Lee & Associates nabs two JLL brokers for new NYC healthcare group

By Guelda Voien | April 25, 2012 12:00PM

Newcomer brokerage Lee & Associates has added two brokers, Michael Berne and Richard Donohue, both formerly of Jones Lang LaSalle, to head its new senior housing and healthcare services group, according to a statement from Lee slated for release today. “We thought that the size of Lee, being 47 offices and a private company, allowed for a more entrepreneurial approach,” Berne told The Real Deal. “It’s a quicker decision making process and, as opposed to a public company, we have fewer conflicts if we take an ownership position also.”

Donohue agreed that autonomy was a key factor in the move. “It’s essentially like we’re running our own business,” he said. JLL is a publicly-traded company.

The team had been at JLL for four years, and before that were was at Cushman & Wakefield. They retain the managing director title at Lee, and will work from the 600 Madison Avenue office, Lee’s only outpost in New York City.

The emphasis on senior and healthcare facilities is new for Lee, the brokers said. “Candidly [Lee is entering this area] because it is one of the more financially rewarding areas they can be in,” Berne said. He added that the sector is expected to expand even further over the next decade, as 10,000 people turn 65 each day, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Recent deals the team has completed include the sale of Saybrook Convalescent Hospital, in Saybrook, Conn. and the sale of a 180,000-square-foot skilled nursing facility in Southampton.

The newly formed senior housing and healthcare services group has a new hire starting this coming Monday, David Son, who joins the team from outside the real estate industry, and will hire another broker within the month, as part of an ongoing expansion effort, Berne indicated.

As a managing director at JLL, Berne founded and oversaw the national seniors housing group with Donohue, who was also a managing director. The pair began working at Lee April 1, they told The Real Deal.

“There were very few brokers who focus on this highly specialized practice which leaves the field wide open for us to come in and create a dominant practice,” Lee CEO James Wacht said in the statement. “Given the aging demographics of the country and the increasing longevity of our population we see this area is presenting terrific growth opportunities.”