Top broker poaches of 2017
From Stolly to Shemesh, we recap the year in resi and commercial agent moves
Unlike previous years, when major players jumped from one firm to another, big-name agents largely stuck with their firms this year.
On the residential front, Vickey Barron, who left Douglas Elliman for the Corcoran Group in June, was a key exception. Another notable shuffle between Elliman and Corcoran was Tamir Shemesh, who left Corcoran after a spat with the firm’s top management.
As for Compass, which has aggressively courted agents in recent years, the venture-backed firm poached Brian Lewis, a Halstead Property veteran, for its new Upper West Side office. But Compass snagged fewer big-name players in New York than it did in prior years as it focused on recruiting brokers in new markets across the country.
In commercial real estate, there were no shakeups along the lines of Doug Harmon and Adam Spies’ shocking move from Eastdil Secured to Cushman & Wakefield. But there was still a flurry of musical chairs in several areas: investment sales, financing, and office and retail leasing.
Several of the year’s more interesting commercial broker moves were not from one brokerage to another, as they traditionally are. Some jumps were to or from investment firms. For example, Mark Jaccom joined Walter & Samuels (from JRT Realty, and from Cresa before that), and Mo Beler left Innovo Property Group (for JLL) and David Gorelick left Simon Property Group (for Cushman & Wakefield).
Here are the top broker jumps of 2017:
After a dispute with the Corcoran Group’s top brass, top-producing residential broker Tamir Shemesh left the firm abruptly in June. “There were a few things we were not in agreement on, so we decided to part ways,” he said at the time. A week later, Shemesh —who was No. 37 on The Real Deal’s top resi agents list in 2016 — rejoined Douglas Elliman, which he’d left in 2011 for Corcoran. At Corcoran, Shemesh represented new developments including DDG’s 21-unit condo at 325 West Broadway and Toll Brothers’ 81-unit condominium at 400 Park Avenue South. He did his biggest deal in 2013, representing the buyer of a $32.5 million pad at 15 Central Park West.
Another Corcoran-Elliman swap in 2017 was Vickey Barron, who closed $150 million in new development sales in 2016 while at Elliman. At Elliman, Barron led sales for Magnum Real Estate Group’s 100 Barclay, before developer Ben Shaoul replaced the firm with Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. Barron also marketed JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s Walker Tower, where she sold a record-breaking $51 million penthouse. According to Corcoran, Barron has sold more than $2.5 billion worth of real estate in her career.
Brian Lewis, a 17-year agent at Halstead Property and one of the firm’s top-producing agents, took his star-studded client roster to Compass in October, joining the firm’s new Upper West Side office. Lewis — who has represented the actors Patrick Stewart and Christopher Meloni — is perhaps best known for his video savvy. A 2015 video tour was dubbed by People magazine as the “weirdest, most wonderful apartment ad ever.” In November, Compass raised $450 million from Softbank, for a total of $775 million raised from investors. The brokerage is valued at $2.2 billion.
Longtime Douglas Elliman rental executive Luciane Serifovic jumped to Town Residential in 2017, after a brief stint as sales manager of Elliman’s three West Side offices. Serifovic, who cut her teeth at Citi Habitats, was Elliman’s executive director of rentals from 2014 to 2016, when she was replaced by Hal Gavzie (a Town alum). This past May, she joined Town to head up international sales. A key focus is forging strategic alliances with other brokerages worldwide, similar to Town’s partnership with Fortune International Group in Florida.
Veteran Upper East Side broker Laurance Kaiser — who founded Key-Ventures in 1968 — became one of the first hires by Berkshire Hathaway’s nascent New York City operation, which launched in January. Kaiser, along with Key-Ventures principal Craig Dix, took their team to the firm in June.
With more than 50 years worth of experience in the business, Kaiser ranked No. 30 on TRD’s list of top agents in 2016, with $135.3 million in listings. One of the longtime agent’s claims to fame is brokering the city’s first $1 million residential deal in 1978. Berkshire’s New York City operation is overseen by Ellie Johnson.
See more 2017 year end reviews here
Investment-sales volume was not only down in 2017, but so was the number of poachings of investment-sales brokers. One of the few moves in that space was Eric Anton, who left HFF for Marcus & Millichap in June. With colleague Andrew Scandalios, Anton brokered big deals such as Shorenstein Properties’ $330 million acquisition of the ground lease at 1407 Broadway, the $175 million sale of the Clock Tower site in Long Island City to the Durst Organization. Prior to joining HFF in 2014, he worked at Eastern Consolidated and Brookfield Financial.
When David Gorelick joined Cushman in July, there were challenges abounded. He was new to brokerage and therefore new to heading up U.S. retail operations at a time when the retail industry was widely considered doomed. Gorelick worked on the real estate side for Ralph Lauren and now-defunct retailer Buckler, and most recently headed up client accounts for mall giant Simon Property Group. As the head of Cushman’s U.S. retail division, Gorelick is in charge of 90 markets, 200 brokers and more than 200 affiliates.
Star retail broker Robin Abrams left behind Lansco Corporation in May after 38 years at the embattled commercial brokerage. She joined Eastern Consolidated as principal and vice chair of retail, bringing her team of three with her. Eastern Consolidated placed ninth on TRD’s recent retail brokerages ranking with 173,000 square feet across 77 deals. Lansco, which has lost several brokers and is struggling to fend off the competition, did not crack the top 15.
In one of the New York debt brokerage world’s biggest 2017 leaps this year, Dustin Stolly went from JLL to Newmark Knight Frank. Over the summer, Stolly, one of JLL’s go-to debt brokers for nearly a decade, left the firm and considered either launching his own firm or joining another. In July, Newmark hired him as vice chair and co-head of the debt and structured finance group. The hire was part of Newmark’s recent push to boost the firm’s burgeoning debt operation leading up to initial public offering earlier this month. Since joining, Stolly has brokered Normandy Real Estate Partners’ $170 million loan for the ABC Carpet & Building purchase and redevelopment. His former JLL colleague Aaron Appel was recently named the head of debt and equity finance at that firm.
On the office-leasing front, one titan exited CBRE for rival Cushman & Wakefield. Patrick Murphy, whom TRD ranked the seventh biggest Manhattan office-leasing broker of 2016 , joined Cushman as executive vice chair in March. He had worked at CBRE for 15 years. Last month, he was a broker on Odyssey Reinsurance Company’s 89,000-square-foot lease at First Stamford Place in Connecticut.