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Which is Better? Working as an Individual Agent or with a Team

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I was reading a post by Rhonda Duffy Is A Swim Meet Like the Competition to Get Listings? and started writing a comment that evolved into what I thought would make a great first post on Active Rain. If you get a chance, please check out her blog.

Speaking as an outsider (RE technology startup dude) looking in (to the real estate agent's perspective), it must be a rare find for an agent to be well rounded with every "stroke," as it were. I've talked to hundreds of agents by now and I've met so many different personalities. Some are great with people and sales. Others are very organized and meticulous. Some are great with administrative stuff - managing finances, legal, state correspondence, etc. I've met people who are amazing as a buyer's agent and others that couldn't do anything but be a listing agent. Yes, there are those who do it all very well. But, there are so many more that will acknowledge their short comings and prefer to work in one specific aspect of their business.

While accountability is very important, people also need to play to their strengths as much as they can. Finding the right combination of agents who compliment each other's strengths to support every part of the business is one formula I've noticed to be successful and efficient.

So here’s a question. For those who do work in teams, how did you decide who is a member of that team and how did you split up the responsibilities? Did you do an assessment of various strengths or did you take a very different approach? What are the pros and cons of working in a team of agents vs working as an individual? Does the broker provide many of the benefits one would find working with a team?

Again, I'm just sharing the perspectives of an outsider looking in. ;)

Tim Monciref - Austin, TX
Over 2,000 homes sold…..

You first have to make a major decision of what business model do you want and WHY do you want it.  We created our model because we wanted a system whereby our agents would, in time, take all buyers and all listings and we would be merely running the team; thus creating a retirement machine.

The downside, is markets like this that throws your plan off to the side and you have to jump back in and get the business back going.  Sometimes you can get so big that it is painful in the down markets, so you have to have a plan for years like the past where you may actually have a major operation that is losing money for a short period of time.

Jun 26, 2009 06:49 AM
Jenny Kotulak
RE/MAX Real Estate Centre Inc., Brokerage - Oakville, ON
Broker - Oakville Ontario Real Estate

Hi David,

I heard a motivational guru years ago say that you either need to head up a team or be a team member to be successful.  This was before teams became so popular.

I never did either.  I don't like answering to anyone but myself and I don't like to count on anyone to do my work.  For busy agents, it's necessary to have the help.  In my area team members flit from team to team.  Then some quit and go out on their own.

Jun 26, 2009 07:09 AM
David Carroll
softRealty.com - Duluth, GA


Thanks for the comment and brilliant point. It is surprising to me how many agents I've talked to don't understand the value of explicitly defining their business model, creating a business plan, or strategically planning their marketing and brand.  It's more or less, go after anyone and everyone who will work with you and make as much money as possible.  That's not a bad idea, but by itself, there is no direction, no niche, no understanding of how to reach the objective.  I've talked to other agents who are so busy; they must be selective on the clientele they work with.  They simply can't accommodate for everyone.  So, they focus on their niche.

Present "community" excluded, far too often, I've seen many agents treat the administrative part of their business as a chore, similar to filing personal taxes, and struggle with how to effectively market themselves.  They focus only on the transactional part of their business, selling or listing homes.  Okay, so, maybe I've over simplified the problem.  But, the point is many agents do run their businesses like a job.  Unless there is real leadership or vision and planning, it is very difficult to grow beyond their limited sphere of influence.

That said, those agents who prefer to work their business like a job may be more successful working with a team or a broker that nurtures that type of mindset.  I understand that brokers are very different from one another.  Some brokers invest in the team concept and others become a place for agents to hang their license and have very little to do with what the agent does.  Neither isn't bad, they just accommodate for the various types of agents.  It would be interesting to know whether or not most agents choose brokers based on cost or value added to supporting their business?

Jun 26, 2009 07:19 AM
David Carroll
softRealty.com - Duluth, GA


You are right. Teams are not for everyone. You are a good example of someone who gets it. Don't get me wrong, like any other industry, there are many agents who simply don't take their profession seriously and have poor work ethic that leaves a bad taste with many home buyers.  Then, there are those agents that may unintentionally contribute to the apprehension many home buyers have about working with real estate agents.  They may be great at sales, poor at closings.  Anyway, this is great feedback. 

Jun 26, 2009 07:27 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

I agree with the comment Jenny made above. I'm my own person and like to work on my own agenda.

Patricia Aulson/portsmouth nh real estate

Jun 26, 2009 07:45 AM