A few smart people have said some things in my vicinity lately that got me thinking. Jay Luebke, a 21-year-old real estate agent whom Brad Inman interviewed on his Unlisted podcast back in February, attributed part of his success in real estate to the fact that he is on a team. “Being on a team is a must,” Luebke said. “I’m a complete team supporter.”

  • Teams could provide more supervision and support for new agents.
  • Teams could give new agents a structured environment in which to learn every aspect of the business -- one step at a time.
  • The increased collaboration on teams means it would likely be more obvious if an agent were struggling than it might be in a brokerage environment.

A few smart people have said some things in my vicinity lately that got me thinking.

Jay Luebke, a 21-year-old real estate agent whom Brad Inman interviewed on his Unlisted podcast back in February, attributed part of his success in real estate to the fact that he is on a team.

“Being on a team is a must,” Luebke said. “I’m a complete team supporter.

“There are so many incredible people on my team right now that I can learn from each one of them and from their different experiences,” he added.

And in our special report on real estate teams, published in February, a veteran agent in the business for more than a decade put it this way: “Real estate has become far too complicated for single agents to effectively manage more than six transactions a year. It is very costly for new, startup agents to get up and running effectively. Teams provide team members with a constant flow of leads, meaning they can be effective much more quickly than if they are on their own.”

The team trend

Teams might be just the latest shiny object in real estate, but I see a heck of a lot of signs advertising real estate teams on my jaunts to and from the grocery store. Two years ago, a Forbes article predicted this trend, and today, coaches are talking about them and Zillow is writing software to support them. They don’t seem to be going anywhere.

If it’s true that real estate has become too complicated for one agent to manage solo — unless that agent has support staff — then what’s a rookie agent trying to break into the business to do?

Well, maybe the answer is going to become “join a team.”

What the new agent career path might look like

This could be a relatively “safe” way for new agents to enter real estate without becoming overwhelmed, burning out and fleeing for their lives.

Under a team model, new agents wouldn’t be responsible for an entire transaction. They wouldn’t have to handle everything — the lead generation, the marketing, the negotiating, the contracts, the transaction management, the client hand-holding.

Instead, new agents could be given one aspect of the transaction and taught to master it. After learning everything there is to know about marketing a new listing, that agent could coach the next newbie to come aboard and move on to, say, lead generation.

In this way, new agents could become adept in every area of the transaction — or, at least, feel comfortable enough to navigate each part of the process solo if it were necessary.

At a certain point, agents would likely feel they had outgrown their team. Perhaps then they could open a dialogue with team leaders about becoming “senior members” and picking and choosing what to work on — or perhaps at that point they might find a bigger team with more sophisticated processes to uncover and learn.

Maybe they’d even decide to start their own team.

How is this different from a brokerage?

First of all, the ability to assign specific transaction tasks to specific people, instead of making one person responsible for the entire transaction, could result in an enhanced ability for the team leader to see where agents are struggling and rectify the situation.

How easy is it for a broker to pinpoint the problem areas for a new agent? If that new agent is responsible for an entire real estate transaction, then there could be dozens of factors that the broker needs to examine and help the agent rectify.

If that new agent is only working on lead generation, however, the number of pain points are reduced significantly. The team leader can eliminate any marketing, contract or negotiation issues from the list of things to be tackled and can focus on helping the agent generate leads effectively. Just that.

One thing at a time, in other words — until the agent is ready for more.

Second of all, when a group of people is working on one end goal — getting a particular house/client to closing — it becomes much more obvious when one of those people isn’t pulling his or her weight. Working on a team creates enhanced transparency between the people on that team.

If a new agent in a brokerage is responsible for a transaction and drops a ball somewhere, who knows about it, and how quickly? Maybe the client. Maybe the agent on the other side of the deal. Maybe the broker. Maybe nobody! And there’s no telling when the mistake might emerge, if it does.

If that same new agent is part of a team and fails to correctly accomplish the task set to him or her, it’s much more obvious. Someone else on the team is probably waiting for that agent to finish the task correctly. That person, at least, will notice pretty quickly if a specific something never arrives.

Is this the solution?

It certainly seems to me that teams have an opportunity to provide enhanced supervision and mentorship for agents just starting out on their career paths. I think that agents who are ill-suited for the career would likely be identified (and asked to leave the team) more quickly than they are under the current model, and the support structure provided by the team environment would help any agent who is suited to the career find his or her sea legs and thrive.

What do you think?

Email Amber Taufen

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