Building a real estate brokerage can be a rewarding and lucrative opportunity, but it isn’t something to rush into. You’ll want to do your research and carefully consider your options before making any major decisions.
One such important decision is determining whether to partner with someone, and if you do, determining who to choose as that partner. Teaming up with the right person can expand your brokerage’s knowledge and experience, as well as your income. However, the wrong partnership can cause significant professional, financial and even personal challenges.
To help you avoid this mistake, the members of Forbes Real Estate Council name 16 traits that make them less likely to partner with someone when building a brokerage.
1. Lack Of Work Ethic
For me, it all comes down to one’s work ethic. It’s important that my agents share my work ethic. If they have a different work ethic, the partnership is bound to break down. I invest a lot in my agents to ensure they are set up for success, so this is vital. – Kevin Markarian, Marker Real Estate
2. Indirect Or Misleading Communication
Integrity is one of the most important characteristics I look for when hiring brokers and building business relationships. Many times people will give less than full answers—sometimes even downright misleading responses—to questions. To me, part of integrity is being transparent and direct, even when you think a person may not like what you say. – Lee Kiser, Kiser Group
Only consider partnering with people that you know well and who you trust. When you’re building any business, there are going to be bumps along the way. You have to know that your partner can bend and pivot as unforeseen bumps come along and that they’ll be totally honest throughout your relationship. – Stacy Stateham, Stacy Stateham
4. Competing Values
Creating partnerships in business requires awareness, trust and respect. Your values and skills must be complementary, not competitive. One trait that makes me less likely to partner with someone is ego. Both parties have to be in agreement with what outcomes they want to create and align in how they are going to achieve those outcomes. – Michelle Risi, Royal LePage Connect Realty
5. No Vision Alignment
Common vision alignment is a critical factor in building a brokerage with a partner. Do you both have the same short- and long-term goals? How do you complement each other in your business development and management styles? For example, if your partner sets their sights on rapid growth but your goals are focused on building strong administrative processes, some further visioning is in order. – Garratt Hasenstab, The Mountain Life Companies™
6. Pretends They Know Everything
I was once taught that in America, as opposed to other countries, when someone asks a question we feel compelled to answer even if we don’t know the answer! Americans are afraid to say, “I don’t know.” I feel more comfortable when someone says, “I don’t know but I’ll find out,” rather than making up an answer just to show they’re knowledgeable. – Stuart Gethner, Phelps Capital & Consulting, Inc.
7. Not A Team Player
Don’t partner if an individual is not a team player. Brokerage is traditionally not a team sport; it tends to focus on individual strengths and rockstars. But those who treat people as partners and build a strong team culture have a huge advantage. – Carrie Bobb, Carrie Bobb & Co
8. Lack Of Empathy
I don’t want to partner with anybody that lacks empathy for humanity. This person will hinder your growth and only make you both one dimensional. Gen Z and their predecessors millennials are the most diverse, educated and currently the largest segment of homebuyers. I need the person that I build a brokerage with to have empathy and the desire to work with all kinds of people. – Bobby Bryant, Ask Doss
9. Not Financially Compatible
A partner is the one thing that can make or break you financially and mentally. You have to share and strategize with your partner. If you are not in tune and financially compatible, you risk everything. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties
10. Lack Of Professionalism
Professionalism is the most important trait when selecting a partner in a business setting. Roadblocks are inevitable for even the best-run organizations. Because of this, it’s imperative that your partner approaches issues in a constructive and positive manner, seeking to troubleshoot and problem solve to overcome problems. Lack of professionalism is a nonstarter. – Noah Grayson, South End Capital Corporation
11. Questionable Integrity
Lack of integrity is a relationship killer. Having integrity in what you do, in both your personal and work life is of the utmost importance to me when choosing any individual to collaborate with. A lack of integrity to me means a lack of sound ethical sense. When dealing with people’s money in transactions, ensuring all parties are upholding the highest professional standards is paramount. – Pam Scamardo, TPK Properties LLC
12. A Big Ego
Good partners must have humility to help create an amazing culture for all customers and employees. Partners that have big egos put themselves first, which can be destructive to any business. – Ken McElroy, MC Companies
13. Cultural Misalignment
Partnerships are hard to begin with and if you’re not aligned, they’re nearly impossible. Trust is ultimately aligned around shared objectives, so ensuring that your vision, mission and goals are aligned is critical in determining whether or not this could be a good partnership. Structuring partnership documents by carefully anticipating worst-case scenarios is also key. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser
14. No Loyalty
When building any partnerships, whether in business or your personal life, it is important to evaluate the potential partner’s integrity and loyalty. When you are building a relationship, trust is all you have. There are times when you will not be able to handle everything or have eyes on everything, so you must trust your partner’s integrity and loyalty. – Cyrus Mohseni, The Keystone Team
To have a partnership, you need to build a solid foundation of process and procedures—the who, how, what and when. You also need to be on the same page about how the brokerage will work and function, and how to stay compliant. – Nancy Wallace- Laabs, Profitable Landlord System
16. Mirrored Strengths
Building a brokerage requires 360 degrees of business knowledge. Never build a brokerage with someone who mirrors your strengths. Founders need complementary skill sets to build a brokerage; scaling and growing means building more diverse strengths. Think about core processes around data, marketing, content creation, branding and client retention/follow-up. – Kristin Geenty, The Geenty Group, Realtors