UPDATED, March 4, 5:51 p.m.: Big deals mean big rewards at Douglas Elliman — or at least major bragging rights.
A year after Citadel founder Ken Griffin’s record-breaking $238 million purchase at 220 Central Park South, Elliman brokers Oren and Tal Alexander got to bask in some of that glory. The brothers, who represented the hedge fund magnate on the transaction, received the inaugural National Ellies Award Tuesday night, going to the highest-grossing brokers company wide.
It was among a host of honors presented at the agency’s annual awards, where hundreds of real estate agents and brokers gathered in a Connecticut casino.
Despite coronavirus concerns, nearly 1,200 agents made the trip from Elliman’s eight markets across the U.S. Some dropped the handshakes in favor of elbow bumps, with hand sanitizer passed around as liberally as the canapés.
Dubbed The Ellies, the annual honors go to agents and teams of up to 10 people who brought in the highest gross commission income for the firm in each region. (Dollar figures for individuals and teams were not disclosed.)
The firm said its 7,000 agents closed nearly 45,000 sales and rental deals totaling $28.7 billion across the country last year. Of that, 150 teams and individuals — roughly 2 percent of the firm — were honored for tallying gross commission income of $1 million or more.
The inaugural National Ellies Award went to the Alexanders, and the duo was also named New York City’s highest grossing team. Oren Alexander, who said he flies solo in Florida, was also the Sunshine State’s top-earning agent. Both brokers are in their early 30s, making them the youngest winners in years.
“It’s always been a goal and a dream to be up here,” said Oren Alexander as he posed for photos at the event.
But could the Alexanders’ 2019 banner year be repeated or even bested?
“It can be topped. It can be topped in a different way,” Tal Alexander said after the ceremony.
“If anything this makes us even hungrier,” added Oren Alexander of the accolades.
Though the Alexanders took home the top prize, dozens of other agents around the country were honored. Long Island brokers had an especially strong cheering section.
The event took place at Mohegan Sun resort and casino on the final day of Elliman’s two-day agent conference, where the brokerage showcases its services to agents. This year, the conference took place as the industry endures cost-cutting and competes for talent. Earlier on Tuesday, the firm also launched a new website.
New York agent Noble Black, whose team ranked No. 3 in the city, said he sees the Ellies as a chance to recognize peers who aren’t just involved in the high-profile transactions.
“I think there’s a lot of genuine happiness” among colleagues, he said.
Throughout the night, honorees gathered in one corner of the large room to take photos with Elliman’s chairman, Howard Lorber, and CEO Dottie Herman, congratulating and cajoling each other.
“I’m so touched,” said Chris Leavitt, whose Palm Beach team with business partner Ashley McIntosh tied with The Carroll Group in the No. 1 spot in Florida.
“Baller bitch!” shouted broker Monica Novo at Bill Hernandez, whose Miami team with Bryan Sereny ranked No. 3. Novo and her team moved to Elliman from the Corcoran Group last year.
The late Faith Hope Consolo’s team, now known as the Maglio + Shuster + Zisholtz Team, ranked third in New York. It did more than 80 percent of its business last year in the second half, as the team was spent time wrapping up Consolo’s affairs after her sudden death in December 2018, according to Arthur Maglio.
“It’s very rewarding,” he said. “We were able to keep the ship moving.”
The team declined to comment on a New York Times article that uncovered some of the “Queen of Retail’s” past she had kept hidden. But Diana Zisholtz did note Consolo was best known for her track record of deals and “that’s the legacy we carry on.”
And the top Manhattan agent is…
There was also some friendly competition bubbling. The No. 1 and No. 2 Hamptons agents, Michaela Keszler and Erica Grossman, often do deals together and jockey for the top position every year.
“We’re friends,” said Keszler, who came out on top this time.
“I’m really so happy for her,” Grossman added.
Ann Cutbill Lenane was the No. 1 agent in Manhattan by gross commission income. She joked at the end of the night that no one was asking her about business. Instead, she said, they all wanted to know how her very public search for love was progressing.
Lenane dished that of the thousands of inquiries she fielded since creating a video seeking suitors, only three were from New York City. But she also revealed she shot a pilot this year for a potential show she’s calling “The State of Love,” which follows her dating journey across the country.
In California, the Altman Brothers Team ranked first while the top-grossing individual agent was Juliette Hohnen. Neither made it to the ceremony Tuesday, but other winners did, including No. 2-ranked team leader Ernie Carswell and Tracy Tutor, whose firm was No. 4 in California.
Herman called the night “the most important event of our agents’ year” though this year, some brokers called it a little stiff, even verging on boring.
There was none of the usual off-the-cuff jokes or ad-libbed market commentary from Elliman’s C-suite; execs took turns announcing the award categories, reading from giant teleprompters a few feet from the podium.
Each Ellies winner receives a crystal trophy but this year the keepsakes are being mailed, so agents took a brisk walk across the stage — or danced, in the case of broker Adam Rothman — before filtering back into the crowd.
Following the event, many agents retreated to a bar at the base of the hotel’s interior waterfall for a nightcap, while Stephen Kotler, who heads Elliman’s California region, joined general counsel Ken Haber at the blackjack table. How they fared was not known.
Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]