Last year, Ilan Bracha told The Observer his new firm, Keller Williams NYC, would be No. 1 within five years.
It was a strong boast in a town already packed with real estate brokerages, where the business is a blood sport. But he was rolling out a franchise of the nation’s biggest brokerage, one that has a very popular system that an mean huge commissions for top producers, of which New York has many.
Still, a little over a year in, Keller Williams NYC has struggled to succeed in New York, according to Crain’s.
To its credit, the company has succeeded in attracting 174 brokers and in opening a fancy new Park Avenue headquarters earlier this month, but observers note that the New York franchise has yet to lure any of the city’s top producers or land many exclusive listings—much less high-profile ones. And in a city dominated by two brokerage giants, Prudential Douglas Elliman and the Corcoran Group, as well as a host of other established firms specializing in neighborhoods or in specialized segments—from townhouses to high-end co-ops—Keller’s lack of a recognizable brand name hurts it here.
But in New York so far, the industry’s key players—the top brokers—have given the firm a pass. The only star Keller Williams NYC has attracted to date is Ilan Bracha, who co-founded the New York franchise and today is its chairman. Previously, he was a top-ranked Prudential Douglas Elliman broker.
Getting others to follow will be tough. Big brokerages tend to pamper their star producers, showering them with assistants, as well as marketing and back-office support. Even more important for some, top producers at big firms can typically negotiate higher commission splits.
“If you are a listing agent, which is what most agents strive to be, firms like Elliman and Corcoran have a vast infrastructure, brand recognition and relationships with developers that other firms don’t have,” said Raphael De Niro, a top producer at Elliman.
Crain’s points out that other national franchises like Century 21 and Coldwell Banker have likewise failed to break into the big city, where the business is essentially a giant club, but some have made it, notably the luxurious Sothebys and Prudential, though the latter did it by buying up an established name, Douglas Elliman. With no such advantages, can KW NYC make the leap?