A message to agents

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
It is time to take a long, honest look at your personal finances. How long can you go if your income drops to zero (or close to zero, or drops 80%, etc)? Because that is a possibility for the duration of this crisis. While no one has a very good handle on how long this is going to last, there is at least some possibility that agent's incomes will be impacted for 18 to 24 months. If you don't have at least that much worth of your expenses in relatively liquid assets/savings then you should probably be looking to do anything you can to see what you can cut back on. And this will be a very bad time to have an "emergency" because the opportunities for "fast money" will probably be few and far between.

Please don't stick your head in the sand. I'm not saying this will definitely happen because no one knows, but this is a situation where you are better off safe than sorry.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Compass CEO asks Congress to include agents in stimulus

“When they can’t show a property, they can’t earn a living,” Robert Reffkin said

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin implored Congress to include independent contractors in a massive economic stimulus package that will help bail out the faltering U.S. economy.
In a letter Thursday to Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, the chief executive of the SoftBank-backed brokerage urged lawmakers to consider economic benefits for independent contractors, which includes real estate agents, and “not limit this essential support to W-2 employees and the most-frequently-discussed industries.”
In the letter, he cited the “crucial” importance of sheltering in place and social distancing, but said those policies prevent agents from showing properties. “When they can’t show a property, they can’t earn a living,” he wrote.
He said agents may not earn back lost revenue until “many months” after the financial and housing markets stabilize, because they aren’t paid until after a home sale closes.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

“I don’t want to chase money from a desperate person”: Commission advancers pull back on broker lending
Transaction volume has plummeted since mid-March for the alternative financing service that provides agents with cash upfront for in-contract deals

In an industry of independent contractors whose fortunes hang on the ebb and flow of dealmaking, little-known commission advancing companies provide a key source of liquidity for residential brokers in need of cash between closings.

But with the coronavirus crisis having slammed the brakes on most home sales, this alternative financing channel is also facing unprecedented stress. And just like landlords and lenders across the country in recent weeks, commission advance companies are having tough conversations with the brokers who now owe them money.

“We have a client right now with Corcoran, and she called us up to say she needs the money real bad and her closing is delayed,” said Dino Liso, president of Commission Express in New York. “And she’s in default with us [Commission Express offers a 30-day grace period for payments] which means she would lose a lot of money. I said to her, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just worry about your health. Let’s get the deal closed, and we’ll figure it out later.”

The basic concept of commission advances is straightforward. A broker with a deal in contract sells the right to collect the commission to a third party in exchange for the cash up-front. Usually, about 90 percent of in-contract deals will close on time, in a couple of months. Fees range typically from around 5 to 15 percent of the advanced commission. If one deal falls through, a broker can roll the obligation over to another pending deal.

But the pandemic has created uncertainty for in-contract deals in the pipeline. While more brokers may now need a cash advance to help tide them over amid the economic tumult, commission advance firms are also wary of how solid a new deal may be.

“When someone comes to me and they’re really desperate for the money, it’s not that I don’t want to lend them the money — I don’t want to chase money from a desperate person,” Liso said. “So we try to stay away from that type of transaction.”

Commission advancers said the coronavirus outbreak has led their business to drop by half industry-wide. Advances that are still being made are largely going to established agents at national brokerages that have long-standing relationships with commission advancing companies.

“We have seen an increase in our affiliates using commission advance services over the last three weeks, particularly in states hit harder by Covid-19, such as California and New York,” said RE/MAX spokesperson Nick Bailey. RE/MAX counts companies like eCommission and Premier Commission as part of its “approved suppliers” program, a list of vetted business service providers.

Besides the rising uncertainty surrounding in-contract deals, the general slowdown in residential markets is also taking a toll on the early payday business.

“Agents need deals to go pending in order to utilize our service, and if deals aren’t going pending then they don’t have anything to advance on,” said Stuart Clapick, manager of Arizona-based Residential Advance. “I would say that the industry right now is down 50 to 60 percent in total volume.”

A spokesperson for Corcoran Group — whose brokers have also tapped the service — said the use of commission advances is a personal choice. “Giving them this alternative empowers our agents to make strategic decisions that work best for them,” the spokesperson said. Like other brokerages in recent weeks, Corcoran has enacted across-the-board pay cuts, furloughed some staff and suspended ad budgets for April.
is a personal choice. “Giving them this alternative empowers our agents to make strategic decisions that work best for them,” the spokesperson said. Like other brokerages in recent weeks, Corcoran has enacted across-the-board pay cuts, furloughed some staff and suspended ad budgets for April.

Contingency calculus
In mid-March, broker Edward DiMotta turned to a commission advance when he found himself in need of cash. The co-owner of La Rosa Realty’s St. Petersburg, Florida office was contending with owners at a couple of his listings who were refusing to allow showings. That was casting doubt on his upcoming deal pipeline.
“The main thing is I wanted to keep my credit good, not use up my reserves and then have nothing to pay the bills with,” DiMotta said.
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Typically, he would have turned to La Rosa’s in-house commission advancing service, which he had used in the past to cover startup costs for his new franchise. But with that spigot suddenly turned off, DiMotta turned to eCommission, which provided the $4,000 cash advance on one of his in-contract deals; he paid a fee of about $600, amounting to 15 percent. The deal closed two weeks later.
“It’s good, it’s quick, and it wasn’t a big hit for us,” DiMotta said, while noting that eCommission’s fee — which included a 25-percent discount offered to new customers — was about twice as much as the in-house service.
(More).
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Historically when agents are doing well they stay put, and when they are an upward trajectory and then start earning less, the first place they look is their affiliation. When you see brokers changing affiliations it's either because there is a new firm actively head hunting and making big promises (we see where that got Town and may see where it gets Compass https://www.urbandigs.com/forum/index.php?threads/is-compass-the-next-wework.36/ ) or agents are seeing their incomes drop.


Seven agents splinter off from Eklund-Gomes team
Newly founded Peters Breese Team remains at Douglas Elliman

After 17 months on the Eklund-Gomes team, Jessica Peters is striking out on her own.

Peters, who has built her career on Brooklyn’s new development and townhouse markets, has co-founded a new team with Monica Breese.

The Peters Breese team has six other agents on board and will focus on markets in Brooklyn and Long Island City. It remains at Douglas Elliman.“

The experiences and lessons learned working within the Eklund Gomes team have truly coalesced our vision to focus our new team on the markets we know and love,” Peters and Breese said in a statement.
The new team leaders added that they look forward to seeing their former Eklund-Gomes teammates “on the other side of a deal soon!”
A spokesperson for Eklund-Gomes said the team “wish Jessica and Monica well.”
Breese said by email that they decided to launch the team during the pandemic “because we have the time to do it now.”

Both teams declined to elaborate on the reasons behind the split.
The Eklund-Gomes team has been recruiting as it expands nationally in Los Angeles, Miami and New York City. At the start of this year the team had 80 agents. Peters, who previously led a team at Elliman with broker Stephanie O’Brien, was tapped to lead a push into Brooklyn last year.
In that move Peters brought six other agents to the Eklund-Gomes team including Breese, Allison Dubuisson, Justin McMahon, Daniel Fried, Jennyrose Halupka and Vanessa Rodriguez. The majority are now following Peters to her new team, though Dubuisson is staying at Eklund-Gomes and Halupka left last year to join the Serhant team at Nest Seekers International.

When asked why she left, Halupka said her decision was personal.

“It was time,” she said. “It was a very positive experience working on the EG team and with Jessica. I learned more during my two years working with her and the EG team than most agents and brokers experience in their whole careers.”

Peters and Breese also have two new teammates from Eklund-Gomes joining them: Vavrinec Fecko and Rita van Straten.

A spokesperson for Eklund-Gomes said its Brooklyn business will now be led by agent Erin Lichy on new development and broker Grace Steel on resales listings.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Brokers, gig workers add to swelling unemployment ranks
Across US, 2.4M jobless claims were filed last week; another 2.2M real estate agents and gig workers applied through separate federal program

All 50 states have now begun the long and complicated process of reopening their economies, but millions of new jobless claims are still pouring in.
Another 2.4 million people filed for unemployment last week, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Department of Labor. New York and Florida were among the states that had the largest increases in new claims. Since states began shutting down nonessential businesses in mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, nearly 39 million people have filed for unemployment.
On top of last week’s figure, which includes only claims submitted to regular state unemployment programs, another 2.2 million people applied through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The new federal program provides assistance to self-employed and gig-economy workers — from real estate agents to Uber drivers — who were ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits.
“The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is giving us a view into a segment of the workforce that’s harmed during a recession that we don’t typically get,” Moody’s Analytics economist Dante DeAntonio told the Wall Street Journal. “It gives us a better handle on the scope of what’s happening.”

The latest employment numbers come as companies large and small have continued to layoff employees at unprecedented rates. The economic fallout has also led to record declines in retail sales and increases in mortgage forbearance, as well as lingering concerns about low-income tenants’ ability to pay rent.
New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington were the states to see the largest increase in new jobless claims last week. In commentary provided to the Labor Department, Florida noted “layoffs in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, and service industries,” while New York’s commentary pointed to “layoffs in the transportation and warehousing, educational services, and public administration industries.”

The prior week’s new unemployment claims, which had been 2.98 million, was revised to 2.7 million in light of several data issues, including one that saw Connecticut overstate its weekly total by a factor of 10.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Sotheby’s Chris Poore jumps to BHS
Resi brokerages amp up recruiting as they dig out of Covid slump

Chris Poore is bringing his A-list rolodex to Brown Harris Stevens.
On Friday, the firm said Poore and Eyal Dagan, his husband and business partner, will join the residential firm after six years at Sotheby’s International Realty, where they sold real estate to clients including designer Marc Jacobs and comedian Trevor Noah. Since 2014, the duo has sold $350 million worth of real estate.

The move comes at a time when the city’s agents are getting back to work after Gov. Andrew Cuomo barred in-person home showings this spring. In response, many firms enacted cost-cutting measures to ride out the pandemic.
But many have started recruiting again, too.

Also on Friday, Sotheby’s said it had hired a trio of agents from BHS. Caroline Guthrie, Kathryn Steinberg and Armin Allen were part of the Edward Lee Cave team that joined BHS in 2009 when it acquired Cave’s boutique firm.

Cave, a former chief auctioneer at Sotheby’s auction house, became a legendary agent and founding chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in 1976 before spinning off his eponymous firm.
“We thank Caroline, Kathryn and Armin for the many great years and contributions they made to BHS and we wish them well,” a spokesperson for BHS said, adding that 11 agents from Cave’s team will remain at the firm.

Guthrie, Steinberg and Allen bring decades of experience and Upper East Side connections to Sotheby’s, which is part of real estate conglomerate Realogy.
Guthrie, who has sold $1 billion worth of real estate, is also a former managing director of sales for BHS’ Madison Avenue office. “Sellers today really want their properties to receive maximum exposure in every corner of the globe,” she said, referring to Sotheby’s international network.

Steinberg has sold the former home of John D. Rockefeller at 740 Park Avenue, among other exclusive addresses such as 834 Fifth Avenue.
Poore, meanwhile, is known for his roster of celebrity clients. Last year, he was the listing broker for designer Marc Jacobs, who put his West Village townhouse on the market for $15.995 million. In 2017, he sold a $10 million penthouse at Stella Tower to The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. Poore also had the listing for pop artist James Rosenquist’s townhouse at 162 Chambers Street, which sold for $11.8 million in 2018, according to property records.

In a statement, Poore cited the fresh energy at BHS led by CEO Bess Freedman, which recently merged with Halstead. After a successful run at Sotheby’s, he said he felt “it was time to move to a new firm with new energy in order to level-up my business.”

Although most firms had to make financial cuts over the last six months, some have been recruiting. Compass grew by 11 percent, or 250 agents, between March and June, according to a recent analysis of Department of State data by The Real Deal.

BHS and Halstead saw a net loss in headcount of 1.6 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. That works out to around 38 agents.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Jeff Winick files for personal bankruptcy
Longstanding top retail broker owes nearly $10M in taxes

Jeff Winick, the CEO and founder of Winick Realty Group and one of New York’s top retail brokers, has filed for personal bankruptcy.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, Winick claims to have $530,000 in assets and $9.7 million in back taxes and fines owed to the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. He declared bankruptcy last month, despite declaring $122,800 in monthly income.

One of the most prominent brokers in the city, Winick has leased more than 1 million square feet of retail space in New York with clients like Duane Reade, AT&T and Starbucks as well as major landlords like the Durst Organization. His 50-agent firm has leased more than 15 million square feet over the past 30 years, regularly featuring in The Real Deal’s ranking of top retail brokerages.

PincusCo first reported the bankruptcy filing.
Property that Winick claims as exempt from his bankruptcy include two Rolex Watches, which he claims are worth a combined $5,000, and furniture worth $10,000. The filings also state that he has nothing in retirement savings.

He leases a unit at the luxury River Tower, located 420 East 54th Street.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Following the money, NY brokers seek licenses in other states
New Jersey, Florida drawing interest from city agents

Allan Zapadinsky describes himself as a “Brooklyn boy, born and raised.” Or at least he did, until he moved to New Jersey.
Even then, as a real estate agent with Keller Williams, he focused on Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit and he noticed buyers moving in the tri-state area, that also changed.
“I still love the city. Don’t get me wrong, we still do a lot of business there,” Zapadinsky said. “It’s just that some priorities have changed for me personally, and I want to be able to help the people that are also seeing their priorities change.”

Zapadinsky is one of many New York brokers who have recently decided to get licensed in another state.
A good number are simply following the money. As New Yorkers look for more space, the suburbs have seen increased demand — and not enough supply to keep prices from rising.

The median sales price of New Jersey homes in July was nearly 8 percent greater than it was a year ago, while supply was 42 percent lower, according to New Jersey Realtors’ monthly indicators report.
“New York City’s having a super weird moment for a year or two, and it seems that the tri-state area is just bidding war after bidding war,” said Rachel Kelly, an agent with Keller Williams pursuing a New Jersey license. “So I needed to probably have a second stream of revenue.”

Some had already planned to get licensed elsewhere. Daniel Blatman of Triplemint was considering opening an office in his home state of Ohio. However, after some clients lost faith in the stock market and decided to invest in New Jersey housing, he started studying up.

“I’m looking at how can I really help all of my clients create their wealth solution in the best possible way. And I saw New Jersey creating a unique opportunity to be able to help all of my clients across different price points, across different demographics,” Blatman said.

Though Blatman lives in Manhattan, he sees driving to New Jersey house showings as office time. He plans to split his week between New York and New Jersey, and make calls in the car.
Other brokers have more distance to cover.

Florida has seen a surge in license applications — 5,936 in July, for example, up 29 percent from 4,613 in the same month last year, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Although it’s unknown what percentage are from the city, New Yorkers are in the mix.

Kobi Lahav, a senior managing director at Living NY, described growing tired of increasingly referring clients to brokers in other states.
“It made me look around and say, ‘You know what? There are a lot of opportunities,’” Lahav said. “A lot of my clients with a second home [in Florida] will probably need to sell it and buy something more serious” if they make Florida their primary residence.

Bonnie Brown, an agent with Bond, did not expect to be seeking a license in Florida. The New Yorker was in Florida planning to sell a Florida house she inherited when the pandemic hit. But after talking to agents in the area, she decided to spend her winters working in the Sunshine State.

“It seems like the stars are all telling me something,” Brown said.
But Mark Chin, the CEO of Keller Williams, warns that without the right support, agents can feel overwhelmed expanding to a new market.
“You run the risk of doing a fairly mediocre job in two places instead of a great job in one place,” Chin said.

However, he said if agents can set up the proper team, “it’s an incredibly profitable business.”
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Ryan Serhant leaves the Nest
Celeb broker to form own firm; current team will stay at Nest Seekers

Ryan Serhant is marking 12 years in real estate by striking out on his own.
The celebrity broker is launching his own brokerage, Serhant, that will focus on selling New York City properties through the global referral network he has cultivated through his real estate course and a suite of marketing divisions.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news Tuesday.
In an interview with The Real Deal, Serhant maintained that he is not leaving Nest Seekers International. He will continue to work with clients and his team back at Nest Seekers on existing projects, but all new business he brings in going forward will be handled through his new firm. Serhant’s team clocked in at No. 2 on TRD‘s most recent ranking of residential brokers, with $480.5 million in closed sales in 2018.

The birth of Serhant’s brokerage has generated tension along the way.
In June, a dispute over a new development building between Serhant and Nest Seekers CEO Eddie Shapiro ignited rumors that the firm and its famous agent were parting ways, but both Serhant and Shapiro forcefully denied there was any problem.

“We renegotiate exclusives all the time,” Serhant said at the time. “I’m in my office … There is nothing going on.”
Shapiro stood by Serhant’s account. “There’s no dispute,” he said. “Everything’s good … Business as usual.”
But two insiders who later spoke to TRD on the condition of anonymity claim the celebrity broker and Nest Seekers have been unwinding their relationship since at least the start of the year. But the process has been bumpy and Serhant’s plans have been shrouded in mystery, according to their accounts.

They say members of the Serhant Team weren’t told about the details and timeline of Serhant’s new venture, or what would happen to them. As a result, some agents sought out positions at competing firms, while others assumed new roles outside of Serhant’s team within Nest Seekers.

“Ryan has been kind of silent,” one of the insiders said. “A lot of them don’t appreciate the fact that they were kind of left in the dark.”
Serhant admitted that attrition has occurred in his team, but he denied that his relationship with Shapiro’s firm was “unwinding.”

“The majority of my team is still at Nest Seekers,” he said. His team at the brokerage now has 40 agents, down from 62 last year. His new company’s head count is 20.
Serhant said he intentionally kept news of his brokerage under wraps, describing it as a “personal choice” that he compared to how he and his wife Emilia Bechrakis Serhant kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, including members of their family.

“This wasn’t a sit-down with my entire team,” he said. “Maybe it’s the spiritual guy in me that thinks that some things you have to do personally.”
Nest Seekers has launched a new development division called Nest Seekers New Development Group, which is now handling marketing and sales for several of Serhant’s projects, including a 77-unit condominium in Long Island City where any trace of the celebrity broker is gone.

“He’s left a lot on the table, you know,” said one of the insiders, adding that Serhant’s Soho office has been converted into a conference room.
Serhant denied that he’s dismantled his business at Nest Seekers.
“What I’ve built is myself and my brand,” he said. “All of my clients are fully aware of what my plans are.”

As for his former office in Soho, Serhant said he hadn’t been there for “a little while.”
“A conference room sounds like a good use for it,” he said.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Aby Rosen, Michael Fuchs back new retail brokerage
Former Cushman brokers Brandon Singer and Michael Cody have launched Retail by MONA

Between e-commerce and the pandemic, there’s never been a worse time for the retail industry. But that’s not stopping two longtime retail brokers from launching a new firm.
Former Cushman & Wakefield brokers Brandon Singer and Michael Cody have launched Retail by MONA, The Real Deal has learned. The firm’s investors include Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs of RFR Holding. A representative for the investors declined to comment.
Singer and Cody, who worked with Cushman’s Joanne Podell before launching their own team in 2016, want to “disrupt” the retail marketplace, which has been struggling for years and is now in dire straits thanks to the pandemic.
Singer says the company’s name — MONA stands for “making of a new age” — was inspired by the Renaissance and Mona Lisa. “We are looking to take advantage of the current market,” he said, pointing to vacancies along Manhattan’s main shopping districts, where new lower rents are prompting restaurants and other tenants to seek better locations.

"The answer is not laws being changed,” Singer said, referring to proposals such as vacancy taxes and commercial rent control, “but focusing on marketing approaches and finding the right tenant for the space in a way that is new and fresh and with a bespoke model that’s different.”

Unlike traditional brokerages, Singer said the firm also has the flexibility to introduce startup retail clients to venture capitalists.
Singer, 34, began his retail career at Robert K. Futterman in 2007 before joining Cushman in 2011. He says he was involved in the completion of $2.5 billion in transactions over the last 13 years.

Retail by MONA’s clients include Showfields, H&R Block, Thompson Hospitality Group, Fit House, Eden, Beta and GetFabric.com. The firm will also work on fulfilment and logistical deals.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
O Brother, where art thou? Dottie Herman’s brother leaves for Compass
Ed D’Ambrosio oversaw several Elliman offices on Long Island

Thanksgiving may be awkward this year for Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman.
Herman’s brother Ed D’Ambrosio, a longtime sales manager for Elliman on Long Island, has left the firm to join Compass, sources told The Real Deal.
D’Ambrosio, who has been in the business for 30 years, oversaw several Elliman offices as executive sales director for Long Island’s North Shore, according to his bio. He’ll initially work out of Compass’ Hamptons office and, once his noncompete expires, work in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
D’Ambrosio confirmed his move. An Elliman spokesperson wished him “all the best in his next endeavor.”

After purchasing Prudential Long Island Realty in 1989, Herman teamed up with Howard Lorber to buy Douglas Elliman from Insignia Financial Group for $72 million in 2003. In 2008, she sold her stake in the residential brokerage for $40 million to Elliman’s parent company Vector Group, but retained the CEO title.

With 7,000 agents nationwide, Elliman notched $28.7 billion in sales last year, according to data firm Real Trends. Despite trimming $20 million in costs, the firm reported a net loss of $5 million during the second quarter of 2020. Revenue plunged 45 percent year-over-year to $132.9 million as the firm was impacted by Covid-19.
Compass was also hurt by the pandemic; the firm laid off 15 percent of its staff in April. But the company said it’s seen a quicker-than-expected rebound, with record revenue in June, July and August.

Backed by SoftBank, Compass has grown exponentially since launching in New York City in 2012, and now has 18,000 agents nationwide. It was valued at $6.4 billion following a funding round in July 2019. Last year, it did $91.3 billion in sales, according to Real Trends.
The firm has set its sights on Long Island’s North Shore, where Elliman has a strong presence. Among its early hires were Nicholas Colombos and Angela Dooley.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
BHS breaks from norm with advisory arm on development
New division uncouples consulting from sales and marketing agreements

Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing is debuting a line of business aimed at lenders, commercial brokers and equity investors sussing out residential projects in New York City.
Led by Robin Schneiderman and Stephen Kliegerman, the new research and advisory arm will provide data and consulting for residential condo and multifamily rental projects.

Formalizing the advisory arm divorces the firm’s consulting from exclusive sales and marketing agreements, breaking from the industry status quo for new development divisions.

“It’s what I call the Covid project,” said Schneiderman. “It’s something that nobody has ever formalized and I think, especially in the times we’re in now and headed forward, everybody is in need of data.”
The consultancy will help developers land financing, plan uses for development sites and even help projects time the market, according to Schneiderman.
Its services will include preparing investment proposals, auditing marketing plans, custom analytics for projects, and third-party architectural reviews. It is work Schneiderman has been doing on an ad hoc basis for several clients, such as helping JDS Development land a $240 million mezzanine loan from Silverstein Capital Partners for 9 DeKalb Avenue, and advising Madison Equities and Gemdale Properties to hold off on starting construction at 45 Broad Street.

“I often play the middleman between the sponsor and their equity,” said Schneiderman, describing the role the consultancy will fill. “I’m on the commercial side of the residential business.”
Schneiderman said this has been in the works since March and April, when the city was in lockdown. He said the division now has about a dozen clients.
Kliegerman said the new division did not stem from revenue concerns, the drop in residential sales volume, or BHS and Halstead’s merger. He said it’s “a response to the marketplace” in terms of the degree of uncertainty and need the firm perceives for this kind of service.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
JLL makes cuts to I-sales team
Brock Emmetsburger, Tom Gamino and Will Suarez were let go

JLL has let go some of its high-profile brokers as the battered real estate market continues to squeeze the city’s brokerage firms.
Investment sales brokers Brock Emmetsberger, Tom Gammino and Will Suarez were laid off by the firm, sources told The Real Deal. The reason was poor production as brokers across the city have struggled to complete deals during the pandemic, according to one source.
Representatives for JLL did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The brokers could not immediately be reached.
The trio are alumni of the former Massey Knakal Realty Services, and have closed billions of dollars’ of deals over the past two decades. Emmetsberger, Gammino and Squarez moved over to Cushman & Wakefield when the company bought Massey Knakal in 2014. A few years later, Massey Knakal cofounders Paul Massey and Bob Knakal left Cushman and began recruiting their former dealmakers.

Emmetsberger, Cammino and Suarez were among a group of more than 50 brokers who followed Knakal to JLL, while a number of others went to work for Massey’s new brokerage, B6 Real Estate Advisors. Earlier this year, JLL laid off about two dozen people in its New York City office.
Massey said he was confident the brokers will land somewhere else and succeed, given their strong track records.
“I worked closely with those guys when they were at Massey Knakal,” he said. “They’re all fantastic people and I’m sure they’ll land on their feet.”
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Ryan Serhant leaves the Nest
Celeb broker to form own firm; current team will stay at Nest Seekers

Ryan Serhant is marking 12 years in real estate by striking out on his own.
The celebrity broker is launching his own brokerage, Serhant, that will focus on selling New York City properties through the global referral network he has cultivated through his real estate course and a suite of marketing divisions.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news Tuesday.
In an interview with The Real Deal, Serhant maintained that he is not leaving Nest Seekers International. He will continue to work with clients and his team back at Nest Seekers on existing projects, but all new business he brings in going forward will be handled through his new firm. Serhant’s team clocked in at No. 2 on TRD‘s most recent ranking of residential brokers, with $480.5 million in closed sales in 2018.

The birth of Serhant’s brokerage has generated tension along the way.
In June, a dispute over a new development building between Serhant and Nest Seekers CEO Eddie Shapiro ignited rumors that the firm and its famous agent were parting ways, but both Serhant and Shapiro forcefully denied there was any problem.

“We renegotiate exclusives all the time,” Serhant said at the time. “I’m in my office … There is nothing going on.”
Shapiro stood by Serhant’s account. “There’s no dispute,” he said. “Everything’s good … Business as usual.”
But two insiders who later spoke to TRD on the condition of anonymity claim the celebrity broker and Nest Seekers have been unwinding their relationship since at least the start of the year. But the process has been bumpy and Serhant’s plans have been shrouded in mystery, according to their accounts.

They say members of the Serhant Team weren’t told about the details and timeline of Serhant’s new venture, or what would happen to them. As a result, some agents sought out positions at competing firms, while others assumed new roles outside of Serhant’s team within Nest Seekers.

“Ryan has been kind of silent,” one of the insiders said. “A lot of them don’t appreciate the fact that they were kind of left in the dark.”
Serhant admitted that attrition has occurred in his team, but he denied that his relationship with Shapiro’s firm was “unwinding.”

“The majority of my team is still at Nest Seekers,” he said. His team at the brokerage now has 40 agents, down from 62 last year. His new company’s head count is 20.
Serhant said he intentionally kept news of his brokerage under wraps, describing it as a “personal choice” that he compared to how he and his wife Emilia Bechrakis Serhant kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, including members of their family.

“This wasn’t a sit-down with my entire team,” he said. “Maybe it’s the spiritual guy in me that thinks that some things you have to do personally.”
Nest Seekers has launched a new development division called Nest Seekers New Development Group, which is now handling marketing and sales for several of Serhant’s projects, including a 77-unit condominium in Long Island City where any trace of the celebrity broker is gone.

“He’s left a lot on the table, you know,” said one of the insiders, adding that Serhant’s Soho office has been converted into a conference room.
Serhant denied that he’s dismantled his business at Nest Seekers.
“What I’ve built is myself and my brand,” he said. “All of my clients are fully aware of what my plans are.”

As for his former office in Soho, Serhant said he hadn’t been there for “a little while.”
“A conference room sounds like a good use for it,” he said.
What I'm unclear about is why we are still seeing "new" listings on StreatEasy with his name at Nest Seekers:

 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Serhant hires first cohort of agents, executives
Celebrity broker’s initial hires come from the city’s biggest firms

Ryan Serhant has made his first round of hires at his new brokerage, snagging talent from Douglas Elliman, Compass, the Corcoran Group and Modern Spaces.
Among the new hires are Chase Landow, a former Serhant Team alum who moved to Noble Black’s team at Elliman last year; Corcoran’s Scott Francis; and Kayla Lee, a Long Island City-based broker from Modern Spaces, Serhant confirmed.

The celebrity broker also brought on Natalie Vitebsky, Elliman’s former vice president of operations, to become Serhant’s chief financial officer. Before her most recent stint at Elliman, Vitebsky was Compass’ head of finance for two years, and prior to that she was Elliman’s CFO for seven years.
Other hires include Elliman agent Jonathan Perrelli, Elliman’s Sean Jadidian and Compass’ Jason Baker. Garrett Derderian, who previously led data and research divisions at CORE Real Estate and Stribling & Associates before going out on his own, will be Serhant’s director of market intelligence.

Elliman and Compass declined to comment on the moves. Corcoran did not respond. Modern Spaces’ CEO Eric Beniam said Lee left his firm on good terms and “she knows our door is always open. I wish her luck.”

Serhant founded his brokerage in September and said his initial hires would be seasoned New York City agents with a minimum of five years of experience and at least $500,000 in gross commission income over the past 12 months. The firm isn’t dangling sweeteners such as signing bonuses as part of its recruitment efforts, Serhant said.

“These initial people are a good mix for us,” said Serhant, pointing to Lee, who is the firm’s first hire in LIC, and Baker, who moonlights as a food and travel blogger and will be hosting one of Serhant’s new YouTube shows, Meals in Mansions.
“They all have their own individual reasons and stories, and they’re all good fits,” Serhant added. “That’s what I’m also looking for more than anything.”
So far, the firm has received a huge wave of interest, with about 1,000 brokers applying for jobs. Serhant believes that’s largely due to the changes the pandemic has wrought on the residential real estate industry.

“A lot of agents are saying, ‘OK, what can my brokerage do for me? How can my brokerage help me grow my own brand?’ And no other brokerage can answer that question,” he said. “I think we’re the only firm that can really answer it.”
Since the onset of the pandemic in March, sales volume in Manhattan and Brooklyn was roughly halved, while sales in Queens were down 40 percent year-over-year last quarter. Many brokerages have slashed costs through layoffs, furloughing employees and consolidating office space.
Of the initial hires, several went through informal channels. Jadidian said he was referred to Serhant by a third party he declined to name, while others said the move was the product of years-long relationships with the celebrity broker. Landow, who boomeranged back to Serhant after a year away, called his return a “homecoming.”

Lee, who’s handled sales at new development buildings for Modern Spaces for the past five years, said she “casually” reached out to Serhant after news of his new firm broke inquiring about opportunities.
She said she’d never considered working with Serhant before on his team because it had felt like a “step back.”
“But as soon as I heard that he created his own company, it was a total gamechanger,” she said. “I can be an agent under his brand, but I’m not under another agent.”
Francis, who left Corcoran, said he’d had conversations with Serhant before working together, but, like Lee, had reservations because he didn’t want to join a team.

“Now, it really felt like the right time,” said Francis. Though he acknowledged the risk of leaving an established firm for a smaller startup amid a pandemic, Francis said those same factors made Serhant more nimble and “much more appealing, especially post-pandemic.”
He pointed to the firm’s attitude toward remote work as an example.
“You’re not talking about desk fees or feeling chained to a desk,” said Francis. “His model is such that every new agent is provided with a laptop … and everything is right there with you.”
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Historically when agents are doing well they stay put, and when they are an upward trajectory and then start earning less, the first place they look is their affiliation. When you see brokers changing affiliations it's either because there is a new firm actively head hunting and making big promises (we see where that got Town and may see where it gets Compass https://www.urbandigs.com/forum/index.php?threads/is-compass-the-next-wework.36/ ) or agents are seeing their incomes drop.


Seven agents splinter off from Eklund-Gomes team
Newly founded Peters Breese Team remains at Douglas Elliman

After 17 months on the Eklund-Gomes team, Jessica Peters is striking out on her own.

Peters, who has built her career on Brooklyn’s new development and townhouse markets, has co-founded a new team with Monica Breese.

The Peters Breese team has six other agents on board and will focus on markets in Brooklyn and Long Island City. It remains at Douglas Elliman.“

The experiences and lessons learned working within the Eklund Gomes team have truly coalesced our vision to focus our new team on the markets we know and love,” Peters and Breese said in a statement.
The new team leaders added that they look forward to seeing their former Eklund-Gomes teammates “on the other side of a deal soon!”
A spokesperson for Eklund-Gomes said the team “wish Jessica and Monica well.”
Breese said by email that they decided to launch the team during the pandemic “because we have the time to do it now.”

Both teams declined to elaborate on the reasons behind the split.
The Eklund-Gomes team has been recruiting as it expands nationally in Los Angeles, Miami and New York City. At the start of this year the team had 80 agents. Peters, who previously led a team at Elliman with broker Stephanie O’Brien, was tapped to lead a push into Brooklyn last year.
In that move Peters brought six other agents to the Eklund-Gomes team including Breese, Allison Dubuisson, Justin McMahon, Daniel Fried, Jennyrose Halupka and Vanessa Rodriguez. The majority are now following Peters to her new team, though Dubuisson is staying at Eklund-Gomes and Halupka left last year to join the Serhant team at Nest Seekers International.

When asked why she left, Halupka said her decision was personal.

“It was time,” she said. “It was a very positive experience working on the EG team and with Jessica. I learned more during my two years working with her and the EG team than most agents and brokers experience in their whole careers.”

Peters and Breese also have two new teammates from Eklund-Gomes joining them: Vavrinec Fecko and Rita van Straten.

A spokesperson for Eklund-Gomes said its Brooklyn business will now be led by agent Erin Lichy on new development and broker Grace Steel on resales listings.

The Covid churn: Inside resi brokerages’ recruiting games​

A look at brokerages’ recruiting strategies at a time when thousands of agents have left the business altogether

It’s a long-held tenet of the business that agents switch firms when times are bad — and few years in recent memory have been worse than 2020.
“When the market is super strong… agents don’t really move,” said Scott Durkin, president and chief operating officer of Douglas Elliman. “That’s a natural evolution of the business.”

Now, a volatile market has sent brokers running, some from the business altogether. Nearly 4,000 agents terminated their licenses between January and December, a 9 percent drop from 63,835, according to Corofy, a data firm which tracks agent movement. Manhattan lost 2,372 agents, while Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island lost a combined 1,562.
“The number of agents today is the most important metric,” said Eddy Boccara, Corofy’s founder. “I really consider the agents to be the consumer of the brokerage.”
The drop in headcount is understandable: Many agents saw their income virtually dry up overnight when the pandemic hit. And though the national housing market is roaring, New York City is struggling with an oversupply of high-end condominiums, banks tightening lending standards and buyers’ preferences for more space and private outdoor areas. All told, Manhattan sales fell 46 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2020; in Brooklyn and Queens, deal volume fell 43 and 40.5 percent, respectively.
“It’s a time of enormous dislocation,” said Frederick Peters, CEO of Warburg Realty. “For a great many real estate agents, I think it’s really created a lot of fear.”
The climate hasn’t stopped brokerages, many of which had to make cuts in the early days of the pandemic, from recruiting. Brokerages always want to grow market share by adding more “consumers,” as Boccara put it, but the landscape has become more challenging with more competition, slower sales and fewer agents. Though firms may not have the financial resources to offer big signing bonuses, many have placed an increased focus on rolling out tools to boost productivity, both for existing agents and to lure in new ones.

The Corcoran Group launched a new customer relationship management system in lockdown and an entirely virtual training center for agents in March. As of early December, the firm had run more than 900 classes on business development, digital marketing and wellness, among others. It is also working on getting a program ready to pay agents their commissions as soon as deals close.
Brown Harris Stevens began rolling out two lending products in December that will front staging costs for sellers and offer bridge loans up to $25 million to buyers at the behest of agents.
“We’re doing it solely because agents have said it’s important,” said Matt Leone, BHS’ head of business development. “I think everything we do is a recruiting and retention tool. … I call it doing your job.”
Meanwhile, Compass is gearing up for its initial public offering, which could mean windfall for the agents who took advantage of its stock options. Earlier this month, Robert Reffkin, the firm’s founder and CEO, encouraged that line of thinking in a recent internal memo to agents.
“We will be able to invest more in building towards the Compass Northstar: Anything an agent needs, Compass provides,” Reffkin wrote.
Coming and going
Even at the best of times, many brokerages view recruiting as a numbers game, where the highest agent headcount reaps the largest gross revenues for the company. But when business is bad, the need for more agents is even more acute.
“The industry knows that, really, one out of 10 agents is going to make it and really be profitable for the company,” Corofy’s Boccara said.
Frederick-Peters-quote.jpg
The game is harder now than ever before: There are fewer agents across the board, and those left know they’re in demand.
“The agents themselves are starting to realize that they’re a commodity in hot demand,” Boccara said. “Everybody wants to talk to them.”
Compass is the recruiting game’s biggest player. The brokerage hired 249 agents away from its rivals between May and November — more than any of its competitors, according to an analysis by Corofy.
“Compass really owns a really, really important market share of hiring,” said Boccara, referring to the strategy of recruiting agents to gain market share.
Rory Golod, Tri-State president of Compass, pushed back, however, saying that firms allowing growth to be driven by headcount was leading the industry “astray.”
“Great organizations are built by being thoughtful and selective,” he said. “We have never thought about our company in terms of the number of agents. … We don’t set targets based on the number of agents.”
The firm was far from alone when it came to bringing on new talent from competitors. Corcoran made 120 new hires, followed by eXp, which drew 92 agents. Douglas Elliman snapped up 58 agents from its rivals, while Oxford Property Group picked up 53.
“We are very aggressive,” said Pam Liebman, CEO and president of Corcoran. “We did not stop.” She did note, however, that the firm had limited recruitment to agents who’d been in touch with the firm before and previously expressed interest out of a desire to be “sensitive” during the pandemic.
Overall, Compass netted 97 agents between May and November — meaning that the firm gained more agents than it lost. eXp Realty, RE/MAX Edge, Nest Seekers International and Triplemint reported similar gains.
Still, Compass churned, or lost, an average of 39 agents per month. Among the city’s other biggest brokerages, Elliman and Corcoran saw an average monthly churn of 54 and 53 agents between May and November, while BHS churn was 9.5.
(Compass disputed Corofy’s results, stating that its churn was just under 2.5 agents per month because the firm only counts “principal agents” not their team members internally.)
Brokerage-churn-charts-1-and-2.jpg
At BHS, the firm has upped its marketing budgets and is pouring resources into a new CRM system that recently launched, according to CEO Bess Freedman.
“We’re just going to be a little bit more flexible than usual taking into account the pandemic,” she said referring to costs agents incur. “We’re sensitive to the agents that have had a really tough time this year.”
Merger mania
For the last few years, consolidation has swept the brokerage industry, and the recent volatility hasn’t changed that pattern. Last year, Compass acquired Stribling & Associates, and in January of this year Bond New York snapped up rental brokerage Caliber Associates, while Citi Habitats merged into Corcoran.
BHS and Halstead’s merger in June was the largest of 2020. The two firms, sister companies under Terra Holdings, now have a combined roughly 2,500 agents. However, the process did result in the departure of 38 “underperforming agents,” according to Freedman and Richard Grossman, president of Halstead.
Freedman said the pandemic was the “catalyst” for the deal. She said Terra had discussed merging the firms for years, but the idea became an “ideal” option as the city locked down last spring.
“If we didn’t have the pandemic, I don’t know that we would have done it at such a quick speed,” she said. “Maybe we would have at some point.”
Oxford Property Group absorbed Kian Realty and Spire Group, which meant adding about 280 agents to the firm over the course of the year.
The firm’s founder and CEO Adam Mahfouda said that Oxford’s growth insulated the firm from the pain of a market where transaction volume has sunk.
“As a company we’re not feeling the toll,” he said. “But a lot of our agents are feeling that.”
In a similar vein, Elegran acquired Anchor Associates earlier this fall, bringing on 20 new people.
Celebrity broker Ryan Serhant took an even more extreme approach, launching a new firm altogether in September. He began hiring immediately, despite the fact that a lot of his existing business will continue to be handled by his team at Nest Seekers.
“I’m not building this for today. I’m building this for 2030, and 2040, and beyond,” Serhant said in an October interview. “The age old way of getting a desk and you have to drive all your own business and it’s the brokerage’s brand first and your brand second … it will not last, it cannot last.”
Serhant’s firm and Triplemint both scooped up agents and staff who had been let go when many firms were forced to make deep cuts earlier in the year.
Triplemint CEO David Walker called cutting support staff and agent services “the wrong strategy” back in June, just as agents were allowed to show homes for the first time in three months.
“This is the time to invest in your agents because the market is going to rebound,” he said at the time. Fast-forward six months, Triplemint said its headcount has increased by about 20 percent since last December. Walker said he stands by the firm’s “targeted and specific” strategy.
Brokerage-churn-charts-3-and-4.jpg
“Value to buyers and sellers stands out even more in a challenging market,” he said in December. “It’s the extreme opposite of when the market is roaring, and you can hire your friend who’s done two deals and has their license on the side.”
Breaking out
For agents themselves, a different calculus comes into play when deciding whether to stay or go.
The pandemic has led some agents, concerned about health and safety, to retire, according to Barbara Fox at Fox Residential.
“I think a few of them just don’t want to deal with everything,” she said, noting that there is a real fear among agents showing homes and meeting with clients despite there being no vaccine.
“I don’t know anyone who isn’t afraid,” Fox said. “I’ve never been so looking forward to getting a shot.”
Meanwhile, others decided this was the time to leave the sheltered wing of major teams. Two agents who had been on the Serhant Team for seven years, Ivy Kramp and Jenna Amicucci-DeChristopher, decided to move to Compass in late June where they founded a four-person team, which includes another Serhant Team alum Vanessa Beretta.
The brokers, who say they closed $222 million in total sales between 2018 and 2019, said they parted with Serhant on good terms and the decision didn’t have anything to do with his new firm.
“We wish him the best of luck,” said Amicucci-DeChristopher. “Just for us we wanted to go in a little bit of a different direction.” Kramp said the in-house resources at Compass for new development was a big factor in their move.
On the other end of the spectrum, Kayla Lee, who handled sales at new development buildings for Modern Spaces for the past five years before jumping to Serhant’s new firm, said the decision was born out of a lull between projects and wanting a new challenge.
“I thought this would take me to a new level,” she said.
The Peters Breese team at Elliman splintered off from the Eklund-Gomes Team in May, noting that making a move as the market was frozen afforded them additional time to reorganize and communicate with clients. “We have the time to do it now,” as Breese put it.
Aaron Seawood, a Brooklyn-based broker and a founding member of Compass’ sports and entertainment division, agreed. He moved to Triplemint in June for the opportunity to “have a seat at the table” as the firm expanded into Brooklyn.
“When you’re able to be still, you’re really able to be self aware,” Seawood said in June about deciding to make the jump amid so much volatility. “You have a little more time to think about what’s important to you.
 

John Walkup

Talking Manhattan on UrbanDigs.com
Wow, David - from your first post on this thread to the last one in December, it's been a heck of a whipsaw. For some it was going from fear of going broke to best year ever, all in the span of less than 9 months.... crazy.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Triplemint moves into Westchester with Elliman team​

Brokerage hired away Berkowitz Marrone Team to found new office​


On the heels of a banner year for New York’s suburban housing market, Triplemint is expanding into Westchester County.
Triplemint has tapped Douglas Elliman’s Owen Berkowitz and Carol Marrone to serve as founding agents for its Westchester business. The agents are bringing along their three-person team, which includes Susan Reddy, Michael Taraboulos and Matthew Marrone.

The Westchester-based team has received Elliman’s Pinnacle Award, meaning that its annual gross commission income was among the top 2 percent of the company, every year since 2016. Last year, the team closed $60 million in sales, according to Berkowitz and Marrone.

It’s an opportune time for an expansion into the Westchester market, which has seen a boon thanks to homebuyers hunting for more space. The region’s home sales last year were the highest since 1996 and, with low inventory, prices are skyrocketing. The median sales price for a single-family home in the county was up 20 percent year over year in the final quarter of 2020.

But CEO David Walker said the timing of the expansion was related to finding the right agents to lead the effort.
“Since the start, Triplemint’s expansion strategy has been about quality over quantity,
launching with a people-first focus, rather than market-first,” he said in a statement.

The New York City-based brokerage has been expanding its territory over the past 18 months, starting with a New Jersey firm it acquired in fall 2019. In spring 2020, Triplemint brought over broker Aaron Seawood and his team from Compass to lead its new Brooklyn office. In the summer, the firm launched in the Hamptons, a push led by Tyler Whitman, who’s become one of Triplemint’s most well-known brokers after joining Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” show last year.

Berkowitz said the conversation to join Triplemint began in January when the firm’s chief revenue officer, Eric Barron, reached out to them.
He described the offer as an invitation to be “the new kids on the block” that seemed like a “fun trip” for the team.
“What better energy is there than a new everything?” he said. “A new year, a new administration and a new move.”

“We wish Carol and Owen the best of luck in their new endeavors,” said a spokesperson from Elliman.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Elegran launches new development sales division with ex-Elliman exec at helm

Carolyn Sebba to lead firm’s expansion into new development sales and marketing​


Elegran sees an opportunity in New York City’s vast quantity of unsold condos.
The brokerage is launching a new development marketing division, to be led by former Douglas Elliman executive Carolyn Sebba.

Sebba was a senior vice president and managing director at Douglas Elliman Development Marketing for seven years, before being laid off last spring as the firm slashed costs due to the pandemic. During her tenure, she handled sales strategy at high-profile projects such as the Baccarat Residences & Hotel, the Aman Residences at the Crown Building, and the Belnord, HFZ Capital’s Upper West Side condo conversion.

A spokesperson for Sebba’s former employer — now competitor — said “everyone at Douglas Elliman wishes Carolyn the best of luck in this new venture.”

This isn’t the first time Elegran has tried its hand at new development marketing; the brokerage is the managing agent for several luxury rentals for the Moinian Group, among them Sky and Oskar.

But Sebba will be leading the firm’s push into the competitive arena of new development sales, going up against giants like Elliman, Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group and the Marketing Directors, among others.
“It appealed to me to join a team that was known to be forward-thinking and set aside the traditional ways of doing things,” she said. “Given what’s happened with the pandemic and how it affected our industry, we both felt the time was right to offer new options and a new alternative to developers and property owners.”

Sebba’s new team will use Elegran’s in-house platform, Alfred, to assist with sales and marketing. While she hasn’t begun to hire staff just yet, she has started pitching Elegran’s services to developers and owners. The amount of business she secures will determine the initial size of her team.
Sebba also has skin in the game: She took an equity interest in Elegran when she accepted the role.

“We’re very optimistic about the future for new development,” she said.
 

John Walkup

Talking Manhattan on UrbanDigs.com
Interesting moves by Triplemint and Elegran. I think this quote sums it up nicely:
... CEO David Walker said the timing of the expansion was related to finding the right agents to lead the effort.
“Since the start, Triplemint’s expansion strategy has been about quality over quantity,
launching with a people-first focus, rather than market-first,” ...
With competition between the nationals + Zillow coming to a head, there's a case to be made for focused, regional shops whose admin/tech backbone is dedicated to support the unique nature of their markets.
 
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