Barak founder, brokers to join Halstead

By Guelda Voien | June 28, 2012 12:00PM

Barak Realty’s founder, his broker wife, and a number of other Barak agents will be joining Halstead Property, The Real Deal has learned. Barak, whose firm struggled in the wake of the recession, will shift some agents to Halstead’s West Side office, at 408 Columbus Avenue. The change is effective today, according to a company representative.

Barak Dunayer, founder of the 12-year old firm, will hold the title of executive vice president and work from the West Side office, as will his wife, Yael Dunayer, also an agent with Barak.

The new additions join other Halstead agents who had already made the jump to Halstead, including Jeffrey Tanenbaum, Catherine Holmes and Michaela Gold.

In a twist that underscores just how small the residential real estate world is, Holmes and her husband, Tom Holmes, and Jeff Goodman — all members of Halstead Holmes team — earlier this week settled an ongoing legal dispute with Barak Realty vice president William Vilkelis. The Real Deal this week reported on the lurid details of the legal dispute between the Holmes Team, of which he was once a part, and Vilkelis.

A spokesperson for Halstead declined to comment on the Vilkelis matter, but a source told The Real Deal he will not be joining Halstead with the rest of the Barak team.

Barak Realty swelled in size, even during the depths of the downturn — the founder once lamented that “recessions are a terrible thing to waste.” The brokerage had 43 agents in late 2009.

But by 2011, Barak Dunayer returned to selling properties while maintaining his managerial position. He said he made the change in order to prove to agents who were grumbling about the tough economy that homes could still sell, according to published reports. But employees complained that a difficult personality and a focus on his own listings over his company angered many Barak agents.

The firm dwindled to 25 agents by September of last year, though Barak Dunayer continued to look for new ways to grow the firm, including a shift to focus on rentals.

“After carefully reviewing the options for my firm and the future, I determined that the next – and smartest — step was to join forces with Halstead Property,” Dunayer said in a statement provided to The Real Deal. “They are a well-established brand with incredible resources and tools and to work with Diane and her talented team was an opportunity that I could just not turn down.”

Brokers are free agents, so Barak agents need not follow the Dunayers to Halstead. Those brokers who do join Halstead will have the opportunity to work in any of Halstead’s 23 offices.

Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead, indicated that she had worked with Barak Dunayer on REBNY’s Board of Directors for a few years and admired his work ethic.

“With his powerful sales record and past success in the industry, he is a fabulous addition to our firm,” she said in the statement.