Once you decide to become a full-time professional, it’s time to determine whether you will be a solo agent or join a real estate team. And that means finding out which position will be best for the consumers in your market. 

How will you serve consumers in your community at the highest level? These consumers will need to put their trust in buying, selling, or investing in real estate with you. So, what puts you in the best position to serve them?

Ultimately, their transaction and their money are being invested, not yours. How do you help them in your decision to be a single agent or on a team? 

Getting clarity on that is essential to building a long-standing career. 

Study the top producers in your market

To start, study all of the agents in your market who are top single agents. 

  • What are they doing? 
  • What do they do that works?
  • What brokerages are they affiliated with?
  • Who are they surrounding themselves with? 

You also need to learn about the teams in your market. 

  • Who are they?
  • What are they doing for their community?
  • What are they doing for business?
  • Who are they affiliated with? 
  • What kind of vendor partners do they have?

Find out as much information as possible about your market’s agents and teams. Line those up side by side, and do a deep dive on what appears to be the top solo agents and the top teams in your market. 

To help you get started with your research, here are a couple of sources that will work in any given market. 

Research Tool #1: RealTrends.com

First, use RealTrends Rankings to find top-producing agents and teams in your area. 

Once on the site, you can view rankings by solo agent or team. RealTrends provides data from two sources: 

  • The Thousand – an annual, national ranking program presented by RealTrends and Tom Ferry International.
  • America’s Best – features the top 1.49% of more than 1.6 million licensed Realtors® nationwide. 

Go through each list, narrowing your search down to your state, and identify the top five in each category:

  • Individuals
  • Small teams (2-5 agents)
  • Medium teams (6-10 agents)
  • Large teams (11-20 agents)
  • Mega teams (21+ agents)

Once you’ve identified your market’s top solo agents and teams, it’s time to hit Zillow. 

Research Tool #2: Zillow.com Agent Finder

On Zillow, use the Agent Finder tool and enter your location. 

Based on your top five lists from RealTrends, gather all the information you can on all the agents and teams on your list. 

Using Zillow, look at the following for each agent and team you are researching:

  • Deals completed. How many transactions did each agent and team complete in the past 12 months? How many of these deals were on the buy side? List side? Compare this to your MLS transactions (if you can get your hands on it).
  • Zillow reviews. You’ll quickly see who has the most local reviews. And those reviews help determine each agent’s ranking on the list. 

Dig Deeper

Now that you have some basic ranking information from RealTrends and Zillow, it’s time to get more information about each agent and team on that list. Use these tools to make side-by-side comparisons to see who really are the top agents in your market. 

Dig deeper on each solo agent and team: 

  • Google them
  • Read online reviews 
  • Look them up on social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
  • Watch their YouTube videos
  • See how they present a property
  • See if they have client testimonials

Research before reaching out

From your research, aim to learn about the culture and work habits of each. Watch all the videos and content you can find. Spend a lot of time in due diligence before you speak to any of them. 

Then reach out to these top agents and teams and have conversations with them. Start interviewing them to figure out which one is the best fit for you. 

If you want them to treat you like a professional—someone who’s going full-time in this business—you’d better come prepared. 

Learn exactly what they have done in the past and what they offer, so you’ll be ready for it when they have an opportunity to offer you. And you’ll impress them with the knowledge you have about their company. 

Join the best in your market

In the beginning, you have to pick the right infrastructure. 

Since 80% of the business in real estate is done by 20% of the agents, it’s crucial to work with top performers from the start of your career. Starting with low performers keeps you stuck at the bottom, making the work of growing as an agent harder than it has to be. 

If you want to work closely with a single agent, look for one doing 100+ transactions a year. These agents need help. They need somebody hungry and willing to assist them with the things that are falling through the cracks. 

For many, a team is the best way to learn the ins and outs of real estate. As a member of a team, you’ll have your own name on your business to work with both buyers and sellers, with the support of a top-producing team. But you want to get as much information as possible before deciding which team to join. 

The best teams offer new agent training and an immense amount of support to guide you through the early stages of your career. 

So, until you find that team, make time daily to research the top teams and brokerages in your area. The research will get you closer to understanding what you want to see in the team you ultimately choose to join. 

Once you get enough deals under your belt—and say you want to become an investor, a solo agent, or build a team of your own—you now have credibility in the market. You now have past clients. You now have enough people that believe in you.