Real estate teams are becoming more and more common. There are many reasons why.
Somewhere near the top of the list may be because the earning potential for teams will always be higher than it ever could be for individual agents.
Because teams allow for a division of labor, they simply have a higher capacity to generate leads, serve a larger client base, share resources, drive more engagement, and close more deals.
If you set your team up the way many are, you could even get a cut of other agents’ commission as the leader.
With this article, you’ll get all of your basic questions answered as we cover the following…
How Do Real Estate Teams Work?
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all real estate team model. Just as there are many different ways individual agents manage their business, there’s a huge variety of real estate team structures out there.
What works “best” depends primarily on the team’s specific goals, the size of the team, and the market they operate in.
Most real estate teams fit into one of the following three broad categories:
1. The Leader-Centered Structure
This is where the team’s operations and success revolve around a single real estate agent (who is often an experienced top-performer). This individual “runs the show” as the team leader and is typically responsible for managing client relationships and closing deals.
The other team members might take on supportive roles such as managing showings, assisting with administrative tasks, marketing, and client coordination.
Sometimes the leader is more of a team builder type who creates a mentor/mentee relationship with his colleagues, coaching and training them until they’re ready to start their own business. And sometimes the leader might be more of a CEO type who handles the high-level operations and acts as the “face” of the brand.
In either case, each agent on the team is usually responsible for their own clients and deals, while the team leader takes a percentage of their commission as compensation for the support they provide. (More on that later.)
2. The Family Team
In this small, tight-knit setup, the team consists of family members who are licensed real estate agents working together. For example, it might be a husband-and-wife team, a sibling team, or a parents-and-children team. The family members collaborate and pool their resources, skills, and networks together to expand their reach, divide the workload, and maximize productivity.
3. The Corporate Team Structure
Think of this as the common large-scale enterprise model such as you’d often see in other, say, product-based industries like retail. Rather than being focused only on one individual (like a team leader), the business is more focused on promoting their team or brokerage’s brand.
In this structure, team members focus on specific aspects of the real estate process, playing to their strengths. Most commonly, the business is divided into two “sides”:
- sales (e.g., lead agent, listing agents, buyers agents, and showing agents)
- business operations (e.g., marketing managers, inside sales reps, and a transaction coordinator)
For example, a team might be composed of a lead listing agent, a lead buyer’s agent, a transaction coordinator, a marketing specialist, administrative staff, and a team lead who oversees every aspect of the business.
The idea here is that if each member focuses on their own area of expertise, efficiency and customer satisfaction will increase, resulting in a more successful business overall.
How To Build a Real Estate Team
Learning how to build a real estate team can be a rewarding endeavor. But it requires careful planning and execution. To give you a “bird’s eye view” of what your journey could look like, here’s a step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Brainstorm & Establish a Solid Foundation
📝Identify Your Objectives
Start by determining your primary goals for forming a team. What are you after? Are you looking to increase your business volume, expand into new markets, achieve a better work-life balance, provide a coaching service…?
Assess your current business capacity, financial resources, and ability to take on additional responsibilities as a team leader. In which of those areas do you need further development? Create a plan for how and when you’ll grow.
Step 2: Decide on a Team Structure
Which of the three team structures listed above do you think would be the best fit according to your needs, goals, interests, and abilities?
From there, decide what specific roles you want to create in your team (such as buyer’s agents, listing agents, transaction coordinators, marketing specialists, and administrative staff).
Step 3: Consider Compensation
📝Wait… How Do Real Estate Teams Split Commission?
For individual agents, commission is the fee you receive when you buy or sell a home (which is usually about five to six percent). For real estate teams, things get a bit more complicated.
The commission fee (what the client is charged) doesn’t change. But how real estate teams split commission varies significantly, depending on the team’s structure and its potential for earnings. And it’s often a negotiable matter.
Some brokerages, such as RE/MAX for example, might offer commission splits as high as 95/5, while teams with a team-leader-centered model might offer something closer to a 30/70 split. Still other teams might be structured in a way where the agent who contributes the most to the transaction receives a larger share of the commission.
It’s impossible to list all of the different ways your team could split commission. Instead, here are the most common compensation structures:
- The Traditional Broker/Agent Split – Most agents receive compensation from their broker through a shared gross commission arrangement. This percentage split is mutually agreed upon between the broker (or team leader) and the agent and typically reflects the extent of services and assistance the broker offers. It can also be influenced by the agent’s ability to generate business and their overall productivity. Top-performers often have the leverage to negotiate more favorable commission splits.
- The Desk-Fee-Only Model – Sometimes agents simply pay a monthly “desk fee” to the team or brokerage but retain 100% of their commission.
- The Salary Model – Of the three compensation structures listed here, this is the least common. It’s when the brokerage receives 100% of the team’s commission but pays each agent a salary.
Again, there are many ways you could build a real estate team. What’s best for your business will ultimately depend on what you establish during steps one and two above and step four below.
Step 4: Craft Your Plans
📝Create a Business Plan
Crafting a business plan isn’t about avoiding failure. It’s about refining intentionality—casting a vision and honing in on your “why.”
Outline specific, measurable short-term and long-term goals for your team, including sales targets, growth projections, and market penetration.
A business plan also elevates your level of accountability as you create benchmarks and set goals for yourself and your team. (Get started on your real estate business plan today!)
📝Create a Marketing Plan
Plan how your team will generate leads, nurture prospects, and promote listings in your target market. Learn more about creating an effective real estate marketing plan!)
Step 5: Hire (the Best) Team Members
📝Recruit Talented Real Estate Professionals
Look for people with relevant experience, a strong work ethic, and a shared vision for what success would look like for your team. You may want to consider both licensed agents and non-licensed professionals for various roles.
📝Conduct Interviews and Assess Fit
Interview potential team members to gauge their skills, motivation, and cultural fit within the team you’re intending to build.
The Table Group’s paradigm of hiring “the ideal team player” can send you in the right direction. They suggest seeking candidates who are humble (emphasizing team over self), hungry (self-motivated and diligent), and smart (emotionally intelligent and “have common sense about people”).
Here’s a helpful article that explains more about that and provides 10 interview questions that “go beyond competency.”
Step 6: Establish Team Processes and Systems
📝Create Training and Development Programs
Establish training and development programs for team members to enhance their skills, knowledge, and productivity. This can include regular training sessions, mentorship programs, access to industry resources, and ongoing professional development opportunities.
📝Standardized Processes and Checklists
Make your team function like a well-oiled machine. Setting operational standards helps everyone work more efficiently and decreases the likelihood any revenue-driving tasks will fall through the cracks.
For example, take a close look at how your team will handle lead follow-up, listing presentations, client onboarding, and transaction management.
📝Invest in Tools That Help Your Team Work More Efficiently
Implement real estate software and tools to streamline operations, manage leads, and track team performance.
Market Leader Teams, for example, is the one-of-a-kind system that’s built for the specific purpose of supporting interdependent, highly collaborative real estate teams.
It provides a hub where all team members have shared access to each others’ activities so they can communicate seamlessly with contacts (as a team or one-on-one) and complete tasks on each others’ behalf. The system also includes a customizable team website, marketing and lead nurture automation tools, and a robust marketing center with a library full of design templates.
Who Is Market Leader Teams For?
✅Teams is the perfect all-in-one solution for small real estate business of 2 to 10 people, whether that’s a team, brokerage, or an individual agent who works with an assistant.
✅Highly collaborative businesses that foster a high-trust culture will love the shared contact database and easy-to-use task management platform.
✅Teams also gives brokerages everything they need to ensure branding is consistent across all their communications.
5 Best Practices for Leaders of Real Estate Teams
Now that you have at least a rough idea about how to build a real estate team, it’s time to note the hallmarks of a successful leader.
Create a Brand
A brand in real estate represents the overall perception of a company, brokerage, or individual agent in the minds of their community, prospects, leads, and clients.
Your brand is the combination of tangible and intangible elements that make up the identity of your business. It includes your identity, values, and reputation.
The goal is to create a positive brand “experience” – a particular set of emotions, perceptions, and associations that a consumer associates with you and your team based on their interactions with you across various touchpoints.
As a result of creating a positive brand experience, you’ll be more likely to establish trust, generate more leads, turn more leads into clients, and encourage brand loyalty.
Here are some practical ways you can start building a brand:
- Get tips and tools for coming up with high-quality real estate logo ideas.
- Learn how to craft real estate slogans.
- Learn how to create a lead-generating REALTOR email signature.
Build a Strong Company Culture
Your real estate team’s internal culture is your brand’s “heartbeat.” And it should be closely related to your brand identity.
In other words, your culture should influence your brand and your brand should influence your culture. How your brand operates externally (consumer-facing) should be a reflection of how your real estate team operates internally, and vice versa.
That said, fostering a healthy and robust company culture is the key to your real estate team’s long-term success. Here are some ways you can create a positive culture that’s conducive to consistent year-over-year growth:
- Embrace the unique strengths of each team member, ensuring they feel valued and respected.
- Clearly communicate the team’s vision and shared goals.
- Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for feedback and ideas.
- Regularly appreciate and recognize your colleagues’ hard work to boost morale.
- Invest in their growth and professional development.
Set Clear Goals & Expectations
Setting clear goals and expectations is a great idea – not just because it opens up the lines of communication and sets your team members up to succeed, but also because it facilitates growth for the company as a whole.
Your team can’t hit a target if they don’t know where it is. They need to know what success looks like from your perspective as the leader (rather than in an abstract, vague sense).
Collaborate with your team to establish “S.M.A.R.T.” real estate agent goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. And make sure they align with your company’s vision and mission.
From there, clearly communicate these objectives, ensuring everyone understands their role in the grand scheme. Encourage self-assessment and constructive criticism to promote personal and team growth.
With a well-defined path ahead and a solid accountability system, your team will be motivated and focused on meeting and (hopefully!) surpassing expectations.
Delegate Responsibilities Wisely
Mastering the art of delegation is crucial for maximizing productivity and fostering team growth. Identify each team member’s strengths and assign responsibilities accordingly.
Trust your team to handle their assigned duties and offer guidance and support as needed. In other words, avoid micromanagement and allow your team members the space they need to excel and showcase their skills.
Delegating wisely empowers your team and cultivates a sense of ownership. Combined, this is likely to lead toward greater efficiency and a higher collective GCI, which is always great regardless of the team structure you implement.
Promote Teamwork & Collaboration
Your success as a company will ultimately depend on how well everyone on your team collaborates.
Your team’s success will be the result of “small” personal achievements that together turn into big corporate wins. The engine that brings it all together is teamwork.
Here are some ways you can promote a team-focused workplace environment.
- Encourage open communication and active listening among team members, ensuring that ideas and insights flow freely.
- Foster a sense of camaraderie by organizing team-building activities and events.
- Emphasize the importance of sharing knowledge and best practices by cultivating a supportive learning environment.
- Facilitate cross-functional collaboration (e.g., regularly connecting a marketing specialist with a listing agent) to make sure no one is “siloed” and every role is working toward shared goals.