The Emergence of Teams Over Traditional Brokerages

Brokers play an integral role in real estate markets across Canada, which is why we hosted a conference specifically dedicated to technology innovations and market insights for them last year.

Our inaugural CREA Broker Summit 2020 was held virtually in September, 2020.

More than 250 brokers tuned in to hear from industry experts and CREA representatives on a variety of topics including the emergence of teams.

Summit participants heard from both sides of the proverbial coin. Tracy Arnett is the broker and founder of Tracy Arnett Realty Ltd., a boutique real estate brokerage firm meanwhile Cliff Stevenson is part owner of RE/MAX First, a large brokerage home to a contingent of teams.

Working with a real estate team has gained popularity in recent years, but some broker owners remain wary.

Stevenson acknowledged some brokers might be fearful of teams growing too large, teams making demands or fearful teams could be recruiting within the office.

“I think there are some that are fearful for the fact that there might be an impact on the culture. The micro cultures of the teams and how they might mesh with the macro culture of the brokerage that brokers work so hard to establish,” said Stevenson.

He continued, “I’m not saying that concern about what teams would look like in an office is irrelevant or invalid, but I would say that there are some serious misconceptions out there from brokers who may not have a lot of exposure to teams, especially larger teams, on what the true impact of them on their business is.”

Meanwhile, Arnett, who left a large banner brokerage herself said the fears some brokers have aren’t unwarranted, but there is room for both models in the industry.

“I think us, as brokers, need to be cognizant of that…there is a possibility of those people moving on from your brokerage … But I think it’s very beneficial to have international banners as well as having boutique brokerages throughout our industry,” she said.

How do you manage micro and macro cultures within a brokerage?

“I think it’s important that the broker themselves allow you to develop your own team culture within their brokerage,” said Arnett. Speaking of her time at Royal LePage she noted, “I always thought there was a synergy within our brokerage, whether or not it was with my team or with Royal LePage.”

She said what Royal LePage was able to offer was an extension of what she was providing as a team leader.

Stevenson spoke about how he personally manages that balance in his business.

“As a broker, you need to be OK with the fact that there’s a micro culture in these teams that’s being developed in your macro culture,” he said.

He also noted while it’s good to allow these micro cultures to develop, it’s important to stay in touch with the teams within your brokerage.

How do you attract and retain teams?

Stevenson noted every team in his office all have different needs and requirements.

“From a recruiting perspective, it’s understanding where their gaps may be and where we can fill in there, whether it’s education or training,” he said. “Some of these teams are very well-oiled machines and all they’re looking for is the technical, the compliance piece, the legal support…and that’s OK too.”

In some cases, it’s talking to individual agents who may be interested in joining a team and explaining there are several in the office and all offer something different and special.

Stevenson went on to discuss retention—something most brokers are concerned with.

Brokers can’t just let teams run their operation under their roof and assume everything’s OK. There needs to be consistent communication.

There are also policies that can be put in place to make the situation more of a win-win for both the broker and the team, including fee structures, investing in technology to allow team meetings and file sharing, and policies against recruiting within the brokerage.

“We’ve spent a lot of time creating structure for teams to operate in our office,” said Stevenson who noted fee structure and recruiting polices insulated the broker while training and technology polices are there to support the teams.  

Teams can be an important part of any brokerage, but it does take some planning and open communication to make them beneficial for both the broker and the agents.

Stay tuned! We’ll continue sharing insights from CREA Broker Summit 2020 in upcoming CREA Café blog posts.

Have an idea for next year’s summit? Tell us in the Comments below.

As a Communications Advisor, Sarah O'Neill is responsible for developing a variety of internal and external communication materials—from blog content to newsletters, and social posts to speaking notes. Prior to joining CREA, Sarah worked as a journalist in a small town and as a national online editor at one of Canada’s largest news media companies. In her spare time, Sarah can be found renovating her century home, working out at the gym or binge-watching bad reality TV.

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