Competition for brokerage talent in Los Angeles has always been high, but 2016 marked a historic free-for-all in agent poaching.
On the residential side, newbie firms such as Douglas Elliman and Compass locked down big names. The spendy competition forced hiring managers to come up with more generous splits and other incentives for brokers to jump ship.
Commercial firms also got in on the action, as post-merger Cushman & Wakefield and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank caught big names from competing companies. Kevin Shannon and his team’s jump to NGKF, in particular, is likely to make waves for months to come.
Read on for a closer look at some of the biggest broker jumps of 2016.
The Joyce Rey and Stacy Gottula duo was one of Coldwell Banker’s top producing teams in 2015. Gottula started as Rey’s assistant in 2008, but grew to be her partner — and the two eventually had six assistants of their own. Gottula once told the Los Angeles Times they were “almost like mother and daughter,” citing their vacations and yoga dates. Which is why the industry was shocked when Gottula fled for the Agency in September. The get was one of the Agency’s biggest since it launched in 2011.
Together, Rey and Gottula had represented the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Helen Mirren and Renee Zellweger, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In 2015, they listed billionaire investor Jeff Greene’s “Palazzo di Amore” estate in Beverly Hills for $195 million — the most expensive listing in the U.S. at the time.
It wasn’t all wins for the Agency, though. It lost its fair share of agents to Compass, including Kofi Nartey, the managing director of its sports and entertainment division. Nartey, whose client list includes Michael Jordan and Iggy Azalea, said he had not been planning a departure from the Agency but couldn’t resist a chance to build a team from scratch with national reach. A former football player at the University of California at Berkeley, Nartey is also a regular on HGTV’s “Selling LA.”
Courtney Smith and Kurt Wisner
Compass’ poaching spree also hit Nourmand & Associates. Eastside broker duo Courtney Smith and Kurt Wisner and jumped to the startup in May, joining its Pasadena office. Eight additional agents and staff from Nourmand went with them. Under the Nourmand umbrella, Smith and Wisner ran their eponymous Eastside office, dubbed Courtney + Kurt, for 13 years, selling in the hipster triangle of Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz, as well as Atwater Village, Highland Park and Glassell Park.
In an interview with TRD, Nourmand & Associates President Michael Nourmand implied it wasn’t simply a poach. “[Smith and Wisner] are two exceptionally good agents that I am sure will continue to succeed, but they had different core values on things even as simple as signage,” he said.
Stephanie Younger, broker to the tech set in “Silicon Beach,” also jumped to Compass this year with her 21-person team. “Teles is a wonderful place and it was a great place for me to grow my business over the past seven years but the Compass model is very interesting and I couldn’t help but stop and look at them,” Younger said. With $150 million in sales last year, Younger’s was the No. 1 team at Teles in 2015. They will now be based out of Compass’ new office in the Westchester-Playa del Rey area.
Call him real estate’s prodigal son. After jumping to Compass in 2015, broker Scott Segall returned to his former firm Douglas Elliman last month, saying he’d been lured away by a great offer but actually felt more at home at Elliman. “I feel valued here, and that is a huge draw for me,” he said.
Segall was one in a handful of newbie Compass agents who went back to where they came from over the past year. Vera Nelson, Peggy Bray and Nicole Bray — who had left Coldwell Banker for Compass — also returned after just eight months.
Kevin Shannon and team
In a move that shook up L.A.’s commercial brokerage world like no other, powerbroker Kevin Shannon left his post as the vice chairman of the capital markets group at CBRE in January 2016, after nine years with the brokerage. He jumped to NGKF, becoming the president of the brokerage’s West Coast Capital Markets division. He brought 14 team members with him from CBRE, including Ken White and Rob Hannan.
“I’ve found change to be good thing throughout my career,” Shannon told TRD. “It reinvigorates you. Newmark is much more nimble and entrepreneurial.”
Shannon brokered some of the most significant commercial real estate deals in L.A. At the time he was hired by NGKF, he had sold and marketed more than $46 billion of office, industrial and retail properties since 1996. This year, his major deals included the $328 million sale of the Apollo at Rosecrans office campus to Intercontinental. The deal was one of many that he brokered — perhaps, awkwardly — alongside his ex-colleagues at CBRE.
Mike Condon and team
Despite being an older company, Cushman & Wakefield sought to reinvent itself post-DTZ-merger with what many new hires described as an “entrepreneurial” spirit. Among them: father-and-son brokers Michael Condon Sr. and Michael Condon Jr., who Cushman poached from JLL in May 2016, along with Brendan O’Shaughnessy, Steven Brey and Michelle Fajardo.
Condon Sr. brought 35 years of industry experience and high-profile clients like Toyota and Disney to Cushman’s Global Occupier Services team. His son, who joined the Capital Markets and Industrial team, brought something industry insiders say was just as valuable — experience with hoteliers and with wheeling and dealing in the Arts District and other pockets of Downtown Los Angeles.
Henry Johnson and Mike Scimo
A month after poaching the Condon team from JLL, Cushman proved it was on a roll. The brokerage nabbed one of CBRE’s prized duos, Henry Johnson and Mike Scimo, for its Global Occupier Services team. Scimo was vice chairman of global corporate services at CBRE, and before that worked for 16 years with Trammell Crow Company. Johnson held the same title at CBRE, where he worked for nine years, after 20 years at Trammell Crow Company.
Sources speculated that the Condon and Scimo team hires were part of Cushman’s long-term strategic planning for a downturn. The fee-based revenue that comes from the work these brokers do — such as lease administration, portfolio management and strategic planning — can remain fruitful in a downturn, even when deal volume drops. That work is especially pertinent when an impending IPO is on the line.
Cushman continued its hiring bender in September 2016, swooping up another big earner, Downtown Los Angeles broker Andrew Tashjian, from CBRE. The young broker holds the key to prolific developer Onni Group’s leasing accounts, including 600 and 800 Wilshire. He has also been involved in many major DTLA investment sales, including the $26 million dollar acquisition of 1201 South Grand Avenue, where Shenglong Group plans to build a 37-story luxury condominium tower.
“I think I will be arguably a little more nimble,” Tashjian said. “My business won’t change, but when you have more resources to build it into something significant, it will go a long way to putting points up on the board.”
The hire came shortly after Cushman nabbed retail bigwig Steve Algermissen from Colliers.
It wasn’t all losses for CBRE, which made some poaches of its own. In the case of Todd Tydlaska, you could call it a poach-back. The broker rejoined the firm after a year at HFF. It was his second time coming back around to CBRE after jumping to another brokerage. The first time, it was a two-year stint at Eastdil Secured, after which he returned to CBRE to work under Shannon.
Tydlaska, who is co-leading office sales in Los Angeles alongside Sean Sullivan, had been involved in the marketing and sale of more than $15 billion in commercial properties on the West Coast at the time he was hired.
NGKF poached leasing broker Will Adams from CBRE in March, along with his team member Norman Lee. Adams was at CBRE for nine years, before which he spent 18 years repping tenants for Studley.
Adams has represented some of the most prominent companies in the financial, entertainment and legal sectors. His notable transactions include JPMorgan’s 98,000-square-foot consolidation and relocation in Century City and Arnold & Porter’s lease for 78,000 square feet in DTLA.
Over the summer of 2016, NGKF continued hiring, nabbing Brad Feld, who was a partner at Madison Partners, as a vice chairman. In his six years at Madison, Feld specialized in tenant and landlord representation in leases for the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon and Viacom. He worked alongside the firm’s president, Bob Safai. Before Madison, he had a 20-year run at Cushman.