First Team departs Christie’s, rebrands brokerage

As part of its rebranding effort as an independent brokerage, First Team appointed Michele Harrington to the role of CEO

First Team Real Estate, the largest independent brokerage in California, left Christie’s International Real Estate, the company first told Inman on Wednesday.

Christie’s International Real Estate told Inman that the parting was “mutual.”

“Christie’s will be a great franchise, but First Team is something different from that,” First Team founder Cameron Merage said in a statement. “We felt that our independence is what got us to where we are today and what will enable us to continue innovating on behalf of our agents. We provide them with what they need to grow their businesses, offering the opportunity to be part of a great company culture while empowering them to develop their own teams.”

Amid the tight housing market, First Team wants to go back to its “agent-first” model, focusing on its marketing programs as well as training its agents, the company said in a statement.

Additionally, the independent brokerage is enabling its agents to market luxury listings on Luxury Portfolio International, a company First Team helped create. 

As part of its rebranding effort, First Team appointed Michele Harrington to the role of CEO. Prior to this new role, Harrington served as the company’s COO. She first joined the company in 2018 when her brokerage, Star Estates, merged with First Team. 

“I’m excited not only to launch our new look but also our brand mantra, ‘Behind the Agent,’” Harrington said in a statement. “We have always been a company focused on building agents’ businesses, and now we are promoting what we stand for. We are a company made by Realtors for Realtors, which is exceedingly rare in our industry today.”

First Team was with Christie’s for about 10 years. Cameron Merage, who started the brokerage in 1976, will now serve as chairman of the board after being the company’s CEO for 47 years.

First Team has 30 offices and about 2,000 real estate agents across Orange County, Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire and San Diego County.

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