Second break-up for Ilan Bracha

By Candace Taylor | February 02, 2009 05:41PM

For the second time in as many months, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s powerhouse Bracha Group has split in two.

Former Bracha Group Managing Partner Gilad Azaria told The Real Deal he’s leaving to form his own team at Elliman.

“I’m very excited,” said Azaria, who helped found the Bracha Group five years ago with Ilan Bracha. “It’s the right time for me.”

Azaria is in the process of assembling roughly five brokers to come onboard at his new venture, the Gilad Azaria Group. Azaria did not take any brokers or listings from the Bracha Group, he said.

“I would never take Ilan’s business. We are great friends,” Azaria said.

The split comes on the heels of November’s announcement that Mickey Roth and Lenny Sporn would leave the Bracha Group, just seven months after they merged their Roth-Sporn Group with Bracha’s.  

At the time, Roth told The Real Deal the split was amicable although the groups “had two different ways of doing things.”

Now, “we’re very happy,” Roth said today. “I’m busier now since we left.”

He added that the new business model is “more profitable for us,” since there are fewer partners taking a cut of each commission.

Azaria, too, said he and Bracha are on good terms, though the split has been difficult for the two longtime partners, who worked together at MLBKaye International Realty in Queens, then moved to Elliman to form the Bracha Group.

“It’s very hard, but [Bracha] understands,” Azaria said. “This is business, it’s not personal. We both decided it’s the right time for me.”

Azaria has moved from the sixth floor, where the Bracha Group is located, down to the third floor at 575 Madison Avenue.  The physical separation is “better for both of us,” Azaria said, since the split is “still an open wound.”

In a statement released to The Real Deal, Bracha said: “Gilad Azaria and I have decided to operate independently of each other and we continue to be close colleagues at Prudential Douglas Elliman. I am certain that we will be collaborating on many transactions in the future.”

The Bracha Group
is still one of the largest groups at Elliman, Bracha said, and is one of the “top producing groups in the country.” Elliman declined to comment.

But Azaria may have played a large role in the Bracha Group’s earnings: Azaria says he has been the top producer at the Bracha Group for the past five years, although it is hard to tell because every transaction the group does is credited to Bracha.

“I never got any credit for it, but I was the overall top producer in the Bracha Group, and we did a lot,” Azaria said. “I’m proud of what I did.”

Azaria said he already has eight new listings since leaving the Bracha Group about a week ago, including a $6.5 million three-bedroom unit on the 77th floor of Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza between 47th and 48th streets.

He said the split was prompted by the slowing market, which will give him the time to focus on building his new group, which he hopes will focus on “quality not quantity.”

“We have more time now,” he said. “I can take advantage of the time and build the right foundation and not do it in a rush.”

Bracha also seems to be making use of free time. In January, he started a blog, www.brachablog.com.

“This is where I will share my insights on the real estate market whether they be trends or commentary on relevant news,” he wrote in the first post. “Expect tips on selling your apartment, analysis of market reports and a few personal stories of the ins and outs of my days as a real estate agent at Prudential Douglas Elliman.”

Bracha, who at 34 years old is the youngest managing director at Elliman, moved to New York from his native Israel in 1996.