Elliman buys Houston luxury brokerage John Daugherty Realtors

Independent firm had $1.2 billion in sales volume in 2018, but just lost two of its top agents

John Daugherty Realtor's CEO  John Daugherty  and Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)
John Daugherty Realtor's CEO  John Daugherty  and Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the brokerage wars.

Douglas Elliman just acquired residential brokerage John Daugherty Realtors in Houston, Texas for an undisclosed price, according to the Houston Chronicle. Founded in 1967, John Daugherty Realtors has 125 agents with a focus on luxury sales. It claimed $1.1 billion in sales volume in 2018, ranking No. 7 in the market, according to data from Real Trends. The deal is expected to close in January.

New York-based Elliman, with outposts in Los Angeles, Aspen, South Florida and the Hamptons, expanded into Houston earlier this year with the acquisition of new development marketing specialist Sudhoff Companies, led by Jacob Sudhoff.

In fact, it was Sudhoff’s suggestion that Elliman chairman Howard Lorber pursue John Daugherty Realtors, according to Paper City Mag.  “I told Howard that the level that we do in condominiums is what John Daugherty does in residential brokerage,” Sudhoff told the magazine.

With the acquisition, John Daughtery officially becomes chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Houston brokerage wing, with his confidant Cheri Fama assuming the role of president. The 38-year-old Sudhoff became the CEO of Douglas Elliman Texas when the firms entered into their joint venture.

Dougherty will remain active in daily operations of Douglas Elliman Texas, according to Paper City Mag.

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“Houston is a lot like Palm Beach, a lot like Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and parts of Long Island,” Douglas Elliman president and COO Scott Durkin told The Real Deal in August when Douglas Elliman Texas launched. At the time, Durkin said the Houston office would be staffed by 50 brokers, with plans to expand its resale division in 2020 and eventually march into the competitive markets of Dallas and Austin.

The acquisition of John Daugherty Realtors comes days after the brokerage lost two of its top agents to Compass, which launched in the city in November 2018.  Laura Sweeney, the city’s top agent with $130 million in sales volume last year, and Lisa Kornhauser, the region’s No. 4 agent with $83 million in sales volume last year, according to Real Trends, defected to the venture-backed brokerage.

Elliman and Compass both have some catching up to do in Houston, where franchises and independent firms have long ruled the local real estate market, but consolidation has altered the playing field.

Over the summer, the city’s top brokerage, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene, acquired Heritage Texas Properties in a bombshell deal. The combined firm has more than 1,300 agents and commands nearly 6 percent of the market, according to the Houston Chronicle. Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene alone raked in $2.52 billion in sales volume in 2018, according to the Houston Business Journal.

Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty placed second in 2018 with $2 billion in sales volume, and Coldwell Banker United Realtors placed third with $1.92 billion. Greenwood King Properties was fourth with $1.47 billion and Keller Williams Realty Memorial rounded out the top five, with $1.31 billion in sales volume.

Elliman, perpetually competing with Realogy’s brokerages and SoftBank-backed Compass, has been on an acquisition spree over the last two years. It acquired a top independent brokerage in Beverly Hills, Teles, becoming a major player on the West Coast overnight, and also scooped up Boston’s new development marketing specialist Otis & Ahearn.

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