The Real Deal New York

Incommunicado: William Raveis CEO accuses Elliman of blocking incoming email

Elliman says Raveis sent a mass message to its agents trying to convince them to jump ship
By E.B. Solomont | April 02, 2015 05:15PM

UPDATED: 3:43 p.m., April 6: Is all fair in love and real estate?

A heated battle for brokers is pitting Douglas Elliman against suburban powerhouse William Raveis, with Raveis accusing Elliman of blocking all emails coming from the firm. For its part, Elliman says Raveis sent a mass email to its brokers in New York City in an attempt to poach agents.

According to Raveis, Elliman began blocking its emails after 13 Elliman agents in Westchester defected to William Raveis about a fortnight ago. Elliman subsequently “shut us off on our email,” Bill Raveis, Chairman and CEO of William Raveis, told The Real Deal during an interview in the firm’s Midtown Manhattan office.

Representatives from Douglas Elliman, however, say William Raveis stirred the pot when it sent a mass email to Elliman’s agents, suggesting they come work for Raveis, which launched in Manhattan last year.

Both firms offered up evidence they said proved the other was not being truthful.

At least three emails sent by William Raveis to individual Elliman agents were sent back undelivered, according to copies of the emails reviewed by TRD. Representatives for Elliman cited a report, run by the firm’s IT staff on Thursday, that show scores of successfully delivered emails.

Kathy Braddock and Paul Purcell, co-managing directors of William Raveis NYC, said Elliman agents in Westchester felt they were being ignored by the main office in New York City. “Raveis has been increasingly successful in Westchester…. There are dissatisfied agents who were at Douglas Elliman,” Braddock said.

Purcell, a former president of Douglas Elliman in New York, said agents in the suburbs “are the redheaded bastard stepchildren” of the company. During his time at Elliman, he added, “I always felt I was hurting them. I didn’t give them what they needed. It can’t be any different now.”

While Raveis characterized Elliman’s actions as a “baby tantrum,” Purcell said it’s an “affront to buyers and sellers in New York City.”

In a statement, Douglas Elliman President and CEO Dottie Herman said the firm is “100% committed to our agents and customers in Westchester and Greenwich, as we are in all of our regions.”

Still, the spat comes as both brokerages have been expanding into each other’s territory.

Elliman tapped Roberto Vanucchi, a former sales director at William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, to lead its expansion in Connecticut. Last year, the firm opened an office in Scarsdale, N.Y., as well as Beverly Hills.  “We go where our clients want to be,” CEO Dottie Herman said in a statement at the time.

Meanwhile, William Raveis launched a New York City office last year, and has so far seen mixed results. After hiring some big names in the brokerage community, including Corcoran Group’s Fabienne Lecole and Halstead Property’s Julia Boland, Lecole and Boland both defected to Corcoran last month.

Bill Raveis was optimistic his firm would emerge the victor. “I have great admiration for everyone at Elliman,” he said. “They’ll eventually be out of Westchester County.”