The Real Deal New York

Brown Harris acquires Miami-based Zilbert International Realty

Boutique firm handles $450M in sales annually

June 26, 2015 10:00AM
By E.B. Solomont


From left: Mark Zilbert, William Lie Zeckendorf and Arthur Zeckendorf

In its bid to tap the Miami market, Brown Harris Stevens is acquiring boutique firm Zilbert International Realty, The Real Deal has learned.

Brown Harris Stevens | Zilbert, as the brokerage’s Miami office is dubbed, will be led by president Mark Zilbert, who founded his eponymous brokerage in 2003. Zilbert currently has 30 agents and handles $450 million worth of real estate sales a year, the firms said.

“We’ve had a successful business operation in Palm Beach [since 1999.] Miami seemed to be the next market to move to in the Florida market,” said William Lie Zeckendorf, co-chairman of Brown Harris. “Miami is one of the fastest-growing cities in America. It’s a natural referral market to New York City. Like Palm Beach, it’s where New Yorkers go.”

Zilbert, which currently has one office, will move quickly to open a second location, the firms said. The boutique firm currently holds the record for selling some of Miami’s priciest pads, including a $60 million penthouse at the Faena House that hasn’t closed, and a $27 million penthouse at the Setai that holds the record as the priciest condo sale in Miami.

Beyond Miami, Brown Harris is evaluating other markets where its New York customers have ties. “We’d like to grow intelligently,” Zeckendorf said.

Brown Harris, established in 1873, is best known for representing high-end properties in New York City, the brokerage is a subsidiary of Terra Holdings LLC, which owns nine real estate companies in New York and Florida, including Halstead Property. Terra’s principals are William Lie Zeckendorf, Arthur Zeckendorf, David Burris and Kent Swig.

In New York, Brown Harris is among the top residential brokerages with nearly 500 agents and some $2.3 billion worth of listings as of March 29, according to TRD’s annual ranking of residential firms. The median price of its listings was $2.6 million, according to TRD’s analysis. Twenty-five of its agents had listings $10 million or higher, TRD found.

Other firms here have made recent forays down south.

The city’s largest firm, Douglas Elliman, says its Miami office sold $1.21 billion worth of real estate last year. The Corcoran Group has a South Florida office, as well, and earlier this year, Town Residential announced an alliance with Miami-based Fortune International Group, a brokerage and development firm that says it sold $4 billion worth of real estate last year.

Even startup brokerage Compass has its eye on Miami. Earlier this year, it hired Gene Martinez, the Corcoran Group’s former Soho manager, to head its expansion to Miami.