Some real estate agencies just aren’t feeling the Brooklyn boom.
By examining data from the Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services, The Real Deal was able to determine which residential brokerages saw the steepest decline in agent count between June 14, 2016 and Feb. 20 of this year. (TRD recently used the same data to determine which firms had seen the most growth.)
MySpace NYC saw the sharpest decrease in agent count, falling 44 percent to 79 agents from 141. Rapid Realty was a close second with a 43 percent drop to 124 agents from 219 agents. Sotheby’s International Realty’s Warren Lewis affiliate came next, dropping about 23 percent to 36 agents from 47. Re/Max and Brown Harris Stevens followed in fourth and fifth place, respectively, each seeing a roughly 20 percent drop. The former saw a decrease to 91 agents from 114, while the latter fell to 93 from 116.
Hall Willkie, co-president of Brown Harris Stevens, described the numbers as “just a snapshot,” noting that “there are always ebbs and flows of the number of agents at any given time.”
MySpace NYC and Rapid Realty lost 62 and 95 agents overall, respectively, numbers that were roughly in line with the firms that saw the most growth: Compass, which topped that list, grew by 61 agents, while EXR, which came in second place, grew by 92 agents.
Rapid Realty, for its part, has recently been dealing with multiple legal issues. Nine franchise owners have accused founder Anthony Lolli of using a deceptive business model to bring people into the firm, and Rapid Realty has fired back with a lawsuit accusing three franchise owners of maliciously trying to destroy the company.
Lolli contested TRD’s numbers, saying that Rapid Realty has new entities in each borough, but did not respond to requests to elaborate on this. He noted that the firm had been largely focused on rentals in the past, which led to it recruiting several new agents who wanted to get their start in the rental game. Meanwhile, the company has still seen solid growth in Queens.
“Now we’ve shifted that focus a bit and we’re more hybrid, with a stronger focus on training and support related to sales,” Lolli said, “which means we’ve increased quality of recruiting versus quantity.”
Even still, Rapid Realty is the largest of the five firms when it comes to agent count in Brooklyn. It clocked in at No. 13 in the borough, down from No. 5 in June 2016. Brown Harris Stevens followed, taking the No. 16 spot followed by Re/Max at 17. MySpace NYC was No. 21, and Warren Lewis Sotheby’s No. 29. In 2016, MySpace NYC took ninth place, followed by Brown Harris Stevens at 14, Re/Max at 15 and Warren Lewis Sotheby’s at 23.
Joseph Madaio, a broker and the owner of Re/Max Elite in Bay Ridge, said in a statement that the past 10 months had been “very good for us in terms of recruiting, and we expect this to continue for the remainder of 2018 and beyond.”
As for MySpace NYC, its chief operating officer Jordan McCray said he wasn’t stressed about the company’s declining agent count. He noted that the brokerage recently consolidated three of its offices into one main campus on Bogart Street in East Williamsburg and used the move as an opportunity to clear out agents who were technically with the company but not actually producing.
“During that transition, we dropped all non-working agents who simply parked their licenses with the company and were not generating revenue, which effectively leaned out our agent count,” he said. “Every company’s agent count is inflated by individuals who come into the industry and quickly figure out it is not a good fit for them.”
He felt optimistic about MySpace NYC going forward, saying he expects their number of agents “to increase exponentially as we go into the summer.”
“We’re doing a lot more business,” he said. “We’re doing a lot more new development.”
Clarification: In a previous version of this article The Real Deal did not identify Warren Lewis as the Sotheby’s franchise that lost agents. The franchise name has been added for clarity.