Brenda Powers exits Sotheby’s for Compass – but Elizabeth Sample stays

Broker couple will work separately for first time in two decades

Brenda Powers and Elizabeth Sample
Brenda Powers and Elizabeth Sample

One of real estate’s most dynamic power couples has parted ways – at least professionally.

Elizabeth Lee Sample and Brenda Powers will no longer work together at Sotheby’s International Realty after Powers opted to jump to startup brokerage Compass, Powers confirmed Monday.

Powers, who will now split her time between New York and Miami, said she was moving to Compass to help expand her business across the country and would be teaming up with Joanna Berg, a former colleague from the Miami office of Sotheby’s who is also moving to Compass. Because of Sotheby’s licensing rules, Powers hadn’t been able to obtain a license to do business in Florida despite the fact that many of the pair’s clients were migrating south, she said.

“I call it [Miami] Alexandria the Great,” Powers told The Real Deal. “Lots of exciting things are happening there. We need to be in Miami.”

The shift marks the end of what’s been an enormously successful run for the couple, who started out as partners at the Corcoran Group in the early 1990s. They subsequently moved together to Brown Harris Stevens and then Sotheby’s in 2011. Together, the pair sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of luxury real estate, including a triplex co-op at the Pierre in 1999 for $21.5 million, setting a record for New York’s priciest apartment sale at the time.

More recently, they’ve specialized in selling at the Time Warner Center, where they also live. They ranked number 34 on The Real Deal’s last annual ranking of the city’s brokers by listing volume, with $144.54 million worth of listings. Sample’s current listings include an $11.9 million apartment at The Plaza and an $11.5 million pad at 80 Columbus Circle.

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Powers downplayed the significance of no longer being business partners with Sample, saying the pair could still work together on deals.

“Now, we’ll be the Charlie’s Angels of real estate,” she said. The news of Powers’ move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Louise Sunshine, a new development marketing executive who recently signed on as a new development consultant at Compass, told TRD the firm’s clients would “benefit from Brenda’s extraordinary skills in sales.”

But will Sample and Powers be able to generate the same traction independently?

“Because they were a team both professionally and personally, they had no distractions, and hyperfocused on their shared goal to succeed,” Barbara Corcoran, the founder of the Corcoran Group, told the New York Times in 2011.

Asked about Powers’ departure, Sotheby’s Ellie Johnson, who heads up the firm’s Upper East Side office, issued the following statement: “We wish Brenda continued success in her move to Miami and all the best in her future endeavors. We are pleased that Elizabeth Sample, one of the company’s top 10 brokers in New York City, will remain at Sotheby’s International Realty.”

Powers is just the latest top producer to exit Sotheby’s in Manhattan after Roger Erickson defected to Douglas Elliman late last year.