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Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Brokerage Beat: News from Onward, United, Side, Corcoran, more 

Parks leaders form new firm; TX indie merges with United; NYC brokerages join Side; Corcoran gains music legend; C21 grows in AL; Chicago duo joins E&V; more.

June 8, 2024
8 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. and globally.

Parks founders back new Tennessee venture

Five veterans of the Nashville residential market and former members of Tennessee's largest brokerage, Parks Real Estate, have launched a new firm: Onward Real Estate.

Bob Parks, Marie Parks, Jenni Barnett; Onward Real Estate.
Bob Parks, Marie Parks, Jenni Barnett; Onward Real Estate.

The venture is backed by Bob and Marie Parks, who founded Parks nearly 50 years ago and will serve as principals and senior advisors at the new firm. Parks Real Estate, which grew substantially in recent years following mergers with Village Real Estate and Pilkerton Realtors, merged with Compass in May.

The key players in Onward are all Parks veterans: Jenni Barnett, Scott Cornett, Dawne Davis, Matt Ligon and Danny Anderson. 

Barnett is heading the new firm, which has offices in three cities. She spent nearly 25 years with Parks, including roles as CFO and COO, leading the expansion of several service lines and brands.

Cornett is leading the Nashville office, Davis will lead the Murfreesboro office and Ligon will lead the Williamson County office. Anderson oversees community relations and engagement for Onward in Williamson County.

"Over more than four decades, we created a company that put our agents first," Bob Parks said in a news release. "Onward … will focus on taking care of our agents and instilling the workplace culture that has been our trademark since our first estate office opened in Murfreesboro in 1975."

Stryve Realty joins United | DFW in North Texas 

Stryve Realty, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has merged with local powerhouse United Real Estate | DFW Properties of Grapevine. Stryve is the second Fort Worth firm to join United in the past 12 months. The merger gives United more than 200 agents in the region.

Shawn Buck, Founder, Stryve Realty.
Shawn Buck, Founder, Stryve Realty.

Stryve's founder, Shawn Buck, is now United's associate broker for strategic growth. In a news release, Buck said, "This partnership is the right move at the right time. The brokerage industry is quickly evolving. United is empowering agents and teams to build their own brands and run their businesses according to their needs."

Brenda Cole, principal broker and partner at United | DFW, expressed enthusiasm for the merger: "I could not be happier to bring Shawn and Stryve Realty into our circle and show United to others. We are excited to have a larger family to share with and to learn from. We have gained a new team of commercial and residential agents, added a new office in Fort Worth, expanded our agent support team and increased our value to agents and consumers."

In October, United | DFW merged with Insight Realty, which added approximately 100 agents to the brokerage company.

Side gains 2 NYC-based brokerages

Two New York City brokers have founded their own luxury firms on the Side real estate platform. Laurence Carty, formerly of Corcoran, has started Palette, while Pavel Zustiak has brought his team from Douglas Elliman to launch Palissimo.

Laurence Carty, Palette; Pavel Zustiak; PALISSIMO | Side
Laurence Carty, Palette; Pavel Zustiak; PALISSIMO | Side

Both men have deep ties to New York's art and entertainment communities, as well as real estate. Carty, who specializes in the downtown area, was with Corcoran for 22 years. His past listings have included the "Cornelia Street" townhouse once rented, and sung about, by Taylor Swift. For now at least, Palette is a solo operation.

Zustiak brought a team with him from Douglas Elliman. Combined, they achieved $38 million in sales volume in 2023. In addition to his real estate career, Zustiak is a choreographer, dancer and sound designer, and was a child TV star in Europe.

"At Palissimo, we've always sought to redefine the boundaries of what's possible in luxury real estate," Zustiak said in a news release. Side's platform and support will enable the firm to sharpen its focus on "the lifestyle aspirations of its clientele," the release added. 

Agent brings music and mortgage expertise to Corcoran Reverie 

Michael Bonagura has joined Corcoran Reverie as an agent in Nashville. A longtime fixture on the country music scene, Bonagura also enjoyed a 20-year career as the owner of 1st Choice Mortgage Solutions in Franklin, Tennessee.

"Michael Bonagura's extensive success in both the mortgage and music industries makes him a valuable addition to Corcoran Reverie," said Chris Grimes, Corcoran's managing broker. "His unique blend of business acumen and creative spirit aligns perfectly with our commitment to providing exceptional service and fostering a vibrant community." 

Music fans may know Bonagura as a performer, along with his wife, Kathie Baillie, in the trio Baillie And The Boys. He started writing songs in the sixth grade and has written or contributed to songs for many artists, as well as songs for the trio.

"We are excited to welcome Michael to our team," said Hilary Farnum-Fasth, broker/owner of Corcoran Reverie. "His diverse talents and deep connections in Nashville will enhance our ability to serve clients with excellence."

Century 21 welcomes new Huntsville firm

Husband-and-wife duo Shawn and Misty Guzman have opened Century 21 Home Team, a new brokerage in Huntsville, Alabama. Shawn is a military veteran and former police officer who got started in real estate in 2016. Misty is a former nurse who chose a real estate career after the pandemic to have more time with their family.

Shawn and Misty Guzman, Century 21 Home Team.
Shawn and Misty Guzman, Century 21 Home Team.

Shawn, Misty and their affiliated sales professionals work with residents of Madison, Limestone, Morgan, Marshall and Jackson counties. The Guzmans are focused on growth, and plan to add at least 10 agents per year, with the hope of opening three additional offices in five years. 

"The Century 21 brand has an international presence that's felt everywhere," Shawn Guzman said in a news release. "This affiliation allows us to spread our reach across state lines, and even across country lines. To be able to attach our strong local reputation… to a brand that's most respected in the industry will present us with plenty of opportunities that we can't wait to pursue."

The Home Team brokerage "is all about relationship-building," said Misty Guzman. "Real estate is a people-driven industry, and that's why it's so easy for Shawn and I to love what we do."

Chicago duo joins Engel & Völkers

Craig Hogan and Rudy Zavala, formerly of Coldwell Banker Luxury Group Chicago, have joined Engel & Völkers as luxury real estate advisors at the firm's Chicago shop. They will be working with Jennifer Ames, co-license partner of Engel & Völkers Chicago and private office advisor.

Craig Hogan and Rudy Zavala, Engel & Völkers Chicago.
Craig Hogan and Rudy Zavala, Engel & Völkers Chicago.

"Throughout their distinguished careers, Craig and Rudy have consistently upheld the highest standards in our industry," Ames said in a news release. "Their passion for service, appreciation for elegant marketing, and unwavering commitment to elevating our field perfectly align with our core values."

Hogan was vice president of luxury at Coldwell Banker Luxury Group from 2015 to 2021. In its fifth year, the program achieved 33,000 sales, with an average sale price of $1.9 million. Zavala has been working in the Chicago market since 1998 and is recognized as being in Chicago's top 5% of agents.

"We are excited about this move, especially given that we've never changed brokerages in the nearly three decades we've been in real estate," Hogan said in the news release. "Rudy and I have long focused on the luxury side of the business and will keep that same focus moving forward." 

BHGRE gains longtime Tennessee firm

Ben Bray Real Estate, an independent brokerage serving parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, has joined the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand. 

Now doing business as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Ben Bray & Associates, the company was founded in 1997 by broker/owner Ben Bray, who continues to lead the firm alongside affiliate broker Katie Bray. In addition to residential real estate, the brokerage handles commercial sales, land and farm transactions, and property auctions. 

With its new affiliation, Ben Bray plans to increase its recruiting efforts and leverage BHGRE's resources to support its existing agents and bring more visibility to the firm — ultimately, the brokerage would like to explore expansion opportunities.

"We're fully committed to our clients, and their best interests are always what guides our decisions," said Ben Bray, noting that the affiliation will offer "the training, infrastructure, and support we need to finally be able to dedicate 100% of our efforts to the clients, instead of micromanaging day-to-day responsibilities."

Katie Bray echoed his sentiments: "Our reputation means everything to us, and as native Volunteers, we understand that many of our clients feel the same. To be able to maintain that reputation while adding state-of-the-art systems, services and infrastructure is an opportunity that we knew we couldn't pass up."

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