How to build a rockstar real estate team in 9 simple steps

Team Management
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When Gary Ashton got started in real estate, he was in the right place at the right time. As an early adopter of pay-per-click ads, he could get up to two leads per day for $5. Life was good.

Soon enough, the time came for Gary to add web leads to the mix. And that’s when the lead gen “tennis ball machine” switched from full to turbo.

In a recent episode of the Real Estate Team OS podcast, Gary told us about the moment he knew it was time to start a team. Follow ups were missed. Good leads were lost. Something had to change. Fast forward to today, Gary currently leads the number one RE/MAX team — not just in Nashville, but the world.

If you’re here, you may be in a similar situation as he once was. You’ve got too much to handle on your own, but the idea of starting a team…well, it’s both exciting and intimidating.

To make a successful leap from solo agent to team leader, you need organized systems, clear processes, and an unshakeable vision to hold it all together.

It’s a lot. But with the help of the brokers and team leaders who came before you, you can create an action plan for building your own real estate dream team. Get started with these nine expert-backed steps.

How to build a real estate team

  1. Make sure you’re starting a team for the right reasons
  2. Understand team roles and responsibilities 
  3. Plan your team structure
  4. Organize your systems and SOPs
  5. Create your recruitment strategy
  6. Onboard for success
  7. Get to know your new team
  8. Hold your team accountable
  9. Keep building a culture of success

1. Make sure you’re starting a team for the right reasons

Next to starting a real estate business in the first place, building a team is probably the biggest professional decision you can make. Before you jump in with both feet, take a minute to check in.

The most common reason to start a real estate team is simply having more business than one person can handle, but there can also be other important factors to consider.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you dive in:

  • Are you losing leads because you already have too many transactions?
  • Do you have time to generate new business?
  • What would you do with five, 10 or 15 extra hours per week?
  • What time do you want to start and finish your day?
  • How do you want to feel at the end of each day?
  • Do you already have structured systems and processes in place for others to follow?
  • How much bandwidth do you have to hire, train, and coach a team?
  • What leadership skills do you need to develop?

Even the best agents will start to burn out at 50 transactions per year. If you’re averaging one transaction per week, you’re going to need some help.

Depending on your goals, this can mean any number of things. It might mean hiring an ace virtual assistant (VA) or client-obsessed transaction manager. Or it could mean taking on your first buyer’s agent to help stay on top of incoming leads.

Whatever the case, you’re going to have to get used to the idea of handing over some level of control. 

“You’ve got to have that paradigm shift in your mind that as you want to grow, you have to give things up,” explains Sergio Gonzalez, founder of Westlake Village-based team SG Associates. Under Sergio’s leadership, his team has sold over $50 million in luxury property across Southern California.

“You’re giving up money for time. You’re giving up transactions for time. Once you start realizing that time is your most valuable asset, you really start making that shift to, ‘Hey, I can just pay somebody to do this and not have to be in the mix every single time.’”

- Sergio Gonzalez, SG Associates

2. Understand team roles and responsibilities

Before you decide how you want to structure your real estate team, take time to understand the ins and outs of each role.

While the agents on your team will need to be licensed, it’s up to you to decide how much additional experience to require from your agents and team members.

“It takes time to figure out who you want to have on your bench. The first question I ask myself is, ‘What is our anticipated need gonna look like?’ And what am I gonna promise to the person coming in?” explains Emily Smith, COO of Orlando-based Wemert Group Realty.

Here are some of the key roles and responsibilities to consider.

Administrative assistant


  • Manage the team's operational systems 
  • Maintain accurate records
  • Coordinate schedules
  • Communicate with team members, clients and vendors
  • Manage the office 
  • Provide general administrative support to as needed


  • Update records in lead database
  • Manage agent calendars
  • Schedule appointments, showings, and open houses
  • Manage online listings and marketing materials
  • Respond to inquiries
  • Provide information to potential clients
  • Prepare documents and agreements
  • Conduct research and analysis for various projects


  • Save agents time 
  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Increase team satisfaction

Virtual assistant (VA)


  • Assist with administrative tasks such as document preparation, data entry, and email management
  • Provide remote administrative support to team members
  • Manage emails, calendars, and appointments
  • Conduct research


  • Maintain client database
  • Create marketing material
  • Manage online listings
  • Conduct research on properties, neighborhoods, market trends, and competitors
  • Respond to inquiries from potential clients
  • Provide information about properties
  • Coordinate showings and appointments
  • Manage social media
  • Organize transaction paperwork


  • Save agents time
  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Increase team satisfaction

Buyer agent


  • Assist the buyer in finding and purchasing their dream home or property
  • Conducting market research and analysis
  • Negotiate offers and contracts
  • Conduct property showings
  • Provide excellent customer service


  • Schedule appointments and showings
  • Advise clients on the buying process 
  • Provide guidance on negotiations
  • Draft and review contracts
  • Oversee inspections 
  • Stay up-to-date with market trends and changes in legislation
  • Build and maintain relationships with clients, other real estate professionals, and industry contacts
  • Manage paperwork, documentation, and database
  • Collaborate with mortgage lenders
  • Negotiate deals on behalf of clients


  • Increase sales and commissions
  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Increase repeat business
  • Save time

Listing agent


  • Secure seller contracts
  • Assist clients in selling properties
  • Conduct market research to determine property values and competitive prices


  • Book listing appointments
  • Interview prospective clients
  • Promote listings
  • Conduct open houses
  • Stay up-to-date with market trends
  • Provide guidance to sellers
  • Discuss the conditions of sale
  • Draw up contracts
  • Prepare purchase agreements and closing statements
  • Collaborate with lenders, appraisers, home inspectors, and escrow companies


  • Increase listing commissions
  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Increase repeat business
  • Save time

Inside sales agent (ISA)


  • Collaborate with the real estate team to achieve sales goals
  • Follow up on leads and prospecting new clients for potential business opportunities
  • Qualify leads and determine their real estate needs


  • Contact leads via phone, email, and text message
  • Set appointments for agents
  • Document and manage communication with prospects and clients
  • Update and organize sales and lead tracking reports
  • Address inquiries 
  • Conduct market research 
  • Stay updated on industry trends
  • Assist in marketing efforts
  • Promote properties to potential buyers


  • Increase revenue
  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Save time

Showing assistant


  • Collaborate with the real estate team to ensure a smooth showing process
  • Assist agents in delivering an excellent client experience


  • Communicate with clients and real estate agents to confirm showing appointments
  • Prepare information materials for showings
  • Conduct virtual property tours
  • Ensure that properties are presentable
  • Answer questions about the properties for potential buyers
  • Maintain inventory of listing supplies, such as signs and lockboxes
  • Update and organize showing schedules, client information, and feedback in CRM


  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Save time

Marketing specialist


  • Develop marketing strategies to promote properties and generate leads


  • Manage digital marketing campaigns, including social media advertising, search, and email
  • Conduct market research to identify target audiences, competitors, and trends
  • Create marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, and virtual tours
  • Optimize listings
  • Create customized marketing plans for each property
  • Track effectiveness of marketing campaigns 
  • Make data-driven recommendations for improvements
  • Build relationships with vendors, photographers, graphic designers, and other professionals


  • Increase leads and transactions
  • Save time

Transaction manager or coordinator


  • Oversee the entire real estate transaction process
  • Collaborate with clients, agents, brokers, and other relevant stakeholders


  • Coordinate with all transaction parties
  • Ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements
  • Organize documents and paperwork for each transaction
  • Assist clients with any questions or concerns during the transaction process
  • Build relationships with clients, agents, lenders and service providers to facilitate smooth transactions


  • Increase close rates
  • Increase client satisfaction
  • Save time

3. Plan your team structure

One of the most wonderful (and scary!) things about building a real estate team is that there is no one way to do it. Like the rest of your business, your team structure will change and shift over time.

“In today’s environment, either go lean or go uncomfortably large,” says real estate coach Tom Ferry. At FUBCON 2023, Tom shared his thoughts on team building in the current market. “You either gotta be really big, or make as much profit as you can being small.”

Whether you agree with Tom’s position on, the challenge is to identify the team structure that will best support your unique goals.

Here are some common ways to structure a real estate team.

Mentor/mentee model

You and the mentoring agents on your team invest time and expertise in developing new agents for a period of one to two years. After that, agents either move on or stay on as mentors. 

  • Pros: Team leaders aren’t expected to cover marketing expenses or leads
  • Cons: Heavy on agent training and resources, high turnover

Team leader model

Commonly referred to as a “teamerage”, in this team structure, you are the face of the operation. In this model, your team may include a real estate admin, inside sales agent, transaction coordinator, and/or marketing manager to maximize team and client experience.

  • Pros: Stronger team loyalty, increased referrals and repeat business
  • Cons: Requires more time for culture building and strong agent accountability systems, commission splits must be carefully balanced due to increased overhead
Michelle Humes, Michelle Humes Group

Lead team model

The lead team model is centered around strong lead generation. It’s about handling a high volume of leads at speed, without sacrificing client experience. This team model may also include a team of rockstar ISAs that work together to feed agents business.

  • Pros: Scale to #1 status more easily, attractive to clients and agents
  • Cons: Requires large lead gen and marketing budgets, success depends on ability to optimize your conversion rate

Keep in mind, there’s always room for adjustment and creativity based on what works for you. 

For example, Jenny Wemert and Emily Smith of the Wemert Group describe the team as a "teamerage on a rainmaker model". They handle a high volume of leads similar to the lead team model, but also have a strong focus on customer experience and repeat business similar to what you would see in a team leader model.

How do real estate teams split commissions?

The best way to define your commission splits is to think about the types of behaviors you want to incentivize.

Here are a few team compensation models to consider:

  • Hybrid model - Separate splits for company vs. self-generated leads. For example, 30% to agent on company leads and 40% to agent on self-generated leads.
  • Multiple plans - Agents choose their own splits. For example, Plan 1 = $500 transaction fee, 100% commission to agent / Plan 2 = 70/30 split capped at $19,000 for self-generated business.
  • Escalating model - Splits change based on production with an option for caps. For example, < $3 million gets a 75/25 split, $3-$4 million - 80/20, $4-5 million - 85/15, and so on.

➡️ What’s the difference between a group and a team? 

Real estate teams work closely to keep each other accountable. They serve a lead agent or several lead agents and share resources, including tools and training. Real estate groups are more like classic brokerages. They may share office space and materials, however the agents on the team may work independently and develop their own clientele.

Not sure how to structure your commission splits? Dive deep into three team compensation models from real team leaders in our free guide!

4. Organize your systems and SOPs

Experts like Gary Ashton and the real estate professionals at The Ashton Real Estate Group didn’t get where they are by winging it. They know that real success is organized.

“You have to document everything that you do. Then you have to do what you say you’re going to do. And then you have to inspect and improve it,” explains Debra Beagle, Ashton Real Estate Group’s managing broker, in a recent episode of the Real Estate Team OS podcast.

Experts like Debra know that when people don’t know what to do, they usually do nothing. 

Whether you follow the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) or another business philosophy, think of your standard operating procedures (SOPs) as the playbooks for how you want your business to run — including exactly what your team members should do and how to do it right.

To start building your SOPs, first define the core business areas you want to cover. Here are some key functions to concentrate on:

  • Marketing - including social media, digital marketing, direct marketing, marketing your listings, updating your website, and instructions for how to use the tech tools and software in your real estate tech stack to create and promote your material.
  • Listing presentations - clear steps for what to do before, during and after a listing presentation.
  • Lead management - expectations for maintaining your lead database, specific CRM workflows and features, phone/text/email scripts, and number of required touches per lead.
  • Lead nurture - processes for setting up drip campaigns for buyers and sellers, links to existing email templates to clients, clear examples and cadences for each sequence.
  • Reporting - steps to help team members hold themselves accountable, weekly tracking sheets, team meeting cadence and agenda, and goal tracking resources.

Many team leaders choose to house their SOPs in an easily accessible team wiki via tools like Notion, Trainual, or their own internal site. Add a recurring task to your calendar to review your SOPs every six months to make sure they’re up to date.

Bramlett Residential Real Estate in Austin, TX uses an online company guide to make it easy for everyone to find important information.

If you’re already using a real estate CRM, you can align your SOPs within your platform to help new team members hit the ground running.

“A good real estate CRM will do so much for you as far as giving you the information to help your agents and your business thrive,” says Debra. 

The ability to record conversations, easily view the number of touches per lead, track conversion rates, and more will give you the resources you need to coach team members through the day-to-day tasks that aren’t easy, but definitely work.

5. Create your recruitment strategy

At Follow Up Boss, we have the privilege of connecting with top team leads every single day. And when we talk to those people, one thing is very clear: recruiting is always on the radar. 

The best in the industry are constantly asking: “What are we doing to attract the right kinds of agents? How are we reaching out to start conversations?”

Here’s what a powerful real estate recruitment strategy can look like. Keep in mind that each recruitment process can and should be adjusted for your unique values and management style.

  • Recruitment marketing - Clear steps for where you’ll market your open roles and how you’ll find and attract quality candidates for your team
  • Phone screening - A brief 15-min. call to get an initial feel for the candidate’s knowledge and enthusiasm
  • Interview - A detailed process to identify the most hardworking and engaged candidates for your team
  • Personality tests - Including assessments like Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, and others to understand candidates on a deeper level
  • Second interview - Aimed at aligning on team culture, values and expectations

Many team leaders work with a real estate coach to help them recruit and manage a team of top producers. If you already have a coach, ask them to review your recruitment strategy and point out key areas to optimize.

You can also ask them to take a look at your list of interview questions to make sure you’re seeking all the right insights.

Here’s a sample selection of interview questions to help you identify motivated agents to work with:

  • What kind of leadership have you worked under?
  • What has your experience been?
  • What worked for you during that time? What didn't?
  • What are your expectations of me as a leader?
  • How do you respond to accountability?

If you’re hiring in a down market, believe it or not, you’re in luck. Slower markets can deliver a strong recruitment advantage for attracting experienced agents and former team leads who don't want the overhead of paying for a team.

Did you know you can use your CRM to recruit high-performing agents? Check out our Office Hours Workshop and find out how it’s done.

6. Onboard for success

Strong accountability starts with strong onboarding.

For Emily Smith, COO at Wemert Group Realty, onboarding new agents is all about investing time and effort in building healthy and high-performance habits. 

This includes a well-planned onboarding process structured around three key areas:

  1. Proactive lead nurturing
  2. Organized database management
  3. Active adoption of the company's culture code 

The message is the same for each new agent: "Your database needs your attention, it needs your time, and it needs effort. You have control of the success based on the time you spend nurturing it,” Emily explains.

Emily’s onboarding process also helps the leadership team understand each agent's goals and aspirations. The team utilizes a weekly database tracking sheet and conducts six- and twelve-month evaluations to ensure that the habits established in the initial onboarding phase continue over the long run.

Once you’ve determined the key areas of focus for your onboarding process, break it down into specific tasks. You can then group those tasks together in an onboarding checklist housed in Trello, Asana, Google docs, or another tool.

Here are some essential onboarding tasks you may want to add to your checklist:

  • Send introductory video and/or email explaining next steps
  • Add team member to systems and resources
  • Share 5-minute video explainers on the different systems used
  • Create and share meeting and training schedule

“Every time we hire someone, we say ‘Here we grow again’,” says Emily

More than just a cute way of welcoming new team members, this onboarding catchphrase is a nod to the fact that the team is always growing, expanding and learning, which also helps build awareness for future recruitment efforts.

Want to see Emily's entire recruiting and retention process? Check out our interview with Emily Smith.

7. Get to know your new team

Most agents agree great team dynamics are crucial, but not everyone goes the extra mile to figure out exactly how their team ticks. Creating a great real estate team is like piecing together a puzzle. You have to understand how the individual personalities connect to elevate the big picture.

And in the real estate industry, that picture is always changing.

“There’s always ebbs and flows in business. It’s not a straight line,” explains Kris Lindahl, broker at Twin Cities-based Kris Lindahl Real Estate in a recent episode of Bosses In Action. “If you’re not someone that invests in people, you cap out a lot sooner because people don’t want to be there. The culture is just as important as the customer.”

Kris’s mega omnichannel approach to real estate branding has carried him through active and slow markets, and he’s witnessed many team building mistakes along the way.

Here are some of his top tips for keeping the right people in the right seats on the bus:

  • Create an org chart with boxes that include the top 5-7 responsibilities for each position
  • Clearly define each job role
  • Use personality assessments to determine fit
  • Ask the simple question: ‘Can this person do this job?’

“The key is doing the org chart before you put the person there. The mistake the majority of companies make is they look at their roster, they look at their team, and they go, ‘This person’s gonna be great over here’ and they move someone into a new position based on gut feel,” Kris explains.

When it comes to hiring and promoting team members, he believes clarity is key. “I’ve seen more companies fail because they’re just throwing people around and nothing’s thought out.”

The secret to not only building — but also scaling — a high-performing team is to keep a clear and well-thought out team mindset, no matter what the market throws at you.

8. Hold your team accountable

On the topic of clarity, accountability is critical to building and scaling a successful team. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“You cannot make a human being productive, you can only facilitate the environment where someone chooses to be productive,” says Justin Havre, broker at Calgary-based Justin Havre & Associates at FUBCON 2023.

As a team leader, Justin’s been through it all. He knows that in order to hold agents accountable, you have to appeal to both their personal and professional motivations.

For him, agent accountability comes down to three key areas:

  • Team-driven accountability
  • One-on-one deep dives
  • Leadership check-ins

"You've got to be very careful with how much pressure you apply. It's very common in human behavior for people to crumble when you apply too much pressure. It's a pretty fine line with encouragement and a little bit of tension to get high productivity," says Justin.

A shared approach to team accountability helps him walk the line between pressure and productivity. If a team member wants to take time off, all Justin’s agents have to do is share the contact inside Follow Up Boss and the rest of the team can see the entire communication history of each lead.

"Running a system like Follow Up Boss, we get to see at a pretty high level what people are doing and what people aren't doing. Just like the agents get to see what the leads are doing in the system, we get to see what they are doing. And what it really comes down to is being there to support them to achieve success," Justin explains.

Follow Up Boss has built-in leaderboards to keep teams on track

9. Keep building a culture of success

Renee Funk is the team leader at the Florida-based Funk Collection. She’s also a big believer in the power of simple questions. Here’s the one question she’s always asking:

What does it mean to be a leader in real estate?

The way Renee sees it, inspiring others is a key responsibility of the job. She encourages every team lead to ask, “Who are the people I’m seeking to serve? What are the solutions I provide to those people?”

When you're busy leading a team, it’s easy to forget to stop and actually lead. To get back what matters, Renee uses a five-step reset process to encourage agents to get clear on who they need to speak to and why.

Here’s how Renee’s process breaks down:

  1. Questions - Who are the people you need to ask more quality questions of?
  2. Conversations - What are the conversations you know you need to have but aren’t?
  3. Relationships - Where do you hold relationships with untapped opportunities?
  4. Opportunities - What opportunities are you avoiding taking advantage of?
  5. Actions - What is the ideal outcome you want your actions to achieve?

Fear is an ongoing challenge for every salesperson, including real estate agents. The best real estate teams have leaders who know how to keep their agents focused on success, even when the fear and resistance set in.

Renee uses her agent one-on-ones and annual reviews to run through the reset process and keep the culture strong. “One of the best gifts you can give, not only yourself but those that are investing the time, attention and care to be in the room with you, is the gift of being present. That simple step can change the engagement in your meetings,” she explains.

There will always be bad days and good days in real estate. As the team leader, it’s your responsibility to put systems in place that can help support your team in achieving their own definition of success.

Build better teams with Follow Up Boss

The new real estate playbook is so thick that sometimes the best way forward is to simply write your own rules. And while building a real estate team won’t be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, the right philosophy — and the right systems to back it up — can make it worth every effort.

Follow Up Boss is the flexible, open platform where real estate teams break free from the constraints of traditional CRMs and finally get the power to build their business their way. That means deep integrations, complete flexibility, and easy customizations that let you harness the full potential of a growing team.

Because a great team doesn't just happen. You have to design it, experiment with it, and evolve it. When you’re ready to make the leap, The Real Estate Team OS is here to help.

Try it today with a free 14-day trial.

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