Strength in Numbers

by Chicago Agent

Some real estate agents have found strength — and better business — in numbers. Working in a team in the real estate market presents many benefits for agents, from increased peer collaboration to workload sharing. Successful teamwork, however, is not simple to achieve, as it takes the right mix of personalities, ambition and communication, in addition to hard work and dedication from everyone involved.

By Meghan Boyer

Many of those already working in teams find it difficult to imagine selling homes solo, just as many agents used to working on their own would have difficulty imagining selling as a team. While the idea of working in a team may be strange to solo agents, they should not dismiss the idea of teamwork immediately, says Amy Kite, a Realtor with The Kite Team at Keller Williams Premier in Libertyville. The Kite Team is a group of real estate professionals working together to sell homes in Vernon Hills, Gurnee and Grayslake.

“I believe that if you try it, if you do it right, you will love having a team,” says Kite. “It provides you the opportunity to do what you love or else you are doing everything. And I’m sorry, but you’re not good at everything,” which is why working with a team can be beneficial, she says.

There are different types of teams, including those that consist of family members and those comprised of unrelated industry professionals, and each presents challenges and benefits. But no matter the type, oftentimes having a great team can make a real estate professional’s job easier.

Two Heads
The expression “two heads are better than one” rings true for many members of real estate teams, as collaboration is a key benefit of working closely with others. Discussing projects with teammates increases the number of ideas overall and also decreases the amount of rash decisions, says Tony Iwersen, a real estate broker at Prudential Preferred Properties. Tony works on a team with his wife, Kathy Iwersen.

“An essential element of any relationship, whether business or personal, is being able to freely share your ideas and opinions with the other person who is equally vested in success,” says Iwersen. “By sharing our ideas with each other, we create more thorough decision-making,” he says. Clients also benefit from team collaboration, because they receive two opinions and recommendations for a property, says Iwersen.

Collaboration is “critical” in the challenging real estate market, agrees Kelly Miller, a director of real estate services with ERA. Kelly works on a team with her mother, Lynn Brown. Team collaboration can get the best ideas out of the group and make clients’ goals attainable, says Miller, who describes collaboration as “positive energy.”

Miller and her team members will “bounce ideas off each other, talk about challenges, implement new ideas, come up with new action plans, review old action plans and have fun while doing it,” she says. A key benefit is being able to put an idea out for discussion, break it down and organize a campaign or to-do list around it before implementing a plan, she says.

Iwersen and his wife collaborate on every step of the process for a potential listing, from determining the pricing for a home to how to market it. After the pair views a property, they “spend a lot of time evaluating the pluses and minuses, and it helps having two sets of eyes to determine the right listing price,” he says. Collaboration also is advantageous when matching clients with properties, he notes.

Sharing Strengths
In a team environment, each team member is able to focus on his or her own strengths and perform them for the group, says Kite. “I personally find it allows me to focus on my strengths and the things I enjoy doing most while handing off the other stuff,” she says. “I hire based on strengths, because people are happiest doing what they do best.”

Clients who work with The Kite Team typically meet different team members throughout the sales process, as each person steps forward to perform their skills. However, if a particular client is not working fluidly with one team member because of conflicting personalities, another member can step in and work with the client, says Kite.

Team members also can assist in challenging situations, says Miller. If client negotiations have stalled, Miller will confer with her partner. “She can at times come up with a new strategy that is essential in our clients getting their dream home at a great price. In other words, we work off of each team members’ strengths to benefit the clients,” she says.

When bringing a client into a team-based real estate group, it is important to explain how the process works and ensure the client has realistic expectations for the experience. Not doing so can be a “hindrance,” says Kite. “We explain to them at the outset that I am good at what I do for the team, but I have other team members that are good at what they do,” she says. “We explain to them that everybody has expertise.”

Each team member having his or her own specialty does not mean that people do not cross over and perform roles as necessary, note the professionals. “While we each have our own strengths, we’ll do whatever it takes to get a job done,” says Iwersen.

Overcoming Challenges
While there are many benefits to working with a team, there also are challenges to overcome. For family teams, maintaining a healthy balance between work and home life can be difficult, while for teams of unrelated professionals, finding the right mix of personalities can be hard.

For the Iwersens, it is “impossible” to separate work from home life. “The home life usually takes a back seat to the work schedule,” says Iwersen. “Many nights we are eating dinner at 10 p.m. or working on the computer until midnight,” he says. “We’ve been married 35 years and are joined at the hip.”

Miller works to keep a balance between her family and her career. “When we have dinner with my family, I do not answer my phone. If I have an important family engagement and a client wants to meet with me, I always offer two alternate times and it always has worked out,” she says.

Recently, keeping an appropriate balance between family and career has become more challenging, notes Miller. In the past year, clients have become more interested in acting immediately when they are prepared to list or purchase. Handling clients’ needs — and maintaining a healthy home life — takes flexibility and patience, she says.

For teams comprised of unrelated members, it is important to be aware of people’s personalities in a team environment, says Kite. Without awareness, conflict can arise. For instance, if one team member does not like to be touched and another member tends to be more physical, it is important to know about their traits to make sure everyone feels happy and respected, she says.

Personality also is important to keep in mind when hiring new members, says Kite. “I’ve made some bad hires,” she says. Because the team works so closely together, a person who is not compatible with the group can create discord. When a new hire is not fitting into the team environment, it is important to let them go quickly, says Kite. “You made a mistake. Let them go and be happy elsewhere,” she says.

Kite uses a personality test when hiring for the team to help determine what each candidate enjoys and their personality type. The test “tells what the person tends to do on the outside and what they really are on the inside,” says Kite. She also hires for a specific position, determining first what sort of job she needs filled and then finding the most appropriate person to fill the exact position.

The Client Advantage
Having more than one person designated to help clients can increase the likelihood that someone is available when a client calls for help. “Our clients can hire our team with confidence knowing one of our team members is directly available to them for assistance,” says Miller. Many times clients view a team approach as a benefit to them in the difficult market, adds Iwersen.

Agents working on teams have experienced numerous occasions where a sale would not have occurred if they were working alone. Accessibility often is the deciding factor, says Miller. “When we’re in a multi-offer situation and every minute counts, we have the support to meet with clients; e-mail, fax or deliver offers; and follow up to assure our clients’ offer is delivered,” she says.

Because there is more than one person on Miller’s team, she and her mother are more accessible to clients, says Miller. “As team members, we delegate to one another, so our work load is cut in half,” she says.

Kite can give instances every month where she would not have closed a deal if she were working alone. It can be hard for agents currently working alone to give up control, but the time saving is worth giving a team environment a try, she says. Having team members handle different aspects of the sales process creates additional time for Kite to perform the most dollar-productive tasks that she excels in.

Iwersen and his wife worked alone for 11 years prior to working as a team. “During that time there were several instances when working together would have really made a difference, both from a perspective point of view and from time constraints,” he says. As an agent’s listing base increases, it can become physically impossible to do all the legwork that is required, such as multiple showings, open houses and inspector meetings.

Despite any challenges that may arise from building a successful real estate team, there are numerous benefits that come from teamwork, including increased collaboration, a focus on employee strengths and client satisfaction. By working as a team, “we conserve our energy for when it really matters, like negotiating offers on our clients’ behalf,” says Miller. C.A.

Amy Kite
Realtor – The Kite Team
Keller Williams Premiere Realty

Tony and Kathy Iwersen
Broker Associates
Prudential Preferred Properties

Lynn Brown and Kelly Miller
Realtors – ERA Elite Realtors
Brown: 815.751.7171
Miller: 815.757.0123

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