An obvious fact, before we begin…
We’re a real estate team, so of course, we think working with a team to buy or sell a home is a good idea. Great teams are able to take advantage of economies of scale and different skill sets to offer their clients more services, more niche expertise, more experience dealing with unique situations and more exposure to listings. Real estate teams can effectively cover more neighbourhoods, have more experience at different price points and more expertise in dealing with different types of properties.
But alas, it’s not always as it appears.
Dirty Team Truth #1: Their sales volume might be BS.
It’s common practice in many Toronto teams to report ALL of the team’s sales in the name of the team leader. This helps the team leader win awards and advertise things like ‘#1 Agent’ or ‘sold more homes in X neighbourhood than anyone else’ or ‘sold X homes in 2017’.
Example: A team has 4 agents and a team leader, and together, they sell 30 homes in a year. All 30 sales are credited to the Team Leader. Of course, this is deceptive…the team leader didn’t sell 30 homes themselves – a team of people did. If we take the total sales of the team and divide it by the number of agents, that’s 6 sales per agent…but that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive, does it? Would you hire the REALTOR who advertised selling 6 homes in a year? Of course, you wouldn’t. But you’d probably hire the one who advertised 30 homes.
Fun fact: The BREL team has always reported individual agent sales in the agent’s names. They did the work; they deserve the credit. We’ve never been fans of deceiving the public as a means of growing our business.
Dirty Team Truth #2: You might meet the Team Leader at your first meeting, and never see them again.
Truth time: a lot of ‘real estate teams’ are all about the Team Leader. The team is named after them (eg. The John Smith team). They take credit for the stats. Their picture is on every piece of marketing and sign. But don’t fool yourself, they aren’t doing all the work.
Dirty tactic #2 is classic bait and switch:
A Buyer or Seller sees the team’s postcards, billboards and stats and calls for an appointment. The Team Leader shows up and wins the business. Cue the rest of the team stepping in and the Team Leader stepping out. And that Buyer or Seller who thought they’d be working with the Team Leader? They’re out of luck.
Fun fact: BREL clients know who they’ll work with from the very first meeting. Some of our agents have better real estate skills than our Team Leaders anyway – why not show that to Buyers and Sellers from the start?
Dirty Truth #3: The Team Leader might be the only person on the ‘team’.
This is one of my biggest ‘team’ pet peeves: people who are pretending to be a team in their marketing materials and name, when in reality, they are a team of 1.
Telltale Signs of the Team of One:
- They refer to themselves as ‘Team’ or ‘Associates’ but they are the only name on the website
- They can’t name any agents who are on their team
- They refer to themselves as ‘We’ on the website, but ‘I’ when you talk to them
- They refer to their preferred lawyers, lenders and home inspectors as their “team” (pulllease…we all have extended teams of external partners)
Pro tip: When someone deceives you from the get-go, run! If an agent needs to lie or exaggerate to win your business, be suspicious.
Dirty Truth #4: Real Estate Teams are often incubators for new agents.
The real estate team model is evolving, but in the meantime, teams are still ground zero for newbie agents. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – newbie agents have a lot of enthusiasm and time, and the great teams closely supervise their new agents and invest in training and mentoring newbies. But if you’re hiring a team because you think they have 40 years experience and it turns out you’re working with someone who graduated last month, that’s not cool. Ask the questions, demand the answers.
Side note: If you’re going to work with a newbie, at least pick one who is part of a solid team – you’ll get the benefit of the team’s experience vs. being the sale that the newbie practices on.
Fun Fact: The BREL team almost always only hires experienced agents to work with our Buyers and Sellers. In the rare circumstances where we bring on a newbie, they go through an intensive training and shadowing period and are closely supervised and monitored. The last newbie agent we hired completed more sales in her first 3 months on our team than 70% of Toronto agents complete in a year.
Dirty Truth #5: Not all real estate teams are committed to providing ONE consistent experience.
One of the biggest advantages of hiring a team to help you buy or sell is that you should be able to predict the kind of experience you’ll have, based on the experiences others have had with the team.
But many teams don’t really operate as teams at all.
They don’t have consistent values, systems, processes and skills, and that means you’re at the mercy of the agent that happens to get assigned to you. It’s not uncommon for agents to call themselves a team for marketing purposes…but unless that translates to systems, exposure and process advantages to you, there’s little value in working with a team over an individual agent.
Fun Fact: We’re crafted our ideal Buyer and Seller experience and are obsessive about delivering on it. What goes on in the backend of the BREL team is truly a work of art (and OCD).
Thinking of hiring a team? It might be the best real estate decision you’ve ever made. But be very careful and ask the right questions. And of course, consider the BREL team (you can get in touch with us here).