The Real Deal Miami

Five biggest brokerages in Palm Beach County

Among the lures: seller security programs, full commissions and real estate boot camp

November 24, 2015 02:20PM
By Katherine Kallergis

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Biggest brokerages in Palm Beach

While Palm Beach’s biggest firms have significantly less agents than those in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, their hooks remain the same: competitive commission splits, technology and in-house tools and training.

The Real Deal ranked real estate firms in Palm Beach County by the number of actively licensed agents and spoke to executives about recruiting strategies, commissions and top sales for the year.

Here are the top five:

#1 Keyes Company | 526 agents

Keyes has 11 offices and four satellites in Palm Beach County, president Mike Pappas said. The family-owned and operated firm targets a mix of newly licensed and experienced agents. Keyes is on track to reach $4.3 billion in sales this year, and hires more than 1,100 agents a year statewide.

While most of its agents are in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Keyes leads the ranking in Palm Beach. The brokerage also has an in-house corporate relocation program, based in West Palm Beach.

Keyes has recently refinished or relocated up to eight offices in Palm Beach County. “We think facilities still matter,” Pappas said.

Steve Reibel, vice president of recruiting, previously said that commission splits between the agent and company vary from 60 percent to nearly 90 percent, “pending the level of production.”

Pappas has said the firm is “very aggression on splits.”

#2 Coldwell Banker | 466 agents

Coldwell Banker has 10 offices in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach.

Duff Rubin, regional senior vice president, would not disclose the company’s commission split policy but said, “We as a company try to be more of a value-proposition brokerage,” including Coldwell Banker’s tools, management and support. “Commission splits are typically based on production. You’re only as good as your production,” he said.

The top sale in Palm Beach County was a single-family home at 600 Northeast Fifith Avenue in Boca Raton. Jonathan Postma had the listing for the property, which sold for $8.3 million.

Rich Fleischer, regional vice president of Coldwell Banker east central region of Florida, said sales are split evenly between condos and single-family homes. “We do not focus solely on one type of property or one specific price point. Our overall goal is to ensure that the customer has the best real estate experience possible, regardless of property type,” Fleischer said.

The company hires about 225 agents, a mix of experienced and newly licensed, in the county on an annual basis.

#3 Illustrated Properties | 435 agents

Illustrated Properties has 23 offices in Florida. The firm offers online marketing tools, a lead generation program, training classes and mentoring programs, and in-house marketing, Debbie Zuloaga, director of recruiting, said.

Illustrated targets a mix of newly licensed and experienced agents and encourages them to be full-time. The firm charges a competitive monthly fee, which gives agents access to tools and marketing, but does not charge desk or training fees. Commission splits are handled on a 65 percent to 85 percent structure, Zuloaga said, pending production and other factors.

Year-to-date, its sales volume is $1.29 billion. Illustrated’s top sale so far in 2015 was the sale of an office property at 1320 North Lake Way, which sold for $14.5 million.

Illustrated Properties has hired 187 agents this year, and aims to hire 200 by the end of 2015, Zuloaga said.

#4 ERA Home Run Real Estate | 373 agents

Home Run Real Estate hires about 50 agents a year, owner Debbie Smith said. The company has three offices in Palm Beach, including Palm Beach Gardens, Royal Palm Beach and Lake Worth.

Smith said she doesn’t pay for recruiting, and that ERA’s technology brings the majority of her agents. Home Run offers services like a seller security program, a Palm Beach County auction department and a Zap platform for its agents. Smith also provides a real estate boot camp, which takes agents from contract to closing.

Home Run, which was founded in 2003 and affiliated with ERA in July, does not charge its agents monthly fees. Smith would not disclose its commission split policy. It’s closed about $200 million in transactions this year, Smith said.

#5 United Realty Group | 356 agents

United Realty Group offers 100 percent commissions with a flat per-transaction fee. The firm has four branches in Palm Beach County, according to Melanie Brownell, director of recruitment. It hires on average 20 agents a month.

The majority of sales in the county come from single-family homes, she said.

United Realty, which is in the tri-county area and Orlando, doesn’t charge its agents desk or franchise fees or provide training. It offers a 100 percent commission with a $299 transaction fee.

Year-to-date, United Realty has $810.3 million in sales. The firm has 13 offices with two additional locations opening early next year. Top sales this year include a commercial sale in West Palm Beach in August for $4.8 million.

TRD Researcher Will Parker contributed reporting.

Data used for this story comes from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. TRD pulled the number of actively licensed real estate agents on Oct. 19, and ranked the firms based on the number of agents. TRD also published rankings for Miami-Dade and Broward.