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Real estate teams: Are they right for you?

May 2017

Real estate teams: Are they right for you?

April 24, 2017

Real estate teams: Are they right for you?We’ve all been taught the value of being a team player since we were youngsters on the playground, but real estate is often seen as a solitary profession. Some Realtors, though, say that adopting a team model can make everyone a winner at their brokerage. The EDGE newsletter talked to a pair of Ontario real estate professionals to learn how the team approach works for them.

Melanie Piche, who has been a Realtor for nine years, runs the BREL Team at Toronto’s Sage Real Estate in partnership with her husband, Brendan Powell. The team comprises 10 Realtors and four full-time support staff. She believes that the team benefits her as a leader because it frees her up from administrative tasks and allows her to concentrate on building the team brand and developing agents who can give excellent service.

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“The team model is becoming bigger and bigger as agents are being called upon to market themselves in so many ways online,” Piche says. “Teams can better adapt because they can pool resources.”

Richard Silver, who has worked in Toronto real estate for more than 37 years, is the Torontoism team lead and vice-president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. He is part of a seven-member team comprising five Realtors and two support staff. He believes in the team model because “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

“Everyone brings different strengths,” says Silver. “Each of us is better at something than others. Some people speak a different language. Our team contains different cohorts, Baby Boomers and Millennials, and they all provide different viewpoints.”

"The team model is becoming bigger and bigger.”

Silver believes that in a successful team, members learn from one another and feed off one another’s ideas and energy. “We learn from the strengths of others, as well as from their guidance when problems arise,” he says. “Each of us is different and we celebrate our diversity.”

A team succeeds or fails based on its culture, says Piche. “You need to have leadership and a clear vision,” she says. “It’s crucial to bring the right people together. It’s a team of qualified, talented, trained agents who use the brand to deliver a quality experience to customers.”

Piche’s team “revolves around accountability.” Weekly team meetings and monthly individual meetings are scheduled, and each member develops both individual and team business plans. “It’s very systems-based,” she says. “There are defined expectations of what the buyers and sellers will get, no matter who the Realtor is. However, we play to everyone’s strengths to make up for weaknesses. A successful team needs individuals who care about the success of everyone else on the team.”

Silver employed a coach to help the team get organized, determine responsibilities and settle on the method of compensation. He believes the smooth running of the team flows from that approach.

“I choose to share all my leads with the team and no longer solely represent anyone,” says Silver. “I also wanted their compensation to be high so they would not be tempted to leave and go out on their own.”

Different teams have a variety of arrangements and approaches to the sharing of compensation, notes Piche. In some cases, the distribution of compensation may be determined based on who has generated the lead.

The nature of compensation sharing is a question salespeople should ask when determining whether a team is right for them, she adds. The team approach and shared compensation may appeal to some salespeople but are not for everyone, says Piche.

“We provide the systems, leads, staff and marketing so the team members can focus on what they’re good at,” she says. “Our goal is to help them participate in more transactions with fewer expenses.”

Real estate is a competitive business, but neither team has had much internal conflict. Silver’s team members are careful not to step on one another’s toes, while Piche says that with so many leads to go around, there no reason for conflict. However, Silver says the team can always turn to management at the brokerage if it encounters a problem that seems insurmountable.

Although Realtors are often viewed as rugged individualists, both sources say it is possible for real estate salespeople to work and thrive in teams if the right conditions are present. “People who can’t work as part of a team are the same people who might also have problems in an office environment,” Silver says. “If it is all about you, don’t choose to be part of a team. Our team members have come to depend on each other and, for the most part, have become social friends, as well as business friends.”

"You need to have leadership and a clear vision.”

The diversity of Realtors leads to a range of work styles, says Piche. “Real estate draws so many different people from various backgrounds. There are certainly people who should not be part of a team and not everyone has the leadership skills to run one.

“A lot of people leave corporate life and then miss the social environment,” she says. “A team fills that social need and provides support. Some salespeople have tried working on their own, but they just want to sell houses without worrying about websites or marketing. A team can provide a much better outlet for them.”

Piche says that the BREL team has a rigorous interview process and involves other members of the team, too. “The fit has to be there,” she says. “The culture of the group and shared values are so critical.” Piche says that the BREL team has a rigorous interview process and involves other members of the team, too. “The fit has to be there,” she says. “The culture of the group and shared values are so critical.”

Keys to team success:

  • Realize that you’re in it for the long haul; it’s not just about getting one deal done.
  • If you’re thinking of joining a team, talk to the other team members and get a complete picture. Ask in-depth questions.
  • In considering a team, see what the track record is and the longevity of members.
  • Be sure that both the team and its affiliated brokerage are a good fit for you.
  • Remember, it’s not all about what you can get. What do you bring that can make the team better?
  • Consider hiring a coach or finding a mentor when you are starting a team so you can avoid painful mistakes.
  • Put people with complementary skills together on your team. The complexity of the market today means no single individual is an expert on every type of property or aspect of the business.
  • Story by Elaine Smith

    Sources: Melanie Piche, Richard Silver

    The REALTOR® EDGE newsletter is produced 11 times a year by the Ontario Real Estate Association. The newsletter aims to provide practical and useful news and information about the real estate industry to members of the association. The opinions expressed in the newsletter are not necessarily those of the publisher. We welcome submissions from the real estate community, including letters to the editor, opinion pieces, events and news. The newsletter reserves the right to edit, based on space restrictions and/or suitability, and/or to refuse submitted material for inclusion in the newsletter without reason. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher, OREA, is prohibited. Contents are copyright of the Ontario Real Estate Association.

    Editor: Mary Ann Gratton

    Contributors to this issue: Elaine Smith, Merv Burgard, Mary Ann Gratton

    Senior Web Editor: Shade Lapite

    Web Specialist: Damond Rawls.

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