The Real Deal Miami

Brown Harris Stevens closes its purchase of Key Biscayne brokerage

New York brokerage now has foothold in one of Miami's wealthiest cities

June 15, 2016 09:45AM
By Sean Stewart-Muniz

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William Zeckendorf, co-owner of Brown Harris Stevens, and Ocean Club Realty owner Chris Blackman

William Zeckendorf, co-owner of Brown Harris Stevens, and Ocean Club Realty owner Chris Blackman

Brown Harris Stevens just closed on its purchase of Ocean Club Realty, a boutique brokerage based in Key Biscayne that specializes in selling units at its namesake condo project.

The brokerage, headed by owner Chris Blackman, has a total of eight agents and is located in the tennis center at the Ocean Club condo complex. Last year the company brought in a sales volume of $45 million, Blackman told The Real Deal.

As TRD first reported in early June, Brown Harris Stevens was in late-stage talks to acquire both Ocean Club Realty and Avatar Real Estate Services, a brokerage 75 agents strong with an office in Coconut Grove. A spokesperson for BHS confirmed the company’s purchase of Ocean Club Realty, but declined to comment on a possible acquisition of Avatar.

New York-based BHS launched a South Florida offensive last year seeking to eat up independent brokerages and bolster its footprint here, starting with the acquisition of Mark Zilbert’s eponymous Zilbert International Realty on Miami Beach.

Now that this most recent deal has closed, Ocean Club Realty will change its name to Brown Harris Stevens at the Ocean Club, and is planning an expansion to a second office with more agents in the near future.

“I’ve always actually wanted to expand [the brokerage] because in Key Biscayne, we were very well positioned at the Ocean Club,” Blackman told TRD. “But to pick up more business you need to have an address on Crandon [Boulevard].”

He said many major brokerages — including ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, Fortune International Realty, Coldwell Banker and others — all have offices on Crandon Boulevard, which is the main artery that runs through the island.

Blackman’s brokerage was first founded to handle development sales for the three-tower Ocean Club project, which has 802 units. The firm’s sales office was originally in a large space on Crandon Boulevard, but the eleventh was slated to go up on the site, so the office was shuffled into a space in the project’s two-story tennis center.

After the project was completed, the brokerage kept on servicing the residents of Ocean Club for resales, rentals, downsizes and upgrades.

Three years ago, Blackman said the Ocean Club’s developer was finally able to exit the project, and he decided to buy the brokerage to run it himself.

Then, just a few months ago, Blackman said he met with members of Brown Harris Stevens, and the two parties came to like the idea of an acquisition.

While the deal gives Brown Harris Stevens a foothold in Key Biscayne, one of Miami’s wealthiest cities, Ocean Club Realty gets access to a pipeline of business coming out of New York.

“There is an expanding number of people from New York and other cities interested in living in Miami,” he said. “That’s going to be very good for us.”