Within hours of the demise of Town Residential‘s sales and leasing divisions on Thursday, the text messages and emails started flying.
With several hundred brokers suddenly free agents, Town’s rivals were quick to lay claim on the carcass.
One senior brokerage executive compared the phenomenon to locusts descending. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” the source said. “This has happened in the past to tiny companies. This was not a tiny. It’s a big deal.”
Town informed agents on Thursday that it would shutter its resale and leasing operation following months of rumors that the firm was facing financial difficulties, as The Real Deal first reported. And sources said Town agents are being told they can take their exclusives with them, and that in-contract sales will be reassigned to their new firm.
A representative for Town declined to comment.
At its peak, Town had more than 600 agents and 10 offices. More recently, the firm counted 442 agents, down 15 percent from 523 in 2016, according to an analysis by TRD in January. At that time, the firm had $534.1 million in listings. It closed $660 million sell-side deals in 2017. Town will still work on new development, the firm’s founder Andrew Heiberger said on Thursday.
By late Thursday, the city’s major firms were scheduling interviews with Town agents who are scrambling to find new (professional) homes. “I changed up my whole schedule tonight and tomorrow morning,” one brokerage chief said.
“While we are saddened by @townresidential’s shutting down of its resale and leasing business, we welcome #agents with #international #sales experience to join us in our expanding brokerage,” read an Instagram post by One & Only Realty, a small firm headed by Gennady Perepada.
“Contact me,” Warburg agent Bill Kowalczuk posted on Facebook. “Warburg is offering a great incentive for displaced Town agents.”
Oxford Property Group also said it would offer a $1,500 signing bonus to ex-Town agents, according to founder Adam Mahfouda, who said he already has meetings set up with 10 to 15 agents over the next few days.
“We just want the opportunity to introduce our product to agents,” he said of his brokerage, which has 450 agents and paid $20 million in commissions last year. Mahfouda added that Oxford pays out commissions “within 48 hours.”
Town already lost many of its big-name brokers over the past few months, but several remain — including Steve Gold, a co-star on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing: New York,” and Tribeca specialist Danny Davis. Dana Power has several of Town’s biggest listings, including a penthouse at 129 Lafayette that’s asking $16.95 million. And Gold currently has $66 million in listings and $20.8 million in signed contracts, according to On-Line Residential. Several listings are at the Circa, Artimus’ condo project at 285 West 110th Street.
Earlier this week, the Corcoran Group hired Nicole Hechter and Asaf Bar-Lev, along with a few other agents from Town.
Adam Pincus contributed reporting.