Managing & Compensating Buyers Agents on Real Estate Teams

Real estate teams traditionally have a difficult time effectively leading and retaining buyers agents.  This challenge typically stems from concerns over why buyers agents would want to work at a significantly reduced commission split and whether they are provided with enough buyer leads to make a living.  Consequently, real estate team leaders frequently become frustrated with repeatedly attempting to address these concerns while creating increasingly dependent relationships that harm both the team and the agents.  Instead, successful teams focus on adding true value to buyers agents through their organizational and compensation structures. Here’s how they do it:

BUYERS AGENT COMPENSATION STRUCTURES

We generally recommend that buyers agents be compensated on a 50/50% commission split with the team. Additionally, these splits may be adjusted to differentiate between team-generated and agent-generated leads.  So buyers agents might receive 40% commission on leads provided by the team, and 60% on leads they generate themselves.  Splits may also be increased over the course of a year as specific goals are met.  For example, a buyers agent’s commission split might graduate from 50% to 60% after the first 20 units are sold, then increase to 70% after 40 closings, and then 80% after 60 transactions have closed.  Notice that these compensation structures create incentive for buyers agents and avoid creating an atmosphere of reliance on the team to succeed.  Now watch as Maria O’Dell of Group O’Dell explains how she manages a team of top producing buyers agents that produce over $55 million in annual sales volume:

VIDEO:  Developing Successful Buyers Agents with Group O’Dell

TEAM STRUCTURE MUST PROMOTE PRODUCTION

For buyers agents to succeed on team commission splits, their production becomes a volume game.  If a buyers agent closes 20 transactions a year on a 50/50% commission split, it is economically comparable to only closing 10 units at 100% as an individual agent on their own.  This is hardly enough to make a living in most cases.  So the team’s organizational structure should be geared to promote high-volume buyer agent production.  Buyers agents must be the hunters and administrative support the skinners.  Ideally, buyers agents should do nothing but show property and write offers.  The team’s administrative department should exclusively take the transaction from accepted contract all the way to closing.  If agents are solely focused on showing and making offers without being bogged down with transaction coordinating duties, they will have time to sell many more properties and actually enjoy their careers.  Retention concerns are alleviated as buyers agents would otherwise be totally responsible for generating all of their own leads and servicing their transactions as individual agents.

ADD VALUE WITH ACCOUNTABILITY

At a minimum, the team should provide accountability so that buyers agents proactively lead generate for more business consistently.  Only an amazingly small percentage of individual agents have the discipline and motivation to perform income producing activities on a daily basis on their own.  They lack the atmosphere of accountability that teams can foster to help ensure that everyone systematically strives for more business.  Accordingly, half of a buyers agent’s business should come from their own lead generation activities, with the other half coming as leads provided by the team.  Provide them with support, education and accountability to generate new business from the team’s existing business. It is much easier to generate new clients from the team’s existing listings than solo agents can with a limited number of listings and available time.

PROVIDE A PATH FOR CAREER GROWTH

Real estate teams should also focus on promoting the careers of buyers agents.  Any career advancement opportunities should also be made confidently known at the outset of the working relationship to instill further incentive for increased production.  For example, a successful buyers agent that has demonstrated the ability to consistently generate and convert leads at a high level might make an excellent Lead Buyers Specialist.  This individual would be responsible for the training and accountability of the rest of the team’s buyer’s agents in a leadership role.  Compensation of a lead buyers specialist might come from an increased commission split and/or a percentage of the commissions earned from the team’s buyers agents.  Additionally, many high volume teams have adopted Showing Specialists to support buyer’s agents by serving as “door openers” that only show properties until they have demonstrated an ability to generate leads, convert business and write offers.  Showing specialists are generally compensated at lower commission splits or by a nominal flat monetary amount.  Many showing specialists are new agents looking for the training and mentoring that successful teams provide. Proficient showing specialists should also have the ability to advance into a buyers agent role over time.

Regardless of the compensation and organizational structures a real estate team adopts, the underlying key is to make it about the agents and not just the team.  A strong team that practices servant leadership will continuously attract top talent that is always looking to grow.

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