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NEW YORK CITY-Bruce Weissberg, former CEO of RealtyIQ and newly named president of commercial real estate firm D.G. Hart, plans to allow brokers to pursue commission deals that include equity stakes in the properties they close.

In an exclusive interview, Weissberg tells GlobeSt.com that when D.G. Hart principals Joseph Genovesi and Stephen Dadourian approached him with the idea of re-entering the commercial real estate market, their ideas meshed with his own philosophy about what motivates brokers: ownership. “Joe and Steve said they were looking to grow the company, but with a twist in mind that they were excited about. They wanted to get involved with real estate investments for themselves.”

Weissberg says the real estate community’s universal craving for property ownership can be harnessed to provide a strong incentive for brokers, all of whom, he says, are looking for a portfolio-building strategy. “The opportunity to own real estate is intriguing,” Weissberg tells GlobeSt.com. “I’ve always believed the way to build a brokerage management company was to go back to the model from years ago where brokers and professionals within the industry had the opportunity to get involved on an ownership level. That was something I first came across at Williamson, Pickett, Gross, which they had learned from Helmsley Spear. There’s a roster of brokers who own little pieces of buildings that you and I walk by every day and never give a second thought to.”

The notion of giving brokers the opportunity to structure commissions that include equity in the deals they close was largely abandoned by the industry as real estate firms sacrificed entrepreneurism for conventional corporate structure, Weissberg says. “Other companies over the years had allowed people [to accept equity-based commission deals] but then things changed. Companies concentrated on being much more corporate in nature and much less entrepreneurial. They needed to limit their entrepreneurial goals. The same players no longer had the opportunity to invest. Although they serviced their clients very well, brokers weren’t able to accomplish the goals they had previously set for themselves.”

Weissberg says that while executives at other New York firms buy into their clients’ deals, such opportunities don’t exist at the broker level. “There are a couple of large companies where the principals own property. They make the case that having that experience as owners is very beneficial to clients.”

While changes to Hart’s corporate structure are not yet firm and Weissberg would not comment on any upcoming deals, he says the basic operation will be divided into one in-house and one third-party portfolio. “Opportunities will present themselves where it is beneficial for the client, where commission dollars might not be so easy to pay and where clients would be happy not to pay those dollars but to give those dollars as equity in the company,” Weissberg says. “As we develop, we’ll buy them ourselves. There will be deals that we bring to our clients and for some reason they’re not interested and we see value there for ourselves.”

The upshot, Weissberg says, is that he can create an atmosphere in which employees feel energized, motivated and literally invested in their jobs by helping them to pursue the goals that brought them to this industry to begin with. “We see a real void in the marketplace. Large companies are supplying great service but I don’t see many companies that deliver this type of service to their professionals, creating opportunities for them to get involved in creating their own portfolios. Talk to any broker. That’s something that’s very appealing. So that is what I want to do.”

As to the kind of deals Weissberg is looking for, property is at the top of the list. “Right now we’re very much focused on property,” he says. “But we’re fairly open to different opportunities. We’re focusing on growing the organization. There are many ways of doing that.

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