared the first and most important point concerning the reason people choose one community over another:

[Individuals] are more likely to join groups if they discover the group in the natural course of learning more about [a new] topic.

Of course, the topic of interest for your community (ie. your team, office, or organization) is a career change and, more specifically, learning about working in the world of real estate.

If you’re the one helping candidates learn about this topic, the chances of them joining your community are very high.  From this position, you’re not promoting, you’re attracting.  It’s a very powerful and advantageous recruiting position.

Retaining Those Who’ve Joined.

Once someone has joined your “community,” how do you get them to stay?  For some help with this, Richard points to a well-established social psychology theory:

There’s a widely accepted theory in social psychology called optimal distinctiveness theory.

Upon joining a group [new members] attempt to adopt the behavior of the group’s prototypical members (and the group in turn attempts to enforce norms upon them)….

They mirror what they see the prototypical members doing.

However, once new members get settled into the group, they soon lose interest in just mirroring the behaviors of the prototypical members, and want to demonstrate their own distinctiveness.

This is where the optimal part of the theory comes in…. We maintain a tricky balance of adopting enough of the behaviors to be seen as part of the group and being different enough to be afforded a special standing within that group….

Using the optimal distinctiveness framework (first we want to be accepted, then we want to impress), you can finally understand what motivates your members.

For example, you can look at any member’s contributions to a community and determine if they’re trying to be part of the group or trying to be distinct from the group in a particular trait the group values (usually specific knowledge).

This theory has important implications for the retention of agents in your “community.”

Of course it’s critical for a new agent to integrate and feel accepted by the group.  I think most real estate organizations are good at this.

What’s more difficult (and hardly ever done), is helping new agents find and make a distinctive contribution to the team and then recognizing that contribution.

If you can “optimize distinctiveness” in your group, you’ll have a very powerful retention tool.  You’re competitors will have no chance of duplicating your approach because they will not be able to duplicate your community.

Start thinking about how you can apply this theory to those on your team.  What distinctive trait does each person possess? What unique contribution is each person making?


If you can find, recognize, and celebrate these distinctions, you’ll greatly strengthen each person’s connection to your organization.

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