Corcoran agent in Miami loses job over “racist and fear-based” marketing

Joseph Swedroe, who sent an email suggesting New York City is unsafe due to Black Lives Matter protests, is also a principal at Robert M. Swedroe Architects & Planners

Joseph Swedroe (Corcoran, iStock)
Joseph Swedroe (Corcoran, iStock)

A Corcoran Group agent in South Florida sent out an email blast in the hopes of attracting New York buyers, but the way he did it has cost him his job.

Joseph Swedroe’s email, with the subject line “Looking for Change?” shows a New York Police Department van engulfed in flames, juxtaposed with images of boating and sandy beaches below, and asks recipients whether they want to live in “chaos or comfort,” alluding to the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in New York City after the killing of George Floyd in police custody. The email suggests that New York City, Corcoran’s home base, is dangerous and unsafe to live in.

Swedroe said it was not his intention to offend anyone.

“It was just a marketing piece to get attention,” he said. “If people are going to move, let them come and contact me if they’re coming to South Florida.”

A spokesperson for Corcoran said the firm has “zero tolerance for this behavior” and that Swedroe has been “swiftly disassociated from our firm.” The spokesperson said that the brokerage “categorically rejects racist and fear-based rhetoric in any form.”

Swedroe maintains that there is “nothing offensive” in his eblast and that “everything in the email was easily available online, or in the newspaper or on TV in the last two weeks.” He said the email was not fear-based, but instead factual.

“It’s no secret that New York has been the scene of riots and vandalism and that South Florida is a much quieter and calmer place,” he said.

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The real estate industry, which has long had a diversity problem, has been speaking out against racism and offering support to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Swedroe, who worked out of the Surfside office, has three listings on his Corcoran page: the $10.75 million listing of 7747 Atlantic Way in Miami Beach, and two properties in Bal Harbour each asking about $2.6 million. He’s been a licensed real estate agent since 2010, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Swedroe is also a partner at Robert M. Swedroe Architects & Planners, his father’s architecture firm based in Miami, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In an email sent to agents, Pam Liebman, president and CEO of Corcoran, called the e-blast “highly offensive and inappropriate.”

“I want you to know how seriously we take this,” Liebman wrote, “and how in no way does this type of marketing represent who we are.”

This story was updated at 3:11 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 9 to include comments from Swedroe.