Should I work solo or with a real estate team?

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller,January 5, 2022

Back,View,Of,Business,Woman,Talking,To,Her,Colleagues,AboutAgents working in the real estate industry must decide whether they want to work solo or join a team. Each option comes with its share of pros and cons. This article will review both choices so you can decide which is best for you.

What is a Real Estate Team?

A real estate team is a group of agents who work together and split commissions.  There is always a team leader, but other duties may be split up in a variety of ways. For example, certain agents may be assigned to certain properties, or there may be one agent doing showings, another doing paperwork and so on.

Commissions and payouts can work differently as well. The agents may split commissions after a sale is made with the bulk going to the leader and the rest divided among agents. Other teams may pay agents on a salary basis. It varies from team to team, but it’s a growing trend. Many newbies are looking to join a team when they first start to be sure they are making money while still learning the lay of the land.

 

What is it Like Working Solo?

Agents who work solo will join a brokerage. This can be a cloud brokerage, or a traditional brick and mortar. That brokerage will typically provide them with support in terms of marketing materials, leads and training.

In return, the agent will need to pay certain fees to the brokerage, and in most cases there are also commission splits to consider. This can be difficult to swing as an agent might start out with little to no clients in their first few months on the job.

 

Pros and Cons of Each

calculating moneyNow let’s look at the pros and cons that come with both options.

Pay and Commissions

When you start out at an agency, you may have difficulty finding clients. This will add up to little or no commissions in the first few months. But when the money starts rolling in, you’ll be able to keep a chunk of it for yourself.

When you work for a real estate team, it’s likely you will start out with clients from day one. You may even be getting a salary eliminating concerns about not earning an income. However, the money you make will have to be split between agents and that’s something that will never change.

Training and Mentoring

There are training and mentoring opportunities for agents that work solo as well as those that work on teams. However, the level of training you receive may vary depending on the environment that exists at the place you are working.

For example, some brokerages provide online training resources that you can browse at your leisure. They may help you earn certifications and meet continuing education requirements, or they may just provide useful advice that can help you in your career. They may team you up with a more experienced agent to mentor you, or they may not.

When you work on a real estate team, you are more likely to work with experienced agents that you can learn from, but additional resources may not be provided. The amount of interaction you have with experienced agents will also vary according to how the team is structured.

counting moneyDesk Fees

When you work at a brokerage, it’s likely that you need to pay a monthly desk fee to cover office supplies, marketing materials and the use of other resources. Some brokerages charge reasonable desk fees, while others are pretty steep.

A real estate team will not charge you desk fees. Team members will also never have to worry about hiring an assistant, lead nurturer, transaction coordinator and other assistants as you move forward in your career.

Less Opportunities for Brand Growth

A brokerage can be somewhat limiting in the types of properties you show, but it will allow you to pick and choose your clients. You can also branch out in how you market yourself. This will make for a great spring board if and when you decide to set out on your own.

If you work for a real estate team, you will only be able to work with the clients they generate for you. You will not be able to establish a brand identity in terms of a carving out a niche or customizing your marketing methods. This will make it difficult for you to stand out if and when you get started as an independent agent.

Level of Customer Service

Business,,Career,And,Placement,Concept,-,Image,From,Back,OfAs an agent, you always want to provide your clients with a high level of customer service. This can be difficult to do if you’re starting out in the industry. It’s likely they you won’t have the income to hire an administrative team. This means you will be trying to do everything yourself which can result in lapses.

A real estate team provides multiple people working on one property. If one agent is unavailable, another can cover for them. However, this can bring its share of disadvantages.

For example, one agent may not be able to seamlessly pick up where the last agent took off. This can cause confusion. Clients may also become upset if they have gotten used to working with a certain agent and find that they suddenly need to deal with someone else.

Brand Reputation is an Issue

A real estate team may work for a brokerage, or they may not.

Working for a brokerage has its share of perks, specifically when it comes to brand reputation. For example, if a person sold a home in the past using a certain brokerage and were happy with their service, they may choose to use the same brokerage again. Or they may choose to use a brokerage that they’ve heard good things about.

If your real estate team works for the brokerage, you will be able to use that brokerage’s reputation to your advantage. But if the team does not work for a brokerage, you won’t benefit from their reputation which can make it difficult to find clients.

However, if you have a team leader who has built their own reputation in the real estate industry, they may be just as effective as a brokerage when it comes to attracting leads.

Clashing Personalities

Multiracial,Meeting,With,Foreign,Sponsors.,Company,Studing,FinanceLet’s face it, it can be difficult to get along with the people you work for. Personality clashes and professional differences can get in the way.

When you work solo, you won’t have to be too concerned about not getting along with the people you work with. Most of the work you do will be done by you and you alone. And when you hire a team, you can employ people whose company you enjoy.

If you belong to a real estate team, you will need to work closely with many of the members. If you don’t get along with the people you work with, it can make for an unpleasant professional situation.

Weak Team Members

Another thing you will have to deal with when you’re on a team is weak team members. For example, say you’re unavailable for a showing so you ask Wanda to step in.

Unfortunately, Wanda shows up late and is unprepared. She hasn’t done research on the home and she’s unable to answer many of the client’s questions.

Wanda’s behavior ends up being a poor reflection on you and your team. It can hurt your reputation in the industry permanently.

Less Stress

Digital,Marketing,Media,In,Virtual,Screen.businesswoman,Hand,Working,With,MobileA real estate agent’s life is not easy. You must be prepared to go at the drop of a hat. If a client needs to see a home after hours, you have to be there with the keys. A weekend appointment on the same day as your kid’s recital? No problem.

Scheduling is tough and it can make for added stress. But when you’re on a team, you have people to turn to that may be able to take over your responsibilities. This can be extremely beneficial to mental health.

Accountability

Some people are self-motivated, and others are not. If you are not self-motivated, you may end up blowing off appointments that can cost you sales.

If you work for a team, you know it won’t be so easy to shirk on your responsibilities. This will make you more accountable and more motivated to get out there and start earning the big bucks.

Time Off

Getting time off can be difficult whether you work alone or work with a real estate team.

One on hand, if you work alone, you can take time off whenever you want. But it may cost you valuable sales and commission.

If you work on a team, you will need to request time off from the team leader and hope that it gets approved. But on the upside, you will usually have someone to cover for you. This means you’ll be less likely to lose a sale since commission is split between team members.

Shared Staff

When your real estate business starts taking off, you may need to hire a staff to take care of administrative tasks, marketing, lead generation and more. Paying their salaries will eat into your commission.

Real estate teams typically have a staff that takes care of all their administrative and marketing needs. This helps agents save money in the long run.

 

Which is Right for Me?

Both real estate teams and working solo come with their share of advantages and disadvantages. You need to think about your personal and professional situation when deciding which one is right for you. What direction do you think you’ll be going in with your career?

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 6/8/2022

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