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How independent leader Tim Langhauser built his “teamerage”

Compass Home Group team leader, Tim Langhauser discusses goal setting and the importance of team culture with RealTrends

Tim Langhauser says that both his real estate career and the founding of his team, Compass Home Group, came about organically.

The Bel Air, Maryland-based team leader entered the real estate industry after a friend’s mom asked him to help with bookkeeping and administrative work at her new brokerage franchise.

“Ultimately, what was my internship for college, turned into my job for about seven years,” Langhauser said. “Then about 10 years ago I switched over from the admin side to the sales side and I have been doing that ever since.”

After first starting his team with his wife at a local Keller Williams office in 2012, Langhauser and his team struck out on their own founding their own “teamerage,” called Compass Home Group, LLC, an independent brokerage not affiliated with Keller Williams or the brokerage Compass.

In 2021, Langhauser’s team closed 198 transaction sides for a total of $65.2 million in sales volume, making them the No. 163 ranked small team in the 2022 RealTrends +Tom Ferry America’s Best rankings. The team is also No. 6 small team by transaction sides in the state of Maryland.

RealTrends recently spoke with Langhauser to discuss his team’s strategy for success and the importance of strong team culture.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Brooklee Han: After your initial introduction to the real estate industry, can you tell me what prompted your decision to move over to the sales side of things?

Tim Langauser: I have a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and as an administrator, I just got tired of coaching and educating Realtors, them not following my advice and then complaining to me about their business. So, I decided to start doing sales myself.

BH: You started your career as a solo agent. Can you tell me a bit about how you started your team and how it has evolved over the years?

Langhauser: My wife is my business partner, and it was just the two of us for the first two or three years. We were with Keller Williams, and we followed all their models at the time. Eventually, we brought in a part-time admin and then transitioned them to full-time. Then, we brought on a second admin. Eventually, we started added agents whose skills we felt we could leverage on the team. Last year, we had four agents, as of right now we have nine team members, but three are full-time support staff. However, they are also licensed brokers, as we require all our staff to be licensed brokers. We have a pretty decent spread of experience levels and ages on our team, from a few members in their mid-20s to some in their late-40s.

BH: How is your team structured? Are there any divisions of work?

Langhauser: Up until about 18 months ago, my wife and I handled all the listing inventory for sellers. In early 2021, we shifted the focus from having listing agents and buyers’ agents to everyone being full-service real estate professionals. Everyone on our team handles buyers and sellers and puts their name on the transaction.

About two years ago, we sat down with the team and went over big focus, which is our sphere of influence and database, and in building that through the team, as we brought in more agents, we realized that we are coaching all of these people to be the face of the team in front of the people they know, love and trust.

We were the ones putting the sign in the yard. So, we decided to make that shift so that now our team builds the trust with their clients, enabling them to be a bigger resource for the team. When we built our team, we never wanted our last name to be a part of the name because we wanted our agents to maintain their sense of identity.

We so have niches that came about naturally based on what phase of life our agents are in and who is in their sphere of influence. So, a team member who is in his mid-20s works with a lot of our first-time homebuyers. Another agent, who is in her mid-40s and has two daughters, works with people looking to buy their second or third home.

BH: How has being part of a team changed your business?

Langhauser: My wife and I managed to build up a decent business on our own, but now with the team, the amount of business and the number of word-of-mouth referrals we get is just so much larger. We do a lot of community and client-based events. The more people we bring into those, the more exposure we are giving our team.

Building the team has given my wife and I leverage. There are not a lot of weekends that we have to work now because we have other agents who can work them. In the real estate market, people want access to information 24/7, so having people to fill in for you when you need to take a break is huge.

BH: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced while building your team and how have you overcome them?

Langhauser: The first seven years it was just me and my wife. We were trying to coach, educate and push our team to hit the goals that we had set for them, and we were always the ones left feeling disappointed and frustrated.

It felt like we were fighting a losing battle. When I say we were trying to get them to hit goals we had set, we never sat down and asked them what they wanted or what their goals were.

About three years ago, we changed our mindset and sat down with each member of our team and asked them about their personal goals and where they wanted to take their real estate business.

When we started doing that, things really exploded. When one of your agents is successful, it puts a spotlight on your team as well. Then, you have other agents from other teams or brokerages see that an agent hit their goal, and it was because they had the help and support of the team. Then, you start growing your team.

BH: What are some of the things you are working on to improve with your team?

Langhauser: So, about three or four months ago, we started working with our agents to make sure that they are running their operation like a business. We sit down with profit and loss statements and try to figure out where they could be doing things differently.

Real estate markets go up and down, but if we can get them to run more like a traditional business, then there are some highs and lows, but more of a steady flow of clients.

One of our agents wanted to buy an investment property this year, and we worked with her on that. She closed on the property last month. So, working with our agents on building the long-term wealth of their family is also a lot of fun.

BH: Teams have become more and more popular over the past few years. Why do you think that is?

Langhauser: Teams allow agents to do what they love most. If you look at behavioral profiles of agents, most are extroverts. They want to be out there in front of people, making sales, closing business, and helping people, except paperwork and office work is about 80% of their job. With a team, you can get that support and have people who like doing the office work, do the office work and you can be out doing what you love to do.

BH: After you all left Keller Williams you set up your own brokerage for your team — “teamerage” if you will. Can you walk me through the process of setting that up?

Langhauser: It came down to the culture of the office. When you are in a big office sometimes there are anywhere from 50 to 300 real estate agents working out of the office. It is very hard when you are surrounded by other agents and teams to kind of mold your team culture to what you want.

There can be a lot of competition and toxicity, and it is hard to hold on to what you are trying to build. We literally had people from other teams approach our members and try to poach them. So, for us it was a no-brainer. We had built the business to the point where it felt like if we were going to do this, we should become a boutique agency. It was scary at first.

We thought there would be a lot of hurdles to jump because we weren’t one of the big names, but what we found was the complete opposite. People love the fact that we are small and have an office right on the main street in our town.

Plus, we are involved in the community, I am a member of the Chamber of Commerce, I sit on the boards of some local charitable organizations, we go to all of the community events and parades. So, when people see us as a boutique brokerage, they also see that we are actively involved in the community.

BH: What is your best piece of advice for a new team or an agent looking to start a team?

Langhauser: Hire good administrative support first. A good admin should allow you to leverage enough time to increase your own salary three or four times because they take enough of the back-office work from you that you can be out selling real estate. Then, as you bring in more agents, you will already have people in place to handle all the paperwork.

We also now have our own onboarding system, that teaches new members everything from how to work our CRM, to the different community events we do, to how we work our open houses, and then we help them map out their first six to nine months with us. We have also started to compile a list of questions new agents ask us all the time, so we are establishing our own FAQ page.

Being a boutique, we have to create all those resources, so that is definitely a downside, but it gives us more control over our culture.