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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Douglas Elliman opens new Malibu office — but the management structure is unclear

The president of the California division will be leading the office
By Natalie Hoberman | September 07, 2017 03:45PM

Douglas Elliman office in Malibu, with Stephen Kotler and Peter Hernandez (Douglas Elliman, Steve Magner, Getty)

UPDATED: Friday, September 8th, 2017, 11:00: Douglas Elliman’s new Malibu office at 22333 Pacific Coast Highway officially opened Thursday, but it’s unclear who will be charged with expanding the company into the increasingly competitive territory — which has seen many of the year’s priciest deals.

Teles co-founder Peter Hernandez, who was named president of Elliman’s California division when the two companies merged in July, will be leading the office, a spokesperson for the New York-based brokerage told The Real Deal.

“Peter Hernandez is the ideal person for the job,” said Stephen Kotler, chief executive of Elliman’s western region. “Not only is he a long-time resident of Malibu, but he has almost 30 years of real estate management experience in Southern California.”

But the Malibu native will also be performing his executive duties from his home city. No lower-level manager responsible for agents in the office has been named — a move some in the industry say is ill-advised.

“I don’t think the same person who’s a president should manage a branch of a company that size,” Michael Nourmand of Nourmand & Associates said. “I didn’t even do it for my own company because it’s too much ground to cover. Each branch should have a manager that’s dedicated to that branch and physically there.”

California leadership has been in the hands of Stephen Kotler, who originally moved to Los Angeles to start Elliman’s Western expansion. Teles managers are in place at the offices acquired by Elliman, the spokesperson said. But some are responsible for multiple locations. Stan Smith, formerly of Teles, for example, manages two offices in Beverly Hills, one in Manhattan Beach and one in Palm Springs.

The combined companies have 630 agents across 21 offices in California, and accounted for more than $27.4 billion in total closed sales volume nationwide last year, according to the merger press release. Elliman accounted for $24.6 billion of that, according to a separate release, leaving Teles’ piece of the pie at $2.8 billion.

This story has been updated to include a comment from Stephen Kotler.