Brown Harris Stevens launches global broker network

30 firms are promoting each others' listings

Bess Freedman and Hall Willkie
Bess Freedman and Hall Willkie

After Brown Harris Stevens was unceremoniously dumped by Christie’s last year, the luxury brokerage found itself without an international partner for the first time in 30 years. So co-president Hall Willkie cracked open his Rolodex.

Six months later, he’s rounded up 30 brokerages around the globe that have agreed to promote each others’ listings online — without the fees or marketing costs associated with other affiliation agreements. The initiative went live in late December.

“The unique part is that for each listing, the contact is the listing broker themselves,” said Willkie, adding that there are no meetings, no dues and no referral fees — just exposure to buyers and sellers. “It’s a service we provide to our partners and they to us.”

So far, the group of 30 firms includes BHS, Hilton & Hyland Real Estate in Beverly Hills, Daniel Féau in Paris and London’s Strutt & Parker, among others. Willkie estimates the group will include 45 by the end of the year.

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Over the past decade, nearly every residential firm in New York has buddied up with an international player — such as Leslie J. Garfield and London-based Beauchamp Estates; Stribling & Associates and Savills; Douglas Elliman and Knight Frank; and Corcoran Group and John Taylor. Town Residential has affiliated itself with South Florida’s Fortune International Group, London’s Chestertons, Chicago’s Dream Town and Toronto’s Forest Hill Real Estate.

For years, BHS embraced the auction house model and was an affiliate of Christie’s — a relationship that’s based (some say falsely) on the notion that buyers of expensive art are buy luxury real estate. But in June, Christie’s abruptly terminated the 30-year relationship to plant its own flag in New York.

It’s gained little traction since.

Willkie said the newly formed group is “much more powerful” than the auction-house model, and he described the syndicate as a kind of club for top brokers around the world to share their best listings. “We give this to each other,” he said. “It’s an incredible thing.”

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