The good Flushing giveth, and the good Flushing taketh away.
The Real Deal recently compared data from the Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services from June 14, 2016 with data from Feb. 20 of this year to determine which residential brokerages in Queens saw the sharpest decreases in agent count over the past 20 months. And although several agencies in Flushing saw sharp increases in their number of agents, the neighborhood was home to brokerages that saw the sharpest decreases as well.
Flushing-based Yao’s Realty dropped the most, falling about 41 percent from 61 to 36 agents. The massive franchise-based firm Exit Realty was next, where the agent count dropped from 631 to 443 for a roughly 30 percent decline, and Bayside-based Arcadia Real Estate Group was in third, where agent count dropped by about 29 percent from 52 to 37.
Flushing-based Best Group Realty placed fourth on our list with a roughly 24 percent drop from 98 to 74, and Bayside-based Graceful Park Realty rounded out the top five with a roughly 24 percent drop from 41 to 31.
Despite Exit Realty’s drop, the firm is still the third-largest in the borough by agent count. The other brokerages are considerably smaller: Best Group is the 16th biggest by agent count, while Arcadia checked in at 33, Yao’s Realty at 34, and Graceful Park at 39.
Exit had been at number two in June 2016, while Best Group Realty was at number 10, Yao’s Realty was at number 16, Arcadia was at number 19, and Graceful Park was at 24, according to our analysis.
Hector Castillo, CEO and regional owner of Exit Realty New York Metro, said in a statement that the company focuses on “quality over quantity” and generally sees a decline in its numbers every June, when it evaluates agent productivity to determine which brokers are not producing.
The firm dropped by 188 agents overall, while Yao’s dropped by 25. E Realty International, the fastest growing firm in the borough, increased by 197 agents, and Chase Global Realty, the second-fastest growing firm, increased by 51.
Christopher Yee, the owner of Arcadia and the part-owner of Graceful Park, acknowledged that 2017 was a rough year for his companies. He attributed this to broader factors such as uncertainty over what the Trump administration would do in its first year and new limitations on Chinese investments, which impacted the clients his firms were able to work with. However, he said 2018 was already looking like it would be livelier.
“It was a tough year in 2017,” he said, “but things will just turn around I hope.”
Steven Yao, broker/owner of Yao’s Realty, said the smaller number of agents working at his company did not worry him, noting that he “didn’t even realize there was a big drop because the sales numbers stayed the same.”
“We’re not really concerned about the agent count,” he said. “It’s really about the top agents that produce money.”
Yao characterized many of the agents who had left his company as people who saw real estate shows on television and thought the profession looked easy, only to discover that it was significantly harder to actually close deals and make money.
“They’re just not producing, and they have to survive,” he said. “They’re probably better off working at McDonald’s.”