CBHK bids its agents farewell

By Candace Taylor | June 04, 2009 10:47AM

alternate textJoanne Kennedy and David Michonski said goodbye to agents at The 555 Madison Avenue HQ.

The owners of soon-to-be shuttered brokerage Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy bid a tear-soaked farewell to agents and well-wishers yesterday during a goodbye party at the company’s headquarters on the 12th floor of 555 Madison Avenue.

Eyes brimming with tears, company co-founder and COO JoAnne Kennedy said she was proud of her agents and the two-decade-old company.

“We’ve made a very positive difference in New York City real estate,” said Kennedy, who will start work at the Corcoran Group next week.

She and co-founder David Michonski, the company’s CEO, spoke of how they sought to uphold high ethical standards and put their customers first.

“We feel immense gratitude and sorrow,” a red-eyed Michonski told the assembled crowd of past and present CBHK employees.

Earlier in the day, Michonski told The Real Deal by telephone that the brokerage’s four offices are now essentially closed, though it will take until Friday for everything to be fully shut down. The company’s Web site is no longer operating, and agents were given the opportunity to buy their computers and the company’s office furniture.

“We have closed our business operations,” Michonski said, noting that the 214-agent firm has not declared bankruptcy.

He confirmed that the majority of the firm’s agents would follow Kennedy to Corcoran, or move to Sotheby’s International Realty, as The Real Deal reported last week. Other agents will move to Prudential Douglas Elliman and Halstead Property.

“We have encouraged our agents to go to Corcoran and Sotheby’s, and 90 percent have chosen to do so,” Michonski said. “We’re working closely with all our agents to ensure an orderly transition.”

Michonski emphasized that all brokers will receive their commission checks for both past and future closings.

“In 13 years, no one has ever failed to get paid here,” he said.

He said the company is working with agents to make the transition seamless for customers.

“There will be no effect on any consumer,” he said.

Corcoran and Sotheby’s, as well as international real estate company Coldwell Banker, are owned by NRT, which is a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Realogy Corporation. But Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy is an independently owned franchise, operated by Realogy but not connected to NRT.

More than the company affiliation, Michonski said he encouraged his agents to go to Corcoran and Sotheby’s because he felt that’s where they’d “be most comfortable,” since they’d still be able to receive referrals from other Coldwell Banker offices.

As for himself, Michonski said he will spend the next few months overseeing the CBHK closure and then begin “seeking new opportunities.”