AgentIndustry Voices

7 questions to ask before joining a real estate team

The “right team” will often depend on many different personal preferences. Do your due diligence.

New to real estate and thinking about joining a team? Perhaps you’ve done it on your own and an opportunity to join a team presents itself. Joining a real estate team can have many benefits, including brand recognition and shared workloads. But, it’s important to research and ask important questions before you accept a position. Taking the time to ensure it’s a mutually good fit will save you stress and heartache down the road.

The “right team” will often depend on many different personal preferences. Here are seven questions to ask to help you make the best decision for your career trajectory, finances, and ideal work-life balance.

1. How is the team structured?

The organization of a team can vary greatly in the real estate business. While large franchises have a lot of moving parts, independent teams are usually smaller and require more from their agents.

Some realtors love the “social” aspect of real estate — such as showing homes and getting to know clients — but struggle with completing transaction paperwork. Others with years of experience in the business prefer to handle it all from start to finish. Consider your preferences in this regard.

In most cases, a large team allows for a lighter workload, especially when it comes to administrative tasks like filling out the necessary paperwork to complete a transaction. Many of these businesses also have team leaders who are responsible for listings and bringing in new business.

2. What is the process for handling leads?

On the same note, it’s important to know how a team handles leads. There is usually a group of sales agents who are responsible for generating leads and passing them down to the agents. However, you should ask what the process is for sorting through these leads and assigning them.

You should also inquire about personal leads and referrals. If you know someone who wants to sell their home, do you get to keep that lead for yourself? Make sure you understand how leads are distributed among agents. The last thing you want is to join a team only to find out you would have been better off working independently.

3. How is the team performing?

The real estate market is always changing, which means a team’s success will fluctuate a bit year over year (and even month to month). That said, a solid track record is important if you want to meet your own goals. Research how long the team you’re considering has been in business and how many agents they have now compared to how many have left.

From there, dig into the data. This is the best indicator of how a team will perform in years to come. Ask if they’re willing to share production numbers. Hint: Any team that is performing well should be happy to supply this! If you prefer to do your own research, general real estate websites can help, but the numbers aren’t always completely accurate.

4. What is the compensation structure like?

While real estate is an exciting career, it’s still a job. How you get paid is important. Ask several questions about compensation structure to gain a better understanding of whether you’re going into a traditional commission split or some other type of arrangement.

In general, a commission split allows the buying and selling agents to split the commission at closing time. If they’re at the same brokerage, there is usually a prior agreement in place. This is a popular model as it rewards the highest performers on a team.

Some brokerages even offer a commission cap that allows you to keep the rest of your earnings after you’ve contributed a set amount for the year. On the other hand, a salary structure allows you to receive a salary from the broker, along with bonuses for any deals you close.

Whichever way a team handles compensation, it’s important to make sure you understand (and agree with) the terms. In addition, be sure to ask about any desk fees if you’re required to have a space in the office.

5. What type of support can I expect?

From marketing materials to mentoring, there are many ways your real estate team can support and enhance your career trajectory.

If you’re new to the industry, it may be important that you receive coaching and leads to get your foot in the door. Further, marketing in the form of ads, commercials, and an attractive social media presence may be important if you’re still building a client base.

The key here is to have clear expectations before joining a team to ensure you make the right choice for you.

6. How does the team communicate?

A cohesive team will have a process in place for staying in touch. Some are traditional and prefer to host regular face-to-face meetings in the office. Others have moved to a mostly remote model by using a combination of email communications and group chats. (Other remote practices such as virtual home tours are also growing in popularity in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Consider which approach fits your lifestyle and preferences. Perhaps you’d rather avoid driving to the office every week in order to save on gas and time. On the other hand, many people succeed in an environment where they feel a sense of camaraderie among their team members.

7. What happens if I eventually want to leave the team?

Life happens and things change, which is why it’s always important to have an exit strategy.

Ask about the policies and procedures surrounding agents who later decide to go the independent route. Can you leave the team without leaving the brokerage? Is there a timeline for when this is acceptable?

Take a thorough look at your agreement before signing to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the expectations.

Making the Right Call

If you’re still trying to get your foot in the door, joining a real estate team can be a huge help. Do your research and ask around before you make a decision. Find current or former agents to get real answers to these tough questions. Your real estate team can have a huge impact on your career, so be sure not to rush into any commitments without a solid understanding of what you’re signing up for.

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