Battle of the Brokers! CB Richard Ellis Edges Archrival Cushman in ’08 Leasing

CB Richard Ellis won the latest battle in its blood war with rival Cushman & Wakefield, brokering leases involving over

CB Richard Ellis won the latest battle in its blood war with rival Cushman & Wakefield, brokering leases involving over twice as much Manhattan square footage in the first half of 2008, according to the biannual top 50 list from Crains.

The divide between CBRE and C&W—the Montagues and the Capulets of the real estate world (minus the romance and murder, as far as we know)—expanded, with CBRE brokering 4.9 million square feet to C&W’s 1.9 million. Last year by June 30, CBRE had brokered 4.3 million square feet to C&W’s 1.5 million.

Stated another way, this year, CBRE appeared seven times in the list of top 10 deals and 26 times in the top 50. Cushman & Wakefield appeared only once in the top 10, and 16 times in the top 50. Crain’s used numbers from CoStar Group in its analysis.

Matt Van Buren, CBRE’s senior managing director for the tristate region, was well-behaved when asked how it felt to vanquish his rival. “I think you’re baiting me,” he said. “I will only say that we are happy with the result and proud of the accomplishment.”

Suzy Reingold, executive managing director for Cushman & Wakefield’s New York City offices, was similarly diplomatic, though she did say that the ranking represented merely a “snapshot” of the year.

“There’s a lot of the year to go yet, so it’s hard to tell by snapshots,” Ms. Reingold said, also pointing out that CBRE is a larger firm, which skews the numbers.

Mr. Van Buren, of course, has another explanation for his firm’s dominance. “I think we are in a market in a transition, and markets in transition reward firms with a bigger platform and broader and deeper market knowledge, which we do have,” he said. “And I think it rewards experience and creativity in times of uncertainty. In these things, we are a firm that’s well suited for this market. I don’t, per se, think about size.”

Of course, the rankings didn’t focus exclusively on the feuding families. Newmark Knight Frank made quite an impressive showing, appearing 11 times in the top 50, something executive vice president and principal Mark Weiss attributed to his bosses.

“For the past two years, well before there was any sort of slowdown, Barry [Gosin] and Jimmy [Kuhn] have been fanatically focused on elevating every level of our organization so that pound for pound, we’re stronger than both Cushman, CBRE and our other competitors.”

Indeed, Mr. Gosin told The Observer that while he was “happy” with the rankings, he is, and we quote, “never content.”

“We continue to do better and better, and we’ll continue that trend,” he said.