Best of 2019: 2019 Was A Big Year For Agent Migrations

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In 2019 agents worked to find a balance between the firepower of large international firms and the perceived advantages of smaller local brands.  The year will also be remembered for the loss of one of Dallas’s most iconic firms.

In March, news broke that Virginia Cook Realtors would be closing after 20 years in North Texas. The announcement came in the wake of top sellers Jennifer Ackerman, Kimberly Cococtos, Kristen Scott,  and David Griffin & Company recently moving on to other locales.

The closing of the brokerage left many agents in search of new homes. By mid-April, more than 40 of them had moved on to Ebby Halliday Realtors, while 13 of the top producers went to Allie Beth Allman & Associates.

“We’re obviously saddened to see what transpired with Virginia Cook,” Allie Beth Allman & Associates General Manager Keith Conlon said at the time. “Their culture matches up really well with our culture and the same boutique feel. Their agents are very professional, highly trained good people, and we think that the ones we added will be a good fit and do well with our brand.”

Like many of his fellow agents, historic homes specialist Ed Murchison did not want to leave Virginia Cook. When the time came to find a new home, he chose Coldwell Banker because of that firm’s marketing strategy and agent support.

“I was really impressed with Coldwell Banker’s suite of agent marketing, property marketing, sales marketing, and all the tools that they had,” he in September. “They offer so much it’s almost overwhelming, and they allow agents like myself to customize it.”

Compass Real Estate remained a big player in the local market. Among the agents who joined them over the past year were Paige Poupart, Jenni Stolarski, Jennifer Riley Rice, the Travelstead Property Group, the Land and Luxury Group, Christine Danuser and Julie Rado, Chad Schulin, and Brown + Douglas Group. They all sighted the firms’ high-tech marketing as a major factor.

While there were many additions, the road to Compass was not a one-way street.  Some like the Banda Group and Jeremy Whiteker decided to go elsewhere after working there for a short time.

“I feel like I have come back home,” Whiteker said upon his return to Dave Perry-Miller. “I learned many lessons about what motivates me as a business owner and what components I need in place to keep that machine running.”

That desire to find a setting most conducive to their business needs was the primary motivation behind most agent migrations. For Alan Sahliyeh, Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s fit the bill because of their branding and reputation. Journalist Jason Sickles stepped away from the media to join Fathom Realty while Reed Chesney thought the Halo Group would be the best place to start his real estate career.

Former realty TV star Courtney Michalek was drawn to recently established firm Iconic Real estate after coming away impressed with its founder’s vision and technological innovation. Joe Kacynski chose Allie Beth Allman because of the brokerage’s name recognition in the East Dallas areas he works in.

“I really didn’t want to leave where I was but they (Allie Beth Allman) just offer so much that will help me grow my business,” he said.

The new year will likely bring new challenges, shifting dynamics and more moves as agents work to find the best place to hone their crafts. Popular Realtor Sam Saladino probably said it best after he joined Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s this summer.

“The great thing about selling real estate in Dallas is that every day and every scenario creates a challenge that hopefully makes you stronger for it and better at it,” he said.


Joshua Baethge

Joshua Baethge is a writer, editor and general wordsmith who has written for a variety of media outlets. At, his primary focus is agent migration where he catches up with real estate professionals on the move. A native of Houston, Josh originally came to the DFW to study at the University of North Texas. He graduated many years ago but never left the area. Today he lives in the ‘burbs with his wife and two young kids.

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