Q & A with Wade Shavell of Fite Shavell & Associates

The founder of number-one brokerages in Connecticut and Florida talks about Palm Beach real estate

Wade Shavell

Wade Shavell founded what became the largest residential brokerage in
Connecticut, Riverside Shavell, until he sold it to NRT. Five years
later, he obtained the Corcoran name from NRT to bring a brokerage to
Palm Beach, until moving back to an independent brokerage by starting
Fite Shavell & Associates, which in a short time has become the number one residential office in Palm Beach, both in sales and listings. Shavell talked to
The Real Deal about the firm’s recent sale of author James Patterson’s Palm Beach mansion, the split from Corcoran, and his company’s plans for expansion in South Florida.

How did you end up in Palm Beach?
I started my company Riverside Shavell in Westport, Conn. In fact, it was the largest real estate office in Connecticut. So I owned it for many years, then I sold it to NRT, and then five years later, NRT asked me to bring a real estate office [to Florida]. We thought we were going to use the name Coldwell Banker in Palm Beach, Florida. There was a wonderful woman named Louise Sunshine — she said, why don’t you use the name Corcoran, because NRT had just purchased Corcoran. So that’s how it came, I was coming, NRT was making a move to Palm Beach. It wasn’t because it was Corcoran, it was because they wanted me. So we ended up bringing the name Corcoran, and I met Pam Liebman.

What motivated the move from Corcoran?
I ran the company for a few years.  We had about 80 agents. Then about half of the agents just wanted to be back at an independent office. It was nothing bad about Corcoran, we just wanted to be with an independent office. I own the building in Palm Beach which houses our office. I bought it for Corcoran; Corcoran leased it from me. So what happened is, the market started to change, and we were having some personal issues, and I resigned. David Fite, who was the COO of Douglas Elliman called me and thought maybe we would bring Douglas Elliman to Palm Beach, and I said, I’ve only worked for a company once in my life, and it wasn’t for me. I respect Corcoran, but it wasn’t for me. I would never do that again. I would only work for myself. David and I met and we decided to do it ourselves.

How is the relationship between you and Corcoran now?
Not good.

What is the state of the Palm Beach market?
The market is very tough. We tell all of our clients, if they want to sell, they have to be aggressive with their prices. We are very, very tough with our listings. We will not take overpriced listings.

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How did the James Patterson transaction play out?
Betsey Hall is a major broker here — she was with Brown Harris — she joined us about eight months ago. She represented James Patterson — she sold the Pattersons their new house, which was about $17 million, and she listed their present house for around $15 million, and it sold for $11 million [the third-highest sale in Palm Beach in 2010]. She sold it rather quickly. I would say within 60 days it was under contract.

Connecticut’s Fairfield County has some very expensive real estate. Is there any difference with selling high-priced homes in Palm Beach?
I would say it’s the same challenge, because it’s a lot of Wall Street people, but it’s a little worse because its second homes and third homes. In Fairfield County, it’s mostly the primary residence.

What transactions do you have in the works?
We are working on a rather large listing, which will be in the $20 million range, but it’s not pending yet, we’re just working on it.

Do you have plans to expand further in South Florida?
Yes. We will be going to Palm Beach Gardens. We are about to take a lease on a building there. We also started an office in Westport, Conn. last week. 

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