A Miami real estate agent is returning to her original broker and firm, where she launched a successful career. What can both parties do to ensure a smooth and productive return to the office?

In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.

A Miami real estate agent is returning to her original broker and firm, where she launched a successful career. What can both parties do to ensure a smooth and productive return to the office?

Agent perspective

After a fantastic five-year run with a major competitor, I recently decided to return to the original real estate office where I started my career. I spent the first three years learning the ropes of the business in that office, and though I am excited to come back, I am also bracing myself for a good bit of awkwardness.

My original broker is still at this office, and while he did make a concerted effort to recruit me back, I think there is some leftover resentment over my leaving five years ago.

Complicating this situation even further is that I played pretty “hard to get” — I insisted on a very generous split and signing bonus, a large new office, lavish benefits and an assistant.

Then, when my company offered to match, a bidding war ensued, and I got even more! My broker was happy to win at the time, but I think he’s just now realizing the true cost, and that bitterness is being passed on to me.

I have no worries or second-guesses about coming back, but I do want our old/new relationship to get off on the right foot.

Broker perspective

Was I upset to have this agent leave us? Did it pain me to see her do so well for a competitor, after we groomed her into a superstar? Am I annoyed at the exuberant costs to bring her back? Yes, yes and hell yes(!).

But I have been in this business for a long time. I know this is just a part of the process, and I will certainly get over any bitterness of the cost. In fact, I am delighted to have her back, and I have enormous respect for the way she pressed her advantages in this bidding war to get the very best deal she could.

With such a profound investment, I don’t think I am out of line for wanting immediate, strong results from this agent. But that is strictly a business (not personal) concern, which is exactly how situations like this should be addressed.

When I was an agent, my manager (who had recently attended my wedding) decided to never speak to me again when I joined another office, and her stubborn resentment always bothered me. Why not try to lure me back?

The responsibility for keeping agents happy and interested in staying here is not theirs — it’s mine! If I make sure the grass is fertilized on my side of the fence, agents won’t go to where they think the grass is greener.

I’ll do everything I can to make a returning agent especially comfortable, but her concern should be with the attitude of her fellow agents, not me.

The colleagues at her now former office will be looking at her funny and wondering why she left. They do not want disruptions or anyone questioning why they remain. Agents feel as if an office is theirs, and they often take it personally when a colleague leaves.

But experienced brokers realize that agents have to fly sometimes. And smart brokers also let the truly talented departing agents know that they are always welcome back.

How to meet halfway

Thirty percent of 6,750 agents surveyed in 2014 said that they had been with their firm for a year or less — an increase from 18 percent the previous year, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

It is not uncommon for agents to work for multiple offices over the course of their careers, and sometimes their path will take them to a place they have worked previously, hoping things will be better “this time.”

This presents opportunities for both the returning agent and the broker.

Brokers should value returning agents highly, and even showcase them as examples to other potential recruits. They could accomplish this through paid advertisements, social media, press releases and simply by mentioning the returning agents at appropriate industry networking events.

Returning agents should, in turn, validate the confidence of their brokers by complying with company policies, actively working with office colleagues and generating high-quality production.

Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, leading the activities of more than 170 agents. He is also a working Realtor who sells more than 125 homes a year. In 2017, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce honored him with the R.E.A.L. award in the category of “Real Estate Broker – Residential.”

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