The concept of real estate teams has taken hold of the industry, and high-selling teams are outperforming individual top sellers, according to REAL Trends’ The Real Estate Teams Playbook 2016.

Whether you’re a seasoned real estate professional or new to the industry, you’ve likely heard about or been part of a real estate team. There are between 35,000 and 50,000 real estate teams in the U.S. and the numbers are growing rapidly. In fact, 37% of the teams today formed one to three years ago—more than a quarter of those forming in the last year, according to the study.

The top 250 teams in this country completed nearly 70,900 transactions in 2015, according to REAL Trends. That’s up 16%  since 2011 and compares to an almost 20% decrease by individual top producers, according to the Inman.com article.

Gill South reported in a July 25 article on the topic on Inman.com that there are many versions of what defines a real estate team. But a summary that seems to capture a real estate team’s essence is: “a group with defined skills working towards a collective goal that supports the individual goals of its members, led by one or two people whose focus is to provide training, support, accountability, a source of business and a collaborative environment that fosters professional and personal growth for its members.”

Benefits for team real estate agents

Team-based agents can earn more—especially in the beginning of their careers. Depending on one’s team role, average monthly income for team members–not including team leaders—is from $2,000 to $12,700, according to REAL Trends. The average agent, in comparison, makes less than $20,000 in the first year, according to an article by Mark Ferguson on InvestFourMore.com.

Team members benefit with available training and mentoring, which is especially helpful for new agents and others who are new to a community.

Real estate teams are more able than individual agents to test and integrate new technology-based tools for lead generation, lead management and more, according to Inman.

Real Estate teams often help agents with expenses, including advertising, licensing fees and board dues, continuing education and office overhead, according to Ferguson.

Look for these markers of a successful team

According to REAL Trends, the team doesn’t necessarily need an established hierarchy to be successful, but it does need a leader. The team’s long-term success depends greatly on the leader’s direction, goals and leadership. Make sure the team leader plays an active role in the team.

Look for team leaders who have a positive professional brand. Team leaders in real estate are also responsible for the bulk of lead generation. According to the study, repeat and referral clients are the top source of leads for team leaders and members.

Look at the team’s culture and how you fit in. Impacting the team culture are the personality and individual goals of team members and support systems available to the team. Make sure expectations and roles are clear.

If the team is within a brokerage, make sure the brokerage supports and embraces the team.