Teams in Real Estate Part 2 of 2
Size of the team can range from a two person operation all the way up to the mega team variety such as the one led by William Donahoe from Coldwell Banker in Bellevue, Washington. His business closed a whopping $450 million in sales over the course of one year through the coordinated efforts of 37 team members – 30 of whom are licensed. In the Western New York area where the team concept is just beginning to take hold, most of the teams are of the 2 to 5 person variety.
The biggest advantage for the client of the well-organized team is ready access to someone when you have a question, broad availability to look at properties and dedicated follow-up on pending transactions. The broad sphere of influence and diverse experience that is brought to the table by the team members helps both to locate sellers or buyers for every situation and to create unique marketing approaches. Gail Perry from Gail Perry and Associates, the largest team in Raleigh, North Carolina, points out that “we can huddle, discuss and work together to get the job done. As one agent, you can only spread yourself so far without sacrificing some details. Now, there is never any down time.”
A potential drawback for consumers and other realtors with this increase in the number of teams is the group with poor communication. When this situation is allowed to exist, the consumer is forced to explain things more than once to different people. Paperwork also can get lost and deadlines are missed on a regular basis. Every team is faced with development phases such as this and many rise above and become better. There are also those who stay mediocre or go out of business. The quality of the organization will be apparent to most almost immediately.
Primary advantages for the realtor professional who forms or joins a team include true days off and vacation without voice mail. These steady “refreshers” lead to a higher level of performance when on the job. Individual team members can also focus on specialty areas of interest such as investment, first time buyers or resort property without losing the leads that come to them for other types of real estate sales work. These can be easily referred within the group. Forming or joining a team is making the transition from sole proprietorship to being part of a business that runs all the time whether you are there or not. It also creates the opportunity to focus of what you love to do and leave the rest to others.
Informal real estate teams have existed around the country for decades. They have become increasingly more widespread in the last five years or so. A team is born when two or more licensed individuals bind their business together for the common good of both their clients and themselves. Higher level teams are similar to what you find when you closely examine the management structures of medical groups as well as accounting and legal firms. In many cases, a team, or group as it also called, is the result of direct efforts by one realtor who forms, designs and builds the business to run in a systematic way with specific roles for all team members. This individual often becomes “the brand” and primary lead generator for the group.
The team leader typically attends to the listing appointments with other duties handled by any number of buyer and seller agents, transaction coordinators, web designers and administrative support staff. “In today’s market,” according to Ellen Roche, vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors, “there is increased specialization in the real estate field. Each member of the team becomes a highly focused expert in a particular area of the whole transaction.” The team’s work is generally coordinated with regular staff meetings, contact management software, wireless handheld devices and established procedures and checklists.
Business can be conducted in this manner at a traditional real estate company under the license of the company’s broker owner. All team members have a written agreement with both the owner of the company and the team leader. Compensation for transaction flows through the company and is divided in a manner agreeable to all parties. Team members can also be paid on an hourly basis as employees.
Closed numbers are down in the latest report issued by the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, but current activity levels are very high. (I’m wondering “why am I writing this, I should be calling somebody!”) February’s closed numbers actually reflect the monthly sales from 2 months ago. Although closed home sales fell by 7 percent to 388 from 417 for the same month from a year ago, it’s noteworthy that the median sale price rose 13 percent during the same time period. This is a true sign of continued strength in the local real estate market. Median sales price is the generally accepted unit of measurement for a defined real estate marketplace because it will not be affected significantly by a few large volume sales. This is the first time the local Board of Realtors has released data as a glitch in reporting was created by the merger of the Buffalo MLS with Rochester and Syracuse. It would appear that the bugs are worked out and we are now dealing in real numbers.
Many realtors will tell you that right now they are extremely busy as the number of buyers attempting to make a purchase to obtain tax credits has increased significantly in the last month or so. Multiple offers on new listings that are in good shape and priced right is common place. Our team had 3 listings sell last week and in each case, there were at least 3 offers.
Shared housing in the community setting is growing in popularity among the elderly across the country. This may be defined as a residential situation where two or more unrelated persons live together as a “family of choice” sharing common areas of the home such as kitchen and family room while maintaining some private space like bedrooms, baths and sitting rooms. Match up programs take a variety of formats that include a screening component and some degree of compatibility testing. Mutually beneficial relationships can be forged that result in prolonged independence in the community for the senior whether they happen to be the tenant or landlord in the particular relationship. One example cited by New York Foundation for Senior Citizens on their web site at www.nyfsc.org points to a 22 year old college student, Lauren Palmer, who rents from an 89 year old widow. Palmer pays rent and helps with errands; but other than this, the two function independently. Palmer says, “We do things for each other. Whoever gets up first makes the coffee.” Economics certainly are an incentive here, however the companionship aspect of this arrangement will have significant benefits for both parties.
Formal programs that act as referral and screening resources are popping throughout the country and can be found on the National Shared Housing Resource Center web site at www.nationalsharedhousing.org. This all volunteer, non-profit organization situated in Philadelphia, PA is dedicated to educating interested parties in the development and implementation of shared housing programs in their community along with providing a national directory of active programs. They provide manuals and technical support for building such a program in your community. A quick scan for New York State indicates programs in all major enclaves with the exception of Buffalo.
A survey performed by Leo Cram from the Missouri Gerontological Institute projects that 2.5% of all households aged 55 or older contain at least one non-relative. He estimated that about 7% of the current elderly population expresses an interest in sharing their current residence with at least one other person. The National Shared Housing Resource Center points out that in addition to companionship and economic support, shared living programs help preserve housing stock by making maintenance affordable while at the same time saving public housing and health care dollars. It is projected that by 2050, the number of persons over 65 in our country will be about 20% of the entire population. As the baby boom generation moves toward their later years we will certainly see an increase in shared housing and other creative interventions that will help close the economic and social gaps in our present systems.
Condominium Basics – Part 1 of 2
The decision of whether or not to purchase a condominium is much easier when you have a more thorough understanding of what you would be purchasing. At closing, the buyer receives title to the new living unit along with a percentage of ownership in the common areas of the remainder of the complex. Shared space may include hallways, basements, green space, community rooms, recreation areas and anything outside the actual walls of your living space. This joint ownership is shared by all owners who automatically become members of the association.
An association typically has a governing body elected from the membership who is charged to carry out the bylaws of the organization. An individual can choose to be involved in the regular meetings or to just stay abreast of developments via newsletters or written notification if they prefer. This type of regular communication is customary with many of these living arrangements. Many associations will also contract with a management company who will take responsibility for the day to day affairs associated with maintaining the physical plant such as cutting the lawn, removing snow, cleaning the hallways, helping with transfer of title and maintaining the financial accounts. Outside audit of financial statements by a certified public accounting firm is also typical.