Two women starting a real estate team

Maybe It's Time to Start Your Own Real Estate Team

May 26, 2022 Realtor Resources Share:

For many people, joining a real estate team is a great way to take your real estate business to the next level. But joining a real estate team isn’t for everyone.

Some agents, especially those who work part-time or as a hobby, may find that working on their own is a better fit. Alternatively, other agents who have found success working on their own may want to consider starting their own real estate team.

But starting a real estate team takes careful consideration and planning. If you’re thinking about starting your own real estate team, here’s what you really need to know before making that leap.

If you’ve found success working as an independent real estate agent, it may seem like starting your own real estate team would be the next logical move in your career. And for some agents, it is. But you need to determine whether or not it’s the right career move for you.

Key Traits of Real Estate Team Leaders

When you start a real estate team, you’re committing to an immense task. You need to have key leadership and management skills to ensure that your team will experience success.

Leadership Skills

To be a good leader, you need to have so much more than a big personality. While it may seem counterintuitive, you need to be able to delegate well. Many great agents love to be in control, but this isn’t a great trait for team leads. When you’re working on your own, you have to do everything yourself. But when you start a real estate team, you need to not only delegate tasks but also need to trust that your agents will do those tasks well.

Humility is another key trait that’s necessary for anyone who wants to start a real estate team. Jamey Reynolds, co-founder of the Josh Vernon group says, “Starting a real estate team isn’t a path to ease. If you start a real estate team, you’re going to make a tremendous amount of mistakes. But it’s in learning from your mistakes that you’re going to experience growth.” You can’t start a real estate team believing that you already know everything.

You also need to be someone who operates with integrity. When you’re working on your own, it might be tempting to cut corners. But when you start a real estate team, that kind of leadership is doomed to fail. Reynolds says, “Never start a real estate team if you’re simply looking to work less and make more money off the backs of other people.”

Good team leaders are also effective communicators. Whether you’re training agents, managing personnel, or dealing with conflict resolution, you’re going to need to be able to communicate clearly with your team.

Finally, you have to be fully committed to the success of your real estate team. Starting a team isn’t something to do halfheartedly or as a side hustle. If you’re someone who’s known for being a quick starter that struggles with follow-through, you may struggle to lead a real estate team that will stand the test of time.

Management Skills

In addition to having the right leadership skills to start a real estate team, you also need to be prepared to be a good manager. Not all great agents will make great managers. Marcus Hunt, Owner and Partner at South Oak Title & Closing compares starting a real estate team to running a restaurant franchise.

“If you’re running a restaurant franchise, you can’t rely solely on the restaurant’s brand to be successful. Even if the restaurant is fantastic, you’re going to run into difficulty if you don’t have the skills to manage your team well. Service will suffer and your customers won’t come back.” In the same way, not every outstanding real estate agent also has the skills to manage a team of people. The skills needed to be a successful agent aren’t necessarily the same skills needed to run a team.

When you’re starting a real estate team, you’re not just partnering up with other agents to sell houses; you’re actually starting a business. And starting a business requires you to have your financial house in order. How are you with managing your finances as an independent agent? How you manage the finances for your real estate team will directly impact your ability to recruit and retain quality talent for your team.

You also need to be able to manage personnel. Starting a real estate team will require you to recruit and hire agents, and it will also require you to be able to fire them. Are you willing to make difficult personnel decisions for the good of your team? Hiring and retaining the right people for your team will be key to your team’s success.

Training is another key part of personnel management on a real estate team. You’ll not only need to be able to train new agents in your systems and your team’s way of doing things, but you’ll also need to be able to provide ongoing challenges and professional development to keep your team engaged and bought in.

Other Key Assets for Teams

You may be the ideal person to start a real estate team, but you also need the right environment to experience success. A supportive brokerage is going to be key to your team’s success. In fact, your brokerage can be an incredible asset as you plan to start your team as they come alongside you and help you develop your team. Some brokerages even have financial structures in place that are designed to help teams thrive.

Marcus Hunt says, “If your brokerage teaches about teams, you’re probably in a great environment for starting your own team. However, it would be unwise to move forward in starting a team if your brokerage isn’t going to be supportive.”

You also need to consider timing as you consider starting your real estate team. Although starting a team (or any new business) is always a risk, you need to ensure that you have the time, energy, and motivation to dedicate to your team’s success.

And most importantly, you need to have a vision for your real estate team. Jamey Reynolds says, “It really is so important to begin your team with the end in mind. Know where you want to go with your team and what kind of business you want to have.”

He also stresses that your vision must extend beyond yourself. “You need to want to share the success you’re experiencing with other people. And if your vision is big enough, the agents you hire won’t outgrow it and want to move on.” Having a clear vision for your team will direct everything you do, from hiring to training and growth.

Hunt says, “Never start a real estate team if you’re just looking to boost your ego or make a ton of money.” If you’re only looking out for yourself, your vision isn’t large enough to support a real estate team. To be successful in leading a real estate team, you need to be passionate about real estate and helping others grow.

Starting Your Real Estate Team

Once you’ve decided to start a real estate team, the best time to start one is before you’re too busy to keep up with the clients that you have. If you wait until you’re overwhelmed with work, you won’t have the margin required to cast a vision for your team, implement systems the right way, and train your team adequately. Starting a team will require both forethought and risk.

Reynolds also says, “I highly recommend that anyone who’s starting a real estate team should try to find a mentor. When we started our team, we really just figured things out on our own. The support of someone who’s been there before you is really valuable.” A mentor can provide personal advice and encouragement as you start your new team.

There are a few ways to start a real estate team. One way is to start by adding administrative support to your existing real estate business. This allows you to organically grow your individual business while outsourcing administrative tasks such as bookkeeping and scheduling. After adding your administrator, you can add another agent (such as a buyer’s agent), continuing to grow as your needs increase.

Another way to build a real estate team is by adding agents to your team first. With a focus on lead generation and lead development, agents work together to grow their base of leads. When you build this type of team, you have an intentional plan for growth. But for this type of team to be successful, your initial team members need to be committed to consistent systems and administrative structures.

Develop Essential Systems for your Team

When you’re working as an independent agent, you can do what works for you. But when you’re starting a team, you need to develop consistent, reliable, and stable systems.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of good administrative systems. Jamey Reynolds says, “One of the biggest mistakes we made when we were starting our team was not hiring administrative support early on. Without that support, things got complicated.” Not every realtor is gifted in admin. Hiring someone who can create excellent systems and manage this side of your business enables the other members of the team to focus on lead development and sales.

You also need a financial framework that is fair and beneficial to the entire team. You’ll need to have a plan for how you’ll structure commissions and splits as well as how you’ll handle expenses. Additionally, thinking through performance incentives will help your team maintain production and retain your star agents.

You’ll also need to have a hiring plan for your team. Do you know the type of people you’re looking to hire for your team, and do you have a plan for when to hire them? It’s essential that you hire people who will represent you and your team well while fitting in with your team’s culture and vision.

Similarly, you need to also have a plan for firing agents. While no one likes the idea of letting someone go, failing to fire agents who aren’t performing or who aren’t a good fit for the team can hurt your entire team.

Finally, reporting and tracking can be easy to overlook but are key to the success of your team. Data provides accountability and a straightforward picture of how the individuals on your team are performing. Tracking also provides safeguards for your team, ensuring that you’re following up on leads or staying on top of a contract from beginning to end.

Retaining Agents for your Team

One thing that many people don’t consider when starting a real estate team is how to retain their agents. When you hire someone to be a part of your team, you invest time and money in training. But if your team is successful, it’s also an incubator for successful agents. As agents grow more and more successful, they may want to try to move out on their own. But as a team leader, you don’t want to constantly be rebuilding your team.

Jamey Reynolds says, “You have to go into this knowing that people will come and go, and you can’t take that personally.” But he says that there are some things you can do to retain your agents.

“Retention starts with hiring the right people. You want the people you hire to be aligned with your team’s mission, core values, and vision. But once they’re on your team, you have to stay in communication. Be willing to listen to their ideas and try new things. Adapt to the changing needs of your team, whether it’s adjustments to your compensation structures or providing new opportunities within your organization.”

He also says it’s key to remember why agents joined your team in the first place. “Agents don’t join your team because you have a magical compensation plan. They join because they want to be in business with you, learn from you, and grow with you. People don’t just leave without cause. They usually leave because they’re no longer in alignment with your team’s vision or they don’t have the opportunities to do what they want to do.”

Plan to Fail

Even if you’re incredibly qualified to start a successful real estate team, you’re still going to make mistakes along the way. Jamey Reynolds says, “It’s not a question of if you’re going to fail, it’s a question of when.” But failure is always an opportunity for growth.

“One of the best things we did when we were starting our team was to fail fast. When we made mistakes, we tried to identify them quickly, learn from them, and move on,” Reynolds continues. Failures should never define you or your team; instead, consider them a natural part of the process of starting a real estate team.

Reynolds also emphasizes the importance of giving your team members space to fail. “When you have people on your team, you need to get out of their way and let them make and learn from their own mistakes.” You have to be able to trust your team members to do their jobs.

Starting a real estate team isn’t for the faint of heart. Reynolds says, “This is going to push you harder as an agent and as a leader. This certainly isn’t a path to easy. You’re going to make a tremendous amount of mistakes, and you’re also going to experience incredible growth.”

Whether you’re starting a real estate team or considering joining one, being a part of a real estate team can be a rewarding way to take your career to the next level. If you’d like to learn more about real estate teams, check out the other posts in our series:

At South Oak, we love working with realtors and teams. Whether you’re looking to join a team or think you’d like to learn more about starting your own, we can connect you with the right people. Contact us today for more information.

Special thanks to Jamey Reynolds of the Josh Vernon Group for sharing his expertise on starting a real estate team. Josh and Jamey officially launched the Josh Vernon Group in 2014 when they partnered up. Josh had already started a successful career as a single agent but was looking to grow and help more people. Since then, Josh, Jamey, and the Josh Vernon Group have built an incredible business in the Birmingham market. Since 2014, they've sold approximately 2,350 sides for over $500 million in volume. To learn more about their team, you can find them at their team website, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also see their reviews on Zillow and Google.