A team allows you to leverage built-in brand recognition and sphere of influence, as well as guidance from more seasoned agents and brokers. While the benefits are numerous, you don’t want to end up team that stifles your growth, takes an excessive commission split, or just isn’t a good culture fit.
First, it’s important to remember: don’t be afraid of asking a lot of questions! Joining a team is a big commitment, that could affect the entire growth trajectory of your career. While it’s true you are “selling yourself” in these interviews, it’s important to interview them as well.
So what kinds of questions should you be asking? Let’s get started with our top “must-ask” questions for any team interview.
1. What is the team structure?
There is no one-size-fits-all model for real estate teams. The size and ratio of members will vary depending on the city, whether it’s a franchise or independent brokerage, the housing market, etc. Ask for a very clear break down of how large the team is, how many buyers agents and ISAs there are, and who you would be reporting to. Additionally, what are the business goals for the team? Do they have remote teams in other cities/states, or are they considering expanding? Some teams are more specialized in a niche market, or “boutique,” while others service a broad range of clients. Understanding the team’s growth model and mission will give you a clear picture or whether or not it aligns with your ideal career path.
If you’re joining a franchise team, this is your time to learn all of the ins and outs about that franchise. Every large real estate franchise has something a little different to bring to the table. The “big guys” (Keller Williams, Century 21, RE/MAX) have household brand awareness and top notch training. If you are offered a spot on a franchise team, consider the following;
- Commission splits
- Desk fees
- Brand awareness
- Marketing budget
- Profit sharing
- Online agent reviews
Compare the results with other franchises. Consider your goals, your work style, and your requirements for a healthy work-life balance.
2. What is the financial breakdown?
We know, we know, it’s all about those Benjamins. Don’t dance around the topic of money during your interviews! The financial model is often the #1 deciding factor when choosing between teams, so you want to know every detail before signing on.
Here’s what you should be asking about $$$
- Is the team commission-based, salary/bonus-based, or a hybrid?
- If it’s salary/bonus-based (less common), what is the salary and how do the bonuses work?
- If it’s commission-based, what are the commission splits?
- Is there a commission cap?
- If you’re joining a franchise, are there franchise fees? Training fees?
- Are there brokerage fees? (For example: desk fees, monthly office fees, MLS fees, insurance)
- Does the brokerage cover the cost of a CRM?
- Are you responsible for miscellaneous startup costs? (For example: REALTOR designation, business cards, website)
Another great question to ask about the financial structure, is why they chose to set it up this way. What works really well? There could be benefits to their way of doing things that you hadn’t even thought of.
3. What is your role, and what are the expectations?
Obviously you’ll know what your title is, but there can be some wiggle room in real estate. If you are joining as a buyer’s agent, will you have the opportunity to have listings as well? Are you expected to farm a specific area, or target a niche market? Get a clear sense of “the way things are done,” so you know what your day-to-day will look like. Additionally, how do they get their leads, and how are they divided between agents? How much time and money do individual agents spend on marketing and prospecting vs. following up with leads?
Finally, be clear about expectations. Ask your interviewer, verbatim, “What is expected of me in this position as far as number of transactions and time commitment?” Follow it up with, “Do you have any advice on steps to take that will help me be successful?”
Don’t skip over this part!! Be honest with yourself about your own personal goals. What is your current situation? Are you a new, highly motivated agent that is willing to work those 60+ hour weeks? Are you determined to grow into a top producer? If that’s the case then you will be sacrificing time at home with family and friends. Is there room for growth from within? Meaning, if you work hard and become one of the top producing agents on the team, is there opportunity to renegotiate commissions splits, or become a team leader? Or maybe you want a schedule that is a little less hectic, and you’re comfortable doing 5-10 transactions per year. And that’s fine! Just be honest with your interviewer from the very beginning, so goals and expectations are crystal clear.
4. Is it a culture fit?
In America, we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our families. So do not underestimate the importance of enjoying your work community! A good question to ask to get a sense of a company’s culture is, “What is your mission?” If they mention empowering their agents, building community, fostering teamwork, etc., this is a good sign. You don’t want to get stuck in an ultra-competitive, “to each his own” setting.
Some teams place work-family balance as a high priority. Consider how important that is to you, and get a sense of how the team operates. Do they encourage you to take a vacation? Do they host retreats or family-friendly company events?
Check out top producer and work-life balance expert, Haro Setian, discuss how he created a family-culture within his thriving real estate business.
5. What technology do they use?
Let’s be real. It’s 2018, and the real estate industry is rapidly expanding and adapting to new technologies. Sometimes it can even feel a little “sink or swim,” when keeping up with the trends. The teams that embrace technology and leverage it for their success are outperforming other teams left and right.
This is why it would behoove you to ask about technology. Consider the following questions:
- What is their advertising model? Do they advertise through Facebook and paid Google Ads?
- What is their social media presence? Are they active on Facebook (specifically Facebook Live), Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc.?
- Do they use a CRM? If so, which one? Does the CRM have a mobile app? Is this included in agent fees or does the broker cover it?
- Do they embrace helpful apps, like mortgage calculators and camera scanners? Or tools that streamline productivity like an automated dialer, or transaction management software?
The ideal situation is a team that has their system down pat. They know what technology can help advance their business and empower their agents, and they aren’t afraid to invest in that. A great sign of a successful team is if they are diligent about tracking and measuring. Measuring the success of ad campaigns, or processes for lead generation and acting accordingly.