Pari Passu changes name to Level Group

By Candace Taylor | June 22, 2010 05:21PM

From left: Larry Link and Michael Greenberg

Six-year-old New York City residential real estate brokerage Pari Passu has changed its name.

The 140-agent firm is now called Level Group, according to Larry Link, the company’s president. The firm last week launched a revamped website featuring the new name.

Link said the new name, which officially went into effect June 1, is similar in meaning to the old one.

Selected by the real estate attorneys who founded the brokerage in 2004, Pari Passu is a legal term meaning that two parties are equal. It was chosen because it reflects the company’s business model, in which agents keep nearly all of their commission rather than the traditional model of giving a large percentage of it to the firm, said Link.

Clever though the name was, Pari Passu “was a little bit of a mouthful for many people,” said Link, who joined the company as an agent in 2007 but is now one of the owners.

“Pari Passu sounds like a sexy and clever name until the 20th or 30th time you have to spell it for someone,” he said.

Worse, people had trouble remembering it, he said.

By contrast, Level Group “is very simple, strong, easy to spell, and easy to say,” Link said. “There’s a very strong meaning also. It reflects how we do business — we deal on the level with people.”

The name change is one of a number of recent changes for the company. In 2009, Link and attorney Michael Greenberg, one of the firm’s founders, bought it from the two other original owners, attorneys Vince Nicoletta and Seth Stein.  Since then, they’ve been working to put the name change into effect, along with the new website.

The company has also tweaked its fee structure. Initially, it did not charge transaction fees, but rather a $299 monthly fee. Now, in a model similar to fast-growing Charles Rutenberg Realty (which had established itself in other markets before entering the Manhattan market in 2006), Level Group agents pay a monthly fee of $99, Link said. Then, for each transaction, they pay a flat fee: for rentals, the fee ranges from $200 to $700, depending on the size of the deal. For sales below $1.5 million, the fee is $1,000. For sales between $1.5 million and $2 million, the fee is $2000. For sales larger than that, there are additional incremental fees.

“We found that agents preferred a lower monthly fee and were happy to pay transaction fees since they are only paid at the time a commission is collected,” Link said.

The company has spent time bolstering its back office systems, Link said. With the new structure in place, he said, the company will now refocus its efforts on adding to its ranks. Within the next year, he said, he’d like to double in size to 300 agents.

“We wanted this platform to be well-established,” he said. “Now, we’re turning our attention to growing again.”