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This month, The Real Deal set out to analyze the factors that influence workplace satisfaction in commercial real estate. Most New York City commercial brokers work on commission rather than salary, so the commission split they’re offered by each firm is the biggest driving factor when choosing where to work. When teams work together on deals, the commission is divvied up between team members, with each broker’s cut determined by factors such as seniority, who did the most work on a given deal, and who brought in the client. Brokers who work at the investment bank Eastdil Secured and Brookfield Financial, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, are not paid on commission; instead, they’re salaried employees. To boost morale and attract new talent, Manhattan brokerages also reward their top producers with free trips, events and services.
When it comes to rewarding its top producers, one stand-out company is the national investment services firm Marcus & Millichap, which has roughly 85 agents in its Manhattan office.
At the investment property sales firm Ariel Property Advisors, healthy snacks from online grocery company FreshDirect are delivered to the office once a week, and breakfast — featuring fruit, yogurt and whole-wheat wraps with egg-whites and vegetables — is catered twice a week. While residential offices are often ground-level storefronts to attract passersby, commercial brokerage office spaces have a more corporate feel. Perhaps the most impressive brokerage offices belong to major national firms, such as CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle, which boast well-appointed spaces in Class A office buildings in Midtown.
When it comes to facilities, one area where firms differ is their approach to private offices. Massey sits in “the bullpen” at his firm’s 275 Madison Avenue headquarters along with co-founder Bob Knakal. Commercial real estate brokers are required to be licensed before they start working on deals, which involves taking classes and passing a written exam. Commercial firms take a variety of approaches to training their brokers, from mandatory courses to mentorship programs. Mark Schnurman, director of sales and training, drew on his experience of training programs at one of his former companies, investment bank Morgan Stanley, to create a custom program for Eastern.
The program “leverages senior brokers’ skill sets and track records and accelerates the learning curve” for junior agents, Parker said.
In fact, he attributed the firm’s retention rate of approximately 75 percent, which he said was high in the industry, in part to that policy. The mortgage bank Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, which has an investment sales and capital markets advisory arm, also stands out for its educational offerings. Almost all Manhattan firms provide their agents with access to a variety of software programs and online subscriptions to help them navigate the market.

Plus, Marcus & Millichap agents are given software to maintain their own databases, Parker said, and if a broker leaves the firm, their information goes with them. That’s a selling point for brokers thinking of giving Marcus & Millichap a try, Parker said. The office culture of a commercial real estate firm is largely determined by whether a firm is privately owned or publicly traded, sources said, as well as the system that brokers operate under. Heller also noted that many of Studley’s managers are themselves brokers who are working on their own deals as well as supervising others.
While some brokers thrive under the territory model, others said the system is restrictive for brokers who would prefer to work all over the city. And all those hours mean it’s important for brokers to find a firm that’s a good fit, a corporate culture that makes that time spent in the office at least tolerable — maybe even somewhat enjoyable. To do that, we asked more than two dozen major New York City commercial brokerage firms to complete a survey detailing the amenities and perks they offer.
And splits vary widely by individual: At most firms, agents start at a 50-50 split, then graduate to higher percentages as they gain more experience and deal volume. At both firms, commissions are pooled and distributed at the end of every calendar year as bonuses, with big-time brokers such as the Eastdil power team of Douglas Harmon and Adam Spies taking the largest cut. The company has changed to a commission model for its new brokers, and now has brokers working under both compensation plans.
And in 2011, Newmark instituted a mandatory policy for brokers — a percentage of each commission check goes toward buying stock in the company. The company’s sister firm, Brookfield Office Properties, has a national arts and culture program, arts>Brookfield, which aims to liven up public spaces in major cities in which Brookfield has a presence. Each year, the company provides an all-expenses-paid trip for all senior brokers who have done in excess of $2 million in gross deals.
During the trip, the firm gives out its annual “Numero Uno” award, which recognizes the top producer during the past year. Brokers at Cassidy Turley get discounts at local gyms and retailers where the firm has relationships, including Brooks Brothers, Levenger and Dell. CBRE’s 141,000-square-foot space at the Met Life Building at 200 Park Avenue, for example, has interactive white boards in all conference and training rooms, plus a dining room and terrace. Large firms such as CBRE and JLL have private spaces for their senior brokers and executives, but some firms prefer to have their top brass sit among their more junior colleagues. At Lee’s 600 Madison Avenue office, which houses about 40 brokers, the living room space also has a ping-pong table, and brokers use the room for informal meetings and office celebrations.

After that’s completed, optional continuing education is offered at no cost to all brokers at the firm. Besides mentoring and educational workshops, HFF pays up to $4,000 per year toward any college or post-graduate class, to help its staffers earn MBAs and other degrees.
Massey Knakal, for example, pays 50 percent of the premium for its brokers’ medical, dental and vision insurance.
At other brokerages, by contrast, the information gathered by brokers is considered company property. Some firms, such as the retail brokerage Winick Realty and Massey Knakal, divide the New York metro area into geographic territories. At the retail firm Ripco, brokers can do deals with colleagues on other teams and in neighborhoods outside their regular stomping grounds, said Richard Skulnik, a partner at the firm. But they also are on the lookout for other perks — from listings databases to Caribbean vacations — that firms are using to attract top talent and keep their brokers happy. Some declined to fill out the survey, but TRD asked current and former employees and others in the industry about working conditions at those firms. In New York, the company regularly holds events and performances at its properties, including the office building Brookfield Place at 250 Vesey Street in the Financial District, that Brookfield Financial employees can attend for free. The space was designed in 2011 by the California-based design firm Gensler, and reportedly cost more than $30 million, or $225 per square foot, to build out. Firms that take this approach, including Ariel, Massey Knakal and the retail brokerage Ripco, say it encourages more collaboration. Also as part of the program, newcomers work on deals with several senior brokers, rather than being placed permanently on a team.
The company also reimburses employees for education courses that are not applied toward a degree, such as business certifications. Parker, a first vice president in the company’s Manhattan office who went on the trip last month. While that trip is reserved for the elite brokers, Studley also pays for all its brokers to attend an annual summer retreat, usually to a U.S. The company also has gained recognition for its Smartphone app, which is reportedly the first of its kind to allow investors to communicate directly with the agents representing them.

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Author: admin | 30.11.2014 | Category: Online Stock Trading Account

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