Upheaval For Agents


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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.
In light of this comment...I'm intrigued by models like Side if/when they come to NYC.

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Hamptons agent Yorgos Tsibiridis jumps to Compass​

East Hampton agent had been with Douglas Elliman for six years​

Yorgos Tsibiridis, Douglas Elliman’s top agent in East Hampton, has moved to Compass.
Over his eight-year career, including the past six at Elliman, Tsibiridis has sold over $400 million in homes from the Hamptons to the Greek Islands. In the past 12 months he counts over $70 million in sales and contracts.

“In the back of my mind, I was always thinking, ‘How can I do things better? How can I serve my customers better? How can I move on into the next level?’ And that’s when the idea of Compass came on board,” Tsibiridis said.

He said the move was inspired by Compass’ branding, technology and support for its agents.
Fueled by an infusion of capital from SoftBank and other investors, Compass has been aggressively recruiting brokers from other firms for several years. Some who signed on but became disillusioned with the brokerage have found that clauses in their contracts would obligate them to repay large sums of money to depart, The Real Deal reported last week. Compass points out that clawback provisions are common in the brokerage industry.

Tsibiridis was previously at Corcoran. At Compass he will continue working in the Hamptons.
Hamptons agents have been busy through the pandemic, which triggered a frenzy of renting and buying in weekend and summer communities outside New York City.

The median home sale price in the Hamptons was $1.4 million in the fourth quarter, nearly 55 percent higher than a year earlier, according to a report by Douglas Elliman. The number of homes sold also rose, to 803, the highest quarterly total in 15 years.

John Walkup

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“In the back of my mind, I was always thinking, ‘How can I do things better? How can I serve my customers better? How can I move on into the next level?’ And that’s when the idea of Compass came on board,” Tsibiridis said.
Post-ipo Compass will be able to issue shares, so buying production will be even easier. So if you're Elliman, BHS, or Corcoran - how do you counter the combination of "newer-is-better" + $? Tough place to be...

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Corcoran vet Lydia Sussek joins Elliman​

Broker has worked with clients like Axl Rose and Heather Mills​

Not every agent gets a shout-out on their firm’s earnings call, but Lydia Sussek did.
The broker, who’s been at the Corcoran Group for 14 years, has officially moved her business to Douglas Elliman. She’s being welcomed with rare fanfare, admitting that she recognized herself in Lorber’s comments during Elliman’s earnings call last week about recruiting “substantial brokers.”

“It was me!” she said, explaining that the opportunity to join Elliman came up “organically” in a conversation with Lorber.
“Lydia is highly regarded throughout the industry for her in-depth global market knowledge, strong client relations and clever negotiating skills honed from her background in business,” Lorber said in a statement. Elliman’s New York CEO and president Steven James called Sussek a “natural fit” for the firm.

Sussek said what appealed to her about Elliman was its partnership with London-based Knight Frank, as much of her business is focused on overseas clients. She’s bringing two team members with her: Tania Nasr, and William Robert Stahlke IV, who is based in Madrid.
Sussek said she’s handled $500 million in transactions over the course of her career, and represented high profile clients such as musician Axl Rose, English activist Heather Mills, and Italian soccer player Andrea Pirlo.

She and her husband are also investors and developers, who buy properties in Manhattan and Nantucket Island, Massachusetts to renovate and flip. They also have a rental portfolio in the city. “I put my money where my mouth is,” she said. “I love New York City.”
Sussek said that Lorber’s shout-out sets a high bar. “When anyone decides to make a move, it’s a mutual expectation and I hope to live up to that,” she said.

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Elliman’s NYC CEO Steven James jumps to Berkshire’s HomeServices

"Sometimes one needs a change."​

Two Douglas Elliman vets are jumping ship to work at Berkshire Hathaway’s behemoth brokerage HomeServices of America.
Steven James, Elliman’s New York City president and CEO, as well as the longtime sales director of the firm’s Madison Avenue office, and Brad Loe, an executive sales manager, will join HomeServices as executive directors of brokerage development, the company announced Tuesday.

In their new roles, they will be a step removed from day-to-day brokerage activities, and will advise HomeServices’ corporate leadership. They’ll divide their time between HomeServices’ corporate headquarters in Minneapolis and offices in Westchester County.

James, who has been in the industry for 40 years and at Elliman since 1990, said there’s been a flurry of recruitment activity targeting managers in the city in recent months (“everybody is calling every manager in New York City,” he noted). He had reportedly considered leaving Elliman in 2018 before reversing course, and said the position at HomeServices was an offer he’d been “looking for and didn’t realize.”

“I think it was the right time,” said James, who became the New York City CEO in 2005. “I’ve been at Elliman for 30 years and, you know, I gave it my all, especially during the pandemic, but sometimes one needs a change.”
Loe, who’s been in the business for nearly two decades, joined Elliman in 2015 and described the job at HomeServices as one he couldn’t pass up.

“You only get so many opportunities like this in one’s career,” he said.
Last year, HomeServices — a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway — was ranked the third most active brokerage in the country with a total sales volume of $150 billion, according to Real Trends.
“Steven and Brad have each had exceptionally successful careers and understand the needs and preferences of agents, buyers and sellers,” Gino Blefari, president and CEO of HomeServices of America, said in a statement. “This perspective will be invaluable as HomeServices works to reimagine the homebuying and selling experience.” Both James and Loe will report directly to Blefari.

A spokesperson for Elliman could not be reached for comment.
In an email sent early Tuesday and viewed by The Real Deal, Elliman executive chairman Howard Lorber informed the brokerage’s agents of James’ departure and said Scott Durkin, president and COO, would lead the New York City business until a new regional CEO was hired.

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From boss to broker: Ilan Bracha joins Corcoran

Bracha and his team of agents join the firm’s East Side office​

Ilan Bracha is headed back to agent life.
The mega broker-turned-businessman and five members of his real estate group, IB Global, are the newest arrivals at the Corcoran Group.

This week, Bracha’s team, which includes himself, three other agents and two management heads, joined Corcoran’s East Side office.
The move comes just over a year after Bracha sold his Manhattan brokerage, Keller Williams NYC, which he co-founded in 2011. That franchise region has since been transferred to Richard Amato, who owns several Keller Williams offices in Nassau County.

Under Bracha and co-founder Haim Binstock, Keller Williams NYC became one of fastest-growing brokerages in the city, earning around $1 million in annual profits and swelling to 900 agents in 2015 before purging underperforming agents from its ranks three years later. Speaking to The Real Deal in 2019, Bracha described pivoting to a “quality over quantity” approach after the firm grew too big, too fast.

“It’s not about being a boss; it’s really about being the best you can be and serving the people in your business better,” Bracha said this week. “That’s the way to grow.”
After letting go of the brokerage, Bracha said he was eager to return to his roots as an agent. In his real estate career, which spans more than 20 years, he’s completed over $2 billion in transactions.

The IB Global team, which Bracha formed last year, closed more than $50 million in sales in the first quarter of 2021, he said.
But Bracha said the brokers needed a new home if they wanted to take their success to the next level, and he didn’t want to open a brokerage again. Instead, he set his sights on Corcoran, saying the company would give his team access to more inventory, new development and higher price ranges.

He added that the move will help him continue investing his earnings into New York City real estate and proptech without needing to build a brokerage from scratch.

“It’s the No. 1 brand,” Bracha said of Corcoran, which clocked in at the top of The Real Deal’s residential brokerage ranking of 2020, closing $5.8 billion worth of sales in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. It ranked third in the city by headcount with 2,264 agents.
As for entering the same market as his former brokerage so soon, Bracha said he is not concerned about a little competition.

“There is room for every person, every broker in town right now to do better from last year,” he said.

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Warburg Realty taps veteran BHS exec to run Tribeca office​

Stephen Klym will rejoin the firm June 1, roughly 14 years after he left​

A long-time Brown Harris Stevens executive is headed back to his former brokerage.
Stephen Klym will rejoin Warburg Realty on June 1 as the firm’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives and sales director for its Tribeca office. In the latter capacity, he replaces Brennan Zahler, who left Warburg last month after five years to run the Corcoran Group ’s Soho office.

Klym returns to Warburg, where he served as marketing director and senior managing director from 1999 to 2007, after spending the last 10 years at BHS as executive vice president and managing director of sales.

“We wish Steve the best and thank him for his service, and we are very fortunate to have such a wealth of experienced executives and managers here at BHS to step in immediately,” BHS CEO Bess Freedman and president Hall Willkie wrote in an email to agents on Monday.

In his new role, Klym will work closely with CEO Frederick Warburg Peters to strengthen the firm so that it stands out amongst “monolithic companies that offer conveyor belt-like service,” he said in a press release.
“Warburg has always been a strong company, and by putting its agents front-and-center and allowing them to do their jobs, which are tough, we’ll be able to further differentiate the company,” Klym said.

Warburg closed 142 sell-side deals worth a combined $238 million last year, primarily in Manhattan, claiming 8th place in The Real Deal’s 2020 ranking of the city’s top residential brokerages. The company says it has 140 agents spread across its Upper East Side and Tribeca offices.
“Steve is family to me, and I could not be more proud to have the opportunity to once again add his insights to our strategic decision-making,” said Peters.

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Newmark sues brokers who jumped to CBRE for violating non-compete​

Brokers countersued, arguing the agreement is moot​

Newmark is suing three of its former brokers and their new employer, CBRE, alleging that the former violated non-compete agreements in their employment contracts, and the latter was responsible for that breach of contract.
But the brokers named in the case — Terrance Hunt, Christopher Cowan and Shane Ozment — have countersued Newmark and its affiliated entities, arguing that their non-compete pact was unreasonable and voided by a subsequent 2018 agreement made with their employer.

The dispute stems from a contract signed in 2014 when BGC Holdings, Newmark’s parent company at that time, acquired Apartment Realty Advisors of Colorado, one of the most prominent multifamily investment brokerages in Denver. BGC later spun off Newmark.

When ARA was acquired, Hunt, Cowan and Ozment — who each owned a small share of ARA — signed an agreement stating they would not work for Newmark’s competitors for two years if they left before October 2021. If they left after that time, the non-compete period would be reduced to one year, according to the lawsuit.

In exchange, Hunt, Cowan and Ozment collectively received more than $1.5 million when the acquisition was completed, according to the lawsuit. In subsequent years, they received between 50 to 60 percent of their sales as commission, and their prominence rose as Newmark marketed them nationally.
But on May 17 of this year, the three brokers, along with six colleagues in the Denver office, resigned from Newmark, noting in their letters of resignation that they would “soon be joining CBRE Inc.”

The next day, CBRE sent out an internal email to its employees to welcome the multifamily investment team to its Colorado office, the lawsuit said. Local media outlets also reported on the migration.
In a statement, a CBRE spokesperson said the firm’s recruitment process was proper.
“The members of the team have brought a suit against their former employer in Colorado to permit them to continue pursuing their livelihoods,” the statement reads. “We look forward to a swift resolution of this matter through the legal process.”

The brokers and their attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But in their countersuit, which was filed in Denver, the brokers state they were unable to negotiate in the 2014 deal, which they believe was unreasonable. They also allege that in October 2018, each one signed a separate agreement with ARA that “expressly superseded any previous or contemporaneous agreements and represented the entire agreement between the parties regarding the terms of Plaintiffs’ services to ARA.” Under the 2018 agreement, their services were legally required through the end of 2019.

They also argue that the non-compete agreement is “void and unenforceable as against the public policy of Colorado.” Non-competes are hard to enforce in that state unless they meet specific conditions.
Newmark is seeking $15 million in damages, and has asked for “injunctive relief” from the court – i.e. stopping the brokers from working for CBRE.

On Friday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager issued a temporary restraining order on behalf of Newmark ordering the defendants to refrain from disparaging the firm “in any manner via any medium or means.”
At the same time, Ostrager did not grant the brokerage’s request to temporarily stop the brokers from working for CBRE. The court will hear the case on June 17.

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Top sales broker out at Cushman & Wakefield​

Stephen Preuss led Queens middle-market i-sales group​

One of Cushman & Wakefield’s top sales brokers is no longer with the company.
Stephen Preuss, who ran the brokerage’s Queens office, was recently terminated, sources told The Real Deal.
Preuss did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Cushman confirmed that he no longer works at the company.
“I can confirm Stephen Preuss is no longer with Cushman & Wakefield,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “We remain heavily committed to our people and our clients in the New York metropolitan area.”

The circumstances surrounding Preuss’ departure were not entirely clear. Sources told TRD it involved a disgruntled client.
Preuss had been at Cushman since 2015, when the company acquired Massey Knakal Realty Services, where he spent nearly a decade. He was part of a group of Massey Knakal alumni who stuck around after founders Paul Massey and Bob Knakal left the company in 2018, bringing former proteges to work at their new respective firms.

Preuss specialized in the Queens market, and in 2018, he was one of the top producers in Cushman’s middle-market investment sales group.
Massey told TRD that Preuss was “a trusted star in our first business. He shares our values, and he will have a continued, fantastic career.”

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Former Elliman, WeWork marketing chief joins “Bumble for homes” startup​

Nicole Oge heads to real estate app Casa Blanca as chief growth officer​

A marketing veteran who held high-level posts at Douglas Elliman and WeWork is joining a dating-app-inspired proptech startup.

Nicole Oge, who previously served as chief marketing officer at Douglas Elliman and oversaw marketing at WeWork, is taking on the post of chief growth officer at the app-centric residential brokerage Casa Blanca.

Similar to dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, Casa Blanca uses a swipe left, swipe right interface to help users navigate home listings.

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Douglas Elliman exec returns to Corcoran after 7 years​

Garret Lepaw will oversee 130 agents at brokerage’s Brooklyn Heights office​

Garret Lepaw is returning to Corcoran Group as the senior managing director of its Brooklyn Heights office after more than five years as an executive manager of sales at Douglas Elliman.

Lepaw will work alongside senior managing director Yael Streit overseeing about 130 agents.

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Agent moves: Which brokerages won the talent battle in May
TRD analysis finds Compass gained the most while Elliman struggled

Agent Gains, Losses at NYC’s Biggest Residential Brokerages

New York City’s real estate agents are on the move, bouncing between brokerages as the economy continues its recovery.

The Real Deal compared Department of State agent licensing data to see how many New York City residential agents switched firms and which brokerages won the war for talent in May. Compass, Corcoran and EXP Realty made the biggest net gains for the month, though the numbers were modest.

Some 1,926 agents transferred their licenses to different brokerages (or, in some instances, separate entities within an umbrella organization) during the 31 days, the analysis showed. A big chunk of those license transfers — just over 60 percent — was attributable to Coldwell Banker Realty and Century 21 American Homes merging their Long Island operations.

Compass led all firms with a net gain of eight New York City agents last month. The Softbank-backed company has seen its agent count rise since Covid shut down the city last year, with just over an 18 percent increase in NYC agents from March 2020 to May 2021. Its current headcount stands at about 2,450.

The publicly traded brokerage brought in 14 agents in May including three from rival Corcoran and two each from Elliman and Nest Seekers, but lost six.

Elliman, meanwhile, posted a net loss of one agent, gaining 17 but saying goodbye to 18 between May 1 and June 1. The firm also lost Garret Lepaw, its executive manager of sales for over five years, when he returned to Corcoran in mid-June.

Elliman’s South Florida branches, however, were able to add some heavy-hitter agents, with Thor Brown joining the firm in Palm Beach and Lana Bell in Bay Harbor Islands.

The May merger of Coldwell Banker Realty with Century 21 American Homes resulted in a gain of 1,195 licensed NYC agents for the month under the new banner of Coldwell Banker American Homes, serving Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as Queens and Brooklyn. Because the growth was the result of a strategic merger, TRD did not include it among the firms with the biggest gains.


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Brown Harris Stevens executive Diane Ramirez steps down

Departure comes a year after merger with Halstead, which she co-founded​

Brown Harris Stevens is saying goodbye to one of its top executives.
Diane Ramirez, the brokerage’s executive chairman and senior adviser, is stepping down after a little over a year with the firm, CEO Bess Freedman announced in a memo to agents Friday.

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Dottie Herman out as Elliman CEO, Scott Durkin to assume role​

Herman, who will stay on as an advisor, sold her stake in the brokerage in 2018​

Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman has stepped down. Scott Durkin, the brokerage’s president and chief operating officer, will assume her role effective immediately.
In an interview, Durkin said the move had been in the works for six months.

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Diane Ramirez, after leaving BHS, joins Berkshire’s HomeServices​

Longtime brokerage exec to be chief strategy officer for New York City operation​

Diane Ramirez has a new gig: chief strategy officer for the New York office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties.
Tuesday will be Ramirez’s first day, the company announced. She will focus on growing the operation by recruiting agents and acquiring smaller firms. Ramirez called her new role a privilege.
“This is everything that I love and believe that I’m good at,” she said. “I can go back to skipping to work and that [feeling of] I just can’t wait to get into the office.”

Ramirez stepped down as Brown Harris Stevens’ executive chairman and senior adviser last month, just over a year after the merger between BHS and Halstead, the brokerage that Ramirez co-founded in 1984. She said the role at HomeServices appealed to her because it was an opportunity to build up a company.
“I love growing a brand. … Brown Harris Stevens is an established brand and they will do extremely well,” she said. “It was just no reflection on them, it was just something that really spoke to me.”

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Resi brokerages’ big quarter: Record revenue, new CEOs and major acquisitions​

eXp surpasses $1B in revenue; Redfin names new RentPath chief executive​

The second quarter was a strong one for a number of brokerages. Records were broken, acquisitions were finalized and new executives entered the C-suite.

Redfin saw its revenue rise 121 percent year-over-year to $471 million during the quarter. It also saw its largest market share gain since its IPO in 2017, reaching 1.18 percent of U.S. existing-home sales by value.

The brokerage started the quarter by finalizing its acquisition of RentPath and ended it by naming RentPath’s new CEO: Jon Ziglar, who was previously the CEO and board director of ParkMobile. During his six years there, the company increased its customer base by 800 percent.

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Is Berkshire setting up for a big NYC move?

Berkshire’s HomeServices acquires its Hudson Valley franchise​

HomeServices is picking up 400 agents in the deal, its second franchise buy this year​

Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices brokerage acquired a franchise in the booming Hudson Valley as its northeast division seeks to lift market share.
HomeServices’ acquisition of the 400-agent, independently owned franchise, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties, closed on Sept. 1, the company said. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Buoyed by a housing market whose demand remains unabated even as prices surge, many brokerages are capitalizing by starting new business lines and expanding to new markets. The Hudson Valley firm had $1.5 billion of closed sales over the 12 months ending in June 2021, compared with its typical annual total of $850 million, according to Steven Domber, its principal broker and founder.

“I was looking for new avenues and resources that I didn’t have access to as an independent owner,” said Domber, who became a franchisee in 2014. After talks for a potential sale stalled or halted over the past seven years, Domber said he struck up the conversation again in December. “I think getting over that billion-dollar mark helped get their attention.”

HomeServices said the purchase was part of an “accelerated expansion” in the northeast, not just a reaction to the state of the market, according to Candace Adams, the firm’s CEO of properties in New England, Westchester and New York. “I would say it’s unrelated frankly,” she said. “Our commitment goes beyond the market condition.”

Adams said she’s also interested in adding strong leadership, noting recent hires of veteran New York City executives including former Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens executive Diane Ramirez in August and Elliman’s Steven James and Brad Loe in April.
“We want to make sure we have a very strong position,” she said. “We will look at any company that we believe is aligned with our values.”

In June, HomeServices acquired one of its West Coast-based franchises, which had 3,000 agents working in California, Arizona and Nevada, as well as stakes in three title and escrow companies. A spokesperson for HomeServices, which was the third-largest in the nation by closed sales volume last year, called the deals a “franchisee benefit.” HomeServices now has 46,650 agents operating in 32 states.

Berkshire Hathaway spent $6 billion in stock buybacks last quarter, a slight drop from the $6.6 billion it spent in the first quarter of the year.

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Richard Steinberg jumps from Douglas Elliman to Compass​

Veteran agent handled sales at 432 Park Avenue during his six years at Elliman​

Veteran Manhattan agent Richard Steinberg is joining Compass.
He resigned from rival brokerage Douglass Elliman on Wednesday and will work out of Compass’ office at 851 Madison Avenue. Steinberg’s three team members — Alexander Mignogna, Emanuel Fiore and Carli Levitt — are moving with him.

“We just felt for our personal growth that we wanted to try something slightly different,” said Steinberg in an interview.

Their bank accounts might also grow: Compass has recruited agents with large signing bonuses and wide-ranging incentive packages in the past. Steinberg declined to comment on the terms of the move.
He said Compass’ recent initial public offering was not a factor in his decision and that he was looking forward to using the brokerage’s technology.

“As far as I’m concerned, Compass is the Google of real estate,” he said. “We’re excited about a new adventure. Life is all about reinventing yourself.”

Steinberg joined Elliman in 2015 after more than 29 years at independent brokerage Warburg Realty. He began as an agent in 1986 and has appeared on HGTV’s “Selling New York” and WLNY-CBS’s real estate show “The American Dream New York City.”

During his time at Elliman, Steinberg was part of the team handling sales at supertall luxury building 432 Park Avenue and his team was among Elliman’s top producers in 2016 and 2017. In The Real Deal’s most recent broker ranking, he was 29th among New York City agents with $109 million in closed sales.
Steinberg called his years at Elliman “absolutely wonderful.”

Referring to Elliman’s executive chairman Howard Lorber, he said, “Howard was the consummate professional and we left absolutely on great terms.”
As a top agent in New York City for years, Steinberg has likely fielded offers from Compass and other rival brokerages many times in the past, though he would not confirm or deny that. When asked what prompted him to move this time, he cited the pandemic.

“I think Covid changes a lot of people,” he said. “I wanted to try something new and something exciting.”
Rory Golod, president of the Tri-State Region for Compass, said in a statement that he “could not be more excited to have Richard as part of the Compass family.” He declined to comment further. A spokesperson for Elliman wished Steinberg well.