Should You Hire a Real Estate Team? Here’s the Litmus Test

It’s official. You are selling your house. You are excited. Maybe even thrilled. But as you begin to research agents and sort through listing and reviews and recommendations of real estate agents and brokerages, your excitement fades to stress.

How do you know who to pick? Who’s recommendations do you trust? Should you just hire your co-worker’s wife’s brother? Or do you consider hiring an entire team of agents?

At HomeLight, we’ve spoken with the top real estate agents throughout the country, and we know real estate teams are a practical and valuable option for some buyers and sellers. But are you one of those buyers or sellers who would benefit from working with a team

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We’ve done our homework and present to you the major benefits of working with a real estate team as well as the major drawbacks so you don’t end up with representation that’s wrong for you.

How Do Real Estate Teams Work?

A real estate team is when two or more experienced agents work on a client’s behalf. It’s an increasingly common option for buyers and sellers who want an entire posse of agents by their side.

According to a special report from the WFG National Title Insurance Company, real estate teams have gained popularity because more and more consumers want a “wide range of specialties” and expect round-the-clock support. According to the National Association of Realtors, 19 % of Realtors work on teams, and there are 35,000 to 50,000 real estate teams in the U.S.

Plus, nearly 60% of real estate pros would consider joining a real estate team or starting one of their own.

Here’s how real estate teams work:

A more experienced agent or multiple experienced agents serve as listing agents and lead generators. You can think of them as the rainmakers. They are supported by other agents, operations staff and marketers who are tasked with other responsibilities, including transaction coordination, hosting open houses, managing the office, promoting listings and working with buyers.

The agents work in their areas of specialty, but they also work together to handle a client’s every need. If a buyer wants to see a home “as soon as possible!” and the agent is on vacation, another agent or team member will step in.

If you hire a team, you do not pay more commission.

It’s the same amount of money for you, just split among more people. Depending on the team, some staff may be on salary and agents likely earn a percentage of each sale, or they may divide each commission based on each team member’s role in the sale.

Here’s a breakdown of potential real estate team commission structures, if you are interested. Or just ask your agent how they will be paid once they sell your home.

There are different types of teams and different structures of teams. But many teams start with a busy agent who no longer has the time to do it all. They are tired of juggling marketing, paperwork, lead generation, maintaining databases, hosting open houses and so on.

Maybe they want to specialize. Maybe they realize they cannot grow without help. They often start by hiring an assistant or administrative staff member to help with the workload. Then they may add a buyer’s agent, so they can focus on listings and lead generation. Or they may hire a transaction coordinator to help with documents and paperwork as well as inputting listings on the Multiple Listings Service.

How real estate teams typically set responsibilities:

  • Listing Agent(s) – CEO
  • Listings – Coordinators and Specialists to Generate and Promote Listings
  • Buyer’s Representation – Buyer’s Specialists and Support
  • Support – Transactions Coordinators, Operations and Administration
  • Marketing and Communications – Advertising, Design, Listing Promotion

In some cases, teams will have a whole bevy of brokers, a long list of buyers and seller’s agents. And in other cases, it may just be a couple of agents and an administrative assistant. It just depends on the size and structure of the team.

Real estate agents tend to like the idea of teams. Often, they say it gives them work-life balance, lets them grow their business and allows them to focus on the parts of the work they love.

According to a report from Inman News, 42 % of agents surveyed feel the team concept is helping the industry (and 27% feel it’s hurting the industry). More than half of respondents suggested that new agents should join a team to gain experience, mentoring and leads early in their careers.

But let’s be honest, the real question is whether or not teams benefit their clients. Seriously, what’s in it for you?

3 Benefits to Hiring a Real Estate Team

A real estate team working on selling a house.
Source: (rawpixel.com/ Pexels)

1. Real Estate Teams Can Divide and Conquer

Real estate teams often have a production-line type of mindset. One person does one task over and over. That means each individual is a specialist, and they are often hired because of their skills, experience and talents in their specialty.

Ideally, that means you are working with a team of experts who each concentrate on refining a particular step in the transaction process—whether it’s a marketing coordinator bringing attention to your listing through innovative outlets or a transaction coordinator going nitty gritty on your paperwork.

Individual agents wear a ton of different hats, and in some cases an agent may be exceptional at marketing and negotiating, but they are miserable at “crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s.” Within a team, there is someone there to cross the t’s and dot the i’s for them.

Steven Cohen of the Steven Cohen Real Estate Team, who ranks #4 for homes sold in Boston, has spent countless hours forming and enhancing teams that have complementary skill sets, differentiated duties, common vision and an interest in shared outcomes. In fact, he developed the first real estate team in Boston.

First and foremost, Cohen hires team members based on their skills as well as how they fit in with the team and if they can see the vision.

For Cohen, it’s also about hiring to his weaknesses. While he’ll take a client call at 2 a.m., have a firm grasp of market trends and maintain countless connections in the industry, he knows he’s not the guy to dive deep into the details of a contract.

“I need people who are obsessed with making sure that not one red paperclip makes its way into the blue paperclip bin,” he says. “They are the kind of people who read the terms and conditions of any contract. …I want to make sure we are surrounded by people who scrutinize.”

2. Real Estate Teams are Always At The Ready

“Someone should always be available to hold the client’s hand.” That’s what one real estate team lead told the New York Times in 2009 about the benefits of working with a team.

The sentiment is the same nearly a decade later. Maybe your A.C. breaks down at 11 p.m. the night before your home sale becomes official and you have no idea what to do or how to tell the buyers.

With a team, someone is always available to take your calls and answer your questions. And it’s beyond answering questions at odd hours. When things go wrong, like really really wrong, a team has the bandwidth to provide support at any time in the transaction process. Cohen tells the story of a client who was moving abroad and was out of the country after closing. First, their movers could not get into the house, and then the sewer line collapsed. Members of his team (as well as a plumber) were there to respond — even when the homeowners couldn’t.

“Yeah, sewage is coming up through a bathtub. It gets clutch, and it requires coordination. If the client can’t show up, there is someone who can get over there to help,” he says.

3. Synergy. Yeah, We Said It.

Synergy. It’s a word so mocked that it’s now a caricature of itself. But no matter how lame it sounds, when real estate teams are at their best, they are synergistic as heck. When all the parts and players are working just right, there is an intangible beauty to the collaboration. Call it esprit de corps.

With a real estate team, you potentially get more contacts, more creativity and more wisdom. You have access to the collective knowledge, experience and skill sets of a group of agents.

So, that means real estate teams are better right?

Not exactly.

Individual agents will be quick to say that having more agents does not necessarily mean your home will sell faster or for more money. As one real estate agent put it, “I know some see real estate as a team sport, but I have never understood how a group of people or even two people can sell a home better and faster than one person can. Using that logic, if it takes one woman nine months to have a baby, then shouldn’t nine women be able to do it in a month?”

There’s something to think about. Developing a cohesive team takes great care and attention. If it’s not done carefully and intentionally, you and your sale may be impacted. Which leads us to our next point…

2 Drawbacks to Hiring a Real Estate Team

A real estate team working at a coffee shop.
Source: (Daria Shevtsova/ Unsplash)

1. There’s Always Risk of A Few Bad Apples on Real Estate Teams

Researchers and organizational psychologists have spent a lot of time and energy studying the potential pitfalls and perils of teamwork (you can read about it here, here and here). Even the folks at Google used their vast resources to learn the key to teamwork (hint: it’s something you learned on the playground).

But maybe the research that is most relevant to this whole question of whether real estate teams are worthwhile is a study called “Real Estate Team Risks and Rewards.” The results are based on surveying nearly a thousand agents. While there are some positive outcomes from this research, 61% of respondents said, “Confusion about who does what is the biggest issue clients face while working with a team.”

Here are other ways that agents reported team dynamics negatively impacting the client experience:

  • Not knowing who to contact (64%)
  • Being bounced between team members (63%)
  • Preconceived expectation about dealing with the team leader (61%)
  • Poor communication (56%)
  • Lack of personalized service (48%)

If the team is not put together carefully and if the team does not have a strong leader and strong members, the transaction process can get messy.

So, how do you combat that? Cohen suggests asking a lot of questions during the interview.

“There is always the power of questions,” he says. “Ask questions that allow you to discover how intentionally the team has been created.”

Ask these questions to get an understanding of who does what on the team.

  • What are the functions of each member of the team?
  • How long have their agents been on the team?
  • What do they consider when they hire?
  • What is their track record?

He also suggests checking reviews and asking friends for recommendations.

2. You’re Missing That One-on-One Time

It’s simple: If you don’t want to work with a group of people, a team may not be the best choice for you. If you hate the idea of working with someone other than the listing agent, a team may not be the best choice. If you like the idea of developing a bond with a single agent, don’t even consider going with a team.

But if you love the idea of working with specialists or feel confident having an army of agents helping you along the way, a real estate team is a good way to go. If you want service 24/7 and you admittedly need a lot of hand-holding, seriously think about hiring a team.

And there is nothing wrong with hand holding. We don’t judge.

With all this information and research, the expert advice and the handy tips, you are ready to find an agent or a team of agents who will best match your wants, needs and expectations. So sit back, relax and tell your co-worker’s wife’s brother that you’ve got this.

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