Despite downturn, PB brokers made moves in 2009

Dec.December 28, 2009 12:28 PM

Palm Beach brokers had a busy 2009, if not in terms of sales, then in terms of moving. Mergers, high profile departures and hirings as well as expansion all characterized a year that saw lots of market drama.

At the start of 2009, the Mirsky Realty Group brought Heidi Cole into the company and expanded its operations. Now called Mirsky Cole & Company, it has 79 agents in two Palm Beach offices and one Jupiter location.

Sheri and Paul Reback, whose family-owned company has serviced high-end properties in North Palm Beach for 35 years, bought an Engel & Voelkers franchise and converted that firm’s North Palm Beach office, with eight agents, in late 2008. Then, they bought a Palm Beach franchise and opened an office on Peruvian Avenue with three agents in April 2009.

The Rebacks bought another Engel & Voelkers franchise a few miles south of Palm Beach in the Manalapan area. They opened a new office there earlier this month with Bunny Hiatt and Jack Elkins, formerly realtors with the Corcoran Group, and Charles Velie, who had been a realtor with Premier Estate Properties.

“It might be viewed as unusual to expand at this time, considering the current market situation,” Sheri Reback told the Palm Beach Daily News. “But we believe things will turn around and we’ll be in prime form for the future.”

Fite Shavell & Associates, a firm that opened in August 2008 with seven realtors, now has 64 realtors. Its latest new hires include Jonathan Duerr, Betsey Hall, Sylvia James, Rhoda Kleid, Pat McInerney, Hazel Rubin, Lynn Telling and Paula Whittman. In a backhanded sort of triumph, agent Gary Pohrer this week shepherded a Palm Beach manse through a $3.95 million short sale, a rare occurrence on the pricey island.

The end of the year saw plenty of activity in other quarters. Brown Harris Stevens hired new realtors in December: Charlotte Curran, Elaine Edwards, Gregory Weadock, Mahnaz Whelton and Carla Coser.

There were tough moments, too. An Illustrated Properties Real Estate franchise office in Lantana closed and moved to an IPRE company-owned office in Manalapan. Palermo Long Realty merged with IPRE, closing its office in Lantana and moving to the Manalapan location.

Ocean and Intracoastal Properties in Lantana is now a Keller Williams franchise owned by Linda and Tom Shea and Diane Harbison.

Tauriello and Company Real Estate consolidated by closing its Lake Worth and Manalapan offices and moving back to its home office in Delray Beach.

But even in a tough market, where dream properties languished on a market squeezed by tight credit, Jeffrey Ray jumped in with both feet. Ray, who had worked with Scott Gordon Realty Associates, acquired his broker’s license in the summer and opened his own office, Jeffrey Ray Associates, with John Haas and Jennifer McHenry.

“I’ve always been entrepreneurial,” he said. “I‘ve always had good clients, been able to represent sellers and buyers and do business in spite of the market,” he said.

As The Real Deal previously reported, Brown Harris Stevens of Palm Beach hired five associates this month while Linda A. Gary Real Estate is looking to hire new agents, and the Corcoran Group expects to hire agents as the market starts to look up.

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