The Real Deal New York

Leonard Steinberg exits Douglas Elliman for Urban Compass

Tech-powered startup poaches biggest name yet
By Hiten Samtani and Zachary Kussin | June 02, 2014 09:43AM

UPDATED, 10:22 a.m., June 2: Leonard Steinberg, a perennial top-ranked broker at Douglas Elliman, is ending his decade-plus tenure with the firm to join Urban Compass as its president, The Real Deal has learned. Steinberg declined to comment, citing legal constraints. He led Elliman’s Luxury Loft team, along with partner Hervé Senequier, who is also joining Urban Compass as vice president of strategic development.

An Elliman spokesperson declined to comment on the departure, but a high-level source familiar with the company said that Steinberg had been looking for more of a boutique atmosphere for a few years. Urban Compass confirmed the news on their Facebook page, with chairman Ori Allon saying that Steinberg and Senequier would “help lead Urban Compass as we continue to build the future of real estate.”

Steinberg wrote on his blog this morning that the Luxury Loft Team has “always been at the forefront of the New York real estate industry, always with an eye towards the future of real estate.”

“In Urban Compass we see the future,” he continued.

A $20 million cash infusion in September valued Urban Compass at around $150 million, but several industry leaders have questioned the company’s staying power. It secured the attention — and dollars — of investors such as Joshua Kushner’s Thrive Capital and venture capital firm Founders Fund through a tech-powered business model that focused on neighborhood specialists. It later did an about-turn and restructured more in line with a traditional brokerage. But it hasn’t had trouble attracting top talent, including StreetEasy’s Sofia SongTown Residential’s Takk Yamaguchi and Citi Habitats’ Gordon Golub.

Steinberg, who was among Manhattan’s top 10 listing agents last year, is arguably the highest-profile name to leave Elliman since Dolly Lenz decided to venture out on her own last year. Some of the city’s top brokers in the city expressed surprise about Steinberg’s move. “That’s really unbelievable!” said Core’s Emily Beare. “Leonard is one of the most professional and talented agents in the city. Congratulations to Urban Compass.”

Warburg Realty’s Jason Harber said that recruiting Steinberg would help the company stake a claim in the city’s luxury sales market. The Luxury Loft team’s current listings include a $37.5 million penthouse at Soho’s 150 Mercer Street and a $36 million penthouse at Tribeca’s 250 West Street.