• Spouse partnerships are common in real estate, and often quite successful
  • Brokers and spouse-partner agents should be very clear about guidelines and expectations from the outset of the relationship
  • Back-up plans should be in place - even for “worst-case” scenarios

In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.

This month’s situation: One of the firm’s best agents plans to bring on their spouse as a partner.

Agent perspective

I have a very successful career and marriage, and those two things are about to come together!

After careful thought and discussion, my spouse and I have decided to become partners in real estate. While my spouse has recently earned their license and is technically new to the industry, my years of experience will make things much easier for them, and I expect this to be a smooth transition for everyone.

My broker is on board with this decision, but wants to sit down with us and make sure we are all on the same page before getting started. I am excited about this new direction, as it will free up some of my duties and allow me– I mean US– to sell more houses and spend more time together.

We should have done this years ago!

Broker perspective

There are many successful spouse partnerships in our industry, and I generally support my agents’ decision to add their husband or wife to our team. I am not concerned about the new partner’s lack of experience – real estate is an enormously consuming enterprise, and spouses of successful agents usually enter the field with a clear understanding of how things work.

That being said, there are some particular ground rules for the management of spouses that are unique to that arrangement, and they need to be completely clear to all parties from day one. Boundaries should be set to not bring the office home – and vice versa.

This will be a new situation for the couple, and there are a million pitfalls to consider.

  • How will the junior agent handle working with their more experienced spouse?
  • How do they plan to settle disagreements, and separate personal issues from professional ones?
  • Do they have a clear delineation of assignments and responsibilities? (They need to maximize their individual strengths and minimize weaknesses to make the partnership grow.)
  • How will other agents respond to this new and strange dynamic?

How to meet halfway

Before the partnership formally begins, the spouse-partners and broker should sit down and map out a clear set of guidelines and expectations from all parties.

This should be done in writing, so there is no confusion or ambiguity, and a variety of challenging “what if?” situations should be considered and discussed.

Although it may be difficult, everyone should also discuss worst-case scenarios, such as the possibility of divorce or dissolution of the partnership, or even the death of one of the partners.

Finally, the participants should also set a schedule of regular meetings to monitor and discuss the arrangement; frequently at first, then less often as time goes on and things progress smoothly.

Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, and also a working Realtor who sells more than 150 homes a year.

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