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Brokerage Beat: News from Christie's, John L. Scott, ERA, more 

Christie's expands in NorCal, Caribbean; John L. Scott acquires Sterling Johnston; ERA, C21 add affiliates; CB Warburg nabs lux agent; eXp lands $4B team; more.

November 4, 2023
10 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.

Christie's expands in NorCal, Caribbean

Christie's International Real Estate announced two significant expansions this week, from wine country to the tropics.

Northern California

The global brand is broadening its reach in San Francisco and the North Bay with an expansion led by the owners of a Los Gatos-based firm and a trio of luxury agents.

From left: Ryan Iwanaga, Chris Trapani, Payton Stiewe, Sejal Binnings, Arrian Binnings; Christie's International Real Estate.
From left: Ryan Iwanaga, Chris Trapani, Payton Stiewe, Sejal Binnings, Arrian Binnings; Christie's International Real Estate.

Chris Trapani and Ryan Iwanaga, owners of Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, are joining forces with The Payton + Binnings Team to form Christie's International Real Estate San Francisco | Marin | Wine Country. The team, which is moving to Christie's from Side, consists of Payton Stiewe, Sejal Binnings and Arrian Binnings, who have a combined annual sales volume of around $200 million, according to a news release.

"We are incredibly honored to be working alongside what we believe is one of San Francisco's and North Bay's premier real estate teams," said Trapani, CEO of Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, who also noted that the expansion will help fill a void in the region: "Practically overnight, a local industry that was very independent and spirited was corporatized. We're here to reinforce some of that entrepreneurial, independent culture," Trapani said.

Stiewe said both the brand and culture motivated the team's move to Christie's. "We've done the corporate thing, and we've done the virtual thing, but you just don't get the type of local leadership, support, or global brand recognition that we're going to get here," Stiewe said.

Dominican Republic

The company has also launched a new affiliate in the Caribbean: Christie's International Real Estate Dominican Republic.

The firm is owned by Alex Irrer and Eric Walstrom, who also founded @properties Christie's International Real Estate in Michigan, along with Auburn Lucas, who worked at the Michigan-based brokerage prior to moving to the Dominican Republic. 

From left: Alex Irrer, Eric Walstrom and Auburn Lucas; Christie's International Real Estate.
From left: Alex Irrer, Eric Walstrom and Auburn Lucas; Christie's International Real Estate.

Lucas will head up the new office, based in La Romana. She said the brand has been well-received since launching in the Dominican Republic — a luxury real estate hot spot — "which positions us incredibly well for future success on the island."

Co-owner Walstrom noted that the region "has so much to offer from a real estate perspective," including development opportunities, good schools and healthcare, and easy financing for foreign investors.  

With the addition of the Dominican Republic, Christie's now has a presence in 10 Caribbean island nations. The offices are part of a regional network, Christie's International Real Estate Caribbean Affiliates, which has allowed the brand to centralize operations and facilitate cooperation among the region's member firms.

John L. Scott takes over Sterling Johnston Real Estate

Derek Bunyard
Derek Bunyard

John L. Scott Real Estate has acquired Sterling Johnston Real Estate, based in Redmond, Washington, according to a report from Seattle Agent Magazine.

Sterling Johnston's 43 agents will be dispersed among existing John L. Scott offices in the Puget Sound region. John L. Scott has more than 100 offices in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.

SJA Property Management, Sterling Johnston's property management arm, was not included in the purchase and will continue operating independent of John L. Scott.

J. Lennox Scott
J. Lennox Scott

Derek Bunyard, co-founder and president of Sterling Johnston, said he believes the acquisition will be a positive move for the agents.

"Their leadership is dedicated to innovation and staying ahead in a constantly evolving market," Bunyard said.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, said Sterling Johnston agents will find the new company a good fit.

"The combined expertise and cultural alignment of our teams expands and affirms the positive environment in which we provide an exceptional client experience," Scott said.

As part of the move, Brooke Nortness will serve as broker services leader and office operations manager and the John L. Scott Bellevue Main office. Eirik Olsen, who was the designated broker for Sterling Johnston, will also join John L. Scott Bellevue Main.

ERA gains Oklahoma affiliate

Family-owned Meraki Real Estate, a brokerage with offices in Norman and Oklahoma City, has joined the ERA network.

Zan and Bryan Waldenville, Meraki Real Estate ERA Powered.
Zan and Bryan Waldenville, Meraki Real Estate ERA Powered.

The firm, now known as Meraki Real Estate ERA Powered, was founded in 2015 by Zan and Bryan Waldenville. Zan has been in real estate since earning her license at age 18, founding a property management company in 2008 prior to moving into residential real estate. Bryan entered the real estate business in 2015 and was recognized as an "outstanding newcomer" by the Norman Board of Realtors in 2016.

The husband-and-wife duo believe their firm's affiliation with ERA will enable them to better serve their existing agents and recruit high-caliber professionals, in addition to providing them with more tools for clients.

"Since our founding in 2015, we've been a do-it-yourself brokerage. We've independently created our own network across Oklahoma, onboarded and trained agents by ourselves, and personally established our company name within our market. While we're extremely proud of our accomplishments so far, we know we can prosper with the implementation of a proven infrastructure like the one offered by ERA," said Zan.

Manhattan firm adds multimillion-dollar agent

Coldwell Banker Warburg, a 130+ agent firm with deep roots in Manhattan real estate, has added luxury agent Tate Kelly to its roster.

Tate Kelly, Coldwell Banker Warburg.
Tate Kelly, Coldwell Banker Warburg.

Kelly, a native New Yorker, will work out of the brokerage's Upper East Side office. He joins the firm from Compass and has more than a decade of experience in New York City real estate, during which time he has closed more than $300 million in sales, according to a news release.

"Tate Kelly is a perfect fit for us," said Coldwell Banker Warburg COO Kevelyn Guzman. "He's not only skilled in negotiations and market analysis, but also excels at building client relationships and has an in-depth knowledge of Manhattan's real estate."

Kelly brings not only his experience and reputation as a NYC luxury specialist, but an eclectic background including stints as a minor league baseball player and a TV food stylist that helped connect him with celebrities and professional athletes. 

"Coldwell Banker Warburg is the epitome of New York City luxury real estate, and the company's ethos beautifully aligns with what my clients look for in a firm. I can't wait to see what the future holds," said Kelly.

Michigan brokerage joins Century 21

Trophy Class Real Estate, based in Muskegon, Michigan, has joined Century 21.

The brokerage, founded in 1992, has been led by President and CEO Ian Volchoff for more than a decade.

Ian Volchoff, Century 21 Trophy Class.
Ian Volchoff, Century 21 Trophy Class.

Now operating as Century 21 Trophy Class, the firm specializes in rural, waterfront, farms and ranches as well as commercial investment properties. With the Century 21 affiliation, Volchoff hopes to expand its reach in the residential market.

The brokerage's in-house marketing team owns a healthy YouTube channel with more than 200 listing videos. Volchoff will add Century 21's digital assets to boost its existing marketing. "As a content-creation-heavy brokerage, we understand that the first moments of an interaction are paramount and there's no better first impression in real estate than introducing yourself as part of the Century 21 family."

"He has built an impressive business in the state of Michigan and we are excited to support his growth goals in cementing his presence in the vibrant beachside community of Muskegon and expanding his footprint across the state," said Mike Miedler, president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate.

Canadian team leaves RE/MAX for eXp

A Calgary real estate team led by Justin Havre has left RE/MAX First to set up shop under the eXp brand.

Justin Havre, The Justin Havre Real Estate Team, eXp.
Justin Havre, The Justin Havre Real Estate Team, eXp.

The Justin Havre Real Estate Team will operate as a brick-and-mortar/cloud hybrid, with office space in Calgary's Quarry Park.

"Our decision to join eXp Realty is rooted in our commitment to excel in real estate," Havre said. "Our primary goal is to empower agents, relieve them of their financial burdens and set them on an entrepreneurial path to success." 

With 60 advisors and 18 staff, the team was responsible for $4 billion in sales since 2016, selling nearly 9,000 homes.

"We are absolutely elated to extend a warm welcome to Justin and his exceptional team," said Glenn Sanford, founder and CEO of eXp Realty.

Havre said the new affiliation is "aligned with our vision to cater to the evolving needs of both clients and agents in the digital world."

"It's tough to say goodbye to such extraordinary colleagues and friends at RE/MAX," Havre acknowledged. "We had a lot of help along the way to becoming best-in-class in Canada for RE/MAX and want to thank broker-owners Rick Campos and Cliff Stevenson, and so many others, for their guidance, mentorship and support as we begin the next chapter in our team's evolution."

First Team leaves Christies, names new CEO

California's First Team Real Estate, the state's largest privately held brokerage, has ended its affiliation with Christie's International and named a new CEO.

Michele Harrington will serve as the newly unaffiliated brokerage's chief executive officer, founder/owner Cameron Merage announced.

Michele Harrington, First Team Real Estate.
Michele Harrington, First Team Real Estate.

"After 48 years in the business, I am looking forward to the future with a fresh approach and fresh leadership," Merage said. "While other companies are just holding on, we are investing in our future."

Harrington said First Team was leaving Christie's International because it has become a franchise model and First team "will always be an independent company focused on our agents' growth."

Since starting her real estate career in 1997, Harrington has worked as an agent, broker and owner. She has been with First Team since 2018, when the company acquired the brokerage she owned, Star Estates.

Following its exit from Christie's, First Team will strengthen its affiliation with luxury real estate network Luxury Portfolio International, which will provide tools and marketing strategies, Harrington said. The company has also unveiled a new logo along with other rebranding tools.

Corcoran names new leaders in South Florida

Marcia van Zyl has joined The Corcoran Group as senior managing director of South Florida.

Marcia van Zyl, Corcoran Group.
Marcia van Zyl, Corcoran Group.

Previously the managing broker overseeing the Fort Lauderdale and Plantation offices of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, van Zyl has experience both as an agent and in leadership roles.

"I am truly honored to begin this new chapter with Corcoran, a dynamic company rooted in the timeless values of service, integrity, market expertise, and neighborhood fluency," said van Zyl. 

She joins Managing Director Kerry Warwick in overseeing the company's Delray Beach/Gulfstream, Hobe Sound, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach offices.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Corcoran.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Corcoran.

"We are thrilled to welcome Marcia to Corcoran," said Pamela Liebman, Corcoran's president and CEO. "She has an incredible track record, an impressive background, and she's known as a highly respected real estate leader. I am confident that our agents will achieve even greater success with her support and guidance."

Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Corcoran's regional VP for Downtown Manhattan, will add Palm Beaches to his title and his oversight.

"Ryan has done an amazing job driving business results for Downtown Manhattan and with his deep understanding of the Palm Beach market, I am excited for him to add this important region to his purview," said Liebman.

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