Elliman sues Hamptons power broker for back pay

By Candace Taylor | October 30, 2009 02:22PM

Andrea Ackerman, Hamptons broker

When Hampton Style interviewed Bridgehampton power broker Andrea Ackerman in May 2007, her outlook on Hamptons real estate was glib.

“Things may level-off, but nothing ever loses value here,” the long-time broker told the magazine. “No matter when you buy, in retrospect it always looks like you made a great deal.”

As she and many homebuyers have since discovered, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Two years later, Hamptons home prices have tumbled 38.6 percent from their peak and Ackerman is in the midst of a legal struggle with former employer Prudential Douglas Elliman over nearly $150,000 in back pay.

Elliman filed suit Oct. 22 in New York State Supreme Court against Ackerman, who is now at Brown Harris Stevens, claiming that she owes the company some $148,000.

As the financial crisis has dried up real estate profits across the region, a slew of lawsuits have popped up as agents and brokerages fight over commissions.

Ackerman, a Hamptons broker for nearly three decades, is currently marketing a $12.95 million lakefront home in Southampton and a $6.4 million Bridgehampton spread. In 2008, she was named to the now defunct Hampton Style’s list of “Real Estate Brokers Who Drive the Hamptons.”

Ackerman was a principal at Long Island-based Dunemere Associates in 2004 when the company was purchased by Brown Harris Stevens, where she stayed on as a partner for 15 years. She moved to Elliman in April 2007 as both a real estate broker and “to advise PDE on matters related to corporate strategy in the Hamptons Long Island region,” the suit says.

The two parties agreed that Ackerman would receive a monthly draw of $12,000 a month against future commissions, according to the suit. When Ackerman left in March 2009 to rejoin Brown Harris Stevens, she owed Elliman $142,268.96 in draws and advances that had not been set off by commissions earned, the suit claims. In addition, she allegedly owes the company an additional $6,164 from a $50,000 signing bonus, because she left the firm less than two years after her start date.

Ackerman tells a very different story, saying she left Elliman because the firm stopped paying her.

“They cut off my draw prior to the end of my contract,” she said when reached by phone at Brown Harris Stevens’s Bridgehampton office, where she is a senior director.

“They were in breach of contract,” she said. “I had no choice but to leave.”

She added that Elliman “defamed” her, but did not elaborate.

“It sounds like this is the subject of an appropriate counter claim,” she said.

Through a spokesperson, Elliman declined to comment.