When Eli Tucker explored the possibility of a real estate team, he was eager to establish a group in harmony with his personality—in his words, a bona fide “partnership,” in which collaboration and independence meet.
“We’re not really the traditional team structure—we’re a partnership where we exist to support each other and help each other grow, versus one person at the top,” says Tucker, of Eli Residential Group, based in the Washington, D.C., metro. With four members on the team, including Tucker, the group specializes in Arlington, Va., as well as the communities of Alexandria and McLean, and others, in the booming Capital region.
For Tucker, the goal is mutual success, but on each individual on the team’s terms. Agents are free to handle homebuyers or listings, or both, and set their schedules, he says, because that’s how he operates, and the dynamic he and the team thrive in.
“I thought about who I was and what type of people I wanted to be working with every day, and that’s how I established my team,” says Tucker. “Structure your team around your personality and the way that you want to do business.”
Suzanne De Vita: First off…what drew you to real estate?
Eli Tucker: From talking to friends and colleagues, I found that a lot of people were fairly disappointed with the service they got when buying or selling real estate. I was in the consulting world and looking for a change, and always had an interest in starting my own business. Real estate seemed to be a really good opportunity to be able to feed my entrepreneurial spirit and deliver quality service to those who need it. As business grew, I recognized that there were really good agents around me, and the opportunity to create a partnership-based team.
SD: So, how would you characterize your team?
ET: We’re not really the traditional team structure—we’re a partnership where we exist to support each other and help each other grow, versus one person at the top. Everyone has their own agendas, and their success is their own. Everyone is a full-time agent, and everyone does the full spread of the business.
SD: What areas or demographics do you specialize in?
ET: Our specialization is Arlington and the surrounding D.C. metro community. Around here, most people are not just looking in one area. We tend towards the sub-45 demographic, but we work with clients of all ages—investors, buyers, sellers, relocations. It’s about having the right processes in place, and experience and people on the team who specialize in different areas so we can offer a greater level of service to a wide range of the market. One of our agents focuses on investments; another has a property management background. For us, it’s really important to have that type of range.
SD: As far as finding the “right people,” your brokerage, RLAH (Real Living At Home) Real Estate, helped source talent.
ET: The brokerage leadership that we have does a great job of bringing good people together and putting the right people around each other. That’s why I haven’t had to sit down and make calls to try to find people. Our brokerage is supportive of people who find some commonalities, and they’re flexible in how they support different teams and structures. For the vast majority of agents our brokerage brings into the office, there’s always a high level of vetting, and I know I can trust the quality of the person. In talking to colleagues in other offices actively trying to build teams, one of the biggest challenges they face is finding those people and being introduced to them. The role that a brokerage can play is to help facilitate some of that—to bring in agents that could potentially find a lot of value in working together, and allowing that to happen.
SD: While in partnership with your team, you also blog for a few local publications…
ET: My mentor had started a blog, and he always talked about how great of an opportunity it was. I blog every week on Tuesdays. I always liked writing and the analysis side of the business, so it gives me a good way to explore cool data in front of an engaged audience—a fantastic, local, smart audience that challenges me to really produce good material. I look at it as a unique and fun opportunity to connect with people, and grow a business and a brand.
SD: In closing, what advice do you have for leaders of new teams?
ET: One of the things I really like about real estate is that you can find happiness and success in many different forms. Structure your team around your personality and the way that you want to do business. It’s a grueling business, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by trying to build a team around a model you’re not comfortable in or is unnatural for you. I believe nobody has done more for agents as far as setting out a path to building a team than Gary Keller; however, that model of doing business and structuring teams was not for me. I thought about who I was and what type of people I wanted to be working with every day, and that’s how I established my team. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of and happy with what we do.
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.