It’s hard to find any real estate advertisement now that doesn’t brand the agent as a team, group or band of associates here in the Los Angeles market.

A mere five years ago, real estate teams were rarely described as such, and at most consisted of maybe two agents and an assistant.

Now, since the emergence of Keller Williams, and its “agent as business owner” approach, agents at all brokerages are following the changing tide of the business.

At its core, a team hopes to increase business and efficiency, by pairing together complementary parts. A great salesperson pairs with a good lead generator and a motivated administrator. This way the salesperson spends less time writing copy, filling out contracts and making copies, and more time calling and interacting with clients.

At first clients hesitated working with real estate teams –worried that the team meant they would be pushed off from the smiling face on the sign to some anonymous office worker. As teams proved to be the dominant concept, and clients saw the increased results, the market quickly shifted.

Now, many individual agents are starting the business calling themselves a team or group, even when no such union has been formed.

Real estate teams are all sizes

On the other end of the spectrum, Mega Teams – the grouping of many agents and assistants under a common flag, but still under a brokerage house, are popping up. The number of agents and admins on some these mega teams nationwide is as high as 80, and here in LA a few teams are pushing 20 members.

The size of the teams truly turn them into a small business, a far step from the solo agent model.

Many teams have CEOs, specialized listing partners, middle managers, coaches and multiple in office administrative staff. The largest agents in LA by sales volume are quickly down to two groups: super high-end brokers and mega teams.

An interesting experiment is taking place right now in San Francisco. A high priced, coastal market, that has thus far avoided teams is now getting a Keller Williams office in the city. Much like Los Angeles, the city has very little experience with teams – both from agents and clients – and the team model is poised to disrupt current business practices.

On a recent speaking tour there, where I extolled the value of teams and taught best practices for organizing teams, many mega agents didn’t have an assistant, and even the biggest teams were just three people.

Best practices for building a successful real estate team

Typically on a team, you want to hire an administrative person first, before additional sales people. This will allow you to grow the business enough to support new salespeople.

When hiring an admin, look for someone to grow your team. At Keller Williams, we look for an assistant executive, not an executive assistant. The subtle change in words makes a huge difference.

Salespeople are the next logical hire.

If you’re the rain maker focus on your 20 percent – typically listing appointments and high-end buyers. Have your buyers agent do lead generation and showings.

Richard Schulman is one of Keller Williams Realty’s top producing agents in Los Angeles, working with buyers and sellers, distressed properties, land and investment properties.