Brokerage

What the breakup of a broker’s empire means for everyone else

Big firms could stumble if they don't confront formidable business challenges

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In Greek mythology, Icarus ignored his father's instructions not to fly too close to the sun -- then the wax in his wings melted, and he fell into the sea. Ed Krafchow In the mid-2000s, California real estate broker Ed Krafchow reached his professional vertex. The shaggy-haired, ex-academic had 4,500 real estate agents in 130 offices spread across three states, including an uber swath of California, the hottest real estate market in the world. “It’s our intention to be at 10,000 agents within the next five years,” Krafchow predicted in an interview with a local business park journal in 2004. A recession and tech innovations Like Icarus, Krafchow’s herculean ambitions to expand his empire -- just as the housing market cratered -- melted his (and many brokers') proverbial wings. As he encamped in the wake of the national recession, a sea of technology innovations swept across the real estate business while a flourishing Keller Williams and a gaggle of n...