Real Estate Teams vs. Real Estate Agent
The real estate business is one of the most highly competitive job markets. And all real estate agents are in fact small business owners. They have an ever-growing client list, new leads, open houses, scheduling, marketing, budgeting, mailers, websites, and a never-ending list of responsibilities that seems to demand more and more time. It’s a fast-paced competitive housing world out there. Without the best tools and resources it’s possible to lose your clients to a more established realtor or realty team machine.
I’d like to look into the pros and cons of a realtor working alone compared to working with a team in the real estate business. I’ve interviewed two real estate contacts to give me some more insight on their experiences of being part of a team versus working solo.
Melinda Estridge of The Estridge Group says that “…to stay a single agent, in many ways it is less complicated, but it was not in the best interest of my clients to function at my best.” She is not only a realtor, but also manages a team of realtors who possess their own skills to help clients through the process of buying and selling real estate in the Bethesda MD, Chevy Chase MD and Washington DC areas.
On the other hand, Kika James is a real estate agent from Keller Williams Realty working in the Piedmont Triad of NC. She has chosen against being part of a realtor team. “As an individual agent I personally get to work with each and every client and build relationships. I think that’s priceless especially for first-time home buyers.” Some successful real estate agents will be approached by a team and asked to join. When Kika was asked she declined, “I decided at this time being an individual agent works best for me.” Though, she points out that “…there are benefits to both systems. I currently work as an individual agent because it also allows me the ability to control the vision for how I run my business.”
Just as difficult as it is to manage any business on your own, the real estate business can be overwhelming to operate as one realtor alone. “Our business has become too difficult and integral to have the same person doing everything.” According to Melinda, drawing from her own experience as sole realtor to then becoming a team manager, “It is counter intuitive to think that the same person would be well-versed in technology, have excellent sales and negotiation skills, be able to be an excellent administrative person and an artistic and creative marketing person. Not only is it rare but highly unlikely.” It is true that realtors wear many hats, so having a team allows her to tap into various talents and share the load of real estate administration.
Kika has a different experience and thinks that “working in a team is more complicated.” Since she wants to provide a personalized experience, she would rather spend her extra time with clients rather than “…spending more time managing people and processes and trying to make sure the customer experience remains a priority.” In this way she has more time for her clients. “It allows me the chance to help buyers one-on-one as they navigate the process to homeownership.”
Both Melinda and Kika seem to agree on one point, that both options can have their benefits and complications. The decision lies with how you want to run your business and what experience you want to offer your clientele.
The multiple administrative responsibilities can become overwhelming for realtors at times. Is that a good enough reason to go the team route? It seems that time spent one way or another is up to the individual realtor’s time management skills. In Melinda’s experience, “…if an agent gets tied up with the administrative parts of the business they are not able to effectively give the time and attention to more than three sets of clients at a time. If you have reached your limit with three clients and that’s it, you’re busy and not readily able to get the experience or knowledge needed to stay on the cutting edge.”
Another drawback to solo agents according to Melinda is “The single agent often works 24/7 with very little boundaries in their social life. Not to mention the fear of taking time off.” If you are trying to create a healthy work-life balance in the real estate business, working with a team may allow you to take advantage of much needed vacation days. We all need time off work!
In these situations where a vacation is needed or more clients and opportunities arise, Kika says “…if I’m in a position of needing assistance, I provide opportunities to new agents to assist with open houses.” If you are going to be a successful real estate agent, whether you are a part of a team or driving solo, Kika reinforces that “Time management is a huge piece to handling all of my clients. I block time for appointments, consultations and showings so that I can provide the best service possible to each client.”
Kika works alone, but she is not past asking for help from other agents. “I’m blessed to work for a firm that encourages teamwork between both teams and individuals.” Not only will she ask for help from her peers in the business, but she also has hired assistants in the past. “As my business continues to grow I will be looking to add an assistant.” That interest in hiring an assistant may lead to creating a team down the road, but working on her own has too many pros at this time. “As agents grow their business they have the option to hire a virtual assistant, someone to handle administrative pieces (Contract-to-Close) or a runner which would free up their time to focus on income producing activities. Individual agents who see an uptick in business, but aren’t ready to build a team can use this avenue,” Kika advises.
Once you get to a point in the business where you have a large pool of clients, working with a team may be beneficial. As Melinda puts it, “If the group is a good one with well-trained members, it functions at a very high level and gives the greatest amount of service and expertise to the client.”
Obviously, the most important priority is the client no matter if you are an individual agent or the realtor team. If you are working in real estate and cannot manage to give your clients the time they need, then you are in the wrong business. Just as my mortgage clients appreciate my responsiveness, prompt attention is a direct benefit of effective time management skills. In order to win in the real estate industry, time management and customer relations are very important traits in the business.
Melinda points out yet another positive aspect of working with teams is that they “make more money so they have more resources to spend on marketing and the latest technology for their clients.” Technology such as software and websites can be a very expensive investment. Unless you are able to find a reliable and affordable service/individual to hire, it could be hard to get ahead of the competition.
And the winner is…
It depends on what you are looking for in a home shopping experience.
With Melinda, she prefers giving her clients an experience of high-tech efficiency that can handle any number of clients at one time, especially with the help of her team. “The day of the single successful agent is waning and I am not sure if I can think of any advantages.” This is why she has chosen to continue to grow her team.
For those first-time home buyers who are interested in dealing with only one person, then look for an individual realtor.
The bottom line is that production, years in the business, and stats need to be compared between the single agent and the realtor team. When you check statistics like days on market, closing sales price versus list price, unit volume, and how much business they do in the specific neighborhood that you want to buy or sell in, that is where you’ll find it easiest to make a determination.