Should a New Real Estate Agent Join a Team or Go Solo?

September 21, 2021

This is a tricky question to answer because of the pros and cons of working as a solo agent vs. joining a team depending on what you are looking for in your career.

If you're looking to have better statistics and sell more houses per year, then it might be better for you to join a team.

However, if you like being independent, want your own clients, and want to keep a higher percentage of the commission income earned per deal, then it may be better for you to work as a solo agent.

Successful agents come from all types of teams and offices, so you should focus your decision on which seems like the best fit for how you'd like to build your personal business model after you've completed your pre-license real estate classes

First, let's investigate what to expect when you're working on a real estate team as a new agent.

The Benefits of Joining a Real Estate Team

A lot of new agents work with a real estate team because they want to make more money and sell more houses than if they worked solo.

A team will usually have an established marketing strategy and business development that the new agent can plug into. They'll also have active leads, a large client base, and several sources for you to find your first potential client right away.

Most teams will set you up with a mentor in the office who has been in the business for years and is well established and may have training sessions that will help you build your skillset much faster than if you were to work at it on your own.

Established Systems, Processes, and Training will accelerate your learning curve.

Many teams will have experienced agents train their new agents. You'll be able to learn from the systems and processes the team is already using. You'll also have the opportunity to be around several others on the team who have gone through the learning stage and are actively helping clients. If one or two issues go wrong in a sale and you're on your own you'll learn how to solve those one or two things. If the same number of issues appear per transaction, but your team of eight has a meeting every Monday you're going to learn new skills at an exponential rate. For some, this is worth giving up a percentage of the commission split. 

Real Estate Teams Provide Administrative Assistants and Support.

Finally, you'll have to team administrative staff and support. This is tremendously valuable if you're trying to focus on building your sales skill and sell more homes. Paperwork and smaller scheduling details can eat your entire day if you're not careful

Instead of spending time following up on contracts, scheduling inspections, and returning calls about inspections you can focus on helping your clients and generating leads, which is what helps you build your business. 

Will I Earn Less Money Working on a Team?

There are some downsides to working on a team. You'll probably earn less commission per sale than if you sold for yourself.

It can be a lot harder to build your long-term business if the team has rules on what happens to clients or leads they've paid for.

For example, it's not uncommon for a team agreement to stipulate that any listing opportunities generated by their marketing materials go to the team leader, and the team agents will work with buyers that come in.

Another team agreement to look out for dictates what happens with clients the team generated when they list the home in the future. 

Let's say you help a buyer close on a home from a team-provided lead. In 3-5 years when they decide to sell that listing will belong to the team leader. That could make it difficult to build your book of future business if all of your leads are coming from the team, and you're not generating any new business on your own.

These situations don't necessarily mean that you'll earn less money though. You may keep less per transaction, but do sell way more homes than you could on your own. That'll be part of your decision; more volume and less money per sale vs keep more money and sell fewer houses total. 

Quotas, performance standards, and minimum requirements are typical.

Teams will also typically have minimum performance standards or sales quotas you need to hit. If you fail to hit those targets, it can have repercussions on the team, or on your position in the lead rotation.

Some agents are comfortable with this traditional approach, while others who were planning to work on their own schedule and not have a boss to manage them will find it's not the case on a team. 

Takeaways: 

A team's structure and systems have been built over time through experience. As a new agent, you get those benefits. In return, you'll have to meet certain standards of performance and pay part of your commission percentage on each sale.

Solo agents are responsible for building their personal brand, not someone else's.

If you work as a solo agent, you get the credit for closing a home since it was their name on the deal. You're responsible for every good word that's mentioned in the review from your happy clients since you were in charge of their entire experience during the home sale process.

That's both a great feeling and a reliable way to build social proof online. 

Online reviews and building your presence is another important factor to consider. Many teams will require that you have clients you've worked with review the team as a whole, which could leave you with few reviews if you later decide to go solo. When you're working as a solo agent your reviews are your own. You don't have to worry about someone else's customer service affecting your reputation as you would on a team. You can design your own logo and advertising, yard signs, open house flyers, etc - whereas on a team you'd be using the team leaders to build their brand.

Solo Agents keep more commission income from each home sold.

Solo agents will typically earn more per sale since they don't have to split the commission with their team leader. Whether or not you'll earn more in total in the year is uncertain, since teams usually sell more homes on volume, and solo agents tend to keep a bigger piece of the commission income on each sale. 

A new agent may have trouble generating leads if they don't have previous experience or support.

There are some downsides to working as a solo agent, though.  You'll be responsible for building your own lead generation system and coming up with creative ways to get more business.

On a team that cost can be free upfront in exchange for paying via part of your commission income later. When you're on your own you take the risk of paying now and hoping to receive the higher commission benefit later, assuming you're able to put together the systems and processes needed to convert leads to clients. 

That can be tough when you're a new agent. There are lots of things to figure out, all at the same time, all while knowing you won't earn a paycheck any time soon unless you're able to unlock the puzzle. 

If you're a solo agent you'll have to compete with real estate teams that charge the same price. 

Finally, the last negative about being a solo agent is competing with teams. A team of eight agents may an administrative assistant and a transaction coordinator that helps all of their clients while they sell homes.

You can expect a seller to ask you how you'll be able to contend with that level of service when you're working by yourself. 

At this point, we've gone through the main positives and negatives of working on a team or choosing to fly solo when you're just starting out as a real estate agent.

Takeaways:

Solo agents are in control of their own destiny, but make the trip alone without support. The reward is keeping more commission income per check, the downside is figuring out how to learn and stay ahead of the competition without much help. 

How do you know for sure which to choose?

Enough about them. Let's talk about you. You can use a basic SWOT analysis on your current skill level to see where you may succeed best.

Once you've done that, you should look at your personal goals and what you'd like to accomplish in your first year in the real estate industry, as well as in the near future. 

A SWOT analysis is a simple method of breaking down your skills with the competition you're up against. This can help you further narrow down which route is best for you as a new real estate agent.

Take a couple of minutes with a pad of paper and write down your answers to these questions. 

Getting started in real estate can be intimidating, but this process will help you walk through exactly where you stand, and hopefully, which choice will line up with your skills and goals.

You don't need to decide right now, the most important part is that you write down your thoughts, so you can look back on them later before deciding which direction to go once you have your real estate license.

What are the four areas (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) you can use to make your decision?

 

1. Strengths:

  • What skills do you have today that will help you in the competition for leads against other newbie agents? Against seasoned agents?
  • Are you a people person, and have a lot of contacts in your network?
  • Do you have a marketing background, that will lend itself for building your own strategy for marketing yourself? 
  • Have you worked in sales, or in a 100% commission environment before and understand how to budget?

 

2. Weaknesses:

  • What may hold you back? Are you introverted, and don't enjoy speaking in front of a large group of people?
  • How are your sales skills? Are you comfortable starting your business from scratch?
  • Will this be your first time relying on your own marketing and sales skills in order to pay your bills?
  • Are you bad with managing your time, or budget?

 

3. Opportunities:

  •  How are you uniquely suited to solve problems or create opportunities?
  • Do you have a network that may pair well with selling real estate?
  • Are you coming from a niche industry you could build a homebuyer marketing program for?
  • Are you an expert in something that could lend itself to your real estate business?

 

4. Threats: 

  • Do you have experience using a customer relationship manager (CRM) and other technology or systems?
  • Do you have enough extra money saved to cover business expenses like business cards marketing expenses?
  • Do you have trouble with paperwork? Can you afford a transaction coordinator?
  • Are you easily discouraged, or handle rejection poorly?

 

Now that you've analyzed your skills and situation, how do they line up with your initial plans?

  1.  Have you clearly defined what your goals are for working in real estate?
  2.  Will you work full-time or part-time to start? Do you have enough saved to make it for 120 days? Can you afford to spend money on lead generation, or will you need help?
  3.  Do these goals match up with your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

 

If you spend the time going through these decisions now you'll be less stressed when you begin searching for the right fit to start your new career once you've completed the pre-licensing course and pass your state real estate exam.

If you have any questions or want to discuss any of the issues mentioned in the article just reach out to us. We're always happy to schedule a call to help you figure out the best place to start your new real estate career. 

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