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Brokerage Beat: Affiliations for BHGRE and Sotheby's Realty, a $44M sale, more 

A family business joins BHGRE, KW opens in Germany, Howard Hanna launches community-based mortgages, Sotheby's Realty grows in Texas, and more brokerage news.

Updated March 2, 2023
6 minutes

Editor's note: The brokerage business is a busy one, with frequent moves, mergers and milestones. Here we highlight some of the latest activity among brokerages across the U.S.

Multigenerational Colorado brokerage joins Better Homes and Gardens

Kenney & Company, a 38-year-old family-owned brokerage based in Colorado Springs, has joined the Better Homes and Gardens network. It's BHGRE's first entry into the state.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kenney & Company has four offices along Colorado's Front Range in the state's two largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs, and has served clients throughout the state.

Michael Kenney, BHGRE Kenney & Company.

Established in 1985 by Steve and Mary Ellen Kenney, Kenny & Company has been led by their son, Michael Kenney, since 2011. Michael is a third-generation real estate professional with more than 20 years experience. 

The affiliation made sense, said Micheal, in part because the BHGRE brand values were a good fit for his family's company.

"A number of factors came together to push us towards joining the Better Home and Gardens Real Estate brand, but ultimately, it was the people behind the brand and the values that told us we were making the right decision," said Michael.

"We've had the privilege of serving almost the entire state throughout our brokerage history and pride ourselves in providing a close-knit family feel to clients and affiliated agents…. This affiliation will give us the tools to help continue upholding our company philosophy, while also allowing us to pursue and achieve new goals."

Keller Williams expands to Germany

Keller Williams continues its global expansion, launching operations in Germany with initial plans to open offices across the nation's top seven real estate markets.

Swen Nicolaus, KW Germany.

Regional Operating Principal Swen Nicolaus leads the German expansion, which represents the 18th master franchise in Europe for Keller Williams Worldwide (KWW). 

Nicolaus has held leadership positions in real estate and finance, recently serving as the chief capital officer of Molo Finance, a digital mortgage bank. He also held management roles at J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Funding Circle, a small business lending platform. 

KW Germany is currently initializing operations and expects to open its first market center in the second quarter of this year. 

KWW launched 10 years ago and now encompasses more than 50 regions across five continents. Germany is the KWW's latest European region after the company announced its expansion to Switzerland in October. 

Jessica Shapiro to lead Sotheby's International Realty Palm Beach

Jessica Shapiro will take over as vice president and brokerage manager of Sotheby's International Realty Palm Beach following the retirement of Debra Reece.

Jessica Shapiro, Sotheby’s International Realty Palm Beach.

Shapiro will lead more than 135 agents and five offices in the Palm Beach area.

Shapiro had been a partner in the law firm of Alley, Maass, Rogers & Lindsay P.A.working with lenders, borrowers, developers, buyers and sellers on all aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions. She began her career as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Debra Reece is retiring after a 13-year career with Sotheby's, overseeing significant growth. In 2020, Debra was promoted to senior vice president, recognizing her many leadership accomplishments. 

"I am beyond proud of all that our offices have accomplished together over the years. I am retiring in full confidence that Jessica Shapiro and the excellent Palm Beach brokerage team will continue to build on our established success," said Reece. 

 eXp agent Kurt Yang closes biggest sale in company history

New York City eXp Realty agent Kurt Yang represented the buyer in the biggest residential transaction in eXp Realty history, a $40 million penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park.

Kurt Yang, eXp Realty.

Listed in October 2021 for $49,900,000, the deal closed in January. The 8,274-square-foot apartment offers 360-degree views of the city, 13 rooms with five bedrooms and 6.5 baths, and an entire wall with floor-to-ceiling windows. 

"We worked hard on this deal, but I wouldn't call it work, because it was so enjoyable," Yang said. "This took a year to come together between the two sides and the feeling is really good because my buyer got what he was looking for — a beautiful apartment in a prime area of New York City overlooking Central Park."

Before the Manhattan sale, eXp's highest residential transaction was a $33,084,702 farm and ranch listing in Lago Vista, Texas, handled by eXp Realty agent Summer Carter.

Hanna's mortgage arm launches initiative to help close homeownership gap

Howard Hanna Mortgage Services announced the launch of United Purpose Mortgage (UPM), a new community-based mortgage company to focus on underserved communities.

LaMarcus Thurman, Howard Hanna Mortgage Services.

"This is a huge deal for the Hanna Family of Companies," said F. Duffy Hanna, president of Howard Hanna Financial Services. "UPM has such an important mission, and we're committed to investing in communities that have historically been left out by the mortgage industry."

Led by LaMarcus Thurman, vice president of community lending for Howard Hannah, UPM will focus on making homeownership more attainable for clients in underserved communities, specifically those in majority-minority census tracts.

UPM looks to work alongside local nonprofits and housing finance agencies to offer financial education opportunities for minority, multicultural, and underserved homebuyers and borrowers. Currently, UPM has offices in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Cleveland, Ohio, and aims to grow market operations throughout the Howard Hanna multi-state footprint. 

"It's a privilege to help people achieve their dreams of owning a home," said Thurman. "Buying a home is one of the best ways to help a family build wealth, and our team at UPM is working hard to help more families make that happen."

Leading Texas team joins Sotheby's International Realty

Cari Goeke, Southern District Sotheby's International Realty.

Southern District Properties Group has joined the Sotheby's International network and will now operate as Southern District Sotheby's International Realty, based in Brenham, Texas, about an hour northeast of Houston.

Southern District Sotheby's International Realty, owned and operated by 20-year real estate professional Cari Goeke, marks Sotheby's 28th office in the Lone Star State.

The team was previously with Compass, and in 2022, completed transactions worth more than $71 million in sales volume. "I am thrilled to welcome Cari and her powerhouse team to our network," said Philip White, president and CEO, Sotheby's International Realty.

The company has two offices, in Brenham and in Bellville, Texas, with plans to open a third location in College Station. The company will service the South-Central Texas region.

United Real Estate expands to Charleston

Real estate veterans and brokerage owners Winston Velpula and Brenda Daly have partnered to open a new franchise in Charleston, South Carolina. United | Charleston is the brand's first office in the state's largest city. United is known for its 100% commission model and emphasis on agent training.

Brenda Daly, United | Charleston.

The brokerage partners have more than 33 years of combined real estate experience and have owned United franchises in Aiken and Colombia, SC.

Daly pointed to Charleston's lifestyle and economic advantages as factors in selecting the city for the new office.

"The lifestyle afforded here is one of the best in the country. Our economy is supported by the Port of Charleston, one of the largest in the country, and other major employers, such as Boeing and Volvo. The high-paying jobs lead to a vibrant real estate market. We anticipate demand for housing to remain healthy," said Daly.

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