SoFla real estate firms ramp up in 2013

Encouraged by the resurgent South Florida market, many real estate firms expanded their presence in the region in 2013.

Major companies like Avison Young, Douglas Elliman Florida and Related ISG International Realty ramped up in South Florida this year. Industry employment surged throughout the state. Year-over-year real estate sales, leasing and other industry jobs rose 4.4 percent to 169,500 in November 2013, according to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Other firms, like GMA Realty, set the stage for future expansion. The brokerage announced in October plans to add up to 75 real estate agents and mortgage brokers after opening a 3,000-square-foot office in Hollywood. GMA is shifting from a primary focus on distressed properties acquired by hedge funds to a broader array of real estate transactions.

Below are some of the most notable company expansions, mergers and hirings in South Florida this year.

Douglas Elliman Florida brings in new CEO

Attorney and entrepreneur Jay Phillip Parker took over the helm of Douglas Elliman’s Florida operations during a year when the brokerage put a heavy emphasis on South Florida real estate.

Parker, a founding partner at law firm Beloff Parker Jacobs and founder of a title company, replaced Vanessa Grout as CEO of Douglas Elliman Florida in September. Grout returned to Elliman’s parent company as an executive. The move came three months after the firm brought its 100 top-producing agents to Miami for a retreat on how to draw more New York and international buyers to South Florida.

When his hire was announced, Parker told The Real Deal that one of his tasks is to expand the 250-agent brokerage.

Avison Young grows after merging with South Florida brokers

Toronto-based Avison Young more than doubled its real estate holdings and staff following an October 2012 merger with a group of South Florida brokers.

Pike Rowley, a principal and managing director of Avison’s Florida operations, told The Real Deal in August about the staff and portfolio increases. Rowley and seven other brokers left Flagler Real Estate services to join Avison.

Since entering the U.S. market in 2009, Avison has become one of the fastest growing commercial real estate services company in the world. In June, the company acquired West Palm Beach-based brokerage WG Compass and added several veteran brokers to its roster. It manages 7.1 million square feet in South Florida and had hoped to expand its Florida portfolio to 10 million square feet by year’s end.

Related ISG opens downtown Miami office

With the latest construction boom underway in Miami’s Central Business District, Related ISG International Realty seized an opportunity to open a downtown Miami office.

The Aventura-based company, a merger of developer Related Group and residential brokerage International Sales Group, launched a satellite office at 286 Northeast Second Street in October. The office holds up to 25 brokers, with some working in multiple locations.

Related ISG also has offices in Brickell and South Beach and is believed to be mulling an expansion into Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood.

Management firm, publishing company form new Miami brokerage

CSI International and Horizon Publishing launched Opulence International Realty in Miami last month.

A 25-year-old property management firm, CSI specializes in managing luxury real estate. The company has a vast client base that includes numerous wealthy international investors. Horizon produces South Florida Opulence Magazine.

Geoff Hammond and wife Jayne run CSI and Horizon. They recruited 20-year industry veteran James Hoffman of The Corcoran Group to lead the new venture.

Brown Harris Stevens expands Palm Beach office

Luxury residential real estate brokerage Brown Harris Stevens doubled the size of its Palm Beach office and hired seven new agents earlier this month.

The New York-based company has been in growth mode since expanding its Worth Avenue office. Brown Harris was established in 1873 in New York. The company is an exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, a subsidiary of fine arts auctioneer Christie’s International.

Miami Beach brokerage partners with Spanish firm

Drawing parallels between the Andalusia region in southern Spain and the South Florida real estate market, Miami Beach-based Vortex International Realty formed a partnership with Marbella-based brokerage Monte Archanda at the beginning of 2013.

The companies teamed up to promote each other’s markets on their websites and to their existing client networks. Vortex CEO Eric Hochman said the Andalusia region is similar to South Florida because both attract high-end vacation home buyers.

CBRE vet Rick Miller departs after 11 years

Veteran real estate leasing agent Rick Miller left CBRE earlier this month after an 11-year stint with the firm.

Miller plans to join an undisclosed smaller real estate operation. He was part of the brokerage services and global corporate services divisions for real estate in South Florida. Representing both tenants and landlords, Miller also served as managing director for South Florida from 2007 to 2011. In that position, Miller managed more than 75 CBRE brokers.

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