The Real Deal New York

Shvo goes solo

October 16, 2007
By Stuart W. Elliott

Michael Shvo has a vision for his nascent brokerage and marketing company that comes from past experience and what he hopes will be his future competition.

“A combination of Douglas Elliman and the Sunshine Group” is how Shvo describes the new firm he is in the process of forming. He’ll have plenty of support as he tries to make it happen.

Shvo, who headed the top-producing group at Elliman in 2003, resigned last month to start his own firm. He will be joined by his entire 20-person group, and is currently finalizing a lease for office space on Fifth Avenue in the upper 50s.

Rumors abound over the circumstances of Shvo’s departure, though the 31-year-old top broker said the move was something he has been working towards for a number of years.

“There is only so much you can grow within a company,” said Shvo, who after starting at Elliman five years ago sold $300 million in property last year and currently has $150 million in exclusives. The decision to leave gelled in January, after he won the top-producing group award, he said. “I was working 18 hours a day, so I didn’t have time to think,” he said. “When I had a little time to think, I made the decision.”

Others have speculated that there were different reasons for Shvo’s leaving. Earlier this year, ethics issues were raised over sales at 505 Greenwich Street, a new development. The Corcoran Group is marketing the building, but Shvo apparently brokered several sponsor units in the building, causing a stir. Shvo said Corcoran was unfairly keeping other brokers out of the building. The issue was brought to REBNY.

“The departure didn’t have to do with that,” said Shvo.

Steven Spinola, president of REBNY, had no comment, saying it is the policy of the board not to publicly discuss any issues it may or may not be deliberating.

A source at a competing brokerage also said Shvo had had a confrontation with Steven James, Elliman’s Eastside director of sales, that precipitated the departure.

James had no comment, and Shvo said no such encounter occurred, pointing out that he didn’t have a working relationship with James, because he was answerable to the head of the firm, Dottie Herman. Shvo added he is “good friends” with Herman and had dinner with her following his departure.

Karen van de Vrande, vice president of marketing and communication for Douglas Elliman, also said it had been an “amiable” parting of ways.

As far as his current listings, owners will decide if they want Shvo or Elliman to continue to sell their property. Shvo will retain somewhere between all to a majority of his listings, a member of his group said.

Listings include the penthouse duplex at the Trump World Tower, selling for $58 million, which is No. 4 on Forbes’ list of the U.S. “Ten Most Expensive Homes.”

Shvo’s new firm is going to focus on marketing new developments and brokerage – part Sunshine Group and part Elliman, he said.

“Developers building projects today have very few choices,” he said. “I’m one of the only people in marketing who has extensive experience directly with buyers. I’ve worked from the bottom up.”

Shvo already does the consulting and marketing for 11 condominium developments in the city, he said. Projects include 350 West 53rd Street, another at Third Avenue and 39th Street and another on Fulton Street.

“We’ll be the young, happening thing,” said Shvo, adding that one project he is consulting on will have hot tubs in every apartment and another project will have $40,000 bathtubs. “We are not looking to fit in the mold and do the same thing again and again.”

Shvo said he expects to expand his company from 27 people starting out to more than 50 by the end of the year. “I’ve been flooded with emails from people who want to work with us,” he said.

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