Keller Williams NYC, whose cash-strapped Midtown office has churned through multiple leaders amid an exodus of agents, is on the sale block.
Despite recent efforts to cut costs and right-size the firm, owners Ilan Bracha and Haim Binstock are nearing a deal to sell the franchise to Richard Amato, who owns several other Keller Williams offices in Nassau County, multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of the situation told The Real Deal.
Bracha and Binstock launched KWNYC in 2011 after securing the right to the franchise in Manhattan from Austin-based Keller Williams Realty International, the country’s largest real estate franchise with more than 160,000 agents in the U.S. In 2015, Bracha and Binstock added a Tribeca office, which is run separately from the Midtown location.
After several banner years, the Midtown office has in recent years been roiled by financial problems.
Several sources said Keller Williams Realty International had been pressuring Bracha and Binstock to sell. In April 2018, the real estate company sent a letter of default to the owners of the Midtown office. The letter, reviewed by TRD, cited an “alarming number of questions and concerns about the leadership and viability” of the office.
Bracha did not immediately respond to requests for comment. KWRI neither confirmed nor denied it asked Bracha and Binstock to sell. “We’re not publicly disclosing any moves impacting the operations of our offices in New York City,” said Darryl Frost, a KWRI spokesperson.
Prior to joining Keller Williams, Bracha was Douglas Elliman’s top-ranked agent by gross commission income. He and Binstock are also partners in real estate investment firm B+B Investment Group.
Until August, Keller Williams Midtown occupied 29,000 square feet at 1155 Avenue of the Americas, where it paid a reported $1.4 million in annual rent.
Between 2014 and 2017, Keller Williams NYC was also one of the Austin-based brokerage’s most successful operations, generating around $1 million in profit each year.
But productivity has dropped sharply amid tumult at the Midtown office, which has been roiled by a management shakeup and exodus of agents.
On TRD’s ranking of top residential firms for 2018, Keller Williams (Midtown and Tribeca) clocked in at No. 12 with $204.5 million in sell-side deals. It ranked No. 6 by agent count, with 686 agents — a 16 percent drop from the prior year.
According to Bracha, the firm needed to restructure and right-size after it grew too big by hiring unproductive agents.
In August the Midtown office downsized, moving to a WeWork location at 575 Fifth Avenue. “This decision underscores our commitment of minimizing expenses,” Elizabeth Cho, the office’s team leader, told agents in an email at the time.
Last year Bracha and Binstock put the Tribeca office condo on the market, asking $19.5 million for the 15,000-square-foot space at 377-379 Broadway. The business partners’ B+B Capital purchased the condo for $10 million in 2014. Keller Williams Tribeca pays annual rent of $900,000.