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Agent/broker perspective: Do agents have any rights to their ‘turf’?

06/07/2017

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In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz will explore a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.

A successful agent has been the go-to Realtor in a particular neighborhood for many years. The neighborhood is becoming popular now, and colleagues from the agent’s own office are starting to get listings there. Does the agent have a right to his own “turf” since he has been there for so long?

Agent perspective

For more than a decade, I established myself in this quiet little neighborhood — a beautiful stretch of blocks where I actually live. I have invested money, time, attention and labor in this area, serving on volunteer councils and neighborhood watch groups.

Over time, people here came to depend on me as the reliable, trustworthy person they could speak with when it came time to sell or buy a home, and this started back when my real estate colleagues barely knew this area even existed.

All of that has changed now.

The big secret is out, and our little neighborhood as become the hot section of Miami over the past six months. With that, all of my real estate competitors have suddenly discovered it and descended on the area like California gold miners in the 1800’s.

While I hold no resentment toward agents from other offices getting a foothold on what I consider my turf, I do have a problem with agents from my own office muscling in.

I have devoted so much to this area and feel entitled to it. I want to keep it for myself, especially now that it’s “on the map.”

Don’t I have some right to exclusivity from my own office? Can’t my broker call off the dogs?

Broker perspective

The simple answer is “no.”

As a broker, my job is to encourage and manage competition, and granting exclusive rights to an area for one agent or team is a terribly slippery slope. However, I do know of other offices that will restrict an agent’s farmed area, ostensibly to protect the agent and keep them from leaving. This strategy was the norm about twenty years ago, but is considered very dated now.

I do have some good news for my turf-sensitive agent. Many studies have confirmed that buyers and sellers will demand the neighborhood specialist — the Realtor who sold the house across the street and knows everything about the area.

People want to work with the one who knows the best schools, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping and houses of worship, in addition to “inside baseball” stuff like flood insurance requirements.

So, agents who have been geographically farming for years should have enormous advantages, including the trust of longtime homeowners, intrinsic local knowledge and a lengthy list of satisfied clients.

I would highly recommend that they fully exploit these dramatic advantages in their marketing, advertising and social media posts, instead of resenting and stressing about the nouveau competition.

How to meet halfway

While a broker may not formally restrict neighborhood-specific interoffice competition by decree or regulation, it may be advisable for them to quietly discourage agents from spending time, expenses and energy on areas they do not know well.

Sellers typically interview three companies, so if too many agents are going after the same area, the unfamiliar agent may get pushed to the side. This is especially true for newer agents, who may find it even more difficult to go after established areas.

A broker may further advise these agents to find undiscovered gems in a particular city or region and establish their own roots and relationships for future cycles.

Anthony Askowitz is the broker-owner of Re/Max Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, leading the activities of more than 170 agents. The winner of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 R.E.A.L. award in the category of “Real Estate Broker – Residential”, Anthony is also a working Realtor who sells more than 150 homes a year.

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