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From left: Robert Reffkin of Compass; Pam Liebman of the Corcoran Group; Bess Freedman of Brown Harris Stevens; Howard Lorber of Douglas Elliman; Philip White of Sotheby’s International Realty (image courtesy of The Real Deal; images via Getty Images)
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Biggest Real Estate Brokers In Nyc
The coronavirus pandemic has paralyzed the New York City real estate market in 2020. Agents were banned from showing homes for most of the quarter, and many wealthy Manhattanites left the city, hurting an already weak luxury market. This has only reduced brokerage margins, and fueled a surge in M&A activity that has been a hallmark of the sector in recent years.
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Real Deal’s annual broker series, which tracks the number of sales transactions closed in 2020, reflects these times. Most companies experienced a decline in volume.
“It’s clear there’s a decline,” said Pam Liebman, CEO of the Corcoran Group. Still, he said he believes his agents are “taking him out of the market.”
Corcoran ranks first in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens with $5.8 billion in sales. Although sales were down 26 percent compared to 2019, the broker managed to beat its two biggest rivals.
Compass, which goes public, fell 17 percent year-over-year to No. 2 with sales of $4.01 billion.And Douglas Elliman dropped from its previous top spot to No. 3 with sales of $3.06 billion in 2020 – a 62 percent decrease from the previous year.
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Combined, the top 25 firms reported $18.92 billion in New York sales last year, down 32 percent from $28 billion in 2019. TRD pulled the listings from real estate data company LavaMap and listed those listings with closed transactions in public records. brokers. Home sales and off-market transactions are handled by developers.
As buyer preferences change—square footage takes over, open space dominates views, and the appeal of common amenities fades—the Manhattan market has been particularly hard hit. Sales in the district fell 39 percent last year to $14.05 billion among the city’s top 25 firms. According to the indicators of 2019, it is less than 20 percent.
The decline was partly due to a decline in public services, but also due to a sharp contraction of the luxury market. Customers were able to get huge discounts on luggage.
The “Covid rate” for the most expensive homes on the market was 17 percent, Liebman said. For transactions to be closed in 2020, some sellers have suffered losses of up to 50 percent, as happened with the recent sale of an apartment at One57 on Billionaires Row.
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The discount affected sales of major new developments that closed last year, which was discussed before the pandemic. Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South, along with Corcoran Sunshine, Corcoran’s new development chain, has seen a steady wave of eight-figure closings.
But leave it to the city’s ever-optimistic residential brokers to find a way to quell the rebellion.
“If you want to lower your flag, now is the time,” Freedman said. “That’s when you get the real value.”
“It’s a very valuable market,” Liebman said. “People took advantage of very, very low interest rates, very high inventory and low prices. That’s why smart marketers have continued to take advantage of the pandemic.”
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Steven James, CEO and president of Douglas Elliman New York, agreed. “The city is getting more and more affordable,” he said. “Ultimately, I feel positive,” said James, who pointed to an increase in Manhattan condo sales in the fourth quarter of 2020.
James has been through a variety of big challenges in four decades in business, “[but] this is the first time in all these years that I’ve had what I believe to be a big, big, catastrophic change,” he said.
The Leslie J. Garfield firm, a brokerage that sold only townhouses, made only a few trips on the East River each year. But by 2020, he was traveling to Brooklyn several times a month, often with high-net-worth clients looking to trade Manhattan suburbs for Brooklyn homes.
“It’s like you go there and you feel like you’re on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the 1970s,” Garfield said. “People still play there in the street, there’s still fun on the corner – the good ones.”
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Garfield said transactions in Brooklyn Heights and other areas increased significantly in 2020, while transactions in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side submarkets declined. He estimated that the turnover rate in those two neighborhoods was down 35 percent last year.
According to Serhant, the firm founded by Ryan Serhant in September 2021 has brought renewed interest to the Manhattan housing market, with new deals reaching levels not seen since the 2015 peak. His new business failed to make the rankings this year, but his alma mater, Nest Seekers International, came in at No. 7, unchanged from last year’s ranking.
How long the new “work-from-anywhere” world will last is anyone’s guess, but in the first nine months of the pandemic, people’s housing preferences changed and so did the market.
In this year’s ranking, eight of the city’s top 25 companies generated one-third or more of their 2020 sales in Brooklyn. And four of these firms did almost all of their work in the region. Those firms that have not previously collected TRD’s annual rankings include RE/MAX Edge, Fillmore Real Estate and Momentum Real Estate.
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Among the largest firms, Compass reported the biggest growth in Brooklyn last year, with sales up 133 percent to $1.3 billion from $560 million in 2019. Brown Harris Stevens reported 83 percent growth in its Brooklyn business. , more than $374.5 million in 2020, up from $205 million in 2019. That increase was due in part to the company’s June 2020 merger with Halstead, which accounted for a large portion of its sales in the neighborhood, including more than $181 million before sales. a joint
Many of the firms in the lineup also saw year-over-year sales growth in Queens. Elliman reported the region’s highest-ever sales volume of $179.7 million — up 33.5 percent from 2019. Long Island City-based Modern Spaces’ sales rose to $146.97 million from $90.3 million in 2019. And Compass rounded out the top three in the district. , Queens nearly tripled its sales to a total of $145 million.
Buyers’ preferences and location were not the only changes in the city’s brokerage business. In order to keep themselves and their clients safe and comply with regulations, agents have had to adopt new marketing tactics.
During New York’s three-month ban on in-person shows, either pre-recorded or in real time over FaceTime, representatives turned to virtual home tours. The proliferation of virtual tours has actually become a hot spot for agents and clients, allowing both parties to express their interests before in-person showings.
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Many agencies and managers believe that virtual tours will remain so after concerns about the coronavirus. Corcoran’s Liebman even suggested that the pandemic could kill the open house industry, saying many agents prefer to actually do the showing before setting up in-person visits by appointment.
With the normalization of video conferencing, there is also a new flexibility among companies. Elliman’s James confirmed strong reserves. “I thought, ‘I’ll never be able to do this,'” he said. But he said he started hearing from sales executives on small-group video calls who had never spoken in large company meetings before.
Despite the dramatic changes of the past year, most companies have vowed to keep their New York offices, betting that the city and corporate life will return to what it was before – sooner or later.
Corcoran is renovating a new headquarters on Madison Avenue, while Elliman and Compass say they are keeping all of their office footprints. BHS cut office space used by its sister company, Halstead, after the merger, but Freedman said there will be no further consolidation for cultural reasons.
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“It’s not the same when you work at home,” she said. “I think it’s good for us to be together.”
Backing up its paid talk, Sotheby’s International Realty unveiled its first TV ad in February – an art quote from New Yorkers working at Hulu and Link NYC digital kiosks in New York. looking at the beautiful sunlight associated with images of Manhattan. skyline. The company posted sales of $924.9 million last year, down 37.5 percent from $1.48 billion in 2019.
“We have a 38,000-square-foot [office] at 650 Madison, so we have a heavy, heavy investment in this city, and we expect it to return,” said Philip White, CEO.
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