Stephen Kotler, chief revenue officer of residential brokerage Douglas Elliman, has moved to Los Angeles to oversee the firm’s expansion in the county, The Real Deal has learned. While he only recently arrived and is living in a Beverly Hills hotel, he already has strong feelings about which L.A. deli is superior.
“Finding a good deli out here is important, and Nate’n Al is the best,” Kotler said.
As far as sit-down restaurants go, he enjoys South Beverly Grill.
Douglas Elliman expanded to L.A. two years ago, and has hired 55 agents at its office on El Camino Drive. Kotler is looking to hire 80 to 100 more within the next year. He spends most mornings meeting the competition: brokers from other firms that he wants to recruit. He spends the second half of most days working with the firm’s existing agents, helping them strategize.
“The ultimate goal is to be in the markets where our customers are looking, and the first extension of that is Beverly Hills,” Kotler said. “But we do have plans to move into other markets in L.A., so we are looking at Malibu, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Venice.”
Elliman has already expanded aggressively in Beverly Hills, going from a sales volume of $151 million in 2014 to $312 million in 2015, Kotler said.
A lot of the firm’s business in Beverly Hills is referral business from New York, where Elliman is the largest residential brokerage.
“On our digital platform, we can track that there is a tremendous amount of activity in New York looking at our properties in L.A.,” Kotler said, adding that the uptick in residential high-rise development has made the area more attractive to Manhattanites. “New Yorkers like the idea of having a place out here without having to maintain a house. The more L.A. shifts toward vertical living, the more interest it will see from New York.”
Kotler said the firm has also seen interest from foreign buyers in places like London and Beijing.
Outside of its business in Beverly Hills, Elliman is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Chinese developer Greenland Group’s massive $1 billion Metropolis project Downtown, which, when completed, will be the biggest mixed-use development on the West Coast.
Colin Keenan, office manager at the firm’s Beverly Hills outpost, will lead the El Camino Drive office once Kotler departs, but the CRO ultimately seeks to hire someone to lead all of the firm’s expansion in California.
“We’re not rushing into anything,” Kotler said. “I will stay here as long as is necessary.”
While the length of his stay in L.A. is unknown, Kotler said it will likely range from six months to a year.
Kotler has been with Douglas Elliman since 1991. The firm has 80 offices and recently expanded to Aspen, Colorado. Kotler said 90 percent of his time is now focused on the L.A. expansion.
Douglas Elliman sees more than $15 billion in annual sales, Kotler said.