BrokerageIndustry News

How to merge your real estate brokerage without regrets

Two players who recently took the leap give their take
  • When looking for a merger partner, cultural fit is the most important thing to get right in this human capital business.
  • A successful merger is mutually beneficial; a larger brand can bolster support for an indie, while smaller firms breathe new life into their parent company.

The merger-and-acquisition path is littered with casualties. Entrepreneurial companies accept the umbrella of a behemoth for protection, guidance and growth opportunities -- but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, says Ryan Abbe, managing director of San Francisco-based M&A adviser and real estate investment banking group JMP Securities. Ryan Abbe That's because the little guys can “die in these big organizations,” Abbe said, and giants often find it difficult to embrace smaller firms. The hardest M&As are those that involve human capital, which is the primary focus of such deals in the real estate brokerage world, in addition to technology, systems and business relationships, according to Abbe. And as the brokerage business gets more complex with new technology that creates uncertainty, brokers are feeling downward pressure on margins and face higher splits to agents and regulators. But two formerly independent California brokerages and their parent...