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The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable this month discusses the advantages of and caveats about real estate agent teams.

Robert Bailey
, Broker/Owner, Bailey Properties, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Liaison for Large Residential Firm Relations, NAR

Alex Milshteyn
, Team Leader, Real Estate Associates, Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel Real Estate, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Mike McCann, Team Leader, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, Devon, Pa.
Tom Skiffington, President/CEO, RE/MAX 440, Quakertown, Pa.

Robert Bailey: Whoever first noted that “two heads are better than one” recognized that people working together can accomplish far more than a go-getter working alone. That’s the guiding principal behind the practice of agent teaming, a growing trend that’s taking root in our real estate industry dynamic. It was also a lively panel discussion at the recent NAR Broker Idea Exchange, attracting agents and brokers from all over the country for whom the concept held interest and promise—and so, today, we’ve invited two of the panel’s experienced speakers, and a third pioneer in agent teaming strategies, to share their views and tips. Alex, let’s begin with you. Are agent teams the future of real estate?

Alex Milshteyn: I don’t know if they’re the future for everyone, but for agents with more business than they can handle by themselves, teaming is a great strategy. I jumped into it 17 years ago, but my first hire wasn’t another agent, but an administrative assistant to manage the operations and paperwork so that I could be out seeing clients. Today, I have four assistants and five agents who helped us produce $76 million in business last year, but I didn’t hire my first agent until I simply had more leads and more clients than I could possibly serve alone.

Mike McCann: I’ll second that. Forming a team is a slow, steady process—kind of like building a family because, in a sense, you do become family, growing together, having each other’s backs, everyone pulling their load. Our team of 16 agents and six full-time assistants closed more than 700 transactions last year—and even some 450 during the worst of the last downturn—but only because we’re fully committed, not just to our clients and our brokerage, but to each other.

Tom Skiffington: Glad you mentioned the brokerage, Mike, because the brokerage plays a big part in the success of every team. I like the team approach because teams bring together people with varying strengths that help us better serve our customers. I have several times encouraged agents to team up, but not everyone is ready to work with a team, much less to lead one. I like to be involved in the hiring of team members, for example, because of possible liabilities to the brokerage. And you have to have the policies and contracts in place to support your teams and help them grow.

AM: I understand that because, in some ways, the future of teams depends on how well brokers and states can work together to create laws that protect consumers but allow teams to work most effectively.

TS: Amen to that. I’m currently part of a task force in Pennsylvania devoted to examining the issue of agent teams and working to find solutions regarding the regulations that would be in the best interest of all parties.

RB: What makes a good team leader, and what makes a good team member?

MM: First and foremost, the leader has to be a coach and a working mentor. When I hire, I look for someone who’s fairly new, someone who has the ethics and commitment we demand, and who fits in with the team spirit. Someone I feel I can bring along to become a part of our working family so that we can all keep growing together.

AM: It’s your team of agents and admins who are helping you to build a brand, so you need to be aware of their needs and potential, and provide the support and systems necessary to help them do their best work.

MM: Every team is unique, as are the challenges and rewards they bring to their team members and brokers. It’s the synergy of the team working together that creates and sustains growth.

RB: Clearly, there are benefits to the brokerage when a team becomes successful.

TS: That’s true, but as we mentioned, not every agent is cut out for being part of a team, and not every successful agent can lead one. That’s why good brokerage leaders should strive for a balance between traditional and team models. We should be prepared to embrace the team concept, but we don’t need to cater to them exclusively. Part of being a great leader is recognizing the talents of your team and doing what it takes to help them reach and exceed their potential. And that’s true whether you lead an agency, or you lead a team within it.

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