If the 80-20 principle is correct, then agents must delegate tasks. But broker Nick Schlekeway says many agents have taken it too far. Here are the areas agents should stop delegating and personally handle with care.

No one can predict the future of real estate, but you can prepare. Find out what to prepare for and pick up the tools you’ll need at Virtual Inman Connect on Nov. 1-2, 2023. And don’t miss Inman Connect New York on Jan. 23-25, 2024, where AI, capital and more will be center stage. Bet big on the future and join us at Connect.

The Pareto Principle states that approximately 80 percent of our results stem from only 20 percent of our daily work, but real estate agents display an alarming and consistent tendency to delegate or disregard some of the most critical responsibilities in their businesses. 

Many of them do not know which 20 percent generates 80 percent of the results, and most do not delegate strategically to ensure their time is spent in those activities that are most productive. In extreme cases, their process for strategic planning and delegation seems to be formed around avoiding the things they don’t enjoy more than any real sense of vision for where they want to go.

Now don’t get me wrong: One person cannot do it all, nor should they. However, it’s also critical to note that you are responsible for the most important functions in your business. And you shouldn’t be passing them off to an admin — regardless of experience — who, by definition, does not know what you know.   

Here are 10 of the most critical aspects of running a successful real estate business that should not be delegated (but often are):

1. Key relationships

Real estate sales are relationship sales in their purest form. The health and vitality of your relationships with others, your rapport, and your ability to engender trust is the most important aspect of success in a business that is ruled by referral and word-of-mouth advertising.  

2. Critical moments in the transaction

Calming fears, relaying critical expertise and wisdom, closing the relationship, negotiating the deal, handing out keys, funding and recording — if you aren’t there for the big stuff, don’t be surprised if you fail to get referrals and repeat business.

3. Personal visits and gift deliveries

Nothing says you care like personal visits, lunches, drinks or gift deliveries on special occasions. Nothing says you don’t care, like delegating these things to someone else. 

4. Lead generation and lead conversion 

Simply put, you will develop relationships with all your best clients and the best referral sources. Although this group of “best” will evolve over time, these key relationships cannot be passed off to someone else or delegated. Ever. 

5. Strategy and systems

It’s up to us to form a compelling vision first before communicating that vision to our team. Only then can we assist with forming the specific strategy and systems that need to be built to bring a vision to life. Assistants and administrators can jump in to help build the systems and execute the strategy only after we have done our part to form it in the first place. 

6. Strategic partnerships

You must take charge of who will be a partner and how they fit into the overall plan, be they lenders, title and escrow officers, builders, referral partners, high-net-worth individuals, or legal or accounting professionals.

7. Branding and brand promise

Does your brand promise fit into your vision, or are you delegating this to your admin and just telling them to come up with something that looks good?

8. Marketing, advertising, lead generation

You cannot expect your administration to have the intimate knowledge of buyer and seller needs that you have as an experienced agent, nor can you expect them to understand your voice and how you want to show up in your advertising. You have to set the tone and the structure for these campaigns before you pass them off to be executed.

9. Marketing presentation collateral

What goes into your presentations — listing or otherwise? Yes, you can delegate putting them together, but if you don’t tell them what to include and what the objective is, don’t be surprised when it is not meeting your internal expectations.

10. Hiring and team building

Getting the right people on your team and building that team up takes enormous effort, patience, and vision. Attempting to delegate the vision of how your team will function or what types of people will fill the roles that need to be filled will end in disaster. 

Keep in mind, with any critical function of your business, that a failure to take action and allow your admin or team members to make these decisions for you is no different than choosing to delegate them.

Also, notice that the words lead generation appear several times in this list. Although team members may help you execute strategy, you are ultimately responsible for generating leads and creating opportunities for your business.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. This is leadership in action.

I can almost hear you say, “How in the world am I supposed to find the time to do all of this stuff when I am swamped as it is?” The answer is to stop doing many of the things you are currently doing every day that you should be delegating and letting go of. 

Nick Schlekeway is the founder of Amherst Madison, a Boise, Idaho-based real estate brokerage. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription