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For the second year in a row, the number of brokers and agents in Brooklyn and Queens rose faster than in Manhattan, an indication that brokers are following buyers and sellers into neighborhoods with rising inventory and increased prices.
“Brokers understand where the deals are getting done and there’s a lot of that in the outer boroughs,” said Jason Haber, a broker at Warburg Realty. “More people are living in these areas… and you need brokers to service those people.”
Overall, the rise in the number of licensed real estate professionals in the city as a whole increased at a slower pace than a year ago — 4 percent in 2015, compared to a 5.5 percent jump in 2014.
But less so in Queens and Brooklyn, where the city’s biggest firms are bulking up their sales efforts. In November, Douglas Elliman tripled its space in Park Slope, a month after Citi Habitats bought Brooklyn-based brokerage firm Aptsandlofts.com.
Citi Habitats’ acquisition “speaks volumes” about the outer borough market, according to Charles Doolan, the co-founder and president of Manhattan-based Kian Realty. “Citi Habitats did whatever they had to do to increase their presence in Brooklyn, they wanted to do it quickly rather than grow organically.”
In Brooklyn, where the number of brokers and salespersons rose by 6.5 percent to 10,663 in 2015, buyers are willing to leave established neighborhoods if they can trade up to a townhouse with outdoor space from an apartment, said Gabriele Sewtz, a Park Slope-based broker with Compass.
Even in neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, the big name brokers are starting to enter the fray, according to Susan Little, a broker at Corcoran. Little and colleague Clare Saliba used to largely compete against mom-and-pop brokerage shops, but that’s no longer the case, she said.
Agent growth has also been accelerating in Queens, where, according to the New York Department of State, the total number of agents jumped by 6.0 percent to 11,702, partially on the back of the need to sell in areas surrounding large megadevelopments like Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City.
It’s not yet the same story in the Bronx, where the number of salespeople increased just 0.6 percent to 2,512.
“In the Bronx, there’s not a lot of inventory,” said David Maundrell III, an executive vice president of new development at Citi Habitats. That soon will be changing as developments like the Chetrit Group and Somerset Partners’ South Bronx rise.