The Investment Sales Shakeout

Buoyed by its recruiting coup, Cushman rallies to beat out Eastdil and CBRE amid a sluggish market


Turnover among New York City’s commercial real estate brokerages is rarely labeled a “game changer.”


But when the city’s top investment sales firms experienced one of the biggest team moves to date in October 2016, the industry grappled with a fundamental question: What matters more, the platform or the people?


While the answer is still up for debate, some say, the numbers for the past year speak volumes.


A little over a year after poaching Eastdil Secured’s star investment sales brokers, Doug Harmon and Adam Spies, Cushman & Wakefield swooped in to capture the No. 1 spot in the city’s hypercompetitive investment sales arena with $6.36 billion across 190 deals, The Real Deal’s analysis of closed sales in 2017 shows.


"There were only a handful, in fact, that saw their volume increase: Cushman, HFF, Besen & Associates and Colliers International, among a few others."


For the first time since 2007, the privately held global commercial brokerage bested the two firms that had long rivaled one another for the ranking’s top spot. Eastdil Secured and CBRE went head to head over the past decade, but gradually the gap between the two widened and Eastdil scored landslide wins. In 2016, the Wells Fargo subsidiary pulled in a record $22.9 billion worth of investment sales, over CBRE’s $6.7 billion.


Harmon and Spies’ move from Eastdil to Cushman, however, ensured that 2017 would be a year unlike any other this cycle.


And brokers across the industry were not only competing against a potential new powerhouse — they were also suddenly contending with a sharp slowdown in sales.


“Every deal’s been a big battle,” said Eastern Consolidated’s Brian Ezratty, who brokered two Manhattan land deals involving Gary Barnett’s Extell Development for $80 million and $63.5 million. “It’s definitely been a tricky market.”





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