Upheaval For Agents

David Goldsmith

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Top-performing Douglas Elliman agent pulls team to Sotheby’s International​

Daniela Sassoun, ranked No. 25 in 2021, and colleagues join East Side Manhattan brokerage​

A top-performing Douglas Elliman agent and her team has made the leap to Sotheby’s International Realty on a hunt to do more business at home and abroad.
Daniela Sassoun, along with her colleagues Mark Mistovich and Daryl Eisenberg, have joined Sotheby’s East Side Manhattan Brokerage.

Sassoun’s sales volume ranked her nationally as Douglas Elliman’s No. 25 agent in 2021 and No. 16 in 2020. In 2022, she was ranked among RealTrends and Tom Ferry America’s Best Real Estate Professionals as No. 400, closing $29.795 million in sales volume.
She has closed nearly $1 billion in sales across her 17-year career, including over 17 deals and over $75 million in transactions at 110 Central Park South.
In addition to closing deals in New York, the brokers have closed deals internationally, in luxury hotspots like France and Brazil. Sassoun said she hopes the team’s move to Sotheby’s will grow their business in other countries.

“As any broker who moves just like us, you expect to grow your business,” Sassoun said.
All three members of the team came from a financial background.
Before real estate, Mistovich worked in the international banking industry, with a focus on hedge funds and currencies. Eisenberg worked in banking prior to entering the real estate world in 2001. The three met at Corcoran before joining Douglas Elliman.
Sassoun said the team will not be expanding as it moves to Sotheby’s.

“We’d like it tight,” Sassoun said. “The client has to have interface with me or Mark or Daryl or one of us.”
The agents are jumping to a smaller firm in terms of headcount, but a well-established New York City footprint.
A ranking by The Real Deal of Manhattan’s top brokerages put Elliman second in the city with $6.02 billion in closed sales across 2,680 deals last year. The brokerage came in as the second largest in the borough, with 1,652 active salespeople.
Smaller-in-size Sotheby’s ranked 10th with 358 active salespeople in NYC, but ranked fifth for closed sales with $1.62 billion across 572 deals.
The city’s residential players were poised to welcome international buyers back when the United States lifted a slew of travel restrictions last fall, but a sales executive told TRD earlier this year their global clientele was a staple of the city’s business.

“The international buyer has been a fixture in New York,” said Marissa Ghesquiere, who leads Sotheby’s East Side brokerage.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices wants to be a New York contender
Steven James, Brad Loe chart headcount, office growth to crack NYC market

Steven James and Brad Loe are looking to make Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices a New York brokerage player.

James, president and CEO, and Loe, director of sales, were poached by HomeServices from top posts at Douglas Elliman in 2021 to grow the company’s brand in New York City, where it hasn’t cracked a place among the industry’s elite firms. The brokerage tied for 24th in The Real Deal’s brokerage rankings with $44 million across 30 deals last year.

After waiting out their year-long noncompetes, the executives are betting on a shoe leather recruitment approach to elevate the brokerage’s place in New York real estate.

Loe and James aim to have 150-200 brokers by the end of 2023 across four offices. In addition to the Midtown office at 590 Madison Avenue, expansions are slated to open next year on the Upper West Side and in Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Renovations are also underway to double the firm’s space at 590 Madison Avenue.

The brokerage says it recently came one step closer to its goal with the addition of Cynthia Jacinta Keskinkaya, a broker ranked in Douglas Elliman’s top 75 in Manhattan, with $50 million sales over the past 12 months and $250 million in lifetime volume, according to a recent Elliman bio page.

The brokerage pegged Keskinkaya, who peaked in Elliman’s internal rankings at No. 9 in 2015, as their most high-profile arrival, but she comes early in the brokerage’s projected expansion.

Ten Elliman brokers joined HomeServices after Loe and James were announced in their roles. Since their noncompetes expired, the pair have recruited an additional seven from their former firm. That’s roughly one-third as many as they need to make pace for their stated goal of 125 brokers by the end of the year.

Instead of emphasizing Berkshire Hathaway’s technology, the pair are stressing the individual attention brokers will receive upon joining the firm.

“We’re not looking for vast numbers for numbers’ sake, we want people of quality that want to grow their business and that want to be part of a culture,” James said. “We’re going back to the old method of really working closely with your agent staff and team.”

The pitch worked with Keskinkaya, who previously worked with James during his tenure at Corcoran and at Elliman.

“I can run my goals [by them] and discuss with them and I know they’re there to help see them through,” she said.

The approach sticks out among New York City’s top players like Serhant, which emphasizes brand creation, and Compass’ tech-centric pitch. The executive duo also didn’t link their arrival with a splashy get, like Side’s picking up of Elliman’s top-performing Team Alexander after its New York City debut. Loe and James have said recruiting is harder now that firms don’t always release their listings when a broker leaves.

They might get some help from the market as brokers are more likely to jump ship during a downturn, when signing bonuses become more appealing.

Although other firms are tightening their belts amid the slowing market — Compass and Redfin laid off hundreds of employees earlier this month while Elliman saw profits drop 50 percent in the first quarter — Loe said Berkshire Hathaway has the financial backing to weather the storm.

“The powers that be at HomeServices are invested in New York,” Loe said.

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Richard Jordan and Nicole Oge make it Official with Alexanders​

Jordan was key exec at Elliman’s new development arm​

Richard Jordan, a top new development marketing executive at Douglas Elliman, is joining top brokers Oren and Tal Alexander at their new firm, The Real Deal has learned.
Jordan is joining Official, the Side-backed brokerage the Alexanders launched in June. Also on board is Nicole Oge, a former top marketing executive at Elliman who later took a senior marketing role at WeWork.

Oge and Jordan are now both founding partners at Official, Oren Alexander confirmed. The hires give Official a platform to compete for new development business with the bigger and more established residential brokerages.
Oge was tapped last year to spearhead growth at residential brokerage Casa Blanca, a position that according to her LinkedIn and Instagram profiles she still holds. Oge is also listed as a “strategic adviser” at Side, which after a March 2021 venture capital round was valued at $2.5 billion. She was chief marketing officer at Elliman between 2014 and 2016, where she made a big push on branded content with two magazines, Elliman and Elevate. The former is still in publication. She joined WeWork at the peak of its venture-backed frenzy, at a time when it was known as the “We Company.”

Jordan left Elliman in recent months after nearly nine years with the brokerage, sources said. At Elliman, he was senior vice president and head of global markets for Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, and a key conduit for Elliman’s international referrals.

Oge and Jordan, who are a couple, did not respond to requests for comment. Elliman also did not immediately respond.
The Alexander brothers left Elliman in June to launch Official. They had been with the firm for a decade, and were the brokerage’s top large team. Last year, the team said it closed more than $1.8 billion in sales, which accounted for 3.5 percent of Elliman’s $51 billion book of business.

The Alexanders plan to expand Official to new markets, as well as take on sales of new projects. Over the last month, Official picked up about $120 million worth of new listings in Miami and $350 million in New York, Oren Alexander said.
Their team in Florida and New York includes Sara Goldfarb, Isaac Lustgarten, Andrew Krasnow, Leah Barney and Jared Schwadron, according to its website.

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Top BHS agent jumps back to Sotheby’s​

Chris Poore hit No. 7 in 2021 before concluding 2-year stint​

After two years at Brown Harris Stevens, Chris Poore is making his way back to Sotheby’s International Realty.
Prior to his stint at BHS, Poore spent six years at Sotheby’s, where he sold real estate to celebrities like designer Marc Jacobs and “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.

Poore has notched over $500 million in sales volume since 2014. He was ranked as BHS’ seventh top agent in New York City in 2021, the same year he closed more than $101 million in sales volume.
A Tennessee native, Poore has lived in New York City since 2000. The agent said he was “excited to be coming home,” citing the marketing resources and “global reach of the network” as a draw for his return to Sotheby’s.
Poore has sold extensively along the Fifth and Park Avenue corridors as well as the downtown market.

Poore moved to BHS two years ago, with a track record of celebrity trades.

In 2019, he was the listing broker for Jacobs, who put his West Village townhouse on the market for just under $16 million before it sold for $10.5 million nearly a year later. In 2017, Poore sold a $10 million penthouse at Stella Tower to 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.
Poore has sold units at Walker Tower, 520 Park Avenue and multiple off-market townhouses, including 36 West 11th Street in the West Village, which sold for $11 million.
The Real Deal’s ranking of Manhattan’s top brokerages shows Brown Harris Stevens outpaced Sotheby’s by nearly double its closed sales volume, hitting $3.4 billion across 1,993 deals. Poore’s former brokerage ranked fourth among New York City brokerages, while Smaller-in-size Sotheby’s ranked fifth for closed sales with $1.62 billion across 572 deals.

Despite being side-by-side in sales rankings, BHS came in fourth with 1,012 active salespeople in New York City, while Sotheby’s ranked 10th with 358 active salespeople.

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Top new dev team returns to Elliman from Compass​

Stanton Hoch Team left for Compass two years ago​

A top-performing team is heading back to Douglas Elliman, two years after defecting to Compass.
Joining Wesley Stanton and Jordan Hoch in their return to Elliman are team members Annie Osiecki, Catherine Slotnick and Alejandra Cata Posas. The Stanton Hoch Team grossed more than $100 million in sale side transactions last year and placed 40th in The Real Deal’s ranking of Manhattan’s top residential brokers.

Upon joining the brokerage, the team will focus on office to residential conversion projects.
“We’re working with [Elliman Executive Chairman Howard Lorber] on projects that we have in mind, as well as some projects he might have in mind,” Stanton said.
The idea of converting New York’s office space to residential units has been in vogue since work from home policies were established during the pandemic. While the residential market has hit new peaks since an exodus at the start of the pandemic, office buildings have struggled to find tenants.

The recovery of the city’s office market has been uneven across neighborhoods and property types, but largely driven by a flight to quality.

“There’s a housing shortage in Manhattan and over the next couple years that shortage isn’t necessarily going to be solved so quickly, and that’s where new development comes in,” Stanton said.
Chris Schlank, founder and managing partner of Savanna Fund, has said premium, Class A offices will continue to find tenants, but Class C and B spaces are up for grabs.

“The bottom 20 [percent of office space] is going to be ripe for alternative use,” Schlank said at The Real Deal’s NYC Real Estate Showcase and Forum in May. “It’s going to be the middle 60 that I think about and I worry about.”
But developers say the city will need to bring back a defunct tax abatement initiative, known as 421-g, if large scale conversions are to happen. The abatement was enacted after 9/11 to encourage office to residential conversions in lower Manhattan but ended in 2006.
Hoch pointed to Dumbo, once an industrial neighborhood lined with warehouses and freight rail tracks, as an example of the kind of transformation areas of Manhattan could see.
“There’s going to be some buildings that the footprint is too deep and you’re not going to be able to effectively convert it,” Hoch said. “We see how Dumbo has been completely changed in the last 20 years and I think there’s sections of Manhattan where you can see amazing growth.”

A Compass representative wished the team well, saying in a statement the brokerage is looking “forward to continuing to work with them through our Compass agents throughout the greater Tri-State area.”

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Louise Sunshine joins Shvo​

New development vet to oversee firm’s resi sales and marketing​

In trying to underline Louise Sunshine’s status as a luxury condo guru, The New York Observer once asked if she considered herself the intellectual godmother of Michael Shvo, at the time a hotshot broker who epitomized New York’s go-go market.
She waved off the designation, but conceded in that 2007 interview: “If he considers me his intellectual godmother, well, then, I’m flattered.”

Things have now come full circle, with Shvo tapping Sunshine to oversee all residential sales and marketing efforts at his eponymous development firm.
In an interview with The Real Deal Monday, Sunshine said her new post will be the first time she will be working under someone since she kicked off her career under Donald Trump.

“He is the most bespoke developer in the market today,” Sunshine said of Shvo. “I think his ideas and his executions are beyond description and I wanted to be a part of that.” Shvo’s residential projects include the Rosewood Hotel and Residences in Miami Beach at the site of the historic Raleigh Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Residences at 685 Fifth Avenue, and the Mandarin Oriental Residences in Beverly Hills.

Sunshine described her new post as a “last hurrah or swan song.”
“Louise is an institution unto herself,” Shvo wrote to his staff in an email announcing her arrival.

Sunshine started her real estate career working for The Trump Organization, where she helped lead branding and marketing for high-profile projects like Trump Tower. She then went on to launch her own firm, The Sunshine Group, in 1986.

The company represented major properties like Time Warner Center, One Beacon Court, Trump International Hotel and Tower NY, and 40 Bond. A merger with the Corcoran Group established the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.
More recently, she consulted for Fort Partners on the development and sales of projects such as the Surf Club Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences in Miami Beach, which hit over $1 billion in sales and set record per-square-foot prices.

In her new role, she will be based in Bal Harbour, where she lives, and plans to spend five days a month in New York and Los Angeles.

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Eklund-Gomes broker jumps to Corcoran​

Ryan Kaplan joining UWS office from Elliman after CEO Pam Liebman’s recruiting​

A top-performing agent from Douglas Elliman’s Eklund-Gomes Team has left the firm for Corcoran Group.
Ryan Kaplan had over $100 million in sales volume last year on the team. The broker said he was recruited directly by CEO Pam Liebman for his new role, where he’ll be working out of the firm’s Upper West Side office.

Before joining Elliman, Kaplan was a partner at Imperial Development Group, and before that he worked at Elad Properties and Naftali Group. In a statement on the move, Liebman cited Kaplan’s developer background as a foundation that helped him grow his brokerage business.

“The development market around 2019 started to cool and my old business partners decided to end the fund we had,” said Kaplan. “I had a very close friend of mine on the Eklund | Gomes Team and he had been imploring me for years to try the brokerage side of the business.”
Kaplan said he jumped to Corcoran to build his own team, focused on new developments and re-sales.

Kaplan attributed part of his success to StreetEasy Experts, a lead generation program that only charges brokers once they close a sale. The program is a departure from the platform’s model, which has drawn ire from brokers alongside other lead-generation services that charge upfront.

“Any time there’s innovation, you resent it,” he said. “Cab drivers resented Uber, horse-drawn carriages resented the car. I’m meeting people I never would have met through that program.”
The team run by Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes was ranked last year Douglas Elliman’s top residential brokerage team, totaling $492 million in sale-side volume in Manhattan, and over $4 billion nationally. The team recently expanded its presence in Manhattan by establishing a foothold in the West Village.

Corcoran claimed the top spot in The Real Deal’s ranking of Manhattan brokerages with $6.47 billion in closed sale volume across 2,680 deals. Elliman ranked second with $6.02 billion in closed sale volume across 2,680 deals.

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Nest Seekers’ Raquel Lomonico jumps to Compass’ top Brooklyn team​

Veteran outer-borough agent brings new development expertise​

Compass’ top-selling Brooklyn team is beefing up its new development chops, luring in a veteran broker from Nest Seekers.
Raquel Lomonico, whose Nest Seekers team was involved in $280 million worth of deals last year, according to Compass, is joining the brokerage’s Barak/Blackburn team, led by Lior Barak and Christine Blackburn.

Lomonico’s addition is part of the team’s strategy to cement itself in the new development and North Brooklyn markets at a time when demand is tilting toward larger, family-sized units, she said.
“There’s always been this natural progression that I saw in Williamsburg and Greenpoint where people have their first baby, they go to school here before first grade, then they’re out of here,” Lomonico said. “Now I’m seeing people stay.”

Lomonico, who began her career at Douglas Elliman more than a decade ago, also brings new listings, such as 217 Franklin Street in Greenpoint, at a time when premium inventory in the borough is difficult to come by, according to Blackburn. At Nest Seekers, she was part of the team managing sales at 510 Driggs Avenue, a 44-unit luxury new development in Williamsburg.

“I do a lot of these small buildings,” Lomonico said. “Those are my babies.”
Once seen as an affordable alternative to Manhattan, Brooklyn’s pricier enclaves have transformed into primary condo markets unto themselves in recent years. Compass alone closed nearly $2.8 billion in sell-side deals in the borough last year, more than any other brokerage, according to a TRD analysis. The townhouse market has also been hot, with Blackburn notching a nearly $8 million sale in Fort Greene last month — a price previously unheard of in the neighborhood.
Buyers are also venturing into newer frontiers, like East Williamsburg. Traditionally an industrial area, units in the neighborhood have also been breaking records as buyers are priced out of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront.

Like much of the city, the borough’s luxury market has slowed from its post-pandemic free-for-all: Signed contracts finally ticked upward again last week from a Labor Day slump, but homes sold at an average discount of 5 percent, the deepest recorded this year.

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Top retail broker Richard Hodos jumps from CBRE to JLL​

Veteran dealmaker joined by Michael Remer in move to rival firm​

A pair of notable New York City retail brokers are on the move.
Richard Hodos, who has spent the last 14 years at CBRE and became only the second retail broker to achieve the rank of vice chairman at the brokerage, is jumping to rival JLL, where he’ll retain a similar title in the firm’s Manhattan office.

Joining him in the move to JLL is Michael Remer, who has worked with Hodos at CBRE since 2017.
Hodos was CBRE’s top-ranked retail broker in the Americas in 2014 and 2015, and has twice earned REBNY’s “Most Ingenious Deal of the Year” award. His most recent win, in 2020, came when a team including him and Remer orchestrated the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s 11,000-square-foot lease in a former Restoration Hardware space at 935 Broadway in the Flatiron District.

Hodos’ representation of Ralph Lauren in its lease for 38,000 square feet at the Coca-Cola Building at 711 Fifth Avenue earned him the same award in 2014.
Prior to CBRE, Hodos co-founded the retail consulting firm Madison HGCD, where he represented brands including Coach, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Tiffany and Co.
In his five years at CBRE, Remer has worked with Hodos on high-profile deals including Versace’s lease at Wharton Properties’ 747 Madison Avenue in February. At JLL, he’ll serve as vice president of retail brokerage. Prior to CBRE, Remer was a commercial leasing agent at Corcoran Group.

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None of the rats mentioned anything about sinking ships.

High Profile Compass Brokers Are Leaving for Elliman​


For years, brokerages have been suing Compass for poaching agents, stealing them away with lavish incentives that other brokerages — those burdened with things like, say, turning a profit — couldn’t afford to match. But recently, as Compass has struggled to start making money before it burns through all of its investor cash, more than a few brokers have bailed, many of them returning to the firms where they worked before. Douglas Elliman, in particular, seems to be getting a slew of prodigal agents (and others) from the Compass exodus.

Recently, a number of super-successful agents, including husband-and-wife-led Assouline Team ($300 million in sales last year), new development team Stanton Hoch (40th in The Real Deal’s ranking of Manhattan’s top residential brokers), and Kirsten Jordan (who just took over Bloom, previously a Compass development) all trotted back to Douglas Elliman. Michelle Griffith ($143 million in sales in 2021) and McKenzie Ryan ($10.6 million in deals sourced from Instagram alone last year), who both worked at Corcoran before Compass, have since left the start-up for Elliman. (Elliman has been picking up agents from other firms too: Erin Boisson Aries, who left Christie’s after its New York City office got traded back to Brown Harris Stevens, and, nationally, teams in Miami Beach and a number of big Texas brokers.)

Several Douglas Elliman agents said they’ve noticed the influx. “Oh, that’s definitely happening,” said one, who speculated that it might have something to do with the fact that Compass, which just entered into a second round of layoffs expected to primarily hit tech staffers, might be cutting back on marketing budgets and support staff — essentials for top agents.
Douglas Elliman declined to comment or provide numbers on how many agents it has added from Compass or other firms. Compass, for its part, disputes that there’s been any kind of exodus and says that in, fact, they’ve added more agents from Elliman than vice versa, bringing on 242 principals and agents from Elliman totaling $1.7B in sales volume in 2021 and 2022. They also claimed that only the Compass agents mentioned in this article have left. “Compass has over 30K total agents and is in twice the markets Douglas Elliman is, yet there are only 5 Compass agents in this article that have left Compass,” a Compass spokesperson. wrote
There are reasons that agents may want to leave, however. Agents previously told Curbed that before the company went public, it had stopped covering the cost of even minor things such as DocuSign and Adobe. Others have said that the company grew so quickly that the support staff was always spread too thin, even in flusher times. Over the summer, Compass announced that it would no longer offer equity or cash incentives to new agents, a decision that will almost certainly impact brokers trying to expand their teams. And upcoming layoffs are expected to be significant — the company’s SEC filing noted that it expected to spend between $23 and $26 million on severance and other termination benefits.

CEO Robert Reffkin said previously that the company plans to continue adding agents even though geographical expansion is on hold. The question is whether it’ll be able to. The company is no longer throwing cash around as freely as it once did (or at all), and it plans to cut expenses by $320 million this year. Compass increasingly seems to be what critics always said it was: just another brokerage. One that hasn’t, however, managed to turn a profit.
Meanwhile, Douglas Elliman, which went public at the end of last year, is turning a modest profit: $10.2 million in the second quarter of this year, which was considered generally favorable in light of the cooling housing market. Going public allowed the company to offer employees stock-based compensation and to access capital markets to target acquisitions. As the move created pressure to grow and retain talent, it’s likely the company is using some of those perks to do just that. One real estate insider said the company wasn’t giving out anything approaching the old Compass offers — just higher splits on the first few deals and marketing budgets — but that, apparently, is enough.
After moving to Douglas Elliman, the Assoulines told The Real Deal they were on the hunt for “really good rock star agents” to expand their team. McKenzie Ryan, who left Compass for Douglas Elliman in February, said that since she joined, she has added several agents to her team and landed a TV show. “Plus our PR department is constantly working to get our listings to the forefront,” she says. “Just last night, I was looking at my webpage and realized I had press I didn’t even know about.” Another broker cited the company’s PR, marketing, and “robust” support staff.

Agents have been vague about their reasons for jumping to Douglas Elliman. The Assoulines said it provided “great opportunities” that fit into the team’s strategy. Per Kristen Jordan, “it just seemed like a perfect move.” Caldwell’s Julian Cohen felt it was “the right time to spread my wings.” All of which most likely translates to the reason agents usually switch brokerages: a better deal than they had before, which is something Douglas Elliman is able to offer right now.

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Anywhere Real Estate’s Tim Foley resigns​

Departure of executive follows layoffs at the brokerage​

Tim Foley is going, Anywhere.
The senior executive at Anywhere Real Estate emailed his colleagues Thursday informing them that today is his last day after just 16 months at the brokerage firm. He is responsible for its marketing, operations, and lead generation, and “implementing practices to leverage the company’s scale,” his bio says.
Anywhere employs nearly 200,000 independent agents in the U.S. and more than 130,000 abroad. It reported being involved in approximately 1.5 million transactions last year.
Like most big brokerages, Anywhere has been under pressure recently. In August it underwent a round of layoffs. Prior to the pandemic, the company was hit with a securities fraud suit as its stock price fell.
“We have accomplished many great things as a team, during some of the most volatile years the Real Estate industry has ever experienced,” Foley wrote in his farewell message, which was obtained by The Real Deal. “I am grateful to have been your teammate.”

Foley declined to comment for this story. A representative for Anywhere did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Foley was hired by Anywhere, which was then called Realogy, in April 2021, according to his Linkedin profile. The executive vice president had held the same post at Coldwell Banker and previously worked for J.P. Morgan.
Realogy announced its rebranding in May as part of a larger strategy to invest in advances for “consumers who are demanding a more seamless, integrated transaction.” At the time, Chief People Officer Tanya Reu-Narvaez said in a statement that the move “is not only a business and strategic transformation, but also a culture change.”


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Lendlease COO Denis Hickey to depart​

Head of Americas leaving Australian developer after a decade​

Lendlease chief operating officer Denis Hickey is leaving at the end of the month after 10 years with the Australian developer.
The company announced the departure of its COO and CEO of the Americas on Wednesday. Chief executive Tony Lombardo will assume some of Hickey’s global responsibilities, including creating uniform processes and simplifying operations.

Claire Johnston, managing director of Google Development Ventures, will ascend to the CEO of the Americas role in November. Johnston also ran the military housing portfolio on behalf of the US Department of Defense.

Lombardo credited Hickey with shaping the developer’s operations in the United States, increasing assets under management to $16 billion. Hickey also created a development pipeline greater than $28 billion, including the Google development partnership.
Hickey joined the company in 2012, becoming the leader of the development business in Australia. Two years later, he relocated to the United States and started spearheading operations in the country. He took on additional responsibility in 2021, when Lendlease named him global chief operating officer.

Sustainability was a major part of Hickey’s activity at the firm. In an interview with The Real Deal this year, Hickey said said his work included a net-zero initiative to have Lendlease at carbon neutrality by 2040.

“We now have a strong foundation in all parts of our business from which to move forward, and the timing is right to hand over the reins,” Hickey said in a statement.
As of February, Lendlease had more than $100 billion in development projects around the world, including a project at 1 Java Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The firm is also developing a $600 million office and residential property in Los Angeles and a 15,000-unit housing venture with Google in the Bay Area.

Lendlease still serves as a general contractor as well, building notable projects like 432 Park Avenue and One57.

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Compass nabs Hudson Valley team from Berkshire Hathaway​

The 11-person Home Team will set up shop in new Wappingers Falls office​

Compass is beefing up its presence in the Hudson Valley.
The firm has recruited the Fishkill-based Home Team from Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, an 11-person group led by Michael Kahns, which will be moving into a new office in Wappingers Falls and changing its name to Team Banx.
The team, whose current listings range from Newburgh and Beacon up to Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park, sold $62 million of real estate 185 transactions last year, good for 11th in the state among large teams when ranked by number of sales and 33rd by volume, according to RealTrends’ “America’s Best” list.
The team notched a record sale in East Fishkill, when they sold a 12-acre, 19th-century estate for $1.8 million.
Kahns cited Compass’ culture and technology as reasons for jumping over from Berkshire Hathaway. The Banx Team will be the only one based in Compass’ new Wappingers Falls office.

The expansion upstate comes as the brokerage world awaits Compass’ third quarter earnings report next month. Though it was the largest residential brokerage in the country by sales volume last year, Compass has yet to turn a quarterly profit. In August, it announced second-quarter losses of $101 million and a second round of layoffs — though it’s far from the only brokerage making cutbacks as the housing market slows.
Critics have questioned the company’s ability to right the ship in a down market, but Compass executives say they have a path forward now that they’ve built out their $900 million tech platform and plan to trim roughly $320 million in expenses by the end of next year.
Offices won’t be part of those cuts. Executives say the locations are necessary agent support and were inherited from acquisitions of profitable firms or teams, meaning closing them would be counterproductive.

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A Los Angeles superagent with a team of 160 that's sold $1.6 billion in real estate this year is leaving Compass: 'It's no secret that Compass is in a difficult situation'​

Aaron Kirman, a top Compass broker, is leaving the brokerage for a new partnership with Christie's. Courtesy of Aaron Kirman
  • Aaron Kirman, a top real-estate agent, has racked up more than $1.6 billion in sales in 2022.
  • The broker to Hollywood's elite is leaving the embattled brokerage Compass for Christie's.
  • He said he doesn't think Compass' tech is essential to his work and he wants international reach.
Aaron Kirman, the Los Angeles real-estate agent known for having star-studded clients like Rihanna and Orlando Bloom, said on Tuesday that he's leaving Compass for a new partnership with Christie's.

Kirman leads 160 agents in what RealTrends, a company that ranks real-estate brokers, has called a "mega team." RealTrends identified the Aaron Kirman Group as the top-grossing mega team from Compass last year, with an annual sales volume of $1.1 billion. Kirman said sales so far this year have exceeded 2021's sales despite the down market, totaling $1.6 billion.

Kirman is one of several high-profile brokers who've left Compass, which has had a tumultuous year.

It's common for real-estate brokerages to struggle during a cooling housing market, when fewer people are buying and selling homes. But the company posted a $494 million loss in 2021 during a historically hot real-estate market.

This year, Compass has laid off 1,000 people in two rounds as its stock price has fallen by 60%. The layoffs did not impact agents; in fact, the company said when reporting third-quarter earnings that the average number of agents increased 15% from this time last year. Compass reported a $154 million loss in the third quarter.

"It's no secret that Compass is in a difficult situation," Kirman said, though he added that he believes the company will eventually succeed again.

"We wish Aaron all the best in starting his own company and look forward to continuing to work with him," a Compass spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Insider.

Some of the cuts Compass made were to its much-touted proprietary technology that agents use to market properties and generate leads. Compass used that platform —along with incentives to agents like cash bonuses, equity in the company, and generous commission splits — to lure brokers from other established firms.

But Kirman said he felt Compass was always a traditional brokerage, not a tech giant.

"At the end of the day, it is a real-estate company," he told Insider. "They have many stores and many offices with a layer of technology."

Kirman said his team uses in-house technology that harnesses artificial intelligence to track housing-market moves. "We have the ability to see what's happening in any given city in real time to be able to predict future marketplaces," he said.

Kirman said he's partnering with Christie's International Real Estate which has offices in 48 countries, to expand the team's reach outside Southern California.

What we noticed is people who are buying luxury houses often buy many — from London to Hong Kong to Los Angeles to New York," he said.

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Coldwell Banker’s M. Ryan Gorman out as CEO

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M. Ryan Gorman, who for the last three years has served as the CEO of Coldwell Banker, is leaving his role at the company.

Gorman’s departure from the company, which is owned by parent Anywhere, was announced Tuesday afternoon. In a statement to Inman, Anywhere said Gorman will transition to the role of “strategic advisor,” while Sue Yannaccone will now oversee Coldwell Banker.

Yannaccone serves as president and CEO of Anywhere Brands, meaning she runs a variety of other titles the company owns including Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, Corcoran and others.

Wednesday’s statement from Anywhere frames the news as a kind of reorganization in which Coldwell Banker is being brought under the jurisdiction of Yannaccone’s Anywhere Brands, rather than as Yannaccone replacing Gorman.

Yannaccone first joined Anywhere in 2015. She became CEO of Anywhere Brands in 2020, when the enterprise was known as the Realogy Franchise Group.

Gorman first joined Anywhere — previously known as Realogy — in 2004. He held leadership roles in strategic development at the company and eventually worked his way up the ladder of the NRT brand. Gorman became chief strategy officer and chief operating officer at NRT in 2016, and president and CEO in 2018.

Gorman was named CEO of Coldwell Banker in 2019 when the brand was consolidated into a single entity. Charlie Young, who preceded Gorman as CEO of Coldwell Banker, stayed on with the company for several months in a senior advisory role, before eventually leaving altogether.

Gorman’s time leading Coldwell Banker was dominated by massive change and disruption. Among other events, he presided over a major rebranding effort that was meant to better position the company in a digital marketplace. He has also served as the public face of the brand, appearing frequently at industry gatherings and weighing in on issues such as the health of the market.

Additionally, Gorman oversaw Coldwell Banker’s acquisition of Warburg Realty.

Earlier this year, the Swanepoel Power 200 ranking listed Gorman as the 12th most powerful person in real estate.

Gorman’s tenure over Coldwell Banker also coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, which after a brief market dip in early 2020 saw record sales and price growth numbers in the housing market. More recently, however, rising interest rates have significantly cooled the sector.

Like most real estate companies, shares in Coldwell Banker parent Anywhere rose in 2021 thanks to the booming market. Somewhat uniquely, Anywhere shares stayed near their early 2021 high points into the fall of that year, even as other companies’ stock prices began a long downward trajectory.

However, Anywhere wasn’t immune to investors’ fears about real estate, and over the last year its share price has fallen more than 54 percent. Shares in Anywhere were going for $7.35 as of the end of trading Tuesday.

In general over the past year, Anywhere’s stock market performance has tended to be better than those of both younger real estate companies and tech-oriented companies. For example, shares in rival Compass have fallen more than 73 percent over the last year, and shares in eXp World Holdings are down more than 66 percent. Shares in Opendoor are down more than 90 percent.

In addition to shifting the roles of Gorman and Yannaccone, Tuesday’s announcement also revealed that Don Casey — president and CEO of Anywhere Integrated Services — will expand his role to oversee Anywhere’s Cartus relocation services business. Casey’s existing duties saw him manage title and settlement services, insurance, and mortgage and underwriter joint-ventures.

Both Casey and Yannaccone will report directly to Anywhere CEO Ryan Schneider, and will serve on the company’s executive committee, according to the statement.

Katrina Helmkamp, currently the president and CEO of Cartus, is retiring at the end of the year. Eric Barnes, Cartus’ chief financial officer and vice president, is stepping in as interim president and CEO of the brand.

In the statement, Schneider thanked both Helmkamp and Gorman for their work at the company, praising them for “driving growth of their respective businesses, simplifying operations, and innovating with new products, technology, and marketing to support affiliated agents, franchise owners, and mobility clients.”

Schneider also described Yannaccone and Casey as “exceptional leaders with deep expertise running multiple successful scaled businesses.”

“We believe having a singular leader for our core real estate brokerage business and likewise, for the real estate transaction services we provide,” Schneider added, “will help Anywhere move even faster, create more value for our customers, and ultimately, deliver a better experience for both affiliated agents and consumers.”

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It’s curtains for Corcoran’s largest franchise​

Brokerage terminates agreement with Corcoran Global Living's SoCal region​

The Corcoran Group has pulled the plug on its largest franchise, after a legal dispute and various allegations of fraud and unpaid commissions at the Southern California-based franchisee.
Corcoran, itself a subsidiary of Anywhere Real Estate, will end its relationship with Corcoran Global Living’s Southern California division by year-end, according to a memo sent by Corcoran Global Living CEO Michael Mahon to employees and agents that was obtained by Inman.

“I share this information with a heavy heart, as this is not the vision any of us had for our future as Corcoran Global Living,” Mahon said in the memo. “Our prayers and thoughts are with you for your continued success in the future.” Mahon confirmed that the Southern California affiliate would cease all operations and close all offices; at the start of the year, Corcoran Global Living said it had nearly 2,600 agents across 70 offices, and gross annual sales of $10 billion. At the moment, its website shows about half that number of agents and the Southern California offices are no longer listed.

Corcoran declined to comment to Inman, while the affiliate didn’t respond to its requests for comment. It’s unclear if Corcoran will take any action at Corcoran Global Living’s other regions of Northern California, Nevada and Ohio, though maintaining the status quo seems unlikely.
Corcoran Global Living was embroiled in controversy, and was facing lawsuits from a number of brokers alleging fraud, breach of contract and hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid commissions. The brokers claimed that Mahon had misstated the company’s financial situation, commingled funds for Southern and Northern California offices and diverted money to himself and his associates.


Corcoran Group CEO Pam Liebman and Anywhere CEO Ryan Schneider
Meanwhile, Mahon had sued Corcoran, alleging that it had provided faulty transaction reporting technology that cost the affiliate hundreds of thousands of dollars. Corcoran countersued, dismissing Mahon’s suit as a “smokescreen” to distract from Mahon’s multiple legal troubles.
In the memo, Mahon said that agents could transfer any in-contract listings to their new brokerage, “provided a written referral agreement is fully executed requiring a referral fee equal to the broker company dollar (company’s portion of commission due) within 48 hours of the licensee transfer.”

The Real Deal reported in November that Corcoran was searching for a new owner for Corcoran Global Living, which was founded in early 2020, and would consider a direct deal if an outside buyer could not be found.
Anywhere sees franchising as a key long-term profit driver, given its higher margins. In 2018, it decided to franchise the Corcoran brand. At the time, TRD reported that Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman would oversee the franchises.
“I will be very selective about who we bring in,” Liebman said at the time.
Anywhere’s stock is down about 56 percent this year, as it and other brokerages grapple with a slowing housing market and high interest rates after a record 2021. Last week, TRD reported that Ryan Gorman, the CEO of Anywhere subsidiary Coldwell Banker, was leaving the company.

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Serhant nabs longtime Hamptons broker​

The brokerage has been beefing up its presence out East.​

Kieran M. Brew, formerly of Saunders & Associates, has joined Serhant’s Hamptons division.
Brew has reeled in over $60 million in sales and rentals in each of the past several years, according to a release.

“It’s a natural fit for me and I expect it’s going to be a lot of fun to help develop this innovative luxury brand even more in the Hamptons,” Brew said in a statement.
Serhant expanded its presence in the Hamptons this summer by opening an office in Water Mill. The brokerage specializes in properties priced over $10 million.
The market out East has long been constrained by a lack of supply, according to analyst Jonathan Miller, as well as rising mortgage rates. Because they tend to have more cash to spend, luxury buyers are to an extent insulated from mortgage rates, but they take their cues from the market just like everyone else. However, Miller also said the annual decline in contracts can be overstated because last year’s market was historically hot.

New signed contracts in November in the Hamptons fell 53 percent year-over-year, to 63 from 134, according to a monthly report Miller’s firm Samuel Miller authors for Douglas Elliman. Contracts fell across all price tranches except for homes asking less than $500,000, which are rare on the South Fork, and those asking between $10 million and $20 million, which held even.
When Brew, who grew up on Long Island, isn’t working, he’s serving as a volunteer firefighter, Little League coach or recording new episodes of his podcast, Brew’s Cafe, in which he interviews members of the Hamptons community. He tries to foster that same connection with his clients.

“Homeowners bring us into their lives in ways that few other professionals get to appreciate,” Brew said. “It’s important that we don’t take that for granted and maintaining these relationships after the sale has closed is an advantage that cannot be overstated.”

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Superstar agents, brands and sacrificial lambs: Resi brokerage year in review​

How dealmakers and firms scrambled to survive a calamitous year​

There’s a chilling scene in “Margin Call,” the tour de force about the financial crisis, where Jeremy Irons’ character, the head of a major Wall Street investment bank, approaches a key deputy, played by Demi Moore.
“Sarah, I need a head to feed to the traders on the floor,” he says. He means a sacrificial lamb, someone he can blame for the gargantuan mess the bank is in. “You’re going to be well taken care of,” he adds.

Public residential brokerages found themselves in a similar situation this year. After a giddy, record-breaking 2021 where everyone (well, almost everyone) made fat profits and executives talked up growth and diversification plans, 2022 was sobering.

Surging interest rates hobbled the housing market, and public brokerages’ tanking stocks forced their leaders to forget about growth and get expenses under control. For many, this meant taking a hard look at C-suite compensation. Formerly essential executives were now on the chopping block.

Ryan Gorman
Consider Ryan Gorman, who was pushed out this month as CEO of Coldwell Banker, a subsidiary of Anywhere Real Estate. Anywhere’s stock has fallen nearly 60 percent this year, and though it turned a sizable profit of $55 million in the third quarter, that was still half of the year-ago figure.

Gorman, a widely respected industry leader whose affiliation with Anywhere goes back nearly two decades, had made a hefty $3.5 million last year. Notably, Anywhere is not replacing him. Instead, the company is divvying up his role among other execs, saving itself a chunk of change.
Anywhere, which also owns Corcoran Group and Sotheby’s International Realty, isn’t alone in casting a gimlet eye on its C-Suite. Declaring “mission accomplished” on its tech platform, Compass let go of its chief technology officer, Joseph Sirosh, this summer, and parceled out his responsibilities to his deputies. Last month it also bid farewell to its top HR executive, Priyanka Singh, and isn’t replacing her either.

The moves come as part of wider layoffs at Compass, which hopes to cut costs by more than $300 million in 2022 as it stares down a harsh reality that no paeans to technology or to empowering agents can mask: It has lost nearly $1 billion since the beginning of 2021, and investors are losing patience.

Whose brand is it anyway?​

I’m not sure if Ryan Serhant is a Bible man, but his approach to building out his eponymous firm has shades of Genesis 1:26: “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

Ryan Serhant

Ryan Serhant
The firm is what you get when you build a brokerage in its central protagonist’s image: The company, now just over two years old, drops a lot of the stuffy conventions of what a firm should be and instead presents itself as a hyperkinetic hybrid: content studio, digital ad agency and new development marketer.

When you open its website, there’s Serhant in all his Ken Doll glory, both the firm’s brand ambassador and its biggest rainmaker (he placed fourth in The Real Deal’s ranking of top New York agents last year).
The approach seems to be working: Serhant has closed some of the biggest deals in the country this year and is hawking some of the market’s most coveted listings, including the penthouse at Gary Barnett’s Central Park Tower, asking $250 million.

“I’m not sure if Ryan Serhant is a Bible man, but his approach to building out his eponymous firm has shades of Genesis 1:26:”
He’s using his social reach and star power to strike far outside his New York base, a bet that when it comes to selling the priciest real estate, name recognition and media savvy trump years of boots on the ground.

The Alexander brothers, too, decided to venture out, departing Douglas Elliman in June to launch Official. They opted for the white-label approach, partnering with Guy Gal’s Side, a venture-backed startup positioning itself as a “you sell, we do everything else” service for top agents.

Tal and Oren Alexander
It was a big blow for Elliman — the brothers claim they accounted for 3.5 percent of Elliman’s business in 2021 — and a move that I predicted would push other top agents to ask themselves whether in the social media age they still needed the umbrella of a large firm.

Gal enjoys being a provocateur. He told me in June that he simply couldn’t understand why top agents were OK with standard commission rates. Side takes 10 percent of agent commissions, considerably lower than the 25 to 40 percent common at top New York firms.
“How are agents supposed to invest in their growth and service when they carry all the cost and risk, do all the work, and still give a quarter of their income to a company in exchange for a logo?” he said. “Wild.”

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Aaron Kirman, who ran a megateam at Compass that was the city’s top team by on-market deals last year, also left to do his own thing. Kirman, though, isn’t just betting on himself, but partnering with Christie’s International Real Estate, which Chicago-based @properties bought last year in a bid to leverage the venerated but dusty brand, tying up with prominent agents across markets.

“If you don’t have a brand that’s associated immediately with luxury, it makes it really difficult” to expand nationally, Thad Wong, co-founder of @properties, told me. “Because in real estate, you’d rather trickle down than trickle up.”
Not all name-brand agents, though, decided to leave the nest. Some expanded their kingdoms without giving up the big-firm infrastructure. Fredrik Eklund, for now, seems content in his Elliman cocoon, and continues to build out a mega-team across the country while peddling sex drinks on the side.

Innovation doesn’t pay the bills​

This year also saw the capitulation, for the most part, of iBuyers, who thought algorithmically driven instant homebuying would revolutionize the process. The pitch was: Want to sell your home? We’ll use machine learning to make a fair, instant offer and guarantee a quick closing, in exchange for fees of between 6 and 10 percent.

The prospect was mouth-watering to venture capitalists. U.S. residential real estate “is the largest peer-to-peer market on earth,” Brendan Wallace of Fifth Wall, an early investor in iBuying pioneer Opendoor, told me in 2020. “It’s a gigantic eBay for homes.”
Zillow CEO Rich Barton

Zillow CEO Rich Barton
Zillow and Redfin also got in on the act, with Zillow CEO Rich Barton going as far as to call iBuying an “existential threat” to his business and saying that Zillow risked becoming obsolete if didn’t get with the program.

Then, reality hit: Zillow lost $900 million on iBuying and quit the game late last year as its stock took a beating. Last month, Redfin followed suit. Opendoor and Offerpad are still standing, but look out on their feet.

Offerpad was threatened with delisting by the NYSE in November, and its market cap is down to $129 million from $2.7 billion when it went public in September 2021. Opendoor’s market cap has fallen below $1 billion from a high of $18 billion. Its stock has plummeted 90 percent this year. Co-founder Eric Wu is out as CEO, and bean counter Carrie Wheeler has taken over.

“The path to profitability was supposed to be going to scale, adjacent services, improving unit economics,” residential tech analyst Mike DelPrete told me. “I think it’s fair to say those really haven’t panned out yet.”

Agents, as you can imagine, are pretty happy with how things have turned out. iBuying, after all, was supposed to replace them.

Lead-gen firms fizzle​

Lead-generation firms promised to be a wake-up call for traditional brokerages. Instead, they became dinner.
Rather than shell out generous commission splits and signing bonuses to recruit big agents, companies such as LG Fairmont, TripleMint and Elegran Real Estate sought to build agents from the ground up, buying leads all over the internet and using technology to organize and deploy them.

Aaron Graf
“When we get to scale, we should be more profitable than a traditional firm,” LG Fairmont co-founder Aaron Graf told TRD in 2017.

But this year’s market proved too much. In July, LG Fairmont was absorbed — not purchased, mind you — by Compass, with its 60 agents moving over to the larger brokerage. Compass and LG Fairmont described the deal as a merger, but sources told me it was more a way for LG Fairmont to save face while keeping the lights on.
Triplemint met a similar fate. In 2021, a roaring year for the luxury market, the firm closed just $189 million in sell-side deals in Manhattan’s, according to TRD’s ranking. This May it was acquired by The Agency for an undisclosed price, and its brand was folded into the Beverly Hills-based firm. Triplemint had raised $20 million in venture funding, according to PitchBook. It’s unclear how its early investors made out.

“Lead-generation firms promised to be a wake-up call for traditional brokerages. Instead, they became dinner.”
Meanwhile, Elegran, which TRD found in 2019 to be at the center of a bizarre fake-website scheme, is still around. In September, it struck a deal to have exclusive New York representation for Forbes Global Properties, a joint venture between Hilton & Hyland founder Jeff Hyland and former Christie’s real estate CEO Bonnie Stone Sellers.
(Hilton & Hyland went through its own major changes after Hyland died earlier this year; his widow, Lori Hyland, bought out co-founder Rick Hilton’s stake to take full control, and Rick is forming a new firm with his son. The name, of course, is Hilton & Hilton.)

Cryptocracy crumbles​

It was the best of times, it was the shortest of times. The rise of crypto led to the emergence of a buyer pool that made so much money so quickly that it became a boon for developers, particularly in crypto hubs Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
Then came the November collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange. Its rapid and spectacular demise rocked the industry and is being called “crypto’s Lehman moment.” It remains unclear how developers will untangle any in-process crypto deals being processed through FTX. And cryptonaires who held much of their net worth in digital currencies may find they no longer have the budget for real-world real estate; Kirman, the L.A. agent, told me he had received calls from owners of trophy homes who were “in a jam” thanks to the crypto meltdown.

Metaverse turns to dust​

When Tokens.com paid a record $2.5 million for property in virtual world Decentraland in November 2021, the CEO of Tokens.com, Andrew Kiguel, likened it to “buying land in Manhattan 250 years ago.”
Turns out, it was more like buying tulip bulbs in 1636. After a burst of activity in metaverse real estate late last year, triggered in part by Facebook’s rebrand as Meta and its giant bet on the metaverse, everything stopped. The Information, citing data from analytics firm WeMeta, reported that as of June, trading volume for land on six platforms, including The Sandbox, Decentraland and SuperWorld, had dropped 97 percent to just $8 million from a peak of $229 million in November. The number of sales fell to 2,000 from 16,000.
“The metaverse had so much hype at the beginning of the year and we’ve kind of lost it,” Eric Klein, founder of MetaSpace REIT, told the outlet. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban was slightly less charitable. This summer, in a rant against the sector, he called it the “dumbest shit ever.”

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These were the top residential brokerage stories of 2022​

C-suite shakeups, brokerages joining forces swept industry as market came back to Earth​

Residential brokerages fall back to Earth in 2022, and made some momentous moves along the way.
After a decade of ruthless expansion that saw it become the largest brokerage by volume, Compass shifted its focus to profitability, as questions swirled about its financial health.
There were several high-level shakeups across the industry, as brokerages said goodbye to C-Suite executives in an effort to streamline their operations. None were as big as Coldwell Banker CEO Ryan Gorman’s departure from the Anywhere subsidiary, a move that brought Anywhere’s leased and owned brokerages under the supervision of a single executive.
Several brokerages joined forces in an attempt to keep up with the big fish, including Level Group joining Oxford Group, and The Agency acquiring Triplemint.

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, a major player nationally but a small fish locally, started its play to rise through New York City’s residential brokerage ranks by reintroducing longtime Douglas Elliman executives Steven James and Brad Loe, which Berkhsire poached last year.
Here are the biggest residential brokerage stories of 2022:

The Agency acquires Triplemint for NYC debut

The Agency and Triplemint joined forces in May, after months of speculation that a deal was imminent.
The deal gave The Agency, a Los Angeles based firm, a foothold in New York City, and saw Triplemint founders David Walker and Philip Lang stay on as chief strategic officer and chief business officer at The Agency. The financials of the deal were not disclosed.

Triplemint’s staff of over 75 software engineers, data scientists, marketers and strategists, as well as their 250 agents, joined The Agency’s in-house teams and agent roster of over 1,000.
Triplemint, home to “Million Dollar Listing New York” star Tyler Whitman, had been on a growth spurt in recent years, opening three new offices in the tri-state area last year on the heels of expansions to New Jersey, Westchester County and the Hamptons.

Oxford Property Group and Level Group joining forces

Less than two months after The Agency took over Triplemint, Oxford Property Group and Level Group, two of the largest 100-percent-commission firms in New York City, announced a merger of their own.

The merger, which created Oxford-Spire-Level, brought the number of brokers working under the Oxford umbrella to nearly 1,000, with the vast majority of them operating in the New York City area. Last year, Level Group ranked as The Real Deal’s 22nd largest NYC brokerage by sales volume, and Oxford ranked tied for 24th.
The merger made Oxford-Spire-Level the sixth largest New York firm by headcount, with 814 brokers, according to data collected by The Real Deal.
“We’re actively on the hunt for other companies,” said Larry Link, Level Group co-founder and president.
Link stayed on as president of Oxford-Level-Spire. Link said the merger was first discussed in 2016 but set aside while he and Level Group co-founder Michael Greenberg grew the development side of the company. Greenberg’s death in 2021 was one of several factors that led to the merger happening this year. Another was the calculation that greater scale would equate to greater agent support.

The 100-percent-commission model allows brokers to pay a $495 monthly fee and in exchange keep all of their commissions, or pay $99 per month and pay a 10 percent split with the brokerage.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices wants to be a New York contender

The past year saw the return of two big-name Douglas Elliman executives to the New York City market — but this time with Berkshire Hathaway.

Steven James and Brad Loe jumped to Berkshire in 2021 but had to wait out the year-long non-compete in their Elliman contracts. With that out of the way, Loe and James took the reins of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties with the aim of beefing up the firm’s headcount and sales volume.
By July, the pair had recruited 17 brokers from Elliman, including Cynthia Jacinta Keskinkaya, a broker ranked in Elliman’s top 75 in Manhattan. They weren’t on pace to make their stated recruitment goal of 125 by the end of the year, but aim to have 150-200 brokers by the end of 2023 spread across four offices.
James and Loe said they’re betting that an old-fashioned, shoe-leather approach to recruitment will top a glitzy pitch about technology.

“We’re not looking for vast numbers for numbers’ sake, we want people of quality that want to grow their business and that want to be part of a culture,” James said. “We’re going back to the old method of really working closely with your agent staff and team.”

Compass loses $101M; will no longer offer equity to new agents

The steep losses revealed in Compass’ second quarter earnings were down from the first quarter, but marked big news as the brokerage announced the end of its agent equity program and a cost reduction program.
The call represented a watershed moment for Compass, as it abandoned its aggressive growth strategy and for the first time aimed for profitability as a result of its biggest backer, Softbank, experiencing financial troubles due in-part to WeWork’s collapse.

Compass announced a $320 million cost reduction program during the call and initiated two rounds of layoffs shortly after in which it laid off 800 tech employees, including its chief technology officer. The company said the jobs were no longer needed as a result of Compass completing its $900 million tech platform.
All of this transpired without a CFO, as roughly three months — an unusually long time for a publicly traded firm — passed before Compass announced Kalani Reelitz would take over for Kristen Ankerbrandt, who left in September.
But there are reasons for optimism: Compass’ stock rallied after its third quarter earnings call, during which it revealed more losses but growing market share. And if it can maintain its current revenue while executing the rest of its cost reduction strategy, it’ll hit the black.

Ryan Gorman out as Coldwell Banker CEO

Anywhere earlier this month announced Ryan Gorman’s 18-year tenure with the firm will end after the first quarter of 2023. Anywhere said the decision was made to streamline operations: Gorman oversaw Coldwell Banker, the real estate conglomerate’s owned franchise, while Sue Yannaccone oversaw the firm’s franchised brands. Now, Yannaccone will oversee both, eliminating Gorman’s $3.5 million compensation package.
The circumstances around Gorman’s departure remain unclear, as the executive has been active on the media circuit and is slated to speak at an Inman event in January.
Gorman, who was tapped to head Coldwell Banker in 2020, oversaw 100,000 agents across nearly 3,000 offices worldwide. He also oversaw the acquisition of Frederick Peters’ Warburg Realty, one of the last independent brokerages in the city.

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I still think we are going to see commission split cuts.

How CRE brokerages are responding to i-sales slowdown​

Firms are exploring cost-cutting measures like layoffs to stay afloat​

Budget managers at big commercial brokerages have traded in their kitchen scissors for industrial chainsaws.
What was a delicate approach to cutting costs in the first half of the year became much more aggressive this fall as surging interest rates curbed property sales, slicing into brokerages’ revenues and throwing off their expectations for end-of-year marks.
Nationwide commercial real estate investment plummeted 24 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, according to data from CBRE. No asset class was spared from the slowdown. Office investment volume fell 35 percent. Multifamily sales fell 19 percent. Industrial real estate — the darling of the investment world for much of the pandemic — saw sales volume decline 24 percent.

Each of the major publicly traded commercial real estate brokerages, including CBRE, JLL, Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers and Newmark, have seen their stock prices plummet significantly since the start of the year. As of Nov. 23, the declines ranged from as little as 30 percent for CBRE to 55 percent for Newmark. JLL’s stock was trading the highest at around $162 per share, down 40 percent on the year, while Newmark stood at just $8 per share.
As the broader economy grapples with inflation and fears of an approaching recession, commercial brokerages have been forced to act to maintain their margins. Much of the extra weight, it seems, will be trimmed from payrolls.

So far, CBRE has been the most forthcoming about its planned cuts, outlining $400 million in cost reductions and indicating that much of that will be achieved through layoffs. JLL was next, announcing last month that it would reduce its workforce by an unspecified number of roles.
Although the other publicly traded brokerages such as Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers and Newmark had not yet — as of this writing — informed investors of staff reductions, there’s little doubt among Wall Street analysts that such measures will be taken across the industry.
“We think these companies will all take a similar tact to protecting margins, even if fewer details were provided at this point,” JPMorgan Chase’s Anthony Paolone said. “The bulk of cost cutting is likely to be on the people side, though we expect to see tighter controls on travel and entertainment.”

“[The firms] are all probably looking at staffing reductions,” added KBW’s Jade Rahmani. “I think that some are temporary and some are permanent. But I think they’re all following the same course of action. They’re going to be reducing staff.”

Hunkering down​

When CBRE reported its third-quarter earnings in late October, it said its capital markets business was “getting hit harder and faster” than expected by higher interest rates.
In response to a 43 percent year-over-year freefall in capital markets revenue, the Dallas-based firm said it would implement a $400 million cost-cutting strategy over the next six months. About $300 million would represent permanent cuts, and roughly $175 million in reductions are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“That’s the number we believe we can cut without impacting our ability to grow the business and serve our clients in the future,” CEO Robert Sulentic said on the call.
The majority of those cuts are expected to be made through layoffs, as well as by scaling down discretionary bonuses, incentive compensation, profit sharing and commissions.
Roughly two weeks after JLL indicated on its third-quarter earnings call that cost-cutting measures were on the table, the firm instituted an unspecified round of layoffs in New York and Chicago, Bisnow reported.
JLL did not disclose how many employees were let go or what other actions were being considered, but it referred to “measures which were already underway” to “reinforce our focus on managing costs” in a statement.

“These actions may include the difficult but necessary decision to make specific roles within our operation redundant,” the statement continued.
The predicament facing CBRE and JLL is one being felt across the industry. Several brokerages outlined a pessimistic short-term view of the impact of higher interest rates on their revenues.
“We’re expecting the recession to impact our business for longer than we did 90 days ago,” CFO Emma Giamartino said on CBRE’s third-quarter earnings call. “We do expect the capital markets to come back, likely in the second half of [next] year. But that return is going to be more muted than what we initially expected.”

JLL said it expects capital markets revenue and transaction volume to continue declining and disclosed that it spent $9.3 million in severance costs in the third quarter, eight times more than in the same period last year.
“The overall outlook for the global economy in the coming quarters is not favorable,” CEO Christian Ulbrich said on JLL’s third-quarter earnings call.
Cushman & Wakefield expects its capital markets revenue to decline in the fourth quarter and fall short of last year’s total “as a result of the slowdown in transactional activity due to economic uncertainty.”
“We’re already taking action to strip out costs in line with the volume changes that we’re seeing in our transactional business,” Cushman & Wakefield CEO John Forrester said on the firm’s third-quarter call. “It is reasonable to assume that recessionary conditions will continue to permeate the real estate sector, particularly in transactional businesses.”

“Like a bat out of hell”​

Rahmani said that KBW, which tracks CBRE and JLL, estimates that both firms will see investment sales plunge by 45 percent in the fourth quarter. But while acknowledging the short-term pain, brokerage executives have expressed long-term optimism for their ability to bounce back.
“We came out of the pandemic like a bat out of hell. We’re going to come out of this like a bat out of the hell the same way we did in the pandemic,” Newmark CEO Barry Gosin said. “Because we’ve attracted talent, our people are creative.”
Executives at CBRE and JLL said they expect deal volume to ramp back up by the end of next year. Cushman & Wakefield, meanwhile, said its $1.5 billion in liquidity will allow it to withstand the slowdown.

“We remain well-positioned to navigate through this,” Forrester said.
As investment sales falter, further diversification may be vital. CBRE, JLL and Cushman & Wakefield all pointed to increases in leasing revenue in the third quarter in their respective earnings reports as well as growth in their property management arms.
CBRE’s global leasing revenue rose 14 percent year-over-year in the third quarter from the same period last year, which the brokerage said was consistent across all property types, including offices. Cushman & Wakefield said its global leasing revenue was up 27 percent through the first nine months of 2022, citing an improvement in the office sector. JLL’s was up roughly 20 percent through the first three quarters, the brokerage said.

While it is natural for executives to take a rose-colored view of their own businesses, some market analysts agree with the positive long-term sentiment.
“I think the story here really is kind of a near-term uncertainty,” said William Blair’s Stephen Sheldon. “The pipelines are so big and there’s so much institutional cash on the sidelines… I think there’s a lot of favorable tailwinds when you look at the layers in the space.”