Town going across the pond

Brokerage to open first overseas branch in Central London; expanding network into China, France

New York /
Sep.September 17, 2014 03:15 PM

Goodbye bagels and Manhattans, hello crumpets and sherry. Town Residential will be opening its first international location in Central London, representatives for the firm told The Real Deal.

“London is the closest sister market to New York in terms of interest and excitement,” said Town president Jeff Appel. “We felt that it was important to establish an outpost there.” Lindsey Owen, an agent working out of Town’s West Village office, is moving to the U.K. to head up the London office, which will be located at 67-68 Jermyn Street in Central London’s Westminster district. Appel indicated that in the near future, Town might look to acquire London-based brokerages to solidify its presence there.

The brokerage is also launching its most determined effort yet to reach Chinese investors, who’ve surpassed Russians to become the biggest foreign buyers of New York real estate.

Hannah Han, a Beijing native who worked for JLL in the Chinese capital and was most recently at Stribling & Associates’ Madison Avenue location, has joined Town’s Fifth Avenue office to help lead the expansion into China, which will include doing a series of road shows with buyers, lenders and brokers in that market. It’s a strategy that many New York-based firms already use to court foreign buyers, industry sources said.

“As price points get higher, it becomes harder and harder to sell on the exuberance of a floor plan,” Appel said. In a statement, Town CEO Joseph Sitt said that “this is just the beginning of a significant international expansion that will further distinguish Town from its competitors.” The brokerage is also partnering with 69WU.com, a business-to-business portal for real estate agents in China that functions akin to a multiple listing system, to have its New York listings appear on that site.

An upcoming expansion into France will work on similar lines as the China push, Appel said, but said it was too premature to discuss details.

Other firms are also tapping into New York real estate’s global appeal with formal overseas partnerships. Last week, Douglas Elliman, a Town competitor and the city’s largest residential firm, announced an alliance with U.K-based Knight Frank Residential to jointly market Elliman’s trophy listings to the global elite.


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