Win-Win with a Little Help from Your Friends

A whole size of pizza with people's hands reaching for a slice


Between scrounging for clients, listings, and competing for mindshare it’s easy to compare working as a real estate agent to being a character in The Hunger Games. You might think, “It’s survival of the fittest. Only the strongest will survive.” Rather than thinking it’s all win or lose, we’d encourage you to think more win-win.   

A little healthy competition between friends, colleagues, and other local agents can serve as the motivation to achieve your goals. As they say, “Iron sharpens iron.” The UNC women’s soccer team is a great example. The team’s coaches use player rankings during practice to drive effort during drills and scrimmages, and the competition has propelled the team to numerous awards and championships.

Being too competitive can hold you back from building a network of relationships that will exponentially increase the potential of your business. Whether you hope to receive referrals, join partnerships, get your foot in the door with open houses, or simply tag team a sale within your brokerage, you’ll need friends to do so. And you won’t find them if people think, “They’re a cutthroat jerk!” It’s a tough balance to strike, but with a little finesse you can kill the competition with kindness by making friendliness your biggest asset. 

Market Share, Emphasis on Share

Titans of Industry like John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt were so astronomically successful that they’ve become mythic figures in American history. Their monopolies over entire industries propelled their wealth and power to unbelievable heights. But we’ve come a long way since the era of the so-called robber barons. Not only are monopolies now illegal (just look to the case against Facebook for an example in our current news cycle), but research actually shows that there are more effective (and ethical) ways to conduct business than attempts to snuff out the competition.

So, before we jump into the benefits of befriending fellow agents, let’s get one thing straight: Spending time, energy, and money with the focus of pushing people out of your market will not help your bottom line—it will probably hurt it.

According to research conducted by Wharton marketing professor J. Scott Armstrong, there is a negative correlation between “competitor-oriented objectives” and profits. By spending more money and time to gobble up a bigger share of the market pie by taking aim at others, companies seem to actually harm their profits. The authors instead suggest spending time solely on profit-maximizing efforts, meaning bringing in cash by whatever means necessary. This potentially includes collaborations.


Real estate has a reputation for being cutthroat. The TV network Bravo has an entire show devoted to this perception. In “Real Estate Wars,” two rival Southern California brokerages attempt to sabotage each other’s deals and “poach” clients amid the area’s competitive local luxury market.

We don’t suggest you take this backstabbing route. Instead, here are a few ways you can make the “competition” your allies:

  1. Offering to hold open houses for other agents is a great way for new agents to gain experience or for experienced agents to learn new tricks. They’ll appreciate you taking on a time-intensive task, and you get the benefit of lead generation. We call that a win-win!
  1. If you’re an established agent looking to expand clientele, you can maximize your dollars-per-hour by incorporating referrals into your business structure. According to Austin, TX, agent Bobby Moats, agent-to-agent referrals yield a higher return on investment than any other activity you do as an agent. “I am going to make more money from other agents giving me business than I would going out and paying for Facebook leads or Google leads,” he says. Referrals are commonly made by out-of-town connections who have clients moving to your area, but they’re also sometimes made by agents in your area. You never know who is going to know someone who needs your help. When you think of other agents this way, they are all potential lead sources and any relationships you build with them are lead generation.
  1. Co-listing is another cooperative technique whereby two real estate agents work together to serve a single home seller in the same transaction. The two agents share duties, including marketing, showings, and meeting deadlines during the contract-to-close phase. The agents also split commission, either down the middle or based on the share of work each person completed. This is a great option for when you’re a new agent who needs the credibility of someone more established to land a deal. It’s also perfect for situations you’ll face as a more experienced agent if you’re traveling for a critical portion of the deal or are simply too busy with other listings to take on full responsibility.
  1. Within brokerages, it’s also possible to maximize time efficiency by splitting agent responsibilities based on skill at certain tasks. Think about it as an assembly line: each person (or machine) on the line completes a specialized task and then moves the product down the line because this is the most efficient way to maximize production. You can apply the same tactics to real estate! Division of labor through specialization is common within brokerages, so you should take competition with your colleagues lightly.

Switch to an Abundance Mindset

Feeling like you’re constantly competing for scant resources is the root of several negative emotions. Low self-esteem, hopelessness, and feeling small all come from the exhausting thought process that begins with scarcity. Want to flip this on its head? Try shifting your view to one of abundance. We’re not telling you to be completely selfless and make sacrifices (we want you to get your unfair share!) but looking for opportunities to uplift yourself and other agents at the same time is a savvy ability that will carry you twice as far in the long term.

Diving headfirst into the bottomless well of competition can lead you into a hustle trap that will drown you, if you let it. Think instead of how you can leverage collaborative efforts to ease the load. These friends might pay back the favor in the long run.

How do you collaborate with fellow agents in your area? Let us know on our Facebook page. And sign up for our newsletter for more exciting articles and information.

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