Real Estate Teams
Are you interested in learning about being part of a real estate team vs being an independent agent? Well, you’re in luck because in today’s blog post, we’re diving deep into the benefits, challenges, and key considerations of joining a real estate team.
For many agents finding their way in the real estate world, there’s a constant push towards joining a team…especially for new agents. Being on a team vs staying independent is a big change so use this post to consider the various angles to look at in this decision.
- How do real estate teams work?
- How do real estate teams split commission?
- Guidance and Mentorship
- How to join a real estate team
How do real estate teams work?
As you might imagine, real estate teams come in all different shapes and sizes. Key differences are in the team’s structure, operations, commission splits, training resources and tech stack. So let’s simplify the convo by using a few different categories for real estate teams – as you move down the list, notice that the structure and shared resources for the team increase:
- Mentorship: Mentorship is a “psuedo-team” where an experienced agent mentors new agents for a specific period, receiving a percentage of their commissions in return. The mentor provides training and guidance but doesn’t provide leads, pay for marketing, or manage team members. The focus is on imparting knowledge and skills, with the aim of transitioning new agents into successful solo careers.
- Rally Around the Team Leader: In the Rally Around the Leader Model, the structure revolves around promoting the team leader and their brand, often focusing on a specific neighborhood or community. The team leader provides structure, resources, and leads for the team, and members promote the team leader’s brand. The model is divided into operations and sales, with a team leader typically functioning as the lead listing agent and team members in showing-agent roles. This model demands high standards and exceptional customer service, aiming for client referrals as the primary lead generation strategy.
- The Ensemble Cast: Similar to the Leader based model but instead of one main agent, there’s a subset of the team roster that’s getting the majority of listings and putting up the larger production numbers. These teams tend to scale even further regarding team size, systems, and resources. These teams can begin to resemble law firms in their partnership structure.
- The Lead Feeder: The Lead Feeder gets its name, well… from having a reliable lead acquisition channel that supplies team members. This can be from paid online leads, an outbound sales operation, or pay at closing leads. All of these lead sources are either costly or require a sizable up-front commitment so there’s pressure for team members to perform and it’s not uncommon for members who don’t convert their leads to receive fewer (or lower quality) leads in the future creating a “survival of the fittest” model.
As you may have guessed as you move down the list the commission split to the agent gets lower and lower to cover the additional overhead on the team. Tools, staff, resources, and especially leads cost a lot after all! But we’ll talk commission next.
How do real estate teams split commission?
Commission splits is obviously a key consideration in joining a team – it represents how much the agent takes home after every transaction. The agent’s split is based on the team’s compensation structure. Some teams have a set commission for all members with additional bonuses for sales, while others split commissions evenly after expenses or follow a sliding scale in favor of either the team or the agent. Here are a few common scenarios:
- In a mentorship model, the agent will usually keep 70-90% of their commission but that’s not a true real estate team.
- In a typical team structure (we’ve labelled these above as the “Rally Around the Team Leader” and the “Ensemble Cast”, a common starting point is a 50/50 commission split but it varies wildly depending on many factors not to mention the negotiation between the agent and the team.
- In the “Lead Feeder” model, an agent split can be as low as 20% to cover the cost of the leads and administrative & marketing support.
Also note that not all real estate teams have “fixed” commission splits. Teams can use more complicated commission structures like the following examples:
- Different commission splits can be offered based on the type of client or the source of the lead. One common case is to give agents higher splits for self-generated leads than company-generated leads.
- A graduated scale is when the agent’s commission split increases as they reach higher production levels. It’s a helpful motivating feature for an agent and it helps teams recoup their overhead first before shifting terms to favor the agent.
- Bonuses for transactions above a set standard can also motivate higher performance. For example, an agent may receive a 5% bonus for each transaction above a set standard of 2 per month.
- While commission caps are more common for agents at brokerages they can be incorporated into a team structure. “Caps” are a limit on the total amount of commission the team will collect, can be used to motivate agents. Once a certain cap is reached, the agent may earn 100% on additional volume. And combined structures of graduated and cap can also be implemented. For instance, a 70/30 split up to a $23,000 cap, and then a 95/5 split for any additional volume.
And this isn’t even close to an exhaustive list of commission structures. Also be careful not to just look at the split because some teams may have attractive splits but also include fees (office fees or transaction fees) which effectively reduces the agent earnings at the end of the day…so do a little more research and also compare to other similar teams in the market.
Our final word on real estate team commissions: negotiate! Don’t forget those negotiating skills when discussing commissions with a prospective real estate team.
Guidance and Mentorship
Money isn’t everything right? Guidance and mentorship play an integral role in the success of any real estate agent, and within a team setting, they become even more paramount. Many agents that are looking to join a team are earlier in their career so the opportunity to receive proper training and professional development is invaluable.
Real estate teams often prioritize the growth of their members by providing comprehensive learning experiences that encompass all aspects of the business from marketing, sales scripting, negotiating, transaction management, and maximizing referrals. Plus seasoned professionals within the team are ready to guide you through the intricacies of the business, sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience.
Even just the proximity to stronger performing agents can level up your game when you’re starting out. The high performing agents’ habits, work ethic, processes and mannerisms will rub off. You’ll find yourself constantly pushed to elevate your skills and strive for excellence. You’ll even feel an uncomfortable pressure to be as good as them…to deserve their respect.
However it works both ways. If your team has a bunch of low performers, well that’s going to rub off too. Or maybe their performance isn’t the issue…but they have toxic personalities or bad habits. This is why it’s important not to just follow the money.
Beyond the skills of your teammates, one of the significant advantages of being part of a real estate team is the access to developmental resources: coaching, classes on new marketing techniques, sales roleplaying scenarios, mentorship groups, and training in best in class software like CRMs. These are common resources in most mature teams.
When considering joining a real estate team, it is crucial to evaluate the level of support, mentorship, and resources that the team provides. A strong team will prioritize your growth, providing you with a solid foundation to thrive in the industry. By surrounding yourself with knowledgeable and supportive colleagues, you’ll experience both personal and professional development at an accelerated pace. So, if you’re seeking rapid progress and boundless opportunities, a real estate team might just be the catalyst you need to soar to new heights in your career.
Are you shuddering at the thought of it? You’re not alone…but when it comes to being part of a real estate team, accountability is actually a benefit. Similar to having a personal trainer that keeps you on track in a workout, many real estate teams have processes that hold you to specific activities and goals. Here is a list of just some of the areas your team may hold you accountable for:
- Making your calls: whether it’s circle prospecting or following up with existing prospects, high functioning real estate teams have outreach quotas they hold agents to.
- In person prospecting: Whether it’s holding Open Houses or door knocking, there are teams that require their agents hit the streets and prospect.
- Working your network: Sphere of influence marketing is a tried and true strategy for agents. Better believe your sphere will become co-opted to some extent by your team.
- Adding to the customer database: we listed a few activities above but prospecting takes lots of different forms – even using Instagram and Tiktok to generate real estate leads – regardless on teams there will be some expectation to build your database of prospects
- Following up: Top marketers know that the fortune’s in the follow up. So whether it’s after an Open House or client event, it’s not unusual for teams to have required timeframes (sometimes called SLAs) around following up with prospects
- Earn commissions: maybe not required in week 1 for a newer agent, but some teams hold their agents to certain standards when it comes to production. Regardless of sales quotas, almost all teams publicly celebrate their top producers on a regular basis.
And while all of this sounds intimidating, being accountable to your team means that you have a built-in support system that keeps you motivated and focused. When you have colleagues relying on you and expecting you to deliver, it becomes much harder to procrastinate or let things slide. You become more determined to meet deadlines, follow through on commitments, and consistently produce outstanding results.
Also as mentioned above, good teams won’t just set expectations, but they’ll provide proven tactics, scripts, and tools that will help achieve the expected results.
Ultimately, while accountability is an unnerving concept for many, it’s a motivator to improve. Real estate teams and the shared responsibility that come with them can propel you to develop into a stronger agent.
How to join a real estate team
We’ve gone over a lot as far as how teams work and reasons to join them so if you’re still reading, you’re probably ready to select a team or already have a few teams you’re considering.
Here are the most important criteria when joining a real estate team
- Team Leadership and Structure: The overall team should align with your career ambitions and overall working style. Whether it’s just mentorship or a true team with all the bells and whistles… each has its own set of advantages and challenges. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the philosophy and structure of the team you are joining.
- Commission Split and Costs: This is one of the most crucial factors. Understand how the commission split works and what costs you are expected to cover. Ensure that you find the split fair and that it compensates for your efforts appropriately.
- Training and Professional Development: A good team will invest in its members by providing training and opportunities for professional development. This is particularly important for new agents.
- Reputation and Track Record: Consider the team’s reputation in the market and its track record of success. Joining a successful, well-regarded team can provide a significant boost to your career.
- Future Growth and Opportunities: Finally, consider the team’s vision for the future and the opportunities for your personal growth and advancement within the team.
- Lead Generation and Ownership: How the team handles lead generation can significantly impact your potential earnings. Also, understand who retains ownership of the leads and clients if you decide to leave the team.
Some of these criteria may be more or less important for you so make sure to prioritize accordingly.
How to get introduced to a real estate team
Ok do you know which team you are interested in working with? Good, now find a current team member (ideally someone in your network) and try and get some of their time. Here’s what you’ll want to learn:
- understand their experiences on the team and see if it matches your research
- sniff around if the team is looking to bring on new agents. This could be a long process so start early.
If you don’t know someone already on the team ask for an intro through a mutual connection…and if that doesn’t work reach out to them cold (you’re a hungry, resourceful real estate agent right?!).
Once you’ve got a connection on the team that’s willing to spend time with you, you’ll be primarily selling yourself…but also learning about them. While it’d be weird to sit them down and just ask a million questions, you can sprinkle some well phrased questions in between stroking their ego.
Questions to ask when joining a real estate team
- What is the structure of the team? How many on staff and how many agents? Ask about general breakdown of roles?
- What is the team’s culture like? How often do you meet as a team?
- Is there an office? How many team members regularly work from the office?
- What resources and support will be provided to me (e.g., administrative support, marketing materials, CRM & software tools, coaching or mentorship)?
- Are there performance and productivity quotas for team members (regardless of tenure)?
- How are leads generated? What techniques and/or services are used?
- Who owns the leads and clients? (You want to indirectly find out “What happens to my clients if I leave the team?”)
- What is the commission split, and how does it change over time or depending on the lead source?
- What additional fees should I be aware of?
- What is your policy on agents’ self generated business (ex: Sphere of Influence SOI)? Is there a different commission split on self generated business?
- What is your vision for the team in the next 5 years?
- Is the team growing? Can you tell me more about the drivers of this growth and how many new agents are typically recruited each month?
- How does your team differentiate itself from others in the area?
- What are the characteristics that are typically the best fit within this team? Try and contrast those to find characteristics that aren’t good fits within the team (and don’t stop at the obvious answers).
Joining a real estate team can be a catalyst for growth and success in your career. Many top performing agents started as rank and file members of larger real estate teams.
Finding the right real estate team involves more than just comparing commission splits and their Instagram account. Look beyond the surface and consider factors such as training and support, marketing strategies, and the team’s overall culture. By conducting in-depth research and asking the right questions, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed choice that sets you on the path to real estate greatness. Happy team hunting!
Are you pumped or what?