The Real Deal New York

Here’s where Town’s agents have landed

VC-backed Compass got the most, but Corcoran lured the biggest names
By David Jeans and E.B. Solomont | May 03, 2018 01:00PM

Corcoran Group CEO Pamela Liebman and Compass CEO Robert Refkin. (Credit: Pixabay, Public Domain Pictures)

As the recruitment frenzy of Town Residential’s brokers begins to ease, Compass has emerged as the lead destination for departing agents. But the Corcoran Group has lured some of the biggest names.

Compass said Tuesday it had signed on 58 agents, taking on a significant portion of Town’s former 377-agent roster. The list includes Susan Green, who closed $80 million last year; Aeen Avini; Sean Hughes and Prince Dockery.

Many agents recalled the recruitment frenzy that kicked off hours after Town’s announcement that it would be closing its resale and leasing businesses. Luciane Serifovic, Town’s head of international referrals, said she received more than 19 offers. Gannon Forrester said he woke up the day after Town’s announcement to around 40 texts and emails. “It’s pretty much been a whirlwind,” he said, adding that he’s still fielding offers.

In a blog post, Warburg Realty‘s CEO Frederick Peters shed light on the extraordinary bidding war for agents: “The deals became more and more dizzying: $50,000 or more in signing bonuses, splits at 95% of earnings on the first half million dollars of commission income guaranteed for three years,” he wrote.

But not all firms were willing to meet contract demands of former Town agents.

“People are offering crazy packages,” said one brokerage head. “They want to collect agents like trophies.”

Although critics like to opine that Compass lures agents with high splits and perks, the brokerage chief said Town really started the trend in 2010. “Do they not remember that Andrew started this whole thing, which made him go out of business?”

Eddie Shapiro, the CEO of Nest Seekers, said his firm interviewed as many as 60 agents, but turned away almost half of them.

“It’s no wonder that they went bust,” he said. “There were all sorts of mediocre producers that wanted all these high splits. We have no reason to contaminate our healthy business.”

While Compass — with its hundreds of millions in venture capital money — attracted the most agents, Corcoran seized Town’s stars. Corcoran picked up Steve Gold, a co-star of “Million Dollar Listing: New York,” who claims to have sold $200 million in real estate last year. It also hired Danny Davis, who reportedly did $147 million in deals in 2017, and Dana Power, who Corcoran said sold more than $100 million over the past 12 months. As of Thursday, Corcoran’s tally of Town hires numbered 43.¬†Other agents to join the firm include Nichole Hechter, Asaf Bar-Lev, Carol Hagen-Holt and Fabienne Terwinghe.

Brown Harris Stevens said on Wednesday it had brought in 14 agents from Town, Warburg picked up 7, and Halstead Property said it recruited 27 former Town agents. Many of the Halstead recruits worked previously with Itzy Garay, the firm’s director of sales, who was executive vice president of sales and leasing at Town until mid-2016.

In addition to the personal connection, some agents said they craved the stability of traditional firms after a tumultuous few years at Town. “[Halstead is] the largest privately-owned debt free company,” said Gina Gee, who signed with the firm last week.

One broker who joined Compass said she had held meetings with the firm even before Town went belly-up. John Ameralis, who led a team at Town alongside Blair Richardson, started at Compass last week and said he too had sought to leave Town before the closure of the leasing and resale businesses.

“I was actually going to dissolve (the team), and let Town know on Friday,” he said. “But Town let me know.”

Douglas Elliman said it had signed 25 agents, including Tom Brady, who joined Town in 2011. Another agent, Michael Bejzak, joined the firm this week after a slew of interviews. “It’s nice to feel wanted after what we’ve been through,” he said.

In the meantime, almost 40 percent of Town agents remain without a company, according to data provided by the firm.


Note: The Real Deal pulled agent licensing data from the New York Department of State to generate this interactive visualization. The DOS data lags what was provided to TRD by the firms, but nonetheless offers a glimpse at the migration from agents at Town’s various offices to new brokerages.