Staff Reports

Ron Burgert, chief financial officer of the Ebby Halliday Companies, is a rarity in these days of frequent job hopping. Burgert has been at the same job, in the same position, for 42 years. Burgert, who recently announced his decision to retire from the company he has played a significant role in building, will continue to visible – among other things, he will continue to teach his popular tax class through the Ebby Education Center.

Says Chris Kelly, president and CEO of the Ebby Halliday Companies, “Ron’s contributions to the Ebby Halliday Companies are many, and while we have been the benefactor of his strong fiscal guidance for many years, he has also positioned us for a very bright future due to his strong relationships with our agents and employees. I thank him for his distinguished service and wish him the very best in his well-earned retirement.”

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Just two months after entering an agreement, Redfin’s new program that cuts out buyer’s agents has RE/MAX out the door.

It was a quick divorce from a two-month romance. And to be honest, sort of a head-scratcher.

In mid-March, RE/MAX, the 40-year-old, Denver-based national real estate franchise broker announced a unique partnership with Redfin, the tech-focused brokerage that has morphed over the years, from trying to wipe out the Real Estate agent to employing them with discounted commission fees. The partnership gave RE/MAX agents exclusive access to Redfin’s agent referral program — albeit at a discounted rate (25 percent versus 30 percent of the agent’s commission, the standard for referral fees) — in 5,000 U.S. ZIP codes and throughout Canada, where Redfin recently launched its highly navigated home search website.

Ostensibly this was done, RE/MAX leaders claimed, to partner up with an online brokerage.

“Redfin is a good complement to the RE/MAX model, given their online presence and our offline presence,” Kerri Callahan, RE/MAX’s chief financial officer, said to Inman News in March. 

Leaders of both companies were crowing about reciprocal revenue potential, but the honeymoon ended on Monday.

Redfin’s launch of a new program that would essentially cut out buyers agents altogether had one unanticipated result: RE/MAX withdrew from its corporate partnership with Redfin. 

“Redfin has the utmost respect for RE/MAX as a company, for its agents and leaders. RE/MAX agents who already work as Redfin’s partner agents will continue to be our partners, and RE/MAX agents can continue to enroll in our partner program, but Redfin can now enroll partner agents from other brokerages to serve Redfin.com visitors in the U.S. and Canada,” the company said in a statement.

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Browne + DouglasWhen the dynamic duo of Cathy Browne and Beth Douglas joined forces as Browne + Douglas Group last year, it was expected that the two — long known for being top-producing Ebby Halliday agents — would do big things from their home base at the company’s state-of-the-art offices in Allen.

Between the two, they have 25 years of combined experience in a busy North Texas real estate market. But recently, they added two more agents — Leah Graybeal Ashley and Howard R. Roth.

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By the time Virginia Cook Realtors officially shut down this week, the vast majority of agents from the firm’s six locations had already found new homes.  Many of them were hesitant to talk about the experience out of respect for their former boss. Those who did generally shared the sentiment that they were saddened by the company’s demise but also grateful to find new firms that fit their personalities and business goals.

When Virginia Cook’s closure plans were initially revealed, search committees were formed at the Forest Lane and Park Cities offices to help agents decide where to go next. Representatives from multiple firms were then brought in to make their pitches.

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Joe Atkins

Joe, Charity, Donovan and Cameron.

Joe Atkins and I held hands — sweating and terrified. Then we ran, screamed, and jumped off the top of a giant platform, into the trees. Not exactly how you get to know your average Realtor, but then there is nothing average about Joe.

Don’t worry, that scene ended well. We were just zip-lining on a 103-degree August afternoon as part of the 2012 class of the  Texas Realtors Leadership Program (TRLP). Since that day I’ve watched Joe grow into one of the most exceptional leaders and Realtors in the industry.

“Every agent loves Joe,” Ebby Halliday Realtor Julie Pillans said. “Joe is just a good guy.”

Joe was born and raised in Lake Highlands and currently lives in Lakewood with his lovely wife, Charity, and his two adorable boys, Donovan and Cameron. He’s the broker/owner of Joe Atkins Realty, a boutique real estate firm.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Joe grew up in the real estate business.

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Staff Reports

After 20 years serving the North Texas real estate community, multiple sources have confirmed that Virginia Cook Realtors will close for business on April 15. The brokerage, which has five offices throughout the region, is helmed by its eponymous founder and executive officer Sheila Rice. David Griffin & Company Realtors, formerly a brand of Virginia Cook, separated more than a week ago. 

According to one source, the brokerage has just 67 homes on market priced between $3 million to $7 million, with only one sold since the beginning of 2019. We have reached out to multiple representatives with Virginia Cook for an official statement and have not received a call back. There’s no word on where exiting agents with the brokerage will land.

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Is this a move to make their website friendlier to other agents working under other brokers, or a first get tough Compass swipe at Zillow?

Inman reports that last week, without fanfare, Compass made “a big change to the way it displays listings on its consumer-facing website. Every non-Compass listing now shows the listing agent and contact information for the listing agent, making Compass’ site aesthetically more similar to Zillow or realtor.com than a brokerage website.” (See example from a McKinney listing above.)

And how generous is this: Compass has even included a form for agents to fill out to contact the listing agent through MLS. To be clear, it’s the agent from a rival brokerage. And to be fair, Ebby Halliday  has always listed the competing agent and broker on the company’s most popular site, though not as boldly.

“We are now showing the true listing agent on every listing on our website, even when they are not Compass agents, ” Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said, in a statement. “We hope other brokerages will appreciate the transparency and trust of always showing their listing agents.”

If a buyer is already working with a Compass agent, and the Compass agent sends the buyer a listing within the Compass system, the listing agent’s contact info will not be provided, since it won’t be needed.

“We are going to provide transparency to the consumer,” says Erik T. Bahr, General Manager, Dallas & Fort Worth Real Estate, Compass. “The aggregators get MLS content very quickly, and they do a good job of getting it to the consumer. The challenge is there is often consumer confusion as to who to contact about the listing.”

This process has put agents in a tough spot: Realtors procure a listing, prepare the home with the seller, take photos, then all their work is displayed on the popular website, but the listing agent doesn’t necessarily get credit for it. Rather, it is often an agent who has paid the most for an advertisement.

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It’s that time of the year, when brokerages are toasting, and praising, those hard-working top producers who killed it in 2018, selling millions of dollars of dirt during a year that, while not one of the toughest on record, saw a significant market contraction and rising interest rates.

Celebratory events have been happening across town, at every major brokerage.

At Compass Dallas, a different kind of celebration has been going on: the company’s one-year anniversary in Dallas.

On January 19, 2019, the 24,000 square foot, shiny new Preston Center office was loaded with food, drink, cake, chair massages and more. Last year, on January 19, 2018, Compass launched its 11th brokerage in the U.S. in Dallas, disrupting nearly every established broker in North Texas. Compass came in as a tech company, its internally-designed platform front and center for agents to make their lives easier, their sales bigger, their futures more secure. The firm’s CEO aims to have 20 percent market share in the top 20 U.S. real estate markets by 2020.

Within weeks of opening the office, while “camping” at the Collective, top producing agents switched to Compass so quickly we could not keep up with the migrations, frankly. Some we had to post in our sleep. What was it about the Compass culture that intrigued, and won over, these agents so quickly? What is it about Compass that keeps them coming? And coming…

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