Real Estate Alert Front Page: Moran Recruits Broker Talent From Buy Side
As apartment super-boutique Moran & Co. expands its platform, one thing it isn’t looking for is brokers.
The Chicago-based shop has added sales executives in two markets in the last two months and aims to hire more. But in keeping with its model, Moran is recruiting principal-side veterans, not experienced sales brokers.
“We’ve had very limited success in bringing on brokers,” said David Martin, Moran’s Western Region president. “We’re much better at taking principals and turning them into brokers.”
Last month, Moran hired Mike Grippi to head up sales in Phoenix and the Southwest. He previously oversaw acquisitions and dispositions for Holland Partner Group, a multi-family investment shop in Vancouver, Wash. In April, Moran recruited Curtis Walker, a former acquisitions pro for developer/operator Wood Partners of Atlanta, to join its team in that city.
Moran has also just opened an office in San Francisco, headed by company veteran Brett Betzler. He will oversee activity in the Bay Area and the super-heated Silicon Valley market. Betzler, a partner who previously covered those areas from Los Angeles, also has buy-side roots: He jumped to the brokerage in 2001 from investment firm Irvine Co. of Newport Beach, Calif.
Moran, which also has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Seattle and Washington, aims to continue growing. It has long had eyes on Boston, where its Washington crew has handled occasional assignments, and would like to crack into the New York market. But Martin said the firm is less interested in filling geographic holes than in landing new hires who fit its mold.
The firm departs from the traditional brokerage model, where sales pros work largely independently and are paid primarily through commissions on their deals. Moran pays a base salary, with benefits, and yearend discretionary bonuses. All sales assignments are kept in a single database accessible to all brokers. Information is shared about bidders — such as which ones can close quickly and which ones are less reliable. “It’s been described as more of an investment-bank model,” said Martin. “We share everything. At the end of the day, you don’t have a siloed situation. That just informs our culture.” Buy-side veterans have worked well in the Moran model, Martin said, noting that someone who’s been a principal at an institutional investment shop is well attuned to the clients’ needs, and can be a good judge of bids and of bidders’ ability to execute deals.
Despite its small size, Moran has consistently been a top-10 apartment broker in Real Estate Alert’s rankings. Last year, Moran ranked ninth in the sector, with $3.2 billion in trades of $25 million or more. That was a 49% jump over its 2015 total, while the overall volume of large apartment sales grew just 8.2%.