Like other successful real estate pros, I enjoyed the freedom and independence of being a solo practitioner for many years. But last year, I finally took the plunge — for many reasons.

  • More and more agents are forming partnerships and enjoying improved production.
  • Make sure you and the potential partner(s) are on the same page about a variety of issues -- don’t assume that equal and independent success will result in team success.
  • While many factors dictate a good partnership, trust and respect remain the most significant.

In this monthly column, a member of Miami’s Master Brokers Forum will examine and positively resolve potential differences that may arise between real estate professionals in the field.

This month’s edition is written by Master Broker Farid Moussallem, director of international sales at Compass for the Miami Lifestyle Team.

The situation: A solo Miami real estate agent is considering forming a partnership.

Like other successful real estate pros, I enjoyed the freedom and independence of being a solo practitioner for many years. I felt more comfortable in “my own space,” making my own decisions and living with whatever consequences came of them.

While I flirted with the idea of forming or joining a team at various times, I ultimately decided to stay independent in each instance.

But last year, I finally took the plunge — for many reasons. Primarily, I noticed that my sphere stopped carrying my business the way it had in previous years, and I needed a more diversified demography and audience. In an environment where service standards are so high, working in a team seemed to provide a valuable solution.

I also noticed that many of my fellow “single” agents were teaming up with one another, creating alliances and partnerships, while successfully expanding and growing their businesses.

Some compelling research bears out this trend.

Last year, real estate coach Tom Ferry queried nearly 3,300 industry professionals about their practices. His survey revealed that there are currently between 35,000 and 50,000 real estate teams in the U.S.; that 68 percent of respondents had what they defined as a team (while 54 percent of solo agents planned to build a team in the near future); and that, of those who currently work on a team, 61 percent said the team structure helped add up to 10 transactions to their annual sales production.

So far, my own partnership experience has been tremendously successful, but I certainly did need to learn some hard lessons along the way. Here are five critical factors you might consider about forming a real estate team.

1. Different talents and skills

When considering potential partners, it is very tempting to look for equally (or more) successful agents you like and with whom you are comfortable.

But it is more important that you also find skill sets that complement, rather than match, each other.

For example, I have more years of experience than my partner, Miltiadis Kastanis, but he has a boundless energy I can’t match. He also has a different approach to business and a new demographic of clients, and we have found a way to sync these differences into a strong working relationship.

2. Similar work ethics

While your skills and talents can be different in a successful partnership, your commitment and work ethic should be as similar as possible.

But this is a tricky quality to ascertain about your potential partner. You may have known a real estate colleague for years, but do you really know how hard they work?

Kastanis and I had many conversations about this before teaming up, and we found each other to be equally driven and passionate about our work. I have seen miscommunication about this issue lead to serious resentment in other teams.

3. Partners first

Instinctively, we tend to team up with people we like. After being in the business for so many years and developing relationships with other agents, I realized that teaming up in a partnership requires a completely different mindset.

(It is one thing to do a successful transaction with another agent, and an entirely different thing to partner up with them!)

I have worked with so many agents that I admire on so many different levels, and yet I always had some reservations about going into a full-blown partnership. Fortunately, Kastanis and I have been able to find that balance between partnership and friendship through open communication and transparency.

4. One agent, one client

The biggest challenge we have faced so far is working in harmony in front of clients (and potential clients).

It took a few rough experiences for us to reach a point where we don’t have to compete for the client’s attention. For example, the first time we both took a client out to show a property did not go well!

We assumed that our mutual respect and partnership would shine through, but instead we both had different insights that we each insisted on verbalizing. At one point I thought to myself, “the client is getting confused and overwhelmed. One of us has to shut up!”

(Fortunately, Kastanis eventually deferred to my experience.)

We had to learn that it is okay if a client likes one of us more than the other, and to let the relationship grow organically. The end goal is to provide the most personalized service we can, even if one of us has to be outshone by the other.

Now, only one of us works with a prospective client at a time, and the results have been fantastic.

5. Trust and respect

As in any relationship, trust and respect form the foundation that supports the whole structure.

In a “hands-on” business like ours, we have each had to learn how to delegate and accept the outcome.

For example, Kastanis is much better than me at marketing our properties and business. While I may want to have control in that aspect of our company, I have learned to trust his approach and not interfere in the process. (This is still something I wrestle with, but I am getting better every day!)

At the same time, he follows my lead regarding client management and pricing decisions, demonstrating trust in my areas of strength.

I understand how a longtime solo agent might still be reluctant to join forces with a colleague.

It requires a tremendous leap of faith, and the relinquishment of many areas of control. But the rewards have far outweighed any bumps and challenges in our case, and we each enjoy our work even more.

The Master Brokers Forum is a home-grown, elite network of South Florida’s top-producing real estate professionals, built on a core foundation of ethical and professional behavior.

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