LOOKING AT REAL ESTATE TEAMS AND TEAM SPECIALISTS.
DO REAL ESTATE "TEAMS" EXHIBIT EXPERTISE. The concept of "teams" in real estate practices is popular and often compared to medical "groups". I see little to no resemblance and, in fact, assigning a title of specialty such as "Buyers Agent" to a member of a team is often misleading to the consumer.
- Has that "Buyers Agent" received any advanced training to represent home buyers?
- Has that "Buyers Agent" managed a significant number of contracts representing buyers to have any claim to experience?
Not that it isn't possible. It is, but rarely do the team members meet the test of expertise and experience found with medical specialties. Most "teams" I've seen are groups of licensees who work closely with other members of the team and spread the advertising and marketing costs and work load. Some teams may have members who specialize in listing or selling. So, they have a team title. However, do they have any expertise beyond the basic training for licensing?
REAL ESTATE TEAMS are often a small group within a brokerage or real estate company. In some cases new members will be "mentored" by a more experienced team member for a percentage of their fee for any business they bring to the team/brokerage. Fact is, we are all individually licensed and usually expected to develop buyer or seller business either for our own account or for "the team".
From the MD Real Estate Commission: "There is no provision in Maryland real estate licensing law for teams or groups operating within a brokerage. The only license categories are broker, associate broker, and salesperson. The only recognized entity is a brokerage. Those licensees who choose to operate within a team or group must follow all applicable licensing provision."
THE MATTER OF FEE SPLITS FOR TEAMS will be different from team to team and broker to broker.
THE OPPORTUNISTIC TEAM SPECIALTY. Unlike medical group specialties whereby the physician has committed an additional year or two to training, study and clinical practice to achieve a specialty designation or title, real estate licensees often advertise themselves as "experts" in topical areas such as "short sale experts" or "Buyer's Broker". That short sale "expert" may have completed one transaction representing a buyer or seller, OR NONE. There are courses offered for short sale training but no special license and the claim can be made with or without any actual experience or training.
Buyer Agency Specialist
Short Sale Specialist
Luxury Home Specialist
Waterfront Home Specialist
Investment Real Estate Buyer Specialist
Rehabilitation Real Estate Specialist
New Home Specialist
EXPERT BY DESIGNATION OR EXPERIENCE. Many of us, myself included, have advertised some of these "specialties". NAR designations are evidence of training in a specialty and many require certain experience in that specialty. However, there is no special or advanced licensing required or available.
I work with an informal "network" of experienced brokers and agents, but it's largely geographically based. Each broker in my network is licensed but all have the same license and no further training is required for real estate brokers other than the general broker license. I market our services and connect home buyers to brokers and agents serving buyers in a particular geographical area. All of the brokers and agents in my network haveexperience representing home buyers. Many had their license with my company for year and received training to represent home buyers on an ongoing basis in group meetings and individual consultation. Focusing on home buyer needs is a specialty. The real estate industry is about 95% focused on the listing side of real estate brokerage.
EXAMPLE: I recently attended a 3 hour CE class offering training in property valuation. NOT.
The class was 98% "how to get the listing" and about 2% property valuation. Why?? Because the focus of most real estate training is listing oriented. The assumption is that training for property valuation is for listing agents for CMSs and not for buyers agents. IMO, one of the most valuable skills any real estate practitioner can have is that of accurate property valuation. The original listing is no more than an "offer" to prospective home buyers. Buyers agents who can properly value property listings are offering their buyers an important service. As a "buyers agent" member of a team, has that buyers agent received any training to properly value properties offered for sale???
BUYER AGENCY TRAINING? Additional Buyer Agency training is available through the NAR. However, having gone through several "buyer agency" courses, I don't believe they do the job of producing buyer experts, but rather focus on risk reduction for agents selling their own broker's listings. Many will differ with that description, and so be it. Risk reduction is critical, of course, but knowing how to avoid committing fraud through undisclosed dual agency doesn't provide skill in representing home buyers. I realized after committing 4 days to a course specializing in buyer agency that the experience gained by limiting my customers and clients to home buyers, managing many contracts for home buyers, my experience was far more valuable than the course offering.
TEAMS are a good marketing concept. They may share the workload. The question is, does a team member with a "specialty" title offer any more actual expertise for the consumer? Has the broker, the entity with the real responsibility for any team formed by a group of licensees in that brokerage, required that the team members with any speciality where a consumer would be referred actually have expertise in that specialty?
DOES THE BROKER KNOW WHAT THE TEAM IS DOING? Seems to me that the broker must take responsibility to make sure that the consumer is well served and that includes shared responsibility for customer or client service by a team.
"Honey, did you find an agent to help us today?"
"Yes Dear, I called the listing agent for the house we saw on the Internet and they are going to have the Buyers Agent on their team contact us."
Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker, Homefinders.com, 800-711-7988.