The Corcoran Group said it was hacked Friday after a stunning email containing agent splits, marketing budgets and gross commission income was sent to the entire company.
Sources said the email came from Bill Cunningham, Corcoran’s president of sales. It landed in inboxes in mid-afternoon before being quickly retracted — but not before news of the breach ricocheted through the industry.
“It’s the most privileged information at a real estate company” aside from client information, said an industry source. “Yikes,” said another.
Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman reassured agents in an email late Friday that the alleged hack appeared to be isolated to a single email account, and that no customer data was involved. The firm plans to investigate the incident as criminal activity.
“This afternoon, we determined a Corcoran employee’s email account was compromised and three emails containing inaccurate and misleading Corcoran information were distributed within Corcoran, in a deliberate attempt to distract employees and agents, disrupt business and cause damage to Corcoran,” the firm said in a statement to The Real Deal.
Although sources within the firm initially said the documents were doctored, at least one agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity told TRD their numbers were “100 percent correct.”
Some Corcoran agents speculated foul play at the hands of a rival. “I will never EVER work for a company that engages in corporate cyberwarfare,” one agent posted on Instagram, along with the hashtag “#dontbotherrecruitingme.” The agent later removed the post.
In an ultra-competitive market, splits have become ammunition for firms battling over top producers. Agents are known to shop around offers to negotiate better deals — especially as Compass has upped the ante by offering fat checks and bonuses to agents in New York and other markets. According to industry sources, it’s standard for top producing agents to split their commission 70-30 with their brokerages— that is the split that the Eklund-Gomes Team has with Douglas Elliman, for example.
Agents in markets outside New York can command higher splits; in Los Angeles, north of 80 percent is not uncommon.
But rising commission costs have put pressure on brokerages. Over the past year, New York City’s top residential firms have tightened their clawback policies, which allows them recoup marketing dollars or salaries if an agent leaves the firm. (In April, Corcoran demanded a half-dozen Brooklyn agents to pay back between $20,000 and $100,000 in commission and marketing expenses.)
Meanwhile, Corcoran’s parent company, Realogy, has been embroiled in a nasty legal battle with Compass, which it accused of “predatory” poaching and illegal business practices in a July lawsuit. Most recently, Compass accused Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider of attempting to sell the company or form a joint venture — a claim Realogy vehemently denied.