Real Estate Teams 101

Everything you need to know about how to build, structure and manage a successful real estate team.

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Real Estate Teams: Everything You Need to KnowBuilding a winning real estate team may not always be the easiest thing to do. But, one thing is certain: a team that runs like a well-oiled machine is definitely worth the effort it takes to establish. 

Agents who are part of a team have built-in professional support, and the individual strengths that each member brings to the team makes the whole more effective, multiplying the benefits not only to clients, but to individual team members and their brokers as well.

Let's review some of those important benefits, and then look at the best ways to form, motivate and compensate a winning team. Not all teams are the same, and it is important to consider the variables at play as you consider how to build a real estate team, how to best manage team members for maximum performance, and how to motivate a real estate team.

The way a team is structured will determine, to a large extent, the value that accrues to individual team members and, more importantly, the overall success of the team.

How do real estate teams work?

Any real estate agent can testify to the time, effort, knowledge and commitment required to generate leads and serve clients properly, let alone to earn a living as a solo agent. 

One of the benefits of aligning with a team is that an individual team member has a greater ability to focus on specifics rather than the big picture, knowing that other team members "have their back" and that there is strength in numbers.

The overall goal is to enrich each individual member of the team in terms of service, knowledge and expertise, as well as to promote financial rewards. In order to accomplish that goal, each team member must commit to his or her assigned role within the team structure, and acknowledge that individual effort contributes to overall success.

Working with a team, though, requires "teamwork." All real estate agents are classified as independent contractors, but joining a team means that every team member is accountable not only to himself, but to other team members. 

While this is a motivating force for many agents, it can also be a negative in the sense that there are higher expectations for performance. It also means that your schedule may not be solely yours, and that group needs might take precedence over personal desires. Vacation schedules, for instance, might need to be worked out in advance to ensure that someone is available to work with clients. In some ways, team membership is akin to holding a job rather than acting as an independent agent.

Teams can be led by a single broker, or a large brokerage can support many teams, each one offering a distinctive choice to buyers and sellers in a specific community.

How to build a team

The manner in which you build a real estate team depends on the type of team you choose to build. Does that sound simplistic?

Some common types of teams include:

  • A Family Team: Sometimes spouses will form a partnership and work as a team; at other times, parent-child or sibling partnerships can be effective teams, allowing each partner to shine in a different way while sharing a common goal. Written agreements can be especially important when family relationships are involved, and contractual agreements between team members are always recommended to avoid future hurt feelings or legal entanglements.
  • Informal Teams: Sometimes, congenial agents will form a team of two or more individuals who work together, share leads, and support one another in various ways without an official designation of team leader or a definitive outline of duties. Sometimes, such an arrangement works; sometimes, it leads to difficulties down the road.
  • The Hero Team: When an established agent achieves a high level of success, it can be tempting to want to learn from that agent. The bonus of such a team is that success breeds success, and younger agents can learn a great deal if the "hero" is willing to act as a mentor. However, if newer agents are viewed only as support personnel for an established "overachiever," the team structure is apt to be less valuable for everyone concerned.
  • Traditional Teams: A reliable team structure covers all the bases: How to find listings and generate new business through comprehensive marketing efforts; how to best serve both sellers and buyers effectively from first contact through closing; how to handle the myriad details and the paperwork required for every transaction; and how to compensate each member of the team, as well as the broker, fairly and adequately.

If you are considering forming or joining a real estate team, the quality of the talent that is recruited will be a vital component of the team's "culture" that permeates daily operations and points to ultimate success. Just as with any commercial venture, a team's ability to attract talent and nurture its members is vital.

How to manage a team

The tendency to let ego interfere with team performance, and to allow occasional personality conflicts to escalate can be disruptive for a team that needs to work for a common goal. A strong leader must be prepared to recognize and deal with such potential issues.

In addition, the team's leader or leaders are also the "parents" of the team, and they bear responsibility for the character and reputation of the team.

How to structure your real estate team 

How you structure a real estate team depends to some extent on the actual makeup of the team, and the individual strengths and preferences of team members. Although there are a variety of ways to structure team operation, the most common team structure creates roles for each participant that allow them to capitalize on what they do best, for the benefit of the entire group.

Typically, with such a structure, the team owner or leader will assume responsibility for lead generation and marketing tasks. Other members of the team often include an individual who acts as transaction coordinator, and one or more members who are designated buyer's agents. 

Team members share the responsibility, oftentimes, for lead conversion, handling buyer consultations, conducting property showings, negotiating terms, scheduling inspections and appraisals, and ensuring that all paperwork is properly completed and that the transaction can proceed to closing.

Large teams may have designated assistants to assume some of the tasks. Those assistants relieve licensed agents of tedious and time-consuming jobs, and they become the "grease" that keeps the machine moving.

Although everyone in real estate starts as a solo agent with an individual license, teams have become a highly effective business model. In 2018, a survey reported that 26% of licensed agents functioned as a member of a partnership or a real estate team.

How are teams paid?

Compensation models may differ substantially from one team to another. Pay for a single completed transaction can vary from a flat rate or a portion of the team leader's commission to a designated percentage based on performance. 

The most common procedure, based on a National Association of Realtors survey, is a fixed commission split that remains consistent between the lead agent and other members of the team. Team numbers, of course, vary from only two people up to a multi-person group, sometimes with assistants who draw fixed salaries. As with all real estate commissions, the split is determined by the qualifying broker.

A typical commission split also varies from one part of the country to another, and may in some cases be negotiated prior to each transaction.

When you consider becoming part of a real estate team, compensation will be one of the first details to iron out, but it is obvious that one of the primary goals of team membership is to increase the volume of successful sales. That increased revenue is also a primary benefit of being a part of a successful real estate team.

Tracking real estate team performance using software

Flexible and intuitive software for teams is one of the best possible ways to ensure success in real estate. In today's digital world, business executives and consumers alike benefit from management and customer relationship expertise.

Automation in real estate can mean additional hours for agents to spend with clients, showing property and negotiating favorable terms, rather than dealing with the details that eat up hours in the day. In addition to helping agents keep track of transaction details, Shaker provides relationship management tools that will help organize, control and manage your contact database and develop action plans for the future.

We offer team training packages that will have your agents up to speed in no time, alleviating the stress of team management and helping leaders communicate goals directly to team members.

How Shaker Software Enables Success

Keeping track of details is, perhaps, the single most time-consuming task for a real estate professional. Those details -- including tracking the progress of each transaction, especially when more than one agent is involved, can make or break a deal. It's imperative that a successful team has in place the type of management software that will facilitate detailed record-keeping.

Shaker is a software company that provides real estate software for teams. The company sees its goal as "all about building relationships." With advanced collaboration and task assignment tools, Shaker team software is unique and powerful. Designed to help streamline individual performance so that it contributes increased value to the team's collective goal of making deals happen, it will help even a newly-formed team operate efficiently. The software is supplied with a training package, an individual dashboard for each participant, and brand controls that keep messaging consistent across the board.

The software empowers both team leaders and individual team members to customize the processes that they prefer to use, allowing each member to function independently, but consistently in "high gear." Contact us now to schedule a demo that will illustrate how we can assist your team to become the best in the business.

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