UPDATED, June 7, 12:55 p.m.: Top Douglas Elliman agents Oren and Tal Alexander left the brokerage after a decade to launch a company called Official, backed by the white-label firm Side, The Real Deal has learned.
The brothers, who led the Alexander Team in New York, South Florida, the Hamptons and Aspen, will hang their licenses with venture capital-backed Side, but are starting their own firm, the Alexanders and Side confirmed. The Alexanders’ page on Elliman’s website was removed Tuesday.
The Alexander Team said it closed more than $1.8 billion in sales last year, accounting for 3.5 percent of Elliman’s $51.2 billion worth of business in 2021.
The team was ranked the top Elliman team by gross commission income and sales volume in both New York and Florida last year. It also won the brokerage’s National Award for the third year in a row, most recently in the large team category.
Oren Alexander, who is based in Miami Beach, and Tal Alexander, in New York, have been close to Elliman Chairman Howard Lorber. They moved to New York in 2008 during the financial crisis, and built their brand over the following decade.
A spokesperson for Elliman said the brokerage wished them well in their next endeavor and declined to provide an interview.
Real estate agents’ individual brands hold more weight now than ever before, observers say, with top brokers like Ryan Serhant, of “Million Dollar Listing” fame, going off on their own. Serhant left Nest Seekers International last year to open his own brokerage called Serhant.
Tal and Oren Alexander said they see a gap in the market they aim to fill with Official.
“There’s no brokerage that just speaks to the high-end market,” Oren Alexander said. “We have the ability to truly corner the ultra and super-prime markets.”
The sometimes controversial, jet-setting brothers, who together have about 82,000 Instagram followers, got their start in real estate visiting construction sites with their father, South Florida spec home developer Shlomy Alexander. They have been involved in a number of record-setting deals in New York, Miami and London, ruffling the feathers of their competitors along the way, including other agents at Elliman.
Side’s CEO Guy Gal started the San Francisco-based firm in 2017 with the goal of luring top agents around the country who run their own companies to be “partners.”
Side is “only delivering the back office,” while “the front office is entirely the Alexanders,” Gal said.
Side, he added, is a platform that has helped launch more than 400 companies since it was founded.
“They can fire us whenever they feel like it,” he said. “We are a vendor to them.”
Gal has said that Side takes a 10 percent cut of commissions. If partners choose to leave within their first two years, Side keeps their brands.
Side, which reached a valuation of $2.5 billion last year, recently laid off about 10 percent of its workforce due to market volatility and rapid expansion, Gal said in an email sent to staff, Inman reported last week. Side’s investors include Tiger Global Management, ICONIQ Capital and Trinity Ventures. It expanded to Florida in 2019.
Like many other brokerages, Elliman had a record year in 2021, nearly doubling its 2020 sales volume. The firm spun off from its parent company Vector Group and went public in December. It’s expected to be rewarding agents, executives and acquisition targets with shares of the new company.
The Alexanders’ decision to leave Elliman has been in the works for months, sources said. Oren Alexander said that the pandemic delayed his and his brother’s plans “because we got all of the sudden really busy” as luxury residential sales boomed in their markets.
Nearly all of the Alexanders’ agents in New York and Miami are joining them at Official, Tal and Oren Alexander said. The Alexander Team includes Sara Goldfarb and Isaac Lustgarten. Jennifer Goldstein in Florida is not leaving Elliman, Oren Alexander said.
The Alexanders said they plan to expand to the West Coast and grow in existing markets, including Florida, and also hinted they will be working on new developments.