Top commercial real estate brokers Doug Harmon and Adam Spies are working on a new contract with Cushman & Wakefield — negotiations that could impact how billions of dollars’ worth of real estate is traded.
Harmon and Spies’ current contract with Cushman expires in October, five years after the brokers decamped from their longtime home, Eastdil Secured, in the fall of 2016.
When the duo joined Cushman, they received a large signing bonus that’s been paid out over the five-year term of their contract. Sources familiar with the existing deal said the most significant points to be negotiated center around the star dealmakers’ split with the house, among other financial terms.
The outcome of the negotiations could significantly impact compensation not only for the biggest trophy dealmakers, but also for brokers further down the trough, who can point to the deal as a benchmark.
Harmon wrote in a statement that, after nearly five years, he and his team “feel like an integral part” of Cushman” and reiterated their commitment to the company.
“The global platform, the people, the culture and the strength of the brand are all valued and appreciated by us,” he wrote. “We’re in the process of building a unique, best-in-class capital markets business incorporating our market research, leasing expertise, tenant relationships and all that CW has to offer for our clients to take advantage of opportunities through this recovery.”
Harmon and Spies’ surprise exit five years ago from their longtime home at Eastdil shook up the investment sales landscape and brought to light the princely bonuses brokerages are willing to shell out to land a top sales team.
If the duo wants to test the market this time around, they will have fewer options to leverage. Their split from Eastdil turned acrimonious, so a reunion does not seem likely. Cushman’s biggest competitor, CBRE, already has a top team led by Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan.
Possible destinations include Newmark or JLL. The latter spent $1.8 billion two years ago to boost its capital markets presence by acquiring the sales and debt-placement specialty brokerage HFF. And while the deal has helped increase JLL’s share of the investment sales market, it still lags in a field that is dominated year after year by the competition between the Harmon and Spies team and CBRE’s Stacom and Shanahan.
After building up their platform at Cushman, Harmon and Spies transformed the brokerage into the top investment-sales firm in New York City for several years. During the pandemic, they shifted some of their focus away from New York, cutting deals in other cities and selling some nationwide portfolios. The brokers are said to be focused on building out a national practice now.
Last year, CBRE outperformed Cushman in New York City trophy sales above $100 million, racking up $3.13 billion in deals to Cushman’s $2.51 billion.