The Agency closes Palm Springs office amid larger cuts

Resi brokerage, which got PPP loan, revisiting need for physical space

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Jul.July 06, 2020 01:15 PM
Mauricio Umansky and the office (Credit: Google Maps)
Mauricio Umansky and the office (Credit: Google Maps)

The Agency closed its Palm Springs office as the luxury real estate brokerage reassesses its operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for the brokerage confirmed that the Agency moved out of its office at 830 N. Palm Canyon Drive last month, with staff and agents seeking work space sent 15 miles away to an office in Palm Desert.

Palm Springs is a desert community in Riverside County approximately 100 miles east of L.A. County. It has a long-established luxury clientele, but the area’s overall median home price of $431,000, according to Redfin, is less than the $655,000 in L.A. County.

The Agency’s expansion into Palm Springs was part of the nine-year-old, Beverly Hills-headquartered brokerage’s growth spurt over the last three years.

Agency founder and CEO Mauricio Umansky said in an interview last month that the brokerage had 36 offices, but noted that they are reexamining their need for physical space.

“A lot of agents are talking to me – ‘Why not get rid of space?’ That’s what the agents are telling us. We have some rent commitments. But let’s see what’s happening six months from now, nine months now,” Umansky said.

Umansky said that when Covid-related shelter-in-place orders began he moved into crisis mode, successfully negotiating deferrals on rent payments with some office landlords, and also modestly reducing the brokerage’s space in the Pacific Palisades.

The brokerage also received a $2 million-$5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan in April to retain 104 jobs, according to information released Monday by the federal Small Business Administration.

But the federal help did not prevent layoffs.

“We have to lay off people and furlough people,” Umansky acknowledged while declining to go into details. “It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through in my life.”

The Agency is hardly the only brokerage going through hard times.

Douglas Elliman enacted a number of national cutbacks, including shuttering its Santa Barbara office. Coldwell Banker closed an office in Malibu, and reduced its presence in Los Feliz.

And Compass laid off 15 percent of its total workforce in March, including 150 employees in California.


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