To join a real estate team, or to go solo? That is the question — and an important topic to consider for new brokers who are just getting started in the business.
Here in Chicago, real estate teams are quite common, both at my brokerage Baird & Warner, and at other real estate brokerages around the city.
As with so many decisions in the early days of your real estate career, the choices you make now can have a significant impact on your success down the line. But it’s important to remember that there is no one “right” or “wrong” way to move forward.
Ultimately, choosing whether or not you should become part of a real estate team is a personal decision, based on what matters most to you. There are pros and cons to both options — and lots of important questions for new-to-the business brokers to keep in mind.
What Is the Purpose of a Real Estate Team?
Historically speaking, there are a few different reasons for forming a real estate team — some more common than others, particularly here in Chicago.
At a fundamental level, one reason that many people say that a team should be formed is to improve client experience. When one or two agents are generating more business than they can handle effectively alone, a team is a way to scale up, without sacrificing the ability to communicate and work with their clients. A real estate team can provide additional support, in order to produce a top-level experience that benefits buyers, sellers, and brokers.
For others, forming a team is simply a way to aggregate production levels between agents. In other cases, forming a team can be a way to create more accountability for brokers and provide structure. Some people are more motivated when working together, or when they can focus on playing to their particular skill sets — for example, if one broker loves working directly with clients, and another prefers to specialize in marketing and lead generation.
Is Joining a Real Estate Team the Right Fit for a New Broker?
For a broker who is new to the business, it’s easy to see why the idea of a team can be very enticing — as a way to learn about the business, become a part of more transactions, get out in the field, and help with your professional development.
In my experience, joining a team too soon can have some limitations for new-to-the-business brokers for a number of reasons and it is important to make sure you are fully informed before making that commitment.
For one thing, as a team member who is new to the business, it is more than likely that you’ll end up doing tasks that others in the group do not want to do, like attaching lockboxes to properties or coordinating with home stagers and photographers. These “field work” jobs are incredibly valuable, and you can certainly learn a lot from them. But while you may be busy, you may not necessarily be taking on all the responsibilities that you want, or learning about the profession from every angle.
While joining a team as a newer broker can give you service-level training and exposure, it may not help you develop your own real estate business..
When launching a real estate career, it’s important to know how to provide fantastic service to clients — but it’s also vital that you get the chance to learn how to nurture, grow, and develop leads and opportunities of your own. Fitting into a system or servicing another broker’s leads can make it harder to learn important lead generation and development skills, which can benefit you throughout your career.
Finally, it’s worth considering what you truly want out of your experience in real estate. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to the real estate business, but one thing I’ve observed is that the most successful brokers tend to be self-starters. Often, people who are the most successful in this industry get into real estate to become more independent, take risks, and try to grow a business that they can be proud of.
If that’s what your mindset is, going to work for a team is more akin to finding an employee job. Over time, it may start to feel limiting, and divert your focus away from your more personal goals. Joining a team isn’t necessarily a “fast track” to success. If you’re serious about building your own real estate business, then there’s no substitute for jumping in and carving out your own path.
Finding the Training, Coaching, and Mentorship That’s Right for You
Joining a team can be a way to get your footing in the real estate industry, but it’s worth considering what other opportunities are available for coaching and ongoing training.
Around the country, some real estate brokerages emphasize teams as a way to replace or supplement office-level support and training. In some arrangements, joining a team can take the place of one-on-one coaching and individual mentorship.
As a brokerage, Baird & Warner believes in providing strong, ongoing training programs for brokers at every stage of their careers. We certainly live by that principle here at Baird & Warner Lincoln Park.
For new brokers, my philosophy is that it is the responsibility of the office and myself, as a Designated Managing Broker, to teach you and help you learn the business. As a full-time, non-competing manager, my focus is solely on helping each and every broker achieve at the highest possible level.
I believe in an individualized approach, encouraging every broker to maximize his or her own natural style and strengths — backed by the support of my fellow managers and the office as a whole.
Even when new brokers join a team, I believe that it’s important to continue providing ongoing training and development opportunities. When all of your education is centered around one team’s structure, you run the risk of only learning one way of doing things. This can limit your perspective and, ultimately, your ability to grow.
Whatever path you take in real estate, it’s important to get an entire model for how to build a successful real estate business, learning all that you can at every opportunity.
Want to Talk About Building Your Real Estate Career?
When it comes to joining a real estate team or working as an individual, finding the right fit will come down to many factors that are unique to you — your personality, your goals, your professional expectations, your communication style, and so on.
At the same time, it’s crucial to remember that no two real estate teams are ever going to be exactly alike. Before joining a team or forming one of your own, it’s crucial to think about how the team will be structured, and whether the culture will be a match for where you are and where you’d like to go.
Will there be specialization or delegation of certain responsibilities? What opportunities will be available — from ongoing training sessions to marketing materials? Do you like the team’s branding and marketing strategies? Is it a culture that you can fit into easily? Are the current team members easy to communicate with, responsive, and pleasant to be around? Are there financial considerations to take into account, like splitting commissions or sharing the costs of supplies and marketing? Is the team leader someone you can look to as a coach and mentor? Is there going to be an equal emphasis on serving opportunities and learning how to find them?
These are big questions, with no easy answers. Real estate truly is a career that tests the old phrase: “You get from it what you put into it.” If you are not intentional with your actions and following a plan, it is very easy to lose sight of the necessary steps that can help you reach your goals.Want to discuss all of the opportunities that are available to you? I always welcome the opportunity to discuss your real estate career. Whether you are considering a career change or looking for a new partner in your existing business, I am here whenever you want to connect.