A missing lawyer, a Swiss mystery, and a spendthrift client lead brokers to victory at REBNY resi awards

Reba Miller and Julia Cole take home first prize in "Deal of the Year" category

Winners of REBNY’s 29th Annual Residential Deal of the Year Awards for 2016-2017 with their managers and REBNY leadership. (Credit: Richard Lewin)
Winners of REBNY’s 29th Annual Residential Deal of the Year Awards for 2016-2017 with their managers and REBNY leadership. (Credit: Richard Lewin)

It took five months of chasing down clues, rummaging through musty storage lockers, and social media sleuthing for Reba Miller and Julia Cole of RP Miller Realty Group to sell a retail-turned residential unit with a very murky history. Their efforts brought them top-deal status Thursday night at the Real Estate Board of New York’s 29th annual residential award ceremony.

To lock down the deal, Miller and Cole had to track down a mortgage company that no longer existed. They succeeded in doing so after finding a decades-old mortgage document in the seller’s storage locker, which led them to the tracking down the Swiss attorneys via social media, finally confirming that the mortgage was satisfied. (The Corcoran Group’s Charlie Attias, the buy-side broker, shared the award.)

It was hardly the only mystery of the night. Another win went to a broker whose deal ran into trouble when the seller’s lawyer went missing along with the buyer’s deposit. Fortunately, as it turned out, the lawyer hadn’t absconded. Unfortunately, he had suffered a stroke and been hospitalized. Nevertheless, Michael Shapot and Robert Stabiner of Keller Williams NYC saw the deal through to the end, and took home the third prize in the residential deal of the year category for their trouble.

“I had client who needed me and it made me realize why I do what I do,” said Shapot, who was wearing a bolo tie to go with the event’s western theme.

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The second prize in that category went to Frank Castelluccio of Corcoran and Monica Luque of Douglas Elliman for completing a sale that took seven years. At one point the buyer sold enough art to finance the purchase, then spent all the money before he could sign. “This is one award you don’t want to win,” Luque said jokingly. “When you win it means that you went through hell and back.”

Some of the city’s top residential dealmakers hobnobbed at Metropolitan West, decked out in cowboy hats, bandanas, and embroidered denim. Warburg Realty’s Frederick Peters, Brown Harris Steven’s Bess Freedman and Diane Ramirez of Halstead Property were just a few of the attendees.

Brokers were in a celebratory mood, and many felt confident about the market. Stephen Kliegerman, president of Halstead Property Development Marketing, said that the residential market looks to be on the uptick. “Open house activity is up, offers are up, buyers activity is up,” he said, and in terms of pricing, “Buyers and sellers were diametrically opposed and now they’re coming together.”

Halstead took home three wins at the ceremony: Park Slope-based Joanna Mayfield Marks was awarded agent of the year; Matt Martin snagged the 2017 rookie of the year award; and Carson Ferri-Grant and Rodolfo Silva Cavallaro won the rental deal of the year. Elaine Dean of Corcoran received the lifetime achievement award and Jeff Rothstein of Elliman was honored with the Eileen Spinola award for distinguished service.

The night ended with dinner, live music, and a plethora of branded cowboy hats strewn across the room. A portion of the proceeds from the event went to a relief fund for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.