Nest Seekers alumni launch firm “catering to the broker side”

By Amy Tennery | January 31, 2011 03:08PM

From left: David Tobon, Alon Chadad, Moshe Balalo, Andy Kim and Michael Arcos of the firm Blu

In the wake of two major brokerage launches — Citi Habitats founder Andrew Heiberger’s Town Residential and Prudential Douglas Elliman veteran Ilan Bracha’s Manhattan Keller Williams franchise — another company has joined the pack.

Five Nest Seekers alumni have launched a new residential real estate firm, Blu Realty Group. The new firm, launched today, was formed by Andy Kim, David Tobon and Michael Arcos — who left Nest Seekers this past Friday, according to a Blu spokesperson — and Alon Chadad and Moshe Balalo, who left Nest Seekers in July 2010 and have been with Bracha’s Bracha Group, which opened the Keller Williams franchise earlier this month, since that time.

The team decided on the name Blu because they like the color, according to a spokesperson, and felt that it represents loyalty and confidence, two qualities they value. The omission of the letter “e” holds no significance (a brokerage in San Francisco shares the same name, but includes the “e”).

Arcos said that while he was surprised by the level of high-profile start-up news that’s dominated headlines in the last few weeks, he’s optimistic that Blu will stand out from the crowd.

“We’re catering to the broker side,” Arcos said of his company, which will follow a 100 percent commission model, with a minimal fixed fee to brokers. There will not be a monthly fee.  “I think now the whole traditional brokerage [model of a] 50-50 [split]… people don’t appreciate that anymore.”

But Blu isn’t the only new firm to launch recently with a 100 percent commission model. Earlier this month, Kurland Realty founder Kevin Kurland launched a new firm called Spire Group, which follows the 100 percent commission plan. Other New York City firms, like Rutenberg Realty and Level Group, also operate on a similar payment pattern.

Arcos, who had been with Nest Seekers since it was founded in 2001, along with Kim and Tobon, declined to comment on the exact amount of the fees.

Right now, the firm has roughly 20 agents on board. Arcos said the firm, located at 1674 Broadway on the corner of 52nd Street, will ultimately accommodate around 75 desks. Blu will serve Manhattan, Long Island City and Brooklyn, and currently has roughly $100 million in listings, according to a company spokesperson.

Eddie Shapiro, CEO of Nest Seekers, said there are no hard feelings.

“David, Michael and Andy were an important part of the team at Nest Seekers International over the past decade, and we wish them the best of luck in their new endeavor,” said Shapiro.  “We are excited for them and for us.”