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Top Talent Jumps to Boutiques

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Earthquakes often occur in Los Angeles, and real estate professionals are feeling the ground shift beneath their feet. Some people are running to the nearest exits for safety, and iconic brokerages are losing top talent to boutiques.

Hilton and Hyland has long been home to some of LA’s biggest residential real estate producers. There’s been some movement, however, that is raising eyebrows. Power couple Branden and Rayni Williams left during the pandemic to start their own brokerage. Drew Fenton, another top dealmaker, is starting his own venture called Carolwood Partners. Billy Jack Carter, the general manager of Hilton and Hyland, recently resigned stating that the “dynamic of the industry has changed.”

There’s also news circulating around town regarding Sotheby’s International Realty office on the Sunset Strip, which has been around for over a decade. The office is permanently closing, and the agents who are staying on are moving to the Beverly Hills office. TheRealDeal reported a growing “tension between tech-enabled brokerages and more established brokerages over whether to maintain large offices.”

Meanwhile, Compass is reportedly “the world’s most unprofitable brokerage ever.” It’s apparent that the real estate business is not one in which the team that spends the most money wins the prize. Offering mouth-watering signing bonuses to top agents doesn’t necessarily put you on a path to profitability.

Finally, a top executive at Zillow recently sold their $10 million property in the Palisades and is leasing for the next year in reaction to this shifting market. There’s been a lot of activity in the leasing market in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles as a whole, with people taking their chips off the table as economic uncertainty increases.

Boutiques and top-tier teams like The Altman Brothers, the #1 team in LA, are on the rise as they have personalized services, unique cultures, strong communities, superstar agents, and less costs. I suspect that we will continue to see this trend of top dealmakers at iconic brokerages striking out to start or join smaller firms.

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