Broker leaves Rutenberg to launch 100 percent commission firm

By Adam Fusfeld | June 30, 2011 06:06PM

It’s easy for Charles Doolan to explain why he left the 100 percent — commission firm Rutenberg Realty to launch his own brokerage. “I saw a loophole in their structure,” Doolan said. “I felt I could improve upon it and make it better for rental agents.”

Doolan’s new firm, Kian Realty, launched last month in a 1,600–square–foot office at 450 Seventh Avenue. Doolan said he expects to hire 100 agents over the next year and 200 by 2014. He currently has six, including himself.

The firm has a similar model to Rutenberg, but with a different fee structure, Doolan explained. At both Rutenberg and Kian, agents keep the lion’s share of their commissions, paying fixed monthly fees instead. When Kian agents do a rental deal, however, they pay $200 to the firm for apartments that rent for less than $2,000 per month, and $400 for all other rentals. Doolan said that compares favorably to Rutenberg’s fees, which can climb to $600 on some transactions. Kian agents pay a fixed fee of $1,000 for each sales deal, the same as at Rutenberg (though Rutenberg agents pay $2,000 for pricey sales).

“As a rental agent at Rutenberg, I was paying $600 back to the firm several times a month,” said Doolan, who did around 50 rental deals a year at Rutenberg. “Meanwhile, sales agents were paying far less than that, and I thought, ‘this isn’t fair.’”

Rutenberg co–founder Kathy Braddock said she is “flattered that when [Doolan] decided to leave here, he chose to copy my model exactly.” She added: “The door will always be open when he wants to return.”