How to structure a winning real estate team

What's the best way to structure a real estate team? Tips on best real estate team models, commission structures and key roles.

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Real Estate Team Structure

There is no one single real estate team structure template. Rather the real estate team structure will differ based on the brokerage and the size of a team. But we can look at a basic idea of what the structure looks like and how it is most often affected by team size. 

What are the roles and departments in a real estate team structure?

  • Admin: These paid staff are critical to keeping workflow running smoothly, otherwise everyone will quickly be bogged down by paperwork.
  • Buyer's Agent: This person's main job is to follow up on every single lead.
  • Inside Sales Agent: By leveraging phone calls, an inside sales agent can generate listings and customer leads.
  • Listing Agent: This classic role is extremely time consuming.

What are the general interactions in a team structure?

  • Lead Generation: often this job falls to the team owner.
  • Lead Conversion: this is the primary domain of the buyer's agent.
  • Buyer Consultation: all agents are required to do this.
  • Showing: a showing assistant may be specifically tasked with this role.
  • Negotiations: this also falls to the buyers agent.
  • Inspections and Appraisals: this can also be delegated to the showing assistant.
  • Closing

How does the team size affect the structure?

A larger team is able to delegate many responsibilities to roles like a showing assistant. They may have a larger administrative department, meaning that agents will be responsible for less paperwork. In a larger team the team owner will be more responsible for team management, having less time to spend directly with clients and on lead generation. 

While real estate team structure varies by team, they all delegate the different aspects of real estate. The biggest divide is between Admin responsibilities and agent ones, as admin does not work on commission, changing greatly how their job is carried out. 

How Do Real Estate Teams Work

Those considering entering the world of real estate may be wondering how do real estate teams work. In many ways they are different than working for oneself as a real estate agent. The team has to work together. While all real estate agents are independent contractors, working with a team is more like having a regular job. You are accountable to your other team members, and not just to yourself. This can be a helpful motivating force, but it also can have some of the downsides that come with a regular job. 

Joining a Real Estate Team Pros and Cons

There are numerous advantages to working with a team:

  • Lead Generation: One of the biggest challenges for a new agent starting out is lead generation, and a team is generally set up to solve this issue. A strong team will have a robust system in place for lead generation, and then distribute leads amongst team members.
  • Pooled Support Staff: A well-run team can have a deeper pool of support staff, making certain workflow runs smoothly. 
  • Pooled Resources: From branding to websites to special events, a team allows for better investment across the board.
  • Learn from Colleagues: Working hands-on together with other successful agents and the team lead gives real world training that makes growth in the industry happen faster. 

But there are disadvantages as well: 

  • Harder to Schedule Time Off: When working with a team, you are beholden to approvals before being able to take time off, as opposed to being completely on your own schedule.
  • Loss of Name Recognition: Many agents are seeking to make a name for themselves in the business. Between shared branding and being part of a team, this is not always the best way to go about that. 
  • The Chore of Teamwork: A big part of teamwork is getting along and working together well. At times this can be easier said than done. 
  • A Smaller Cut: Of course one of the biggest disadvantages is that being part of the team means receiving a smaller commission. 

Real Estate Team Commission Split

For any real estate agent, one of the most important considerations will always be the split, and this differs when it is specifically the real estate team commission split. But how is this different from the split that an independent agent has?

The Commission Split for an Independent Agent

The idea of a commission split originates from the fact that an agent cannot directly collect a commission. Rather only a broker is able to conduct these transactions and collect a commission, and they may choose to hire an agent to carry out this work and then pay them a commission split. Generally, this split is 50% but it can be a great deal more favorable to the agent, going up to 100% with the brokerage just collecting a flat fee. 

The Real Estate Team Compensation Model

One major way that the real estate team commission split differs from that with the broker is that there are simply more people involved in the agreement. In the case of the independent agent, the agreement is only between them and the broker who holds their license. Because there are more people involved, things easily become more complex. That is why it can be a good idea to make use of a real estate commission split agreement template to make certain everyone on the team is on the same page. 

There is truly no one formula for determining the real estate team commission split, but one can learn a great deal about how different teams handle it by visiting a real estate team splits forum. 

The biggest way that the real estate team compensation model differs from that of the independent agent, is that the broker-agent split can be based solely on the final transactional amount, while the team split must take into account different factors and the different roles each team member plays. 

Real Estate Team Models

Which one of real estate team models any one business selects will depend greatly on the real estate team expectations. More than anything this determines the different kinds of team models most common to the real estate industry. Let's take a closer look.

Family Team

Sometimes spouses, sometimes parent/child or even siblings, a family team uses their close personal relationship to build a business team. This is often structured as a partnership. Some key things to remember is that it can still be important to use contractual agreements in defining the partnership. At times the delegation of duties can be seamless, but at other times too many assumptions can get in the way. 

Informal Team

This is what happens when agents share leads. It has the advantage of requiring minimal management from the lead agent, but the disadvantage of providing the least control in the follow up to leads. 

Hero Team

This team is structured around a lead with a proven track record of great success. The advantages are the ability to increase income and productivity as well as to better specialize with the right team. The disadvantages include the potential to get bogged down from success with too much team management.

The Traditional Team

This is most like the broker/independent agent model. It allows for income increases with smaller splits. 

Real Estate Teams

As we have discussed there are numerous types of real estate teams and roles within them. First of all let's further break down some real estate team roles:

  • Buyer Specialist: This job is to track down all possible leads. Ideally, the buyer specialist will have a deep list of potential leads.
  • Listing Specialist: This is central to determining the overall size of the business the team is capable of.
  • Marketing and Lead Generation: This is paramount in real estate, and sometimes a buyer and listing specialist are not enough. For some teams there can never be too many resources in lead generation.

Why Would a Seller or Buyer Want to Use a Team over an Individual Agent?

A team provides more specialized service than an individual can. Additionally, a team offers deeper resources to both buyers and sellers. 

Real Estate Team Operating Agreement

A real estate team operating agreement is an important document for making certain that everyone is on the same page regarding team expectations and commission splits. It is simple to create a real estate team agreement word doc so long as you have a real estate team partnership agreement template. 

In general, an operating agreement lays out the foundational ways in which business will be conducted, going into full details. In the case of a real estate operating agreement, this is done in large part so that everyone has a full understanding of how the commission split operates and what precisely their job is in earning that commission. 

While it is important to remember that real estate team partnership agreement is a legal document, with a template it is not necessary to spend money on legal fees. 

Here is what a partnership agreement should have:

  1. A thorough explanation of each team member's role
  2. A complete breakdown of the team's finances
  3. A written statement expressing commitment to the business of the team
  4. An outline of the protection of assets and the team


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