There is a shift in the real estate industry that started a while ago but is really taking hold. That shift is the emergence of real estate “teams”. As the internet takes a bigger and bigger role in how we all do business, there have been some major changes in how agents have to work in order to stay successful in the business. For a single agent to handle everything on their own is nearly impossible, and certainly impossible when they have more than just a handful of clients or listings.
Let’s first start with a lesson on how real estate agents operate. In order to practice, agents need a license. Then in order to use that license, agents need to work under the guidance of a Broker. Brokerages typically employ multiple agents, however, the agents often work their own book of business independently from the other agents in their office. Single agents typical lack operationalized systems and processes and working with a Legitimate Team helps them get organized and service the client better. If a team is structured correctly, it is a way for agents to band together to leverage the help of each other others to maintain and/or increase their business. However, consumer beware not all teams are created equal.
Let’s break it down and explore the different styles of teams that you are most likely to come across:
The Illegitimate Team
This is a team that really only exists by name alone. A group of sales people will form a “team” to pool their production together but each agent still manages all their own business. Illegitimate teams typically have little administrative help or operational assistance, and therefore each individual agent is still bogged down by the day to day operations. Also popular within multi-level marketing type real estate agency set ups like EXP Realty, agents are calling everyone in their downline, their “team” however these team members do nothing to service the customer.
The Team of One
These “teams” are really just single agents that have branding that indicates otherwise. Typically their team exists in name only, by using words like “group” in their marketing. There are a few reasons a single agent might do this. They could be attempting to make their business seem larger than it actually is, possibly in the hopes of expanding one day without having to rebrand. They may also justify themselves as a team because they have a mortgage broker and/or title agent that they do business with. Either way, these teams are misleading to the consumer. Recently the National Association of REALTORS® passed legislation regarding the way agents brand themselves to prevent this from confusing the public. If you are interviewing someone that claims to have a team, make sure to ask for an explanation of who their team members are and what role they play.
The Family Team
Family teams are the most popular style team and the longest standing style of team. Whether it a team of spouses, a parent and child or some other selection of family members working together, the biggest flaw of family teams is the lack of roles. With typically no defined roles and responsibilities, there will often be “too many cooks in the kitchen”. The other problem with family teams is that when the family goes on vacation or has a family obligation, the entire business has to be put on hold.
The Hero and the Minions
These teams are made up of a single agent that is the “star” and a team of assistants that help them manage everything. Many times these team leaders are Brokers of their agency and they put other agent sales in their office under their name to inflate their production numbers. These agents may be great at what they do, but they are also so wrapped up in every detail that they have a hard time relinquishing control. You will see a high rate of turnover with these teams as the assistants get burned out and get frustrated with being micromanaged.
The Team Builder
These are teams led by experienced, successful agents and grow organically over time. They start with the Team Leader and as that leader gets busy, they hire a Transaction Manager to better service the deal from contract signing to closing. Then as more clients come in, the team leader hires a Buyer’s Agent, then a Listing Manager, Marketing Manager as well as other Sales Associates to share business and collaborate with. This type of team has defined, optimized systems and processes in place as well as defined roles for each team member. The Team Builders recognize the value of collaboration and synergy among the team members, and they hire people who have skills everyone on the team can leverage which ultimately benefits the consumer’s experience. They realize that with their team they will be able to better serve their customers and take their business to the next level.