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Brokerage Beat: Expansions in the heartland, coasts, Caribbean and Italy 

Howard Hanna merges with Coach, BHHS enters the Caymans, Sotheby's Realty expands in Finger Lakes, E&V grows in Ohio and Tulum, Corcoran enters Italy, and more.

Updated March 7, 2023
9 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.

Howard Hanna and Coach Realtors join forces

Coach Realtors, which has served the Long Island, NY, market for nearly 70 years, is merging with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

The two family-owned companies each set up shop in the 1950s, with Howard Hanna opening its doors in Pittsburgh in 1957 and Coach Realtors opening theirs on Long Island in 1954. The new firm, Howard Hanna | Coach Realtors will be the top independently owned real estate brokerage in New York state.  

Whitney Finn LaCosta, Howard Hanna | Coach Realtors.

"The partnership of two industry powerhouses will transform into even more amazing opportunities for our agents and clients," said Howard "Hoby" Hanna IV, president of HHRES. "Our combined strength, talents and resources will be such an advantage in the industry."

"We are thrilled to join forces with Howard Hanna," said Whitney Finn LaCosta, broker and owner of Coach Realtors. "We're still the same Coach Realtors people have come to know and love, and you can expect the same top-quality service from our team. We just have a stronger real estate network for our clients now." 

Coach Realtors will retain its existing leadership and direction, with Whitney Finn LaCosta service as CEO of Howard Hanna | Coach Realtors. 

The merger gives Coach agents access to Howard Hanna's programs along with an expanded referral network, as the HHRES brand reaches across 13 states. "This partnership allows us to take Coach Realtors to the next level," said LaCosta. "I'm looking forward to working with Howard Hanna and continuing our legacy of excellence." 

BHHS expands to the Cayman Islands

Global franchisor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has set up shop in the Cayman Islands.

"With a stable economy, high standard of living and beautiful environment, the Cayman Islands could not be more ideal for our next addition to the network," said Christy Budnick, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. 

Paula McCartney and Anthony Lawson, BHHS Caymen Islands.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Cayman Islands is owned by Paula McCartney and Anthony Lawson, who together have decades of experience in helping clients buy and sell property in the Cayman Islands. McCartney comes from a family of real estate entrepreneurs and is equipped with extensive market knowledge to assist clients. Lawson's career is rooted in the construction industry, but he has worked in the real estate sector for many years.

Gino Blefari, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, welcomed the company to the network. "This team's reputation for ethical, inclusive and cooperative representation makes them a stellar addition to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global network."

"There is an undeniable reputation of excellence that is synonymous with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices name," said McCartney. "When consumers hear the name, they are assured they will be met with quality, the strength of the networks and a long-term view of success."

Sotheby's Realty extends reach into Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes Realty Partners has joined the Sotheby's International Realty network, becoming the brand's 59th office in New York state.

Jerry Morrissey, Finger Lakes Sotheby's International Realty.

Finger Lakes Sotheby's International Realty, owned and operated by Jerry Morrissey, serves the Central New York region, the Finger Lakes region, and areas up to Lake Ontario. The company consists of several real estate associates and is currently headquartered in the city of Skaneateles, New York.

"I was born and raised in Central New York and the Finger Lakes region," said Morrissey, who established his brokerage in 2010. "This area is a part of me and helped lead my company's motto of 'Your best life is our life's work.' It was important for us to align with a company that shared our values and customer-centric philosophy. Sotheby's International Realty checked those boxes and enables us to combine our local knowledge and expertise with its unrivaled brand recognition, marketing power, and international exposure — a home run for our clients, markets, and agents."

Corcoran opens first franchise in Europe

Corcoran Group has made its first foray across the Atlantic with the announcement of a new franchise in Lake Garda, Italy.

Maddalena Magri, Corcoran Magri Properties.

Corcoran Magri Properties, which will officially launch in the next few weeks, is owned and led by Maddalena Magri. Formerly called Immobiliare Magri, the family-run company was founded in 1987 by Luigi Magri, Maddalena Magri's father. Maddalena Magri has led the company's business operations for the past three decades and now co-owns Corcoran Magri Properties with Francesco Visentin.

"We are excited to introduce the Corcoran brand to our business, our clients, and the entire Lake Garda real estate market," said Visentin.

Lake Garda is located in Northern Italy between Milan and Venice. As the country's largest lake, it is surrounded by several small towns and is a popular second-home destination.

"As we continue to grow our global footprint and network of exceptional affiliates, I'm thrilled to make our way into the European market, specifically into Italy," said Corcoran Group President and CEO Pamela Liebman. "The Magri team has always prided themselves on turning every client's dream of Lake Garda into a reality. Their dedication to client service is exactly what we look for when partnering with affiliates, it perfectly aligns with Corcoran's established culture and core values." 

Sold: New owners take over Seattle-area RE/MAX offices

Lyndal Balliet and Bonnie Beddall are the new co-broker/owners of RE/MAX Metro Realty, Inc. in Seattle and RE/MAX Eastside Brokers, Inc. in Bellevue, Wash.

Lyndal Balliet and Bonnie Beddall, RE/MAX Metro | Eastside.

The two offices, commonly referred to as RE/MAX Metro | Eastside, were formerly owned and operated by Graham Young and David Milot. Milot's death initiated the change in ownership.

Prior to buying the firm, Balliet worked as operations director while Beddall served as managing broker. Both have worked in the real estate industry for the last two decades. Balliet started her career in real estate in 1996 as a real estate broker, then as an office manager and luxury marketing manager prior to joining RE/MAX Metro | Eastside in 2010. 

Beddall, a former airline pilot, earned her real estate license in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and joined RE/MAX Metro in 2002. 

"The path toward ownership after the tragic and sudden loss of David Milot led us to appreciate even more all of our colleagues and friends we have made at RE/MAX Metro | Eastside over the years," said Beddall.

Engel & Völkers opens new shops in Ohio, Tulum

Engel & Völkers now has offices in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, and announced a new shop in Tulum, Mexico.

From top left: Brad Winter, Paige Winter, Elias Pappan; E&V Columbus.

Engel & Völkers Columbus is led by license partners Brad Winter, Paige Winter and Elias Pappan. Paige and Brad Winter are lifelong Ohio residents who bring over a decade of real estate, business and leadership experience to the new venture. Pappan is a seasoned business entrepreneur with extensive experience owning and operating multiple businesses in the commercial and residential real estate spaces, including construction, acquisition and investments.

"There is no better time to affiliate with Engel & Völkers," said Brad Winter. "Real estate is going through a massive shift as consumers demand more from the industry. They want to be educated, informed and serviced at a higher level than ever before. This is how we have run our business since day one and aligning with a global brand that shares our values will only allow us to serve Columbus residents at a higher, more personal level."

The Engel & Völkers Cleveland shop is led by license partners Inna and Gary Muravin. Inna Muravin, who serves as managing broker, has more than 18 years of real estate experience, and since 2016 has led the nationally ranked Distinct Home Group team with Keller Williams Greater Metropolitan. Gary Muravin served as director of operations for District Home Group, and prior to working in real estate, founded and led a multimillion-dollar technology startup.

Gary and Inna Muravin, E&V Cleveland.

As part of Engel & Völkers, the Muravins and their team will expand their residential home buying and selling services throughout the Northeast Ohio region. The license partners plan to open four shop locations in the next six years. 

"Northeast Ohio has something for everyone, offering economically and architecturally diverse properties throughout the region," said Gary Muravin. "Now as part of Engel & Völkers, we look forward to introducing a new standard of personalized luxury service across all price points in the market." 

Anthony Hitt, president and CEO of Engel & Völkers Americas, says the push into the new Ohio markets follows company research. "Engel & Völkers recently issued a report on the growing popularity of America's heartland markets as consumers look to establish primary and secondary residences in affordable, community-oriented places that now offer many of the same lifestyle amenities as coastal markets," he said.

Heading out of the heartland and into the Caribbean, Engel & Völkers Tulum represents the brand's third shop in Mexico. The company previously opened shops in Los Cabos and Playa del Carmen.

From top left: Carlo Rico Toluzzi, Kurissi Kuri and Manuel Fernández, E&V Tulum.

The Tulum office will be led by license partners Carlo Rico Toluzzi and Kurissi Kuri, who currently operate the Playa del Carmen shop, and Manuel Fernández.

"With the rapid growth of the real estate market in Tulum and the surrounding areas, the time is right to expand our business," said Toluzzi. "Our shop in Playa del Carmen has had a positive, disruptive impact on the market structure and quality of client service, and we intend to continue raising standards across the region in providing the very best home buyer and seller experiences."

"The Riviera Maya is one of the fastest growing markets in Latin America," said Hitt. "Tulum has experienced an influx of digital nomads from around the world ... [and] investors are keen to capture this vacation rental market with private condos, houses and hotel residences offering a high rate of return on investment."

BIRCH Properties partners with Side

BIRCH Properties, a new firm founded by Berkshires agent Selina Lamb, is partnering with Side. 

Selena Lamb, BIRCH Properties.

Lamb is one of the first agents to partner with Side in Massachusetts, and her firm will serve buyers and sellers throughout Western Massachusetts' Berkshire County and beyond. As part of the partnership, Side will provide a brokerage platform that includes proprietary technology, transaction management, marketing services, public relations, legal support, vendor management, infrastructure solutions and more.

"In founding BIRCH Properties, my goal is to create a market-leading, independent brand that supports innovative, incisive agents who love their work as much as I do," Lamb said.

Lamb, a longtime Berkshires resident, has been a licensed agent for 12 years. Her background includes marketing and product design for major fashion brands, including Ralph Lauren. Her landscape design business, which she started more than 20 years ago, has been featured in national magazines and on HGTV.

She generated more than $34 million in sales in 2021 and 2022 combined. 

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