Nooklyn CEO steps down after firm slashes agent commissions

Harley Courts, who founded the company in 2010, faced backlash from agents over commission cuts

TRD New York /
Oct.October 10, 2019 12:51 PM
From left: Joseph Friedman, Harley Courts, Noble Novitzki, and Amylia Hecker

From left: Joseph Friedman, Harley Courts, Noble Novitzki, and Amylia Hecker

The CEO of startup brokerage Nooklyn is stepping down amid turbulence over the company’s decision to cut agent commissions and alter its payment structure.

Harley Courts, who founded the Brooklyn-based company in 2010, is stepping down and taking a leave of absence, according to an email sent to staff Thursday by Courts’ business partner, Moiz Malik. Noble Novitzki, Nooklyn’s chief people officer, will take over as CEO, effective immediately.

The announcement comes after Nooklyn said it would shave 10 percent off agents’ commissions in response to changes to a state law that limited the cost of application fees. The move resulted in angry responses from many of the firm’s agents.

In addition, the firm altered its payment structure so agents get paid 30 days after a renter moves in — on a bi-monthly schedule — rather than a couple of days after the deal closed. Courts and his partners also took a 25 percent pay cut.

In an interview late last week, Courts downplayed agents’ discontent about the changes, which he said were necessary to continue the firm’s investment in technology. He added that Nooklyn never charged agents for desk or REBNY fees, as other firms do. Moreover, he argued the change to Nooklyn’s payment structure simply brought it into line with industry standard.

“We were paying agents faster than any company in the industry. Now, we’re just paying agents the same as everyone else,” he said.

At a company meeting held Wednesday to address agents’ concerns, many voiced frustration that Courts was not there.

Reached by phone, Courts declined to comment. In a text message, Malik credited Courts with helping to cultivate a “collaborative ethos and diverse culture” at Nooklyn. “What the company needs to move forward in the next few years is someone who is uniquely positioned to handle delicate and sensitive issues,” he said. “Noble Novitzki is that person.”

Thursday’s announcement is part of a wider leadership shakeup at the firm, which will see former operations manager Amilya Hecker take over as chief operating officer, while current COO Joseph Friedman will transition into the role of CFO.

Do you know more? Email Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected]

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