Fort Lauderdale broker accuses Douglas Elliman’s Jay Parker of reneging on commission agreement: lawsuit

Howard Elfman alleges he put in all the work to sell 41 remaining units at Riva in Fort Lauderdale

Jay Parker and Howard Elfman and Riva condos
Jay Parker and Howard Elfman and Riva condos

Fort Lauderdale broker Howard Elfman is taking aim at Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage, in a recently filed lawsuit against the real estate company.

Elfman sued Douglas Elliman in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, alleging Parker backed out of an agreement to pay him an 8 percent commission rate for sales at Riva, a 100-unit condo building at 1180 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale.

According to the suit, Elfman claims he would have made at least $1.5 million, but that Parker sent him an agreement that would only pay up to $500,000. Elfman and a Douglas Elliman spokesperson declined comment.

Elfman, who at the time was an independent contractor for Douglas Elliman, claims he and another broker, Sasha Ezquerra, negotiated an agreement in late March 2018 with Riva builder Premier Developers for the national brokerage to be the exclusive sales agent for the project’s remaining 41 units. Prior to the negotiations, Elfman and Parker had numerous conversations in which Parker agreed to pay him a standard listing commission rate of 8 percent, the lawsuit states.

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Elfman claims he undertook a lion’s share of the work to land the Riva sales contract and that based on the project’s sales prices, he would have generated an estimated income of $1.5 million. On March 26, 2018, Parker allegedly recognized Elfman’s “loyalty, patience and commitment” to Douglas Elliman. Four days later, Elfman allegedly requested Parker send him a referral agreement for landing Riva, according to the suit.

Two months passed before Parker provided Elfman with the agreement, the lawsuit states. “The referral agreement was contrary to what was discussed and agreed to by plaintiff and Mr. Parker,” the complaint alleges. “In fact, the agreement expressly sought to limit the amount of commissions the plaintiff could receive as a referring agent to $500,000.”

Douglas Elliman took over sales and marketing for Riva’s remaining units from One Sotheby’s International Realty, which had launched sales for the project in 2015. To move the remaining units, the developer dropped the deposit requirement from 35 percent to 20 percent. Prices range from the $700,000s for two-bedroom units to $2.29 million for penthouses. The building, designed by Falkanger Snyder Martineau & Yates, features 40,000 square feet of amenities, including a spa facility, fitness center, pool, 22 boat slips, and a 60-foot-wide glass walled lobby overlooking the water.

As of January, when Bradley Deckelbaum’s Premier Developers took out a $28 million condo inventory loan, Riva had 26 unsold units.