Leading agents on

<i>In down market, feeds from managers more coveted than ever </i>

While brokers know they’ve got to work all their sources to keep business flowing, in this down market, leads from their managers are more coveted than ever.

While the practice of managers “feeding” certain brokers potential buyers or sellers can lead to behind-the-scenes sniping between agents, it’s a reality of the business.

In a down market, fed leads are less likely to go to inexperienced brokers, or those with few connections, because management typically doles them out to top producers, sources said.

“A new agent is unlikely to get fed high-quality leads,” said Noah Rosenblatt, founder of the firm Urban Digs. “Usually, management feeds leads to the most productive agents, because then you don’t have to worry about a young agent not bringing the sale in.”

Managers say agents sometimes get smaller commission splits when they’re fed leads, particularly if they are personal referrals from management.

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Still, the practice is not without controversy.

“The reason there are so many gripes [about feeding leads] is that the people who aren’t succeeding sometimes blame management” for not giving them enough, said Douglas Heddings, who worked at Prudential Douglas Elliman for more than a decade before he founded the Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty.

Heddings also said feeding leads is more common at smaller firms than large ones. At Elliman he said he got “maybe” one lead a year, but now he’s responsible for finding more leads for his agents.

Gary Malin, the president of Citi Habitats, said his firm sets aside “at the corporate level” a budget used to raise leads.

In a difficult market like this one, however, those leads can only go so far. “We tell our agents, ‘It’s icing on the cake, but you still need to bake your own cake,'” said Malin.