Elliman sales jump 6% to $26.1B in 2017

Firm closed megadeals in NYC in December

Howard Lorber and 432 Park Avenue
Howard Lorber and 432 Park Avenue

For all the talk of a new development slowdown, Douglas Elliman closed out 2017 with $26.1 billion in sales — a 6.1 percent jump over the prior year.

The New York-based brokerage finished with a strong fourth quarter, logging $6.3 billion in sales, up 10.5 percent from 2016’s $5.7 billion, according to a regulatory filing from Vector Group, the firm’s parent company. In December, for example, an unknown buyer paid $91.1 million for three units at 432 Park Avenue, which Elliman is marketing. (And there were other eight-figure deals at the supertall throughout last year.)

But 2017 was, by most accounts, a tougher year for Elliman and other residential firms faced with fewer new development sales and price sensitive buyers. Elliman struggled with profitability for a good chunk of last year for that reason.

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During the first quarter of 2017, the firm made just $100,000 in profits.And although revenue rose in the third quarter, net income dropped to $4.2 million from $8.7 million in 2016’s third quarter.

Although Chairman Howard Lorber signaled Elliman would potentially cut back where necessary, the firm has stuck to an expansion plan. Last year, it acquired Los Angeles-based Teles and new development specialists Otis & Ahearn in Boston.

With 2,350 agents in Manhattan, Douglas Elliman was the largest residential brokerage by agent count on The Real Deal‘s most recent ranking of top firms. The firm’s total headcount grew by 17 percent year over year. But in 2017, Elliman closed 2,380 sell-side deals totaling $5.23 billion, which was down 4 percent compared to 2016. 2016.

In recent months, the firm’s also been wrestling with changes in the C-suite. In December, COO Scott Durkin was promoted to president, largely relieving CEO Dottie Herman of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the company. Last month, Elliman tapped Bill Begert as COO of the Western region, which he’ll run with CEO Stephen Kotler. (Kotler, Elliman’s former chief revenue officer, worked in New York for more than 25 years before moving to California.)