The Daily Dirt: After nearly two decades, resi brokerages finally merge

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Jan.January 29, 2020 02:35 PM
Citi Habitat president Gary Marlin and Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman (Credit: Corcoran)

Citi Habitat president Gary Marlin and Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman (Credit: Corcoran)

For 16 years, Corcoran and Citi Habitats have operated under the same corporate roof. Now they are knocking down the dividing walls.

Corcoran acquired Citi Habitats back in 2004, but the two companies operated separately under parent Realogy. Now, through a merger nearly two decades in the making, both companies will run under the Corcoran name, E.B. Solomont reports.

According to Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, the merger isn’t aimed at cutting costs, though the closure of Citi’s offices in Cobble Hill, Greenpoint, Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side will save it money. All of Citi’s 747 agents are moving over to Corcoran, boosting the firm’s agent count to 2,420. Liebman said the companies have always planned to merge and revisited the idea each year.

“We decided to pull the trigger,” she said.

The merger comes as both firms grapple with different market and political forces: Corcoran has faced sluggish luxury sales, while Citi has dealt with changes to the rent law, including a cap on application fees, which hurt its earnings. Meanwhile, Realogy has been battling Corcoran competitor Compass in court, accusing the unicorn of “predatory” poaching and unfair business practices.

The true history of the “queen of retail” has raised even more questions.

Last month the New York Times revealed the true origin story of Faith Hope Consolo, the legendary Douglas Elliman broker who died of a heart attack in December 2018. The report debunked the broker’s tales about her privileged upbringing in Connecticut, showing that she actually grew up in Brooklyn and that her father served at least two stints in prison.

Documents of her will apparently perpetuated fabrications about her upbringing, stating that she had no siblings and that her father died when she was a child. In fact, her father lived until 2012, and Consolo has two half brothers, Sylvia Varnham O’Regan reports.

Now, the brothers plan to request a formal evidentiary examination at Manhattan Surrogate’s Court to address the circumstances around the drafting of the will and her competency at the time. Court documents indicate that Consolo had little personal wealth when she died.

Alan Berkowitz, the executor of her will, said in the many years he knew Consolo she never mentioned having brothers. He said he plans to ask for a court order to publish a newspaper notice calling for any living relatives to come forward.

What we’re thinking about: Who will buy Forever 21? Are there any other brokerage mergers on the works? Send a note to [email protected].


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Tuesday was for a condo unit at 25 Columbus Circle in Lincoln Square, at $13.5 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 2277 Bathgate Avenue in Belmont, at $4.5 million.


The largest new building filing of the day was for a 276,578-square-foot residential building at 2551 Broadway on the Upper West Side. Paragon JV Partners LLC filed the permit application.


The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 55 West 17th Street in the Flatiron District, at $4.5 million. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

The most coveted fictional home, according to a survey by U.K.-based Faraway Furniture, is Wayne Manor from the Batman franchise. The only home with an address is SpongBob’s pineapple under the sea, at 124 Conch Street. Thank you to Kevin Sun for passing this along.

Elsewhere in New York

— In case you didn’t have enough to worry about while riding public transit, someone has been spreading peanut butter on subway poles on the A train, Gothamist reports.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio apparently isn’t keen on letting Rep. Max Rose loose on the deer of Staten Island, the New York Post reports. Rose indicated that he’d help hunt deer if the city approves a cull program. “I’m not going to be able to take him up on his offer,” the mayor said at an unrelated press conference Tuesday, suggesting the hunt would be dangerous.

— Speaking of killing animals, the mayor indicated that he will never return to the Staten Island Zoo for its annual Groundhog Day event, the New York Daily News reports. “I tried it, it didn’t end well, I won’t be back,” he said, referring of course to the 2014 festivities in which he dropped a 10-month-old groundhog named Charlotte. She died of internal injuries weeks later.

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