The Real Deal New York

Keller Williams fails to attract top agents, listings

May 14, 2012 10:00AM

From left: Keller Williams NYC Chairman Ilan Bracha and CEO Eric Barron

Keller Williams NYC is struggling to carve its place in the city’s residential brokerage marketplace, according to Crain’s, though the firm’s executives deny this to be the case. With the exception of Ilan Bracha — a former top producer at Prudential Douglas Elliman who jumped ship to establish the national brokerage’s local arm — none of the industry’s top players have joined the firm more than a year into its existence. Further, Keller Williams hasn’t landed many exclusive listings, and seldom gets its hands on high-profile ones.

Detractors say Keller Williams won’t ever find its place in New York. The city is dominated by two giants, Elliman and the Corcoran Group, and has a bevy of established firms which specialize in niches. Keller’s lack of local brand recognition combined with wealthy sellers’ familiarity with the existing players render it unlikely to ever catch up. Even its innovative compensation model won’t help Keller Williams poach top producers because other firms tend to pamper to the wishes of its best performers.

But CEO Eric Barron countered that with 174 agents in tow Keller Williams has already exceeded its expectations and is well on its way to 700 agents by 2017. Barron also said there was more than enough business for the firm, which gets in on co-brokered deals, co-exclusive deals and has $285 million in exclusive listings. [Crain's]

  • 3CPO

    I don’t think anyone is surprised by this news

  • Scrooged

    Well, I am sure the folks at Keller Williams are somewhat surprised. New York loves international brands, but it hates American brands. You’ll notice that Century 21, Weichert, ERA, Coldwell Banker and ReMax just have no footing in Manhattan. They have a horrible time getting traction and almost all of them have shut down.

  • Amy1

    I totally agree with you scrooged NY hates American brands. I understand of the dynamics of the business. What KW doesn’t get, the real estate business is changing and using a business model like Citi Habs, Bond etc is a fools game. 10% of agents succeed and 90% are clueless agents who feed the 10% and don’t realize they are in a revolving door system. KW is late to the party.
    Today you ether work for yourself (if you have a broker license), a 100 commission firm (they need to have listings ) or elliman, corcoran or halstead.or even town. I don’t see KW last more than two years.

  • Get Real

    Shocker! Another national brand rides into town, overpays to hire local talent/management, opens a snazzy office and expects everyone to come running. What kind of top producing broker jumps ship for that? Maybe it they’re real lucky, they might even last longer than Foxtons did.

  • Raging Realtor

    They would succeed if they get rid of REBNY and their insane rules.

  • glengarry

    Eric Barron, a former mortgage broker, obviously thinks the more agents you have, the more business you do. Aside from Ilan, they have no big hitters. They already gave up the fancy office at Trump Tower and now all the agents work in the same cave on Park Ave. Keller Williams is great company, just look at their success in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s the people or are running it?

  • EPM

    The worst thing is Bracha is probably the only one funding this business as he mentioned in Nytimes. Over 20,000 sf on Park Avenue, this is not a game

  • linlyon

    Corcoran is a Coldwell Banker/Realogy company, and has been for years. Douglas Elliman is Prudential. So the two biggest brokerages are American franchises. So that theory is blown out of the window. There is one reason and one reason only why a brokerage does not make a dent. It’s who is running it and how it is run.

    • John Jay

      Corcoran was Corcoran before they sold out to Realogy. Douglas Elliman was DE long before Prudential was even in real estate and it is NOT owned by Prudential. KW is great if your in Texas, but this is NY. Has nothing to do with who’s running it.

  • Amy1

    GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!
    Douglas Elliman and Corcoran are both established NY real estate firms before they were acquired

  • EPM

    Bracha was not supposed to leave. He was getting 70% split and was making $4-$6 M at Elliman

  • dgeller

    It’s taken me years to realize that perception — that is, how we choose to see things is what guides our reality. Miss Fung’s (Crains’ article: 5/12/12) supercilious attitude toward Keller Williams NYC’s (KWNYC) accomplishments over the past year is indicative of perception, not facts. Take into consideration the following:

    KWNYC essentially entered the NYC marketplace little more than a year ago. After a few growing pains it reassessed strategy and opened a new Park Avenue headquarters in February 2012. In that time KWNYC has earned 197 exclusive listings with an average sale price of $1.446M per listing. This equates to $285,000,000 or 1.12 listings per agent, spread among the 174 agents currently licensed under the KWNYC banner, ranking KWNYC #7 in New York City. Not bad for a small start-up that also happens to be the number two real estate firm in the US employing more than 80,000 agents. Besides those statistics, KWNYC is home to the number two real estate team in America, Ilan Bracha’s Bracha Group.

    As a former agent at one of the “Big Four,” I must say that working at KWNYC has been a godsend. Unlike our competitors’ places of business, the KWNYC culture is one of cooperation where agents go out of their way to assist one another resulting in greater and timelier results for our clients. Agents at KWNYC are only limited by their imaginations and desire to succeed because the firm encourages individuals to go beyond their comfort zones and reach their greatest level of potential. Having worked for a team at my previous firm I can state without reservation that building a business was never encouraged and compensation amounted to slave wages. At KWNYC we, as stated in Fung’s article, have a cap therefore rendering all KWNYC agents equal. No agent has any more value than another. This is a dynamic that exists nowhere else and creates a context of cooperation. There are no locked drawers here: we aren’t technically in competition but rather in a place where it is in everyone’s best interest to see their colleagues succeed. To top it off the training at KWNYC is far superior to that of any New York City firm. I can attest that I learned more in my first few days at KWNYC than I did during my tenure at my former firm. This has resulted in production that has eclipsed all prior results for my clients. Put simply, KWNYC agents are better than any other and our agent-centric environment is supported by the best leadership in the industry, translating into results that make our clients the most satisfied compared to that of our competitors. KWNYC is a breeding ground for talented entrepreneurs and there is no doubt that we will be the biggest and best in the years to come.

    Daniel Geller
    Geller Group
    Keller Williams NYC

  • Get Real

    Gosh Dan- sounds like KW the perfect brokerage company for those who just can’t take the competitive atmosphere of a real player in the market. Perhaps when serious sellers in NYC start choosing their broker based on niceness (like they do in the suburbs), KW might just have a shot. Have a nice day.

  • dgeller

    Get Real,
    I appreciate your narrow worldview but you’ve obviously missed the point. We are without question in one of the most competitive industries in commerce. However, I never suggested that being a “swell guy” is what gets business through the door, but rather creating an atmosphere in the office of cooperation and people treating each other with human dignity produces better results in the long run and better serves clients. Even more obvious if you were to examine the facts, based on results Keller Williams as a whole is tremendously more successful than its competitors on a national level in the suburbs and quaint little towns like Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, etc. And I assure you, within five years we will be kicking everyone in New York City to the curb because our vision has been instilled to make sure it happens. As far as for me being nice, well, you’ve obviously never sat opposite me at the negotiation table. But don’t take my word for it, just ask the two dozen or so Fortune 100 companies I have represented during my career. By the way, if you’re unhappy with not being able to grow to your fullest potential at your present company, give me a call or send me an email and I’ll set up an interview.

  • glengarry

    Bracha’s group may have been one of the top groups in 2011 but according to Keller Williams national statistics for the first Quarter of 2012, neither Bracha or Keller Williams NYC are mentioned in the top 50 of any category nationwide.

  • Amy1

    Dan what are you smoking? I can bet in 2 years you’ll be out of KW.
    KW will NEVER come close to penetrating the top 4 real estate firms in the New York market. Well, maybe Staten Island. They hardly have any real listings and let alone their site is a joke. Looks more like Mark David NY. What is so funny about their site. when you do a general search, the first properties that appear is properties in other areas outside of new york. Are you kidding me? KW doesn’t spend a dime on marketing exclusives instead they spend money on attracting “wet behind the ear” agents to join them. What kind of marketing money do you get in KW? is it a discount on craigslist? LOL

    • Dan Geller

      Amy, Just couldn’t resist: it’s 2 years later and we’ve broken the top 10 – and I’m still here

  • dgeller

    Time will tell. I love a good fight.

  • John Jay

    Keller Williams entire marketing plan seem to be that you SPAM craigslist with the same listings as much as you can. Go to craigslist Manhattan real estate and search Ilan Bracha and you will see EXACTLY what I mean. It must be quite sad for a guy who did so well with DE to have to spam craigslist to try and get business. Hopefully he’ll wake up before it’s too late and either sell his KW franchise or close it and move back to DE.

  • glengarry

    John Jay sounds like an angry bitter guy.

  • martin levi

    Wow big news Tanya Mahmood former administrative assistant is the new rental director. What a great hire!

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