By Toby Welch
Tara Rosen of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Centre in Vaughan, Ont. goes it alone.
“I did have a personal assistant but I ended up feeling like I didn’t know my clients. I felt they deserved to talk to me, not my assistant,” she says. “When it comes to delivering cheques and such, I prioritize and send a courier so I can have more time with my clients. Being hands on, I know exactly what is going on at all times. The only person I can hold accountable is me. I also set up weekly schedules for myself to make sure I am getting the right balance in my life.”
Rosen says, “Everyone does need some personal time or they will burn out and that does not help your clients. If I ever get overwhelmed, I refer some clients out to my colleagues that I know will take as great care of them as I do.”
Being an independent also works for Graydon Peavoy of Remo Valente Real Estate in Windsor, Ont. “The most enjoyable part of working independently is knowing who is responsible for my success or failure,” he says. “Past experience with partnerships has always proven to be disappointing as you seem to get let down at the most inopportune times and you don’t seem to share the same drive.”
But Cynthia Lawlor, who has the number one team for Prudential in Canada and is based in Halifax-Dartmouth, has a different take. “There are many important tasks a Realtor has to perform daily. A busy, successful Realtor has to do CMAs, show homes, meet with prospective sellers, attend inspections and closing inspections, deal with offers and counter offers and many other tasks too numerous to mention. If a Realtor has several of these going on simultaneously, it is almost too much to expect that one person can juggle all these and have each transaction go smoothly,” she says.
What about the argument that you lose money working on a team, since you have to share the commission? Cam Sterns, a partner with The Fowler Team with Re/Max House of Real Estate in Calgary, says that working on a team and closing more deals compensates for having to share commissions.
What about the business you may lose if you take time off and have no teammates to cover for you? Shelley Gossett of Re/Max Little Oak Realty in Abbotsford, B.C., isn’t concerned.
“Because of today’s technology – my Blackberry Pearl is my business lifeline – I am kept in touch with clients and inquiries. My website lets me know if someone visits and I am able to respond immediately. Any sign calls come to me directly. I might miss a few walk-ins looking for me but if they mention my name, office policy is to redirect the folks to me.”
Peavoy agrees. “This industry does provide the opportunity for ample time away if you plan accordingly and work around it. Personally, I would much rather hit the links just after sun up, which allows me time for 18 holes and still a full day of business. I also prefer to holiday in the winter, which works out well as winter months tend to be slower for us.”
Sterns says a team might be the ideal way for a new agent to get his feet entrenched in the industry. “Most agents look to join teams for one reason – leads,” he says. “They don’t have the resources to generate enough leads so they come to an established team or agent to benefit from the experience and market share. Within our team, we continually strive to improve the skills and training of our agents. As an individual agent you are really on your own. Unless you have a very large sphere of influence upon which to draw from for your business, it is very difficult to get started in the real estate business.”
Sterns says for many new agents, “The cost to advertise effectively becomes very high and without any revenue, it can put many out of the industry before they can realize how lucrative this business can be. I personally started as an individual agent, and quickly became aware that if I didn’t do something quick, I was certain to become one of the many that don’t make it. That is when I decided to join a team, and have never looked back.”
What if there are personal or professional differences between members of a team?
“With any group dynamic this is a common occurrence,” says Sterns. “There is no time or tolerance for any personal or business issues that affect the team in any respect. If any team member has an issue with another or with me, it is immediately dealt with in a professional and businesslike manner. This business is too tough to begin with; there is no time to deal with anything that distracts our team members from growing their business. The environment of the team needs to stay positive, no matter what.”
Gossett shares what she sees as pros and cons of working independently:
* Answer to yourself
* Don’t share your commissions
* Schedule your own time
* Have an office usually to yourself (able to focus rather than socialize)
* Set your own goals
* Don’t pay salaries to support workers
* If you want to go away, you just book off
* You are responsible for monitoring your own progress
* You are on your own – there is no “inter-dependency”
* Having to “rah rah” yourself. In a team it is easier to accomplish the hype!
If you are working solo now but are considering joining a team, Lawlor has some advice: “Do some joint work with another Realtor before going into any formal arrangement. Each member of the team has strengths they can offer and they also have things they don’t do as well as others. Find Realtors you like to work with because there has to be chemistry among the members. Make sure you draw up a formal agreement in order to avoid ill feelings should the group have to split.”
She says it is essential that the other members on the team have the same work ethic and determination as you and that their skills complement yours.