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Realty brokerage recruiting the next generation of agents

John Seelmeyer

When 30-year-old Garrett Lepire looks around the room at gatherings of real estate agents and brokers in northern Nevada, he doesn’t see many young faces.

In fact, the average age of Realtors nationally is 56. That’s a statistic that rings alarm bells in an industry that faces a wave of Baby Boomer retirements at the same time that many young real estate agents were washed out of the business by the realty tsunami of the past five years.

Lepire, career development manager with Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate in Carson City, is aggressively recruiting and training the next generation of real estate professionals.

The company, which has operates northern Nevada offices from Gardnerville and Dayton to Lake Tahoe and Reno, has launched an initiative that aims to train at least 30 new real estate agents a year, many of them in their 20s.

“We’re looking for people who want to make a career of it,” says Lepire, who himself earned his real estate license when he was 18.

The first cadre of eight candidates are working their way through a three-month online course which also includes group meetings one night a week that will prepare them to take the state real estate exam.

Jenny Lopiccolo, a real estate broker and the regional marketing manager for Coldwell Banker Select, puts the sometimes-dry textbook learning into context with experiences from her 30-year career in real estate.

From there, Lepire will pair the new agents with experienced real estate professionals for 90 days. That training will include classroom sessions a week, each running two to four hours, on subjects ranging from use of business cards to use of technological tools.

During those first 90 days, Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate will work to get the new agents involved in at least three transactions, trying to ensure them at least a small income while they begin building steadier commission income.

Some promising candidates, Lepire says, will qualify for paid internships to help them over the hump to a career as a commission-only sales agent.

The paid-internship model is highly unusual in the real estate business, he says.

Lepire is building relationships with Western Nevada College and the University of Nevada, Reno, keeping his eyes open for promising business and marketing students.

But he notes that the initial group of candidates also includes a 60-year-old who is planning a career change.

While Lopiccolo initially began talking with Lepire about the program because she saw a need to ensure a new generation would take the place of retiring agents and brokers, Lepire says the benefits are likely to be wider.

Younger agents will bring relationships with young buyers with them into the realty business, and young agents are more likely to be comfortable with the technology that drives much of the business today.

And, Lepire says, they often bring fresh energy into an organization.