Century 21 NY Metro has founded a new commercial real estate division, hiring six agents away from competitor Manhattan Commercial Realty in the process.
The new six-person division, known as Century 21 NY Metro Commercial, will focus on office and retail leasing under the leadership of Chris Salizzoni, a five-year veteran of Manhattan Commercial.
Salizzoni is the brother of Century 21 NY Metro Managing Director Denise Salizzoni, who joined the firm recently after resigning as luxury rentals manager at Manhattan Apartments.
Chris Salizzoni brought with him five agents from Manhattan Commercial and said he expects to grow the new division to 15 agents by the end of the year. The new agents are based at the company’s Midtown location at 575 Madison Avenue.
Manhattan Commercial, which has shrunk recently amid the difficult economic environment, now has roughly seven agents remaining, down from around 35 agents, Salizzoni said.
Officials from Manhattan Commercial were not immediately available for comment.
Century 21 NY Metro President Marc Lewis said he’s been looking for several years to add a commercial division to his company, which up until now has specialized in residential sales and rentals.
“You really have to do more than one thing in real estate because times change,” Lewis said. “One of the big areas that [is] doing well now is sublets of commercial spaces and store leases. I’m looking to get a piece of that [market.]”
But he said he was looking for experienced agents who could do deals right away, not rookies.
In today’s difficult economy, “you can’t bring in some guys who are new to the business,” he said. “You need proven people.”
Thanks to Salizzoni’s preexisting connections, Lewis said, the commercial division has already done about five transactions in a little over a month of existence.
Salizzoni said he’s hoping to utilize existing relationships between Century 21 NY Metro and residential landlords who also own retail or office space.
“They have relationships with a number of owners of residential buildings, and the majority has retail space on the ground floor,” he said. In the past, the firm would refer those landlords to commercial agencies, but can now handle those leases in house.
“It’s a good way to capitalize on business [Century 21] was passing on,” he said.
Century 21 NY Metro isn’t the first residential company to diversify into the commercial real estate arena since the economic downturn this fall. Residential firms Bond NY and Mark David Real Estate this spring announced new commercial divisions.