This is my continuing series about the future of real estate and teams. Many of us, as mortals are apt to do, reflect and wish that we could have changed different aspects of our lives and fixed our mistakes. As I come to half a century in real estate, I have an opposite outlook. I muse about the future.

Yes, I have known a few 85- to 95-year-old agents but few were truly highly active. In my case, from what I have garnered and observed about teams, I wish that I had another two decades head of me.

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We live in an age of major change. We have multi-billion-dollar companies with no true assets such as Uber or Airbnb. We book our trips and vacations online and seldom use an agent. We cannot expect in this age of rapid change that traditional brokerage will survive as we know it. As brokerage undergoes change, teams grow stronger, more independent and provide for better discipline, education, function and dominance than that of individual agents.

Recently I had lunch with Kathleen Black, a coach and a consultant to leading teams across North America. What I have admired about Kathleen, having known her a few years, is that she earned her knowledge in the trenches helping coach, train and expand hundreds of teams, including hands-on with one of the largest teams in Ontario and several that have been in the top one per cent of all Toronto real estate agents.

We had a great chat and in the end, she left me wishing that I had many years ahead as she excited me with her vision of the future of making it in real estate.

She first has a strong rule: she will only work with someone who has the mindset for success. There are basics, ways that work and ways that fail. A person who wants to build for the future must sometimes unlearn bad habits and bad sales techniques they picked up along the way.

It starts with being a leader and that does require a strong personality, hard work and training. One thing that is evident, Kathleen explained, is that as she crosses North America, there are differences about how real estate is sold, differences in boards and in working within the industry. One must be in conformity with their community.

A good team leader must develop a mindset of creating a culture within their team that makes all team players thrive and survive. The team culture must be strong and that starts with the leadership.

No successful team can exist without strong and workable systems. There are zero magic pills to success, yet too many agents flock to hear the latest thing, then pay for it and it fails to fly.

When systems are worked, and that includes constant training, the teams can expect four or five times growth. As Kathleen explained it to me, “No one can be strong in sales until they get their own house in order.”

As a student of real estate and having known top producers across Canada and the United States, I have always noted one consistent fact about them – they have systems and they are

organized. That does not mean they do not have a great assistant who keeps all in order, but order must be in place.

Building a team is not going to happen overnight. It is a slow journey and one that builds and builds. Some teams have failed because, frankly, their leader is not a real leader of salespeople. They just are not leadership material. They lack the drive and the care for others. They have no business plan and worse, not enough sources of new business.

Building a team, as Kathleen pointed out, it is akin to laying a solid foundation under a building. Once the foundation is strong, so is the structure that rises above it.

How does Kathleen see the future unfolding? First, she believes that as more and more teams

grow and become more dominant in their markets, the individual agent will struggle more and more for a market share. It will be hard for an individual to invest heavily in technology, training, advertising and promotion, and have various expertise and be truly efficient. Teams speak a similar language and belong to a similar culture.

I had the pleasure a few years ago of being a keynote speaker at one of Kathleen Black’s Ultimate Team Summits. I learned so much from the lunches and dinners with those who attended, and I was in envy of those much younger than I (most of those in a room usually are much younger than me) who were embracing the new model and who were growing. I envied their energy. Visit this link and consider attending Kathleen’s next summit in November.

Those of you who have many years ahead of you and will be laying your own foundations for the future. You have my envy.

Barry Lebow, FRI, Master-ASA, ABR, SRES, is one of Canada’s most recognized real estate authorities. Now in his 53rd year of professional real estate, Barry has been honoured by many real estate associations for his work in the profession. He has testified in more than 500 trials across North America. He is the founder of the Accredited Senior Agent designation program. A teacher, trainer and educator, he is an active broker at Re/Max Ultimate Realty in Toronto. Contact Barry by email.


  1. I have to agree with other comments here. I find when I work a transaction with a member of a big team, there are gaps and errors in the information provided by them, and the ball is constantly dropped on their side. They seem precisely the opposite of well-organized in most cases. I find often that the terms of their offers do not cover the bases for their clients either. I’m sure the perfectly run team is possible, but I usually experience the “chain is only as strong as its weakest link” syndrome. The benefit of working in coordination with a group of top professionals, per Rita’s “my team” comment results in the appropriate division of responsibilities to provide best in class service to the client for every aspect of the transaction.

  2. Although teams may be the wave of the future I’ve yet to find one that’s truly organized and I don’t believe I’ll ever find one. As an individual agent, I despise working with Realtors who are part of a team when doing offers or even showings. Constantly being bounced around like a pinball never knowing who’s really in charge, nobody wants to work they all just want to collect paychecks…I do however like going up against them in listing appointments cuz I can beat them just about every time when I explain to the client the benefits of dealing with me as an indivdual agent opposed to dealing with a team. Realtors as they’re known today will be a thing of the past in the next 20 years or so. I believe it’ll just all be corporate moves that Realtors will be handling and foreclosures. Teams will be the downfall of the industry, the public doesn’t like pass the buck, which is the forte of every team.

    • Yes I agree with some of your points. With lower sales numbers perhaps we can work with focus on creating business instead of creating celebrities.

  3. My sincere advice to realtors looking to get established is to build your business as an individual and if needed hire an assistant.
    Keep your power and grow your business as an individual.

  4. My Team consists of:

    Office Administrators
    Marketing Dept
    House Inspectors
    Mortgage Brokers

    I don’t want to micro manage realtors, and am far more productive with my support listed above. After 25 years in this industry I am very grateful to this industry. It has allowed me to be prosperous and meet so many awesome people, which had truly enriched my life.


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