The Evolution of Teams

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In our work ranking the top individual agents and teams over the past 15 years, we’ve seen an evolution of teams from what they once were to an infinite variety of such arrangements. These changes have compelled us to change the way we rank teams in our annual reports. We think it is only the beginning.

Twenty-five years ago, most teams were composed of 2 to 5 agents who banded together to share the load of their businesses to allow for more time away from the business and to share some administrative and marketing costs. To some extent, the teams at that time also wanted to gain a higher commission split with their brokerage firm.

The second form of team emerged as agents became more effective at building their databases, which enhanced their ability to generate leads. Once a great agent was generating more business than they could personally handle, they would add buyer’s agents and administrative personnel to grow their reach to align with higher levels of lead generation. While some agents got very good at the internet and digital marketing, others got better at managing their databases as a means of building a growing sphere of influence (SOI) business.

These teams built lead generation and capture systems and were responsible for 90 to 100% of the business done by the agents who worked on the team.

In the past few years, we have seen a new generation of teams emerge.

  • Some form their brokerage firms
  • Some are adding mortgage, title, escrow and even a few offer iBuying capabilities
  • Some are adding agents who do their own business alongside servicing the clients and customers generated by the team
  • Others are opening multiple locations in their home metropolitan areas and around their region or the country

These third-generation teams are a cross between a traditional team and a traditional brokerage. There are also traditional brokerage firms where the owner has their team. The lines between what constitutes a team and a brokerage are less clear than ever before.

One last change that we’ve noted concerns the rise of co-listing arrangements between both who we have classified as individual agents and teams. Within a team, that falls under the team’s business. With individual agents, there is no clear line between their own business and that which they share with other agents. In our surveys, we’re encountering more individual agents who are using the ability to co-list to grow their business, enter new markets, share costs, combine expertise, and other business reasons. The challenge going forward is that these individual agents are becoming teams where co-listing becomes the standard way to operate.

The variety of agent practices will continue to evolve based on an agent’s strategies and goals. Indeed, the vast preponderance of real estate agents remains an individual in nature. But, just as brokerage firms have evolved in new and unexpected ways, so too will agents.

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This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter. It is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends, Inc. Copyright © 2020. To read the rest of this issue & more, please visit our Real Trends page online.

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