Despite all the helium in the Bronx, several of Manhattan’s biggest residential brokerages have yet to develop a strong presence in the borough, which is still dominated by a mix of independent, regional and national players.
According to data pulled from the New York Department of State on May 26, Exit Realty remains the Bronx’s largest brokerage by registered agent count. The firm has 164 registered agents spread across four offices — Exit Realty Search, Exit Realty Power, Exit Realty Group and Exit Realty Premium, the data shows. Keller Williams Realty NYC Group, a franchise of the Texas-based firm, followed with 131 agents. Independent brokerage Besmatch Real Estate had the third-most agents with 118.
Douglas Elliman was one of the few established Manhattan firms to make the list, placing ninth with 33 registered agents.
|TOP BRONX FIRMS BY NUMBER OF LICENSED AGENTS|
|EXIT Realty (4 offices)||164|
|Keller Williams Realty NYC Group||131|
|Besmatch Real Estate||118|
|NY Future Homes Realty||67|
|Coldwell Banker Signature Properties||43|
|Halstead Property Riverdale||41|
|Charles Rutenberg Realty||35|
|Exclusive Properties Sotheby's International Realty||30|
|Source: Department of State Licensed Broker and Salesperson data|
Terhi Edwards, Elliman’s executive manager of sales for the Bronx, said the company was building up a stronger presence in the borough. They currently have two offices in Riverdale and plan to open a third in June to keep up with growing demand and an inventory shortage, she said.
“Anything that’s near public transportation, a number train to Manhattan, the properties are selling very fast,” she said. “All the family homes are very desirable.”
The three biggest firms by agent count all occupy the same spots they did last year, when Exit was number one with 130 agents, Keller Williams Realty NYC Group was number two with 119 and Besmatch was number three with 80. The list also continues last year’s strong showing by independent brokerages like Besmatch, which started in the Bronx about 30 years ago.
Besmatch founder Harry Baksh said the changes in the borough are dramatic. It now has the types of large shopping centers that used to be reserved for Westchester County, while the trend on the residential side has reversed — people are moving into the South Bronx, which is also receiving a record amount of new development product.
South Bronx neighborhoods like Mott Haven and Hunts Point are attracting a particularly large amount of interest these days, a development Baksh characterized as “Manhattan spilling over into the Bronx.”
“Long term, I’m expecting the same thing that happened in Brooklyn to be happening in the Bronx,” he said. “It’s starting to happen now. It’s started for a little while, but now it’s actually moving on very rapidly.”
The borough has also gotten more competitive over the years, thanks in part to former Besmatch employees. Baksh said that in the past two years, about eight of Besmatch’s agents have left the firm to start their own companies.
“So there are a lot more mom and pop smaller companies out there today,” he said, “but more importantly, a lot of the commercial companies from Manhattan, they’re actually focusing on the Bronx now. There’s a lot more competition.”
Benny Diasparra, the owner of Exit Realty Search, said the market’s been hot for over a year, necessitating growth.
“The past few years, we’ve just seen more buyers coming into the area and not enough houses for sale, which has created a seller’s market, and there’s a lot of demand for apartments as well.”
Jamal Hadi, principal broker for Keller Williams NYC Bronx, said the company has been in the borough for about five years and has expanded its presence at a steady pace. He expects the smaller, more nimble firms to continue their dominance in the Bronx, but the big Manhattan players may not be too far behind.
“If it’s not in their business plan right now, I think that’s going to change as the market develops and improves,” he said. “Some companies take greater risk than others.”
NOTE: The Real Deal obtained its numbers for licensed agents in the Bronx on May 26 by searching through the New York State Active Real Estate Salespersons and Brokers database for agents registered in Bronx county.