Five biggest brokerages in Broward County

Firms offering full commissions have flat transaction fees from $50-$330

Nov.November 19, 2015 05:00 PM

Two of Broward’s biggest brokerages tied for the top spot – Coldwell Banker and United Realty Group. But the two have vastly different business models: one offers training and tools with a commission split policy that varies based on production, while the other offers full commissions and virtually no training.

The Real Deal ranked real estate firms in Broward by the number of actively licensed agents and spoke to executives about recruiting strategies, commissions and top sales for the year.

Here are the top five:

#1-tie Coldwell Banker | 788 agents

Coldwell Banker has seven offices in Broward, including Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas, Plantation, Southwest Broward, Hollywood and Weston. Duff Rubin, regional senior vice president of the firm’s southeast Florida division, said the majority of Coldwell Banker‘s business in Broward comes from single-family home sales, but that new construction condo sales are growing.

The residential firm uses the same recruiting strategy for the tri-county area, which includes a third-party assessment profile that analyzes skill sets of potential agents. Commission splits, Duff said, are “typically based on annual production.”

“Coldwell Banker prides itself on providing great education as well as all the tools  — technology, management support and marketing — necessary to help agents at a local, national and international level grow their business,” he said.

The top sale this year was $14 million for a home in Fort Lauderdale Isles.  

#1-tie United Realty Group Inc. | 788 agents

United Realty is among South Florida’s brokerages that offers its agents full commissions, with a flat per-transaction fee. The firm hires 50 to 70 agents on average every month, according to Melanie Brownell, director of recruitment.

She uses some email marketing, but mostly hires agents based on word of mouth.

United Realty, which is in the tri-county area and Orlando, doesn’t charge its agents desk or franchise fees or provide training. It offers a 100 percent commission with a $299 transaction fee.

“We don’t teach contracts. The boards do that,” Brownell said.

Year-to-date, United Realty has $810.3 million in sales. The firm has 13 offices with two additional locations opening early next year. Top sales this year include a condo in Bal Harbour, which sold in November for $3.15 million, and a commercial sale in West Palm Beach in August for $4.8 million.

#2 Keyes Company | 740 agents

Keyes has seven of its 35 offices in Broward, and hires more than 1,100 agents a year statewide. Steve Reibel, vice president of recruiting, previously said that commission splits between the agent and company vary from 60 percent to nearly 90 percent, “pending the level of production.”

The family-owned and operated firm targets a mix of newly licensed and experienced agents. Keyes is on track to reach $4.3 billion in sales this year, Mike Pappas, president, said. He said the firm is “very aggression on splits.”

Its tools and training bring in agents, Pappas said. That includes reporting software, e-marketing campaigns, leads, online portfolios and more. The company plans to roll out a new website over the next 60 days.

#3 Beachfront Realty | 518 agents

Beachfront Realty, a tri-county firm based in Aventura, led Miami-Dade’s ranking of actively licensed agents. The firm has one Broward office in Pembroke Pines.

Beachfront doesn’t charge its agents any fees, owner Ed Roberts said, and provides a 90 percent commission. As of mid-October, Beachfront agents sold 1,052 properties in all of South Florida with a combined $1 billion in sales so far this year, Roberts said.

He said sales are split 50-50 between single-family homes and condos in Broward.

#4 Charles Rutenberg Realty | 515 agents

Charles Rutenberg Realty recruits about 240 agents a year in South Florida, covering properties from Port St. Lucie to the Florida Keys.

“The majority [of our agents] comes from veteran agent referrals. We also target through strategic email campaigns,” said Cynthia Benchick, owner and broker. “We have one office. That’s our business model.”

Benchick offers 100 percent commissions with per-transaction fees using a membership system. Gold members pay $100 a month, a fee of $330 for their first transaction and $50 for each one after that. Silver members pay $35 a month with a $330 free for each transaction.

Benchick wouldn’t disclose year-to-date earnings, but did say that her firm averages about 2,400 closings a year. The top sale this year for $4.7 million for 615 Royal Plaza Drive in Fort Lauderdale in November.

TRD Researcher Will Parker contributed reporting.

Data used for this story comes from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. TRD pulled the number of actively licensed real estate agents on Oct. 19, and ranked the firms based on the number of agents. This is the second in a series.

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