Buoyed by the boroughs

The 40 top agents closed $700-plus million in deals in Brooklyn and Queens in 2018
By C.J. Hughes | July 01, 2019 10:00AM

Fredrik Eklund, John Gomes and Ryan Serhant

While many of the top agents on this ranking have stuck to the rarefied world of Manhattan real estate, others (particularly the largest of the teams) have aggressively ventured into the boroughs.

The Eklund | Gomes Team and the Serhant Team are, for example, both pushing deeper into Brooklyn in particular.

In February, Eklund | Gomes tapped a new team leader in Brooklyn, Jessica Peters, who will focus on new development. The duo’s 10-person Brooklyn team — which is based out of 280 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg — is handling sales for Fortis Property Group’s 201-unit River Park project, a collection of apartments and townhouses near the waterfront in Cobble Hill.

Serhant’s team, meanwhile, has had a Brooklyn office in Bedford-Stuyvesant since 2016.

His highest-profile assignment in the borough has been Greenland’s 278-unit 550 Vanderbilt, at the Pacific Park mega-project — a gig he landed in 2017 when the tower was 65 percent sold but sales had started slowing.

He said that in 2018, his team there, which replaced Corcoran Sunshine, completed $100 million in sales. But it hasn’t come easy. In December, Serhant email-blasted fellow brokers announcing a one-day 20 percent-off sale at the tower, according to the Brooklyn website the Bridge.

But Serhant said his pivot to Brooklyn has been key.

“I’m a real estate broker. My success and reputation depend on how much I sell everywhere,” he said. “It was getting hard to sell a two-bedroom facing a brick wall in Manhattan for $5 million. So I might as well sell five $1 million apartments in Brooklyn.”

And Serhant — who has a 57-member team spread between his Brooklyn and Soho offices — is also moving to the borough.

Last year, he and his wife, Emilia Bechrakis Serhant, bought a $7.6 million Boerum Hill townhouse that he listed for author Jonathan Safran Foer. (The couple will relocate from their Hudson Square home when a renovation wraps next year, he said.)

Serhant is also planning to open a Long Island City office, in part to help market two new condos: Silverback Development’s 109-unit Hero and Circle F Capital’s 71-unit Prime.

Overall, the 40 agents on TRD’s ranking closed $706.9 million in deals in Brooklyn and Queens in 2018, with nearly all of that in the former borough.

Major New York brokerages have, of course, all been pushing into Brooklyn and prime Queens for more than a decade. But they’re opening offices in new geographic areas now.

Halstead, for example, opened a Bay Ridge office this past winter with a Bedford-Stuyvesant office already in place. All told, the firm now has seven offices and 130 agents in Kings County, a spokesperson said. It has two offices in Queens, in Long Island City and Forest Hills, with 42 agents.

But many of the agents who are doing significant business in the two boroughs don’t make the cut on this ranking because they were being measured against top Manhattan agents, who do eight-digit deals on the regular.

In addition, the market in both Brooklyn and Queens is facing the same challenging conditions it is in Manhattan.

Brooklyn saw sales volume drop 8 percent in the first quarter year over year, according to Elliman data.

In some parts of Queens, the drop was even more pronounced, according to the Queens-based brokerage Modern Spaces. Sales activity in Long Island City, for example, plummeted 52 percent in 2018’s fourth quarter year over year.