Heddings Property shrinks Manhattan space, following closures of suburban offices

By Lauren Elkies Schram | July 30, 2013 05:30PM

Along with a new company philosophy, Heddings Property Group has new, pared-down digs. The residential brokerage moved its offices a few blocks south to a seventh-floor Chelsea space it shares with commercial firm Jonathan Barry Associates.

Douglas Heddings, broker and owner of the company, and his 15 or 16 agents are unpacking today at 119 West 23rd Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues. Heddings’ firm occupies about half the 2,000-square-foot space. The old offices were in a 1,900-square-foot suite on the ninth floor at 1140 Broadway, between 26th and 27th streets.

“I have known Jonathan Bernstein [CEO and president] of Jonathan Barry Associates for about 10 years, and we decided to merge our spaces because he [runs] a likeminded boutique commercial firm and we’ve been doing some business back and forth and we thought it’d be better for us in many ways to have the same space and share the synergy of the commercial and residential under one roof,” Heddings said.

Two of Heddings’ agents will now be able to do commercial deals as well as residential, and the firms will be able to refer business with ease.

Some of the company’s philosophical changes include reducing the number of offices and agents (from a peak of 40), refraining from actively recruiting agents, and Heddings himself returning to selling real estate.

The agent and office cuts are because the firm “was growing too quickly and too fast,” Heddings said.

Since Heddings founded the brokerage in the summer of 2010, when he broke off from Manhattan’s Rutenberg Realty, he has opened a bricks and mortar office in Southampton and virtual offices in Greenwich, Conn., and Westchester and Rockland counties. Most recently, last year, the company opened a virtual office in Westport, Conn., which remains open with one agent working from her home. However, Heddings Property Group has shuttered all its other virtual offices, as well as the Southampton office in December 2012.

“I feel like a lot of the growth was ego-driven as opposed to practically-driven,” Heddings said. “I’ve taken a step back. I’ve reevaluated my life. This is much more manageable.”

In the new space, Heddings said he is not beholden to a lease, he has cut expenses, and he pays his rent directly to Bernstein, who also owns the building.

Heddings said he met with his accountant and Heddings Property Group is on pace to make four times more profit this year than when it had all of the offices open. His conclusion: “Bigger isn’t always better.”