In “new world of real estate,” Elliman exits Montecito office

Move is part of company-wide cuts; brokerage says 18 agents will work remotely and can still compete in high-end market

Douglas Elliman CEO Howard Lorber and West Coast exec Stephen Kotler
Vector Group CEO Howard Lorber and Douglas Elliman West Coast exec Stephen Kotler

Douglas Elliman has shuttered its Montecito office, where 18 agents operated from in one of Southern California’s priciest ZIP codes outside Los Angeles County. The departure — part of a company-wide plan to consolidate locations across the country — is the latest among several brokerages in the SoCal area that have shed leases during the coronavirus crisis.

A company spokesperson confirmed that Elliman exited its location in the Olive Mill Plaza on Coast Village Road in Santa Barbara. Its agents will continue to serve the Montecito area, but will work remotely.

The pandemic has made the brokerage focus resources “toward more productive areas other than brick and mortar,” the spokesperson said. She added the company will continue to provide agents with “all the support, marketing and resources they need to succeed in this new world of real estate.”

In an earnings call last month, Howard Lorber, CEO of parent company Vector Group, said Elliman would consolidate offices and negotiate “rent reductions, deferrals, or holidays” with landlords nationwide. Lorber also said the brokerage would cut 25-percent of its staff and slash salaries 15 percent for remaining employees.

Montecito is one of Southern California’s top luxury markets outside of Los Angeles County. Its 93108 ZIP code has a median home value of $3 million, according to Zillow, and a median home listing price of $4 million.

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“It’s a major high-end market,” said Stephen Shapiro, chairman of luxury brokerage Westside Estate Agency. He added that Elliman “may have come into the game late.”

Elliman set up shop there around 2015, about a year after it entered the L.A. market. The company brought in Stephen Kotler from from New York to expand West Coast operations.

Earlier this month, Coldwell Banker, L.A.’s top brokerage by sales volume, shuttered a Malibu office and said it is looking to sublet its Los Feliz location.

Elliman’s Montecito location is owned by Black Valner LLC, a Santa Monica-headquartered company, property records show. A message left with the landlord’s listed representative was not returned.