CBHK luxury market head goes to Sotheby’s

By Candace Taylor | July 16, 2009 03:55PM

Stan Ponte, a former manager at now-defunct Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, has joined Sotheby’s International Realty as a senior vice president.

“I’m back, and I’m selling,” said Ponte, who worked at Stribling & Associates for 10 years before becoming president of the Manhattan division of the luxury marketing division Coldwell Banker Previews International.

Former Coldwell sales agent Robin Reardon has joined him at Sotheby’s, as well as an assistant, Christina Jurado.

Ponte said he met with “every firm” in town after the breakup of CBHK. He chose Sotheby’s, he said, out of admiration for the company and personal relationships with management there.

“I had a real kinship to a lot of people at Sotheby’s,” he said, adding: “We were really trying to stay within Realogy.”

Corcoran and Sotheby’s are owned by NRT, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Realogy, which operates Coldwell Banker franchises. When CBHK closed, its agents were encouraged to stay within Realogy rather than go to the competition.

CBHK, an independently-owned Coldwell Banker franchise, was founded in 1988 by JoAnne Kennedy and William Morris Hunt II. In 2007, CBHK started a Manhattan division of Coldwell’s national Previews division, which specializes in properties priced over $1 million, hiring Ponte to head it.

Ponte said after two years in management, he’s excited to be selling again.

“I’m back in the idea of making deals happen,” he said. He said he currently has three “significant deals” in the works, ranging from the sale of a penthouse in the West Village to renting a one-bedroom apartment in Tribeca.  

One of his listings, he said, is a townhouse at 119 East 78th Street on the market for $12.25 million.

Ponte said he was “heartbroken” over the breakup of CBHK after working tirelessly for two years to establish the Previews International brand in New York City.

His efforts were just beginning to bear fruit, with CBHK grabbing market share from other companies, when it folded, he said. CBHK this year moved up to sixth from 10th in The Real Deal’s rankings for number of exclusive listings.

“It’s like losing your TV show with high ratings,” Ponte said.

But CBHK’s expansion coincided with a sharp reduction in Manhattan sales volume due to the credit crisis and Lehman Brothers crash. Suddenly, “there were not enough deals to sustain the firm,” he said. “Our expenses were increasing while our income was not.

He noted that “everyone agrees that JoAnne Kennedy is really an extraordinary person,” he said. The breakup of the firm is “really unfortunate.” Kennedy ended up at Corcoran.