While many in the industry are cutting back, commercial real estate workhorse Marcus & Millichap is witnessing an agent hiring boom.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in early March, the firm’s Manhattan office has seen applications for sales and finance jobs double.
And its new online recruitment sessions are drawing more and more interest as job hunters look to get ahead of the estimated 1.5 million New Yorkers who’ve lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
“Our philosophy at a time like this is we will continue to recruit agents because the world is going to need more advisors, not less,” Susan Bands, the firm’s associate regional manager, Manhattan, told an online career presentation given on Thursday (April 23).
“We are preparing for when the real estate market comes back, and we expect it to come back with a force. We are interviewing remotely now, and we’ll train remotely if we have to. We have no intentions of slowing down.”
Indeed, after a stellar 2019 that saw the Manhattan office alone close over $2 billion in deals in what many considered a down market, Marcus & Millichap was poised for another solid year – until COVID-19 struck.
Despite a downturn, Bands said, “We are still signing and closing deals, and our agents are spending more time on the phones with clients than ever before.
“Our company has state-of-the-art network infrastructure, databases and real estate applications, all of which are remote-enabled.”
She said the firm was quick to react to the virus with its own remote contingencies and the firm is very much “open for business.”
She said the normal recruiting effort had been moved online, with live presentations like Thursdays attracting upwards of 50 viewers at a time with mostly college graduates looking for entry level positions.
John Krueger, regional manager for Marcus & Millichap Manhattan, was quick to tell Thursday’s viewers they wouldn’t be chasing the multi-billion dollar deals they read about in the press, noting, “There are only a handful of brokers in New York City who handle deals like that. We play in the $200 million and below sector, that’s our focus and that’s why we dominate in our area.”
Indeed, the entry level positions are 100 percent commission based, but Krueger was selling a training program that promises to groom them for those skyscraper deals. “I came from Indiana. I had a cornfield in my backyard,” he said. “But here you can learn the business without having a certain pedigree or certain last name. If you put your head down, you’ll have the opportunity to thrive.”
Krueger cited recent historic “shocks” to the global economy, ranging from the 2009 financial crisis to 9/11, thedot.com bust to the Kuwait oil price shock. “In each and every one of those events, the GDP went down, jobs were lost, unemployment rate rose, retail sales went down, but the positive is really a boomerang effect.
“During the following 12 months, after every one of those events, you saw a 30 percent growth in the stock market, and we’re going to have something similar to that and that’s what we keep telling our clients. That’s what we keep telling our investment sales force. We have to weather the storm. We have to be smart and we have to be ready for things to pick back up.”
And while the pace of deals may have slowed, Krueger said that doesn’t mean there’s no work getting done.
“For each and every client, we’re asking questions and trying to find out what these clients need so we can provide solutions for them,” he said.
“There’s massive business volumes that have come just through counseling clients, advising clients in these market disruptions and uncertainty. And when things do stabilize, they’re going to remember, who was there, who was providing guidance and leadership and was an advisor and not trying to just make a quick fee off of them, but really giving them the facts and helping them make an informed decision.”
While the focus for now is on junior agents and loan negotiators, Marcus & Millichap plans to hire around 35 agents in Manhattan. In the past six weeks, the firm has conducted 63 interviews for those jobs and continues to be on the lookout for more experienced agents.
“Our firm is known for recruiting juniors, training and molding them as salespeople, and turning them into significant earners,” said Bands. “Our senior agents serve as mentors and team-leaders, which fosters an amazing culture of collaboration, growth and development for everyone.”
With over 2,000 professionals in 82 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, Marcus & Millichap closed 9,726 transactions in 2019, with a sales volume of approximately $50 billion.
Just this month, Marcus & Millichap acquired a Dallas-based commercial debt brokerage, Metropolitan Capital Advisors in a move president Hessam Nadji said would aid in the execution of an overall strategic growth plan.
On Thursday, Krueger told the online candidates, “We’re going to get through the coronavirus and we’re going to find a way to move forward. We may not be setting records, but we’re doing a lot better than I would have thought just two or three weeks ago.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the country, several major real estate firms have announced cutbacks and furloughs, including Avsion Young, Terra Holdings, Compass, Brookfield-backed Convene, and Knotel, among others.