Elliman makes first foray into Brooklyn

Brooklyn has another major player in the increasingly crowded residential brokerage market.

Last month, Douglas Elliman made its first foray into the borough with the acquisition of Marilyn A. Donahue Real Estate.

Douglas Elliman joins Brown Harris Stevens and Corcoran as the major Manhattan players in the Brooklyn market. The only Brooklyn-based firm that rivals those Manhattan firms in size is Fillmore Real Estate, which has more than 500 agents.

With the purchase, Douglas Elliman acquires two offices, one on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights and another on Court Street in Cobble Hill. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Marilyn A. Donahue, which was founded in 1967, is a small firm with 10 agents.

But Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, said the plan was to expand quickly.

“We’re looking for space – we’re in the process of negotiating a lease for a 5,000 square foot office,” Herman said.

Herman said the buy is the first of many acquisitions and the first move towards the establishment of a “strong presence” in the borough.

“We’ll get ourselves situated there first,” she said. “Then we plan to grow through acquisitions, as well as grow from within. We have a lot of agents that currently live in Brooklyn.”

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Herman didn’t say whether she plans to stick to the upscale parts of the borough – “Brownstone Brooklyn” – or whether she wants to expand to other areas.

Herman said she had known Donahue, who is a neighbor on the East End of Long Island, where both own houses, for the past two years.

“I knew her through one of our managers on the East End,” said Herman. They started talking about a deal “in the last six months or so.”

Donahue, who will become an executive vice president with Douglas Elliman, said the time was right to make a deal.

“Since 1997, it had been clear to me that the Manhattan market had discovered Brooklyn,” she said. “The success of the market right now is one of those ‘overnight’ successes that has taken 37 years.”

In June, Halstead bought 25-agent William S. Ross Real Estate, with offices in Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. A month later, Brown Harris Stevens bought William B. May’s operations in Brooklyn, which include two offices.

Not every Brooklyn company wants to be bought by a larger firm.

“We’re very happy to be the way we are here,” said Danielle Moss , an agent at Harborview Realty, a high-end boutique firm of 15 agents in Brooklyn Heights. “Now we’re more or less the only one special, because the other companies are being bought up.”

“I don’t see a reason to be a part of a bigger company,” added Moss , who once worked at Corcoran. “I don’t want to work in a factory.”