New York’s residential market was something of a puzzle in 2017 — with exuberant buyers dropping eight-figure sums at 432 Park Avenue one minute, and price-conscious shoppers sitting on the sidelines the next.
But inevitably, brokers who found ways to fit buyers and sellers together got deals done and rose to the top of the heap on The Real Deal’s annual ranking of residential agents.
But this year’s top agents didn’t just eke out sales in a challenging environment. They did so against the backdrop of unprecedented pressure on brokerages to turn a profit and prove their value in a changing marketplace that includes digital competitors from StreetEasy and Zillow to Realtor.com and Redfin.
Those challenges came into full focus in April when Town Residential folded its resale and leasing divisions, saying it could no longer afford to compete for top agents. It’s also been on display at Keller Williams NYC, which is going through a major leadership shakeup, with layoffs and agent defections.
Across the board, top agents — key drivers of revenue for firms — have never wielded more leverage as brokerages struggle to stay in the black.
Like last year, we ranked agents by closed sales, but this year we made a significant change in calculating co-brokered deals to reflect the reality of split commissions. Rather than giving agents full credit if they shared a deal with another broker at their own firm, we divvied up their dollar volume. (For example, if two Douglas Elliman agents closed a $30 million deal together, we awarded each $15 million. Three Elliman agents who shared a deal each got $10 million worth of credit.)
As in years past, TRD’s ranking includes both new development and resale deals. It’s based only on sell-side transactions that closed in 2017.
Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant, a co-star on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” — along with his 43-person team — clocked in at No. 1 with $333.1 million in closed Manhattan listings.
He was followed by the Corcoran Group’s Vickey Barron with $286.3 million in deals and Elliman’s Fredrik Eklund (also of “MDLNY” fame) and John Gomes, whose team closed $259.2 million.
Rounding out the top five were Stribling & Associates’ Alexa Lambert (with $256.5 million) and Pamela D’Arc (with $230.3 million), also of Stribling.
But even agents who racked up billions of dollars worth of deals described 2017 as manic and disorienting as discounts proliferated.
On the new development front, developers were hurting while buyers were swimming in a large surplus of inventory and were in little rush to commit, agents reported.
Elliman’s Holly Parker, who ranked No. 13 with $160.1 million in closed deals, said she analyzed the market like never before in 2017 to provide clients with real-time information. “Most of the time, we understand the market after they’ve closed, and that’s just too late,” she said.
In 2017, she said, each deal she closed felt like a marathon. “No one was happy,” she said. “Buyers thought they should have gotten a better deal, and sellers thought they sold out.”
Corcoran’s Barron said it was just flat-out harder to close deals — both because the market was harder to read and because competition was fierce.
“There’s no question that everyone is working harder to accomplish the same task that we did five years ago,” she said. “It’s extremely competitive.”