Agent salaries and compensation is one of the most controversial topics in real estate. The general consensus from two Inman Connect New York 2020 panels — “Let’s Get Real: The Agent Compensation Discussion” and “From the Trenches: Team Members Talk” — is that each brokerage’s situation is highly specific. But all work best when teams collaborate on a common goal.
“The value proposition is the conversation — coaching, training and providing them the necessary support, systems and more than enough leads, so they can focus on their most dollar productive activities to hit their individual financial goals, then helping each agent stay on track for these goals.” said Sue Adler, CEO of the Sue Adler Team at Keller Williams Realty. Her agents are compensated through commission while the admin and lead gen arms of the team get salaries and bonuses.
In large brokerages, different agents specialize on specific areas of the homebuying transaction — one may work specifically on securing leads while another shows the homes. In such cases, it may not make sense to have agents compensated for individual aspects of their job because all members of the team work together to close a sale.
“If you need someone to open the door for you, you don’t expect to pay them,” said Jill Biggs, principal of The Jill Biggs Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Everybody helps everybody.”
Meanwhile, Ilan Bracha, founder of The Bracha Team at Keller Williams NYC, pays members of his six-person team showing and transaction fees alongside a base salary. He believes it motivates his agents to hustle and fight for sales.
“When you start to spend money on advertising and leads, it becomes a business,” said Bracha. “[…] I think it’s a win-win as long as the inventory is priced to sell. You only need to do a few showings and get the offer.”
Some agents prefer to have the support, even while giving up the opportunity to make a lot of money individually, of a large-scale brokerage — particularly in terms of things like advertising and leads.
“There’s a convenience to not having to schedule things,” said Kelsey McGaughey, an agent with the PR Group at Intero Real Estate Services in Houston. “[…] If I have to pay for signs and a personal coach and a transaction coordinator, I would probably be spending more at the end of the day.”
But ultimately, each team leader needs to gauge its team, what works and what doesn’t, said Chris Anuszewski, director of operations for the Figueroa Team. Some agents will immediately want to rise to positions of leadership while others do their best work in teams. The goal is to make sure that team members trust you, feel fairly compensated and are channeled into venues that allow them to do their best work.
“As a team leader, you have to have trust in your people and they have to have trust in you,” said Anuszewski. “You have to ask yourself ‘am I doing enough to earn that trust?'”
UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect comments from Sue Adler. Inman regrets this error.