In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.
An experienced top agent at a Miami real estate firm is being encouraged by her broker to partner with an up-and-coming millennial agent.
Although I always preferred to operate as a solo practitioner, I have reached a point in my real estate career where having a partner just makes too much sense.
My business is perfectly fine, but I have been doing this for a long time, and I feel myself slowing down just a little bit. The idea of having a collaborator with whom I can share ideas and responsibilities feels exactly like the kind of “jump-start” I need.
I mentioned this to my broker and asked him for suggestions from the pool of agents in our office. I assumed he would propose another experienced top producer like me, which would make for a smooth and natural connection.
Imagine my surprise when he proposed a very young but promising new agent, with less than five years of experience in the business.
My broker laid out his reasons for this recommendation: my struggles with adapting to new technology and marketing concepts; my desire for innovative ideas and energy; and the suggested partner’s need for some of my strengths, such as patience, organization and good one-on-one communication.
Obviously, I was surprised by this proposition but also more than a little intrigued.
Some colleagues from my generation have taken on their adult children as partners in recent years; often with great success. In fact, my broker mentioned that my strong relationship with my own adult children (who are not much younger than this rising star he suggested) was a major factor in his proposal.
Also of note, the proposed partner has improved her sales and production each of her few years in the business, which demonstrates to me seriousness and commitment.
Still, I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea, and I need some more convincing before taking this important step.
Life moves pretty fast. One day, you’re the up-and-comer open to new things, the next you’re the grizzled veteran who is set in their ways.
I can understand this experienced agent being more comfortable teaming up with someone who has a similar career tract, but in my experience, the best partnerships develop through the complementing of strengths and weaknesses.
In this case, the young phenom who excels at online marketing, videos and social media has a hard time prioritizing and staying organized, while the longtime producer can’t seem to break out of the same old concepts which have grown stale.
To me, the opportunities of pairing these two are obvious and exciting, but I can also foresee some challenges. Both will have to accept their unique “places” in the relationship — which is hard for anyone used to working solo.
There will also have to be open and candid conversations about assignments, schedules, pace and practices; who will take the lead in which situations (and who will step back); and of course, how to split commissions.
But I am confident that all this can be worked out, and a very productive union will develop in time.
How to meet halfway
If the broker is so confident about the potential for this arrangement, he should take an active role in its progress.
To that end, he can speak with each agent separately to get an idea of their expectations and goals, offer detailed suggestions for how the partnership would work, address any concerns or sticking points individually and then administer face-to-face meetings to finalize the arrangement.
If there is an agreement and a partnership is formed, he should remain an engaged mediator in its early stages to overcome any inevitable hurdles.
Another suggestion is for both agents to engage the partnership slowly over time. They might decide to work together only on certain listings (while maintaining their own portfolios) for a set duration and then merge their businesses once they have reached an appropriate comfort level.
As with any partnership, both partners would also be wise to include clear language for the dissolution of the arrangement and who would retain what assets.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, where he leads the activities of more than 165 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.