The Downsides of Working With Real Estate Agent Teams

Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend toward real estate agent teams. These groups range in size from 4 or 5 people up to 20 or more. Some team members are agents, some admin staff, some marketing, etc.. Usually these teams are led by one or two top producers in an attempt to leverage themselves and take on a larger market share than they could handle on their own. This setup provides many advantages to team leaders such as greater work-life balance with flexibility and ability to have coverage for days off and travel as well as ability to combine marketing budgets. There is also opportunity for newer agents to break into the business with access to properties, leads, and mentoring. Sounds like a great system, right? Well, it might not be so great for you as a home seller. Here are the downsides:

– Communication Challenges: When there are multiple parties hosting your open house, taking calls from buyers, agents, and you, some messages may be miscommunicated or not transmitted. Perhaps someone calls the office to have a question answered and the message does not get to the correct person in time and therefore the caller does not make an offer on the property. Maybe the homeowner calls the team leader (his or her agent) to let them know to set the alarm at the end of an open house. If that person is not working and someone else is at the house, the alarm does not get set. At best, this communication challenge can lead to the annoyance of messages not getting to you or the correct party or the need to repeat yourself and, at worst, can lead to missing important information such as messages about offers or vital homeowner security information.

– Inexperienced/Unprepared Licensees Representing Your Property: When you hire a team, one thing is pretty certain and that is the person you meet at the listing presentation is not likely the person you will deal with most of the time. After the smooth talking team leader gets you to sign the listing agreement, then you may be handed over to a listing coordinator who helps you get the property ready. Showings may be done by a showing specialist and open houses will likely be hosted by buyers’ agents. These buyers’ agents are interested in getting leads for themselves, not necessarily selling your home. There’s a good chance they are less experienced and unprepared to accurately explain the details of the property and the community and convey competitive advantages and value vs. the competition. After an offer is accepted, you will probably deal with another person, an escrow or closing coordinator. What happened to your agent? They’re off getting more listings signed.

– Misleading Dual Agency Potentially Leaving Money on The Table for You: When you have several buyers’ agents working on a team, it is clearly important to keep them motivated and successful. The need to do this leads to the most egregious activity that sometimes happens among teams, which is the unexplained dual agency when a buyer’s agent from the team represents a buyer on your home. This opens a messy can of worms in terms of ethics. Firstly, was the potential conflict of interests of dual agency explained to you at the time the offer was presented? It was probably not and since it is a different person than the listing agent, you probably didn’t think it was dual agency. The possibility this could happen was included on one of the many disclosures you you signed and did not read. Secondly, did the winning buyer’s agent know what the other offers were in order to get the buyer to make the highest bid? If so, not only does this demoralize outside agents causing them to potentially demur on writing offers for this particular agent’s listings in the future, it potentially leaves money on the table on this transaction because this buyer may have offered more if the information on other offers had not been given. Thirdly, how hard is your agent going to negotiate for you when one of his/her team members is on the other side of the deal and they stand to profit on both sides of a closed transaction?

While teams can increase productivity and have the resources to be successful marketers, it may not lead to a more satisfying or lucrative sale experience. An individual agent who is the sole point of contact may serve your communication needs, represent you and your property more knowledgeably, and have no separate interests other than making the sale as profitable and smooth of an experience as possible for you. Choose wisely.