2 Forms of CRE Teams – Which One is Best For You?

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I have received scores of emails related to this Commercial Real Estate Team Series. Most of these questions were oriented around team structure and team compensation. If you have been participating in this series from the beginning, you have read how teams are a competitive advantage, the six fundamental shifts in our industry that require you to be part of a formal team, and the four main reasons people decide against working within a team environment.

Scalable Team vs. Integrated Team | What Should Your Commercial Real Estate Teams Be?

In this article:

Finding The Best Option For Your Real Estate Teams

My original intention this week was to turn our attention to those commercial real estate professionals that not only selected to work with a team, but made the decision to lead their own teams. However, given the emails received, we will hold off on that subject until next week. Anyway, before you can lead a team, you need to decide which form of a team is best for you.

Your Real Estate Teams Are Not Just Pawns

Some people use “team” in a generic way to mean “the people who work for me.” Some people use “team” as a positive adjective for a productive group. I’ve heard CEOs refer to their gigantic corporation as a team. In general, I’m using the classic definition of a business team: a small group of people making a coordinated effort to reach a common goal.

Defining Scalable Real Estate Teams

Defining Scalable Real Estate Teams | 2 Forms of CRE Teams – Which One is Best For You? | commercial real estate teams

Traditionally, we’ve seen two kinds of teams in commercial real estate. In the industry, we’ve used the term for a temporary team made up of several producers and support staff who team up on a specific deal. This is a “scalable team”. This approach is becoming more common within the larger commercial real estate brokerage firms such as CBRE, JLL and Cushman & Wakefield, particularly with significant multi-locational or institutional clients. These teams are an orchestration of transaction, service, and project management personnel or individual sub-teams. When the deal is done, the “team” disbands. These are temporary project teams.

Defining Integrated Real Estate Teams

The second team is more formal and designed with the idea of permanency. Teams built to dominate their respective markets are more likely to be in this latter category. They are not created by accident, or on the needs of a particular client or deal, but on the talents of the individual team members to serve a specific market or markets and provide a specific service. These are integrated operational teams.

These teams exist in the large firms referred to above. For example, there are incredibly successful, small, integrated teams in Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE and JLL. However, you will find these teams more often than not in private, regional, and independent boutique firms. All you need to do is look at your leading commercial real estate broker, mortgage broker, or property manager in your market, and it is highly likely they work in a formal, integrated team.


So, what is the ideal team structure for you? There are a number of factors to consider, such as team talents, resources, and focus. However, the most vital factor is the clients you wish to serve. As attractive as institutional, multi-locational opportunities are, these account for only a small fraction of all commercial real estate transactions. For the majority of you, the chances are very likely that your accelerated path to commercial real estate success is developing or working with an integrated, orchestrated team.

Are you currently working within a team? If so, is it a scalable team or is it an integrated team? We would love to know in the comments below.

Up Next: The 4 Questions CRE Prospects Love to Answer

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 17, 2015 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

4 Responses

  1. during my 30 yrs in brokerage i have found the team works best if the rainmakers earn revenues where the others do not and when others are between deals.
    splitting the same $$ causes resentment.
    its also ideal in smaller brokerage firms to allow jr. team members opportunity to build on the senior skills. the biggest flaw with people new to business is skill in articulating the written word.
    I was groomed by a person that made us bring him our “letters”. He would mark them up and we would scurry out to our meetings-presentations. Over 5 yrs. we were cloned. Today i do that for my people around me who send important emails or letters. That type of interaction requires the requestor to allow themselves to be vulnerable in showing me their work and for me to care enough to stop what im doing to help.

  2. Rod,

    We are an independent boutique firm specializing in the automotive industry. We have a small integrated, operational in-office support team consisting of an Operations/Transaction Manager, Advertising, Property Research, Database/IT, and Inside Sales. I am the lead Broker (Owner) and train, advise and support our sales staff. Our In-office Support staff serves all of our Sales Brokers. Our system works well but is constantly being tweaked.

    I appreciate your advice and read many of your articles.

    Thank you,

    Scott Krause
    AutoBizBrokers, Inc.

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