In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic. This month: A leading broker is considering hiring one of his top producer’s main competitors, inadvertently blindsiding and offending his veteran agent. 

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

The broker of a leading Miami real estate office is considering hiring the main competitor of one his top producers, inadvertently blindsiding and offending his veteran agent. 

Agent perspective

My broker recently informed me that he was considering hiring my “nemesis,” an agent from another company with whom I’ve been competing in my territory for years. While trying to understand the business reasons behind this possibility, I initially experienced a combination of anger, embarrassment and resentment.

It was difficult to accept this as anything other than a statement of dissatisfaction with my production, which has been consistently excellent since the day I joined this company.

The thought of sharing the same roof and resources with this agent — whom I suspect but cannot prove works in unethical ways — quite frankly, made me nauseated.

My broker assured me that he was very happy with my production and that this was simply an opportunity for expansion that the company must at least consider. I did appreciate him giving me the courtesy of asking me my opinion, and after cooling down and thinking about it carefully, I simply told him, “I know you will do what is best for the company.”

Let’s see how he takes that advice.

Broker perspective

Not going to lie — I was super-excited by the opportunity to hire this agent. She generated nearly $100 million in sales last year, and adding her would have done wonders to our bottom line and our “prestige” (or so I thought.)

I wasn’t excited about the conversation, but I realized it would be best to ask my existing agent what she thought about this prospect. Her reasonable yet cryptic response sent me into a tailspin.

While giving me the “green light” to recruit her competitor, she also indirectly suggested that I look closely at why the agent was leaving her current company and how our office’s culture would handle her addition. It really made me think: What would truly be “best” for our company?

Today, I am very glad she gave me such a thoughtful answer. After the excitement of the opportunity died down and I came to my senses, I quietly asked the opinion of other local professionals whom I respect about this agent, and the response was decidedly mixed.

I eventually said “no thank you” to the recruit — and subsequently, so did the next office she pursued.

It was a good decision. I protected my agent, the geographic area they both service, and the company’s long-term ethical reputation. While I believe agents can do whatever they want (as long as it is moral, ethical and legal) and that every office is going to have one or two perennial top producers, I also believe that having a positive office culture is critical to overall success.

How to meet halfway

Good communication is essential to the agent-broker relationship. This broker had every right to simply hire the competitor and let the situation play out, but instead sought the opinion of his longtime trusted agent first.

The agent, rather than responding out of malice and jealousy, gave a nuanced response that demonstrated her professionalism, while also triggering a deeper and more thoughtful analysis from the broker.

Unfortunately, this situation occurs all too often with the hire being made impulsively, and no one really wins in the long term. The existing agent usually resents the hiring, the new agent usually makes too many waves, and the two competitors eventually wind up figuratively “eating each other.”

The office also winds up losing, as sellers tend to seek proposals from competing offices, and rarely two from the same office.

Anthony Askowitz is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, where he leads the activities of more than 180 agents. He is also a working agent who consistently sells more than 125 homes a year. In 2018, he was named “Managing Broker of the Year” by Miami Agent Magazine’s “Agents’ Choice” Awards.

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