Halstead moves into Connecticut market in Darien

By Candace Taylor | May 27, 2009 10:12PM

In yet another aggressive bid for market share, Halstead Property is expanding into Connecticut, acquiring Darien-based brokerage Wheeler Real Estate.

Wheeler, founded in 1927, has one 55-agent office at 671 Boston Post Road in Darien and serves the surrounding towns of New Canaan, Rowayton and Norwalk. The new company will be known as Halstead Property Wheeler.

In an environment where other firms have been closing offices, Halstead has taken advantage of the downturn to expand aggressively. In October, Halstead, owned by Terra Holdings, opened its first out-of-state office with a new branch in Hoboken, N.J. The company also recently opened a new office in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Halstead has nine other offices in New York City — including one in Harlem, where the Corcoran Group and Warburg Realty recently closed their offices — and one in Hudson, N.Y.

Privately held Halstead did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

Halstead’s Connecticut outpost will be run by former Wheeler owners Nancy Dauk, husband-and wife-team David and Holly Hawes, as well as Wheeler broker — but not owner — Edward Saunders, who will serve as COO and director of sales for the Darien office.

This is not Wheeler’s first brush with a larger company. In 1989, Wheeler became associated with Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, a real estate brokerage franchisor with some 1,900 independently owned offices in the United States and Canada, including New York City’s Prudential Douglas Elliman.

During that time, the firm was known as Prudential Wheeler Real Estate. But in 2006 it dropped its affiliation with Prudential Real Estate and returned to its original name, Wheeler Real Estate.

David Hawes said he became familiar with Halstead because the two companies are both members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a global network of some 700 real estate firms.

He said the connection with Halstead made sense because Darien is a bedroom community for New York City.

“They had a desire to come to Connecticut and we wanted a better connection to New York,” he said. “We see the clients coming from New York and wanted to make sure we were getting more than our share.”

Darien has been hard hit by the nationwide real estate slump, with sales falling 44 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to Boston’s Warren Group, which tracks New England real estate sales. Two hundred and thirteen Darien homes sold in 2008, down from 380 the previous year. Prices dropped roughly 3 percent, to $1,285,000 from $1,330,000 in 2007.