In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz will explore a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.
What a difficult decision! I have been with this office for many years; we enjoyed tremendous success (and overcame major challenges) together, and I have great affection and respect for my manager and colleagues.
But I received an unbelievable offer from a competing firm, and I simply had to accept it.
Now comes the hard part — how do I inform my broker about this decision?
Part of me knows I should just walk in and tell them face-to-face, but I have no idea how they will react to that. I prefer to avoid conflict and drama, and another voice in my head is telling me to clean out my desk late in the evening and send my broker an email.
Then there is the question of my active listings…do I own them, or does the brokerage? Will my sellers prefer to come with me or stay with the current company?
And what about my pending sales? How will my split on those sales be affected once I leave?
I do believe I have made the right decision, but there are many difficult matters to resolve.
A reality of directing a successful real estate brokerage is that agents come and go all the time. (I believe statistics show that the national average for turnover is close to 30 percent.)
As brokers, we must work hard to recruit new agents and grow our firms, and at the same time be emotionally and mentally prepared for our current agents — even the good ones who have been here a long time — to leave. It simply goes with the territory.
Which is not to suggest in any way that it is easy to see people go. We are human beings, too, and we get emotionally attached to agents, especially the ones who have been with us a long time.
We get to know their families, see their children grow up and ride out the good and hard times together.
And, yes, there is a financial perspective to consider as well. Some brokers and managers get overrides and bonuses based on office numbers and production, and the loss of a good agent can impact those negatively.
I have personal experience with this issue and take it seriously. When I left my first brokerage in 1990, my manager did not take the news very well — in fact, she never spoke to me again, even though she had been at my wedding just three months earlier.
She took what was a logical and business-based decision very personally, and I always make it a point to never put a departing agent in the same position. I am also careful not to talk negatively about the firm they are joining.
With that in mind, I always prefer that the agent tell me the news in person. If that is too difficult, a signed letter is also a classy and honest gesture.
But I believe emails and texts are simply too impersonal to deliver that kind of message. The absolute worst is not saying anything at all, and simply having the news reach the broker from a third party. In my opinion, that is both unprofessional and cowardly.
How to meet halfway
There is no right way or wrong way for an agent to tell their broker that they are leaving. But the standards of professional behavior suggest that a face-to-face meeting is the best course of action for both parties.
This allows for an immediate dialogue where the agent can explain the reasons behind their decision, and both parties can iron out any lingering issues concerning listings and sales.
Each office has its own policies on active listings; while the listing is technically the property of the brokerage, and some offices reduce the agent’s split on pending sales if they leave, many of these issues are negotiable.
The departing agent might consider communicating the positive aspects of working in their current office, as well as a request for the manager to leave the door open to a return, if things do not work out in their new firm.
Most managers appreciate this constructive approach, and there are many examples of “the grass not being so green” in which agents return to their office on good terms.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, leading the activities of more than 165 agents. He is also a working Realtor who sells more than 150 homes a year.