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Many real estate professionals view the team model as a way to take their transaction volume up a notch, joining the ranks of top producers. Of course, a team’s actual success hinges on many factors, including its members, how roles are defined and how performance is rewarded. If you have agents considering joining a team as a buyer specialist, what are some of the most important factors to consider?

Team structure. When joining a team, an agent typically faces a significantly reduced commission split compared to working independently. Ideally, that loss in personal share is more than compensated by higher transaction volume.

Typically, this is only achievable if a buyer’s agent is strongly focused on working leads and can pass buyer clients off to other team members once a buyer is under contract. Encourage agents to look for a team that offers strong transaction support and a system that generates quality leads.

Compensation and lead production. Buyer’s agents working on teams need to place a high priority on generating and working leads—something that comes easier to some agents than others. Often, a mutually supportive team environment provides the discipline needed to consistently and successfully tackle this part of the job.

In terms of additional incentives, some teams offer graduated commission splits to help keep buyer’s agents motivated. To reduce a buyer rep’s reliance on the rest of the team for leads, they may offer a 60-percent split on self-generated leads versus 40 percent for leads generated by the team.

Representation, from contract to closing. If an agent’s primary focus is on prospecting for new business, showing properties, and writing offers, what happens to their buyers once they’re under contract and handed off to the transaction coordinator, or other administrative team member?

Property inspections, for example, often disclose issues that require follow-up communications with the listing agent/seller—conversations that can easily become a second round of negotiations. In these cases, how will the buyers be represented? If they’ve signed a representation agreement with the buyer’s agent, what does it say about services owed at this stage?

This is just one example of how buyer representation implies client obligations that may conflict with the way a team divides labor and client support, which is often more focused on the listing side of the business. Make sure the representation agreement addresses these issues—and make sure every member of the team understands and delivers services owed to buyer clients.

After all, a team’s long-term success is about more than team structure, compensation and leads; it also relies on its reputation, referrals and repeat business. Providing buyers with client-level services from contract to closing is a consideration that goes beyond avoiding complaints (or worse).

In my opinion, the most effective way to gain a comprehensive understanding of best practices in representing buyers is to take the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) Designation Course. To view a schedule of current offerings, go to training4re.com. To learn more about the benefits of earning the ABR® designation, visit REBAC.net.

Marc D. Gould is vice president, Business Specialties, for NAR and executive director of REBAC. A wholly-owned subsidiary of NAR, The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who work directly with buyer-clients. To learn more, visit REBAC.net.

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