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Mentioned in this Article:
Stephen G. Kliegerman

Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing

The Real Deal

Top Marketing Brokerages

By Tom Acitelli


Corcoran Group Marketing and the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group together led all other brokerages in marketing new development during the recent housing sales boom, according to an analysis by The Real Deal.

But the two firms, both under the Corcoran Group's wide umbrella, weren't that far ahead of the Marketing Directors, a firm that placed second on a list that included both powerhouse names in New York brokering and fairly recent additions, like the Shvo Group, which have been buoyed by the health of the recent record sales market.

Corcoran and Sunshine -- which have undergone shake-ups in their executive ranks after merging last year -- together marketed 6,994 new development units in New York City over the past five years, according to the analysis, which also included projects slated for 2007, and the Marketing Directors marketed 5,085 units.

Prudential Douglas Elliman, the archrival of the Corcoran Group in sales brokering, finished third on The Real Deal's list with 2,502 new units marketed.

The analysis examined units marketed in new developments that came online between January 2001 and mid-2006, and those scheduled to come to market before the end of 2007. The analysis did not include new developments marketed in-house by developers, and it did include both rental and for-sale units.

Rounding out the top five brokerages in new development marketing for 2001 through 2007 were Cantor Pecorella at 2,372 units and Citi Habitats at 2,343 units. The Corcoran Group owns Citi Habitats, meaning that if its numbers are included with the Corcoran Marketing Group and Sunshine numbers, the Corcoran Group comes out even further on top.

But Corcoran Sunshine's success comes at a time of turnover for its top ranks.

Louise Sunshine, founder of the Sunshine Group, decided late last month to leave the firm. According to the New York Post, Sunshine quit abruptly when she learned her contract as chairwoman emeritus of Corcoran Sunshine would not be renewed.

While the Marketing Directors finished second on the list, things haven't been all roses, with its recent performance not quite as stellar as in the past. The company finished first in new units marketed between 2001 and 2004, but dropped to second place in new units marketed between 2005 and 2007, with less than half of the total units marketed by Corcoran in that period.

Citi Habitats also had a greater market share between 2001 and 2004 than it does currently.

Meanwhile, some firms have moved up quickly.

The Developers Group, a relatively new firm that was started three years ago by former Corcoran brokers, doubled the number of units it marketed between 2005 and 2007 compared to the period between 2001 and 2004.

The Shvo Group, started by controversial broker Michael Shvo after he left Douglas Elliman two years ago, wasn't around between 2001 and 2004 but ranked seventh on the list in new units marketed or planned to hit the market between 2005 and 2007, with 1,007 total units.

The 10 biggest marketing brokerages accounted for more than 13,800 units hitting the market or planned to hit the market between 2005 and 2007 and more than 9,000 between 2001 and 2004.

In 2005 alone, more than 9,000 condo units were approved for sale by the state in Manhattan. Brooklyn added 6,337 new condo units in 2004 and 2005, with more than 5,900 additional ones planned by the start of this year.

"Over the past four years, let's say, there's been tremendous growth in new development," said Kelly Kennedy Mack, president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.

Mack, along with Tricia Hayes Cole as chief operating officer, were appointed to their current posts from within the Corcoran Group this past spring. The last COO of Corcoran Sunshine, Jeff Yamaguchi, left after four months on the job in a further sign of change within the company.

While numbers indicate a firm's power, success in marketing is far from merely a matter of volume. What and where you're marketing matters as much, if not more so, as how much you're marketing, especially in the hypercompetitive field of new development in New York City.

Therefore, a brokerage like Stribling & Associates, which finished at number six on the list of new units marketed, probably needn't fret about its larger competitors because 333 of the 1,385 new units that it's marketed from 2001 through 2007 are in the converted Plaza Hotel.

These condo and condo-hotel units may very well set pricing records for New York City and the nation, with some estimates putting prices per square foot north of $4,000. The head of Stribling's marketing arm, Jacquelyn Sonenberg, left the firm last month after less than a year at the helm to found her own real estate advisory firm (see Sonenberg exits Stribling to form own firm).

Also, the Shvo Group doesn't do the sort of volume marketing that more established names like Douglas Elliman and the Marketing Directors do. But its developments -- the 410-unit 20 Pine The Collection and the 93-unit Bryant Park Tower -- are some of the most buzzed-about new condos in the city.

"The tougher the market gets, the more you have to put out there," said Shvo, who is liked by some in the industry and disliked by others for his bold approach. "You have to create a bigger show, a better product, the marketing has to be much more sophisticated."

Such sophistication is all the more important, marketers say, in a slowing sales market. The volume of Manhattan apartment sales dropped 11 percent from the second quarter of 2005 through the second quarter of 2006, according to Miller Samuel. This slower pace has spurred some marketing changes.

"There have been some developer incentives in the last couple of months," said Stephen Kliegerman, project marketing director for Halstead Property, which marketed 332 new units from 2001 through 2007. "Developers are offering to pay closing costs and transfer taxes in order to entice buyers. There have been developers who've offered interest rate buydowns, so that buyers are able to obtain a mortgage."

Newer developments have also raised broker commissions upward (see below), and are paying greater attention to pricing new units.

"There's a lot more product on the market," said Andrew Gerringer, head of Prudential Douglas Elliman's marketing wing. "People have choices, and they're just not going to go for a product that's overpriced."

Gerringer, too, noted that the reliance on "fancy designers and the starchitects" will fall by the marketing wayside as more for-sale housing lands on the market and competition for dwindling sales only increases.

Adding to the pressure are mortgage rates that have reached a four-year high and statistics from Miller Samuel that show the number of days a Manhattan apartment stays on the market reached 144 on average by the end of June, 42 days higher than the previous June.

The lists on these pages were compiled by The Real Deal by contacting brokerages and through the magazine's archive of new development data.

Marketing firms and marketing divisions of brokerages were included for consideration if they marketed at least one project in Manhattan, which led to the inclusion of the Brooklyn-based Developers Group. All other firms were Manhattan-based, though statistics include projects those firms have marketed in all five boroughs.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006