Charles Rutenberg named fifth largest brokerage in NYC

New York, N.Y. — Manhattan real estate brokerage, Charles Rutenberg, was named the fifth largest brokerage firm in all of New York City, according to the The Real Deal’s annual ranking of top companies in the industry. Collectively, the major 12 firms, Charles Rutenberg included, had 3,712 listings as of March 27 – a 19 percent jump from 2015. The value of those listings soared nearly 30 percent to $16.2 billion from $12.5 billion last year.

Charles Rutenberg – which has a 100 percent commission model – increased its ranks by about 10 percent to 599 agents at press time, and has added even more agents since March 27. As Rutenberg President Stefani Markowitz told The Real Deal, agents are drawn to the firm in part because they can earn more commission.

“Agents want to run their own businesses. They’re already branded,” said Markowitz. “They want to have the freedom and flexibility to truly be independent contractors.”

Besides the substantial commission, Markowitz last year introduced a full real estate education curriculum built around seminars from industry leaders and specialists to support agent needs. She facilitates team building and encourages collaborative work amongst agents. Markowitz also formed a partnership with Wounded Warriors to fast-track veterans into second careers with the company.

Unlike Charles Rutenberg, many other companies on The Real Deal list have, in fact, seen their agent pool shrink, and are focusing heavily on recruiting talented agents and rebuilding internally, as a result.

Rutenberg’s real estate agents specialize in Manhattan and the surrounding metropolitan area. The Rutenberg business model is designed to appeal to established agents who are looking to grow their business, while earning maximum commissions. For fast-moving, hard-working entrepreneurial driven agents, Rutenberg provides the smartest deal in town. That’s why they are– “Rutenberg, the Smart Brokers.”


Local broker launches Chinese-language version of website

New York, NY – In response to increasing local interest by Chinese homebuyers and investors, Houlihan Lawrence, the leading residential brokerage in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Fairfield counties, has launched a Traditional Chinese-language version of its website.

The site offers a seamless browsing experience for Chinese viewers by pairing a curated selection of properties with deep links to its premier listings translated on LuxuryPortfolio.com.

“We are proud to extend our capabilities to meet the needs of this premium market,” says Chris Meyers, Managing Principal of Houlihan Lawrence. “It is important for us to evolve our tools for international home buyers in order for all clients to have an easy, accessible experience.”

This new feature is a result of Houlihan Lawrence’s growing demand from Chinese users. Traffic from China to HoulihanLawrence.com more than doubled in 2015 as compared to 2014, and inbound web leads from Chinese buyers have increased significantly since last year. Houlihan Lawrence has been steadily attracting Mandarin and Cantonese speaking agents to the company, with a dozen native speakers dispersed among its offices. The agents have been reporting a growing demand from Asian investors for better digital home buying tools and a desire to correspond primarily through popular messaging platform WeChat.

Elizabeth Nunan, Vice President of Global Business Development explains, “By featuring our luxury properties in Traditional Chinese, Houlihan Lawrence and our sellers will benefit from an increased global presence among this ever-important audience as Chinese are now the biggest foreign buyers of U.S. housing.”

According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, in the 12 months ending March 2014, Chinese investors spent $22 billion on real estate in the United States, or nearly one quarter of all international sales. Roughly 51% of the deals were in New York. In 2015, they poured $28.6 billion into properties in the U.S.

The northern New York City suburbs are considered a prime opportunity among Chinese buyers. “Trophy” homes in close proximity to the city make for an attractive investment in times of China’s economic uncertainty and dwindling living space. Top-tier schools, better health care and refreshing green space only amplify the draw.


Former Trump architect puts ‘Southamptom gem’ up for sale

362640New York — New York’s legendary architect, Costas Kondylis, featured as a “Treasure of New York” on the eponymous PBS series, will put his Southampton architectural gem the “Black Barn” up for auction on June 1, 2016.

Kondylis, a Greek immigrant, as much as any other contemporary designer, is responsible for the current Manhattan skyline. Kondylis’ designs not only gave Donald Trump’s trademark projects their aura of wealth and grandeur but assisted Trump in his self-professed talent for building things on time and under budget.

Not content with endless repetition of his winning design formulas, Kondylis famously convinced Trump to abandon the signature gold colors in the development of the sleek all-black Trump World Tower. Some 80 other buildings designed by Kondylis now dot Manhattan island and virtually every other majorNew York developer has benefited from the practical elegance of Kondylis’ designs.


Selling million dollar real estate in New York

CaptureBefore Katherine Salyi became a veteran broker with Nest Seekers International, she was a consultant to major New York financial institutions. She traded the consulting for a $10 an hour job receptionist job, at a small real estate firm, a “bold career” move that’s paid off: Salyi now spends her days on a highly successful Nest Seekers International team with celebrity broker Ryan Serhant.

For more on Salyi, Serhant and what selling real estate is like in New York, check out our full feature on page 164 of the latest Unique Homes, written by Roger Grody. A sneak peek is below.


A proud New Yorker, Katherine Salyi is beginning her fourth year at Nest Seekers International, serving on the team led by celebrity broker Ryan Serhant, a star of Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Listing New York.” With $600 million in sales in the last year alone, Serhant leads the most successful real estate team in the State of New York.


Lively Tennessee auction inspires record bidding

361235Chattanooga, Tenn.— On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Hixson, Tennessee, nine auction bidders gathered poolside in the backyard of a two-story, lakefront estate in order to place their bids to be the home’s new owner.

After nearly 20 minutes of live bidding, the property was sold. The auction sale was conducted by Miami-based Platinum Luxury Auctions, in cooperation with Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty, the listing brokerage of record for the property.

Although the property had previously been listed for sale for as much as $3 million, the terms of the auction dictated that the highest bidder above a reserve price of only $1.25 million would be deemed the new owner. While neither Platinum nor Alliance was at liberty to release the price of the sale, the parties noted that the total purchase price “significantly bested” the reserve price, and that the sale will rank as the second-highest on record for the community of Hixson, Tennessee, which is located on the perimeter of the broader Chattanooga marketplace. The sale is scheduled to close in approximately 30 days.

“We’re obviously very pleased that our first sale in Tennessee has produced the second-highest price in the history of its community,” stated Bradley Pruitt, Platinum’s director of business development and the firm’s lead manager for the sale. “I expect this to be the beginning of a series of successful auctions in Tennessee.”


‘San Diego boom’ reaches Super Prime residences

San Diego, Calif. – Validating the monumental changes taking place in San Diego’s Downtown, Pacific Gate by Bosa, the first Super Prime residences to be built in this evolving metropolis, sold more than $90 million in residences during its opening weekend of private sales. Private sales, which allow access to the best residence selection and pricing, will continue through April 2016 and leads the way for the public sales campaign, which will begin in May 2016.

An exciting transformation is taking place in Downtown San Diego, the four-square-mile city dubbed “America’s finest city.” The development of new parks, hotels, retail space and cultural offerings support increased growth in the job market and more residents moving downtown, in part through the visionary North Embarcadero Esplanade Plan and Waterfront Park. This area is emerging on the world stage as a prime example of the urbanism movement nationwide.

Pacific Gate will be 41 stories tall and will contain 215 two-and three-bedroom residences ranging in size from 1,240 to 2,608 square feet. Two-bedroom residences are priced from the $1.1 millions and three-bedroom Estates are priced from the $2.8 millions. The building’s estimated completion is scheduled for late 2017.

Nat Bosa, president of Bosa Development, states, “The success of our private sales illustrates the demand for Super Prime residential living in Downtown San Diego, and we plan to deliver what residents are asking for:  prime location,  breathtaking views, iconic architecture, exquisite interior design, and amenities and services not currently offered in San Diego.”

Pacific Gate’s architecture and design are unparalleled in Downtown San Diego. The beautiful oval glass residential tower is designed by renowned New York-based architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, in collaboration with Chris Dikeakos Architects, who created a landmark design that will evolve the San Diego skyline and represents the future of the city. Interiors are designed by industry-leading Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA).

The building is comprised of two-nested curved glass towers that will rise as a single column from a three-story ground floor retail podium on the north and west sides of the tower. Because of the building’s curves and exterior glass, Pacific Gate will offer a different viewing experience depending on the vantage point of the viewer, mirroring the fluidity and transformation of the sea. The result is an elegant sculptural form with a multi-dimensional effect that blends form and functionalism.


Unique Perspectives: Fine 20th Century Designs

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 9.19.36 AMIf you’re spending $135,000 on a chair, you want to make sure it’s the right one.

That’s why the 20th Century Design auction at Sotheby’s London boasted some of the world’s finest collectible furniture items. These included two Extruded Chairs by Mark Newson (sold for $134,986), each of which was crafted from a single, seamless piece of marble; a Miss Blanche Chair by Shiru Kuramata ($414,986), made from clear acrylic resin, artificial roses and anodized aluminum; and the VorteXX Hanging Light ($163,912), a chandelier which is characterized by its “spirit of fluidity.”

For more information on the auction and these items, check out our feature story on page 162 of the latest Unique Homes, written by Christine Aebischer. Below is a sneak preview.


The collectible furniture market is showing exceptional strength, with recent auctions seeing world record-breaking sales and global interest. These one-of-a-kind pieces from the 20th Century Design auction at Sotheby’s London boast stunning craftsmanship and unique designs, leading them to sell for well over their estimated value.


On Location: Dream Lifestyle for Sale

CaptureWhen Unique Homes first visited Punta Mita, one of Mexico’s premier luxury resort-residential developments, it was largely a construction zone purposed for six residential communities.

That was in 2007. Fast forward nearly a decade, and Punta Mita has exploded into a a “dream lifestyle” where visitors can enjoy an authentic and rejuvinating experience, one where they can pick up fresh tortillas in the nearby town of Punta de Mita from “shopkeepers who know them by name.”

For more information about Punta Mita, check out our feature story on page 160 of the latest Unique Homes. Below is a sneak preview.


From Cancún to Los Cabos, Mexico has no shortage of glitzy resort-residential developments where sipping fresh, fruity cocktails and savoring Instagram-worthy beach views are the number one activities. Those in search of a more active and authentic lifestyle without sacrificing luxury can find their haven just a short drive from Puerto Vallarta, in the geographically diverse Riviera Nayarit. Encompassing a naturally secluded, 1,500-acre peninsula, Punta Mita provides homeowners with endless opportunities for recreation.


Software Tech Millionaire Selling Texas Family Compound

The family compound of millionaire Ross Garber— wine aficionado, race car enthusiast and notable tech entrepreneur, who co-founded the $310 million software company Vignette Corporation – hits the auction block next month through industry leader Concierge Auctions.
Mr. Garber and his wife are selling their $16.9 million home on May 27 to the highest bidder regardless of price. A perpetual innovator and driving force of Austin’s technology scene, Garber followed Concierge Auctions for two years and spent months researching auction methodology prior to hiring the firm for this assignment.
The Austin, Texas mansion is a 14,000-square-foot complete estate surrounded by 400 acres of protected canyon, located in what is arguably the country’s most growing city. This massive estate was designed to the Garber’s taste including an underground 2,400 bottle wine cellar, a tennis court, standalone gym, two outdoor grilling stations, a full outdoor kitchen, a 50-foot edge infinity-edge pool, pool house, 10-car, conditioned garage and more.

“Bella Northside” to be sold at no-reserve auction

atlanta-symphony-decorator-show-house-to-be-offered-at-rare-luxury-auction-with-no-reserve-15-HRAtlanta, Ga.— It’s rare that a home of the finest caliber comes onto the market near the Buckhead area, and that is why the sale of “Bella Northside” is an event to anticipate. The home will be sold at a luxury, no-reserve absolute auction on May 19, 2016 by Supreme Auctions, in cooperation with Cynthia Pierce of Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Perimeter.

The estate itself sits up from the gated entry overlooking the grounds, giving it a true stately feel. As a William T. Baker design, this home is in high demand as a film and photography location. The estate has also been showcased in New Classicists: American Architecture, as the 2015 Atlanta Symphony Decorator Show House and Gardens, having received over 300 visitors and admirers.

“This elegant and practical showcase home has substantial appeal, especially for European buyers, and those that admire European style,” said listing agent Cynthia Pierce.