Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate reigned for years as Palm Beach County’s top brokerage by agent count. Now it has dropped to No. 4, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of state records.
Coldwell Banker has 444 agents in Palm Beach County, down from 493 a year ago. Miami-based Keyes Co. is No. 1, with 586 agents, up from 532 a year ago. (Keyes also owns No. 3 company Illustrated Properties Real Estate, which has 492 agents, up from 457 a year ago.)
Coldwell Banker’s declining agent count in Florida has caught the attention of the top brass at the headquarters parent company Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) of Parsippany, New Jersey.
“Florida was soft last year for us from a Coldwell Banker standpoint,” Anthony Hull, Realogy’s chief financial officer, said during an earnings call Friday. “I think that was driven by a combination of attrition issues, which we’re addressing, and the high-end softness, and obviously the foreign buyer was sort of still shocked in 2016 by the dollar improvement that occurred at the end of 2015.”
Hull didn’t disclose details about how the company is stemming the loss of agents. Jim Weix, broker-owner at The Real Estate Co. in Stuart, posits one possibility: Coldwell Banker just poached one of Weix’s agents by dangling a $10,000 signing bonus.
The only catch is that the agent must repay the bonus if he leaves in less than three years. Weix declined to match the offer, which he called “insane.”
After years of dominance, Coldwell Banker finds itself pressured from one side by full-service companies like Keyes and Illustrated Properties, and from the other by 100 percent commission companies, particularly United Realty Group of Plantation. It’s now the No. 2 company in Palm Beach County with 544 agents, up sharply from last year’s 382 agents.
United Realty Group lets agents keep the entire commission and pay just a nominal fee per transaction. Coldwell Banker, on the other hand, typically takes 30 percent of the commission to pay for such services as office space, marketing and training.
As independent contractors, Realtors are free to move from one company to the next in search of a bigger and better deal.
Here’s how the numbers looked when I crunched them a year ago: