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.

  • Kevin Hartley

    Bye Bye Leonard. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out……..

  • G.T

    Urban Compass. Wow.

  • Mike woods

    I hope Leonard knows what he’s doing. I just don’t get urban compass’ business model. There is just too much dumb money floating around the tech space. The $150,000,000 valuation for a brokerage that has barely made a dent market share wise is hilarious. Slinging open listing rentals and a few sales listings a year ain’t gonna cut it.

  • Ben

    Leonard and Herve are as good as it gets. They are exactly what Urban Compass needed. Many brokers will follow.

  • Thomas R

    What the hell is going on over there?

  • james s.

    I’m so excited about the future of Urban Compass

  • NYC broker

    Brokers have been looking for alternatives to the large firms for awhile because they are too slow and don’t develop and train their brokers. With Leonard’s leadership, Urban Compass could provide the alternative.

    • Mike woods

      What brokers? Do you mean the unproductive stiffs that bounce around from company to company looking to find gold?

  • Best Wishes…

    Leonard is a company.

  • ding

    The name alone “Urban Compass” sounds to be like something you’d be required to find on a scavenger hunt in a hipster haven somewhere in Flatbush.

  • Broker Ben

    this says a lot more about Elliman and what they have become than UrbanCompas.

  • californiacation

    So they’ve got that Udi guy, yamaguchi, cox, and leonard. Great guys but nothing close to a dream team yet. Wonder who’s next?

  • John Hausier

    Steinberg is not one to make a decision like this hastily. Surely he is getting a piece of the business and they would do themselves a favor if they did.

  • RealGuy

    Great loss for Elliman…. a company known to protect brokers with “questionable” behaviors.

  • Spectator

    Sounds like UC should be funding Town.

  • Militza

    Wish you lots go great things. We have to strive fir the best!
    Militza Fernandez
    Florida Realty Elte Corporation