New York realty giant Douglas Elliman adds flagship office
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Looking to recreate its New York success in Miami, century-old realty firm Douglas Elliman Realty is expanding its presence in Miami-Dade, with new offices set to open and more agent hires.
The firm's growth strategy is to integrate other smaller brokerages into its company along with individual recruitment of experienced agents to add to the team.
To accommodate a growing operation, the firm has leased 3,500 square feet at the mixed-use building 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, said Vanessa Grout, president of Douglas Elliman Florida.
"It's a great place for us to start, and especially because most of our clients in New York love Miami Beach," she said.
The flagship realty office is to house three divisions: sports and entertainment, new development and general real estate.
Douglas Elliman, owned by Howard Lorber, has been in Miami-Dade five years but had kept a low profile. With the company now ready for further growth, sunny South Florida is a target market because New Yorkers often buy vacation and second homes here.
The firm has opened two additional offices in Miami Beach for a total of five locations to increase its visibility and better service its increasing client roster.
The South Florida offices, coupled with its New York team, Ms. Grout said, have the connections to attract desirable listings and reach a large pool of affluent buyers.
A new office is also set to open in Palm Beach.
"It's a natural place for us to go," she said, as many of its New York clients favor residences in that upscale resort community.
Douglas Elliman Realty controls about 40% of the New York market share.
Ms. Grout's strategy is to replicate the firm's New York success in South Florida's real estate market.
She joined Miami-based Vector Group in 2007, leading its real estate efforts in Florida. The Vector Group's real estate arm, New Valley, owns Douglas Elliman, considered the largest residential brokerage firm in the New York metropolitan area.
The Vector Group is a company with a $1.5 billion market cap and as of January, New Valley holds about $490 million in cash to invest in real estate ventures.
In the past three months, Ms. Grout has doubled the firm's size in South Florida, growing from 80 agents to 160.
This resulted, in part, from the integration of two local realty firms, Carson Realty and Belmonte Group, into Douglas Elliman.
Among the advantages of consolidating smaller brokerages with Douglas Elliman are the operational and competitive advantages it creates, the geographical expansion and the broader brand recognition.
These firms are drawn to the company's offerings, including a revamped Web site, updated software, information technology support, a marketing budget and office support.
"It's important to note that we do not charge a franchise fee to our agents," Ms. Grout said. "This is a huge competitive advantage and boost to the agent dollar."
To increase its market share, the realty plans to recruit more top agents in South Florida, incentivizing them with its company platform, strong ownership and nationally-recognized brand.
"To retain the best brokers and attract new top producers," she said, the firm plans to "offer the most competitive commission splits in Miami and mount aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness."
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