LA’s Agency scopes out Town Residential

Beverly Hills boutique firm spotted touring brokerage's NYC offices

Apr.April 26, 2016 07:00 AM

New York brokerages Douglas Elliman and Compass recently made moves in La La Land. But could one of Beverly Hills’ best-known residential brokerages be planting seeds in the Big Apple?

Representatives for the Agency, the high-end boutique brokerage run by L.A. brokers Billy Rose and Mauricio Umanksy, were recently spotted touring the offices of Town Residential, insiders told The Real Deal. They walked the offices with Bret Dweck, an executive vice president at Thor Equities, a source said.

Thor CEO Joseph Sitt is a joint owner of Town along with Andrew Heiberger, who founded the firm in 2010 and serves as the brokerage’s CEO. It wasn’t clear if Rose and Umansky were just doing some industry reconnaissance or if an acquisition or potential partnership might be in the works.

When contacted by The Real Deal, Heiberger said he was unaware of any tour.

“I have no idea what Bret and Joe have in mind with that brand,” he said, but noted that the two companies had been in discussions for some kind of referral partnership last year. Last winter, Town forged a deal with Miami-based Fortune International Group to jointly market certain properties. Talks of a similar deal with the Agency fell through at the time, however.

“We need to discuss this in depth and will not make any hasty decisions,” Heiberger said.

Neither Rose nor Umansky responded to a request for comment. Sitt is out of the country, a spokesperson said.

Despite its limited geographic footprint, the Agency is a privately-owned brokerage whose top talent does hundreds of millions of dollars in deals each year. Umansky placed third on the Real Trends/Wall Street Journal list of top residential agents in 2015, with more than $604 million in closed sales. In January, he co-listed the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills for $200 million. Rose ranked No. 18 on the Real Trends list with $260 million in sales in 2015.

In March, the Agency hired Westbrook Partners’ Jason Glasgow as chief operating office and managing partner of the Development Group, the firm’s new development marketing arm. The job entails working to expand the firm’s reach “on both a local and global scale,” according to a statement at the time.

Rumors have swirled for years that Sitt is looking to sell his stake in the firm. In 2012 and 2013, he and Heiberger entered into negotiations with an unidentified “leading international brokerage firm” to sell Town for a “nine-figure number,” according to documents relating to an old lawsuit between the two. No deal ever materialized.

More recently, however, industry chatter has picked up regarding a possible stake sale. One brokerage head recently told TRD that Sitt is once again looking to sell his piece of the firm. The value of his stake is unclear.

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