Posted 09/17/2019

Douglas Elliman seeks exclusive listings on new Austin real estate projects

Austin Business Journal, 9.16.19

Erin Edgemon, Staff Writer

A push into Texas by New York-based residential real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate could bring new developers and capital into the Austin market, the company’s Texas leader said. “There is a lot of wealth that is looking to come into Texas right now, a lot of capital that is looking into Texas,” said Jacob Sudhoff, CEO of Douglas Elliman Texas. “We at Elliman are very plugged into the capital markets in New York City just because we have those relationships. We are able to be a conduit of relationships with both developers and capital sources out of New York City to Texas, and it is already happening in a major way." Douglas Elliman announced Aug. 20 that it is entering the Lone Star State through a joint venture with Houston-based real estate sales and marketing firm Sudhoff Cos., which was founded by Jacob Sudhoff. In the deal, Sudhoff Cos. will operate under the Douglas Elliman flag and expand into Austin and Dallas.

Known to many as the firm of celebrity broker Fredrik Eklund who appears on the Bravo reality TV series “Million Dollar Listing New York,” Douglas Elliman is the largest residential brokerage in New York City with 1,999 agents and $8.99 billion in closed sales, according to The Real Deal.

Across the country, Douglas Elliman has about 7,500 agents working in 120 offices, as well as an exclusive relationship with London-based Knight Frank Residential for buying and selling luxury homes in 60 countries on six continents. Sudhoff said Douglas Elliman will expose Texas to more wealth from around the world. “That is something no other real estate brokerage can do,” he said.

Douglas Elliman Business Development Manager Kristin Armenia moved from New York to lead the Austin office. “Austin real estate is certainly intriguing and no secret to anybody,” she said. Armenia said she was connected to Sudhoff after telling Douglas Elliman Executive Chairman Howard Lorber that she was moving to Texas. She had an Austin connection before moving to the state. Members of her family work for New York-based Reger Holdings LLC, which is developing a 27-story condominium tower at 1615 Guadalupe St. on the north side of downtown. Reger is also in the early stages of developing a 425-acre mixed-use development called East Village in North Austin on Parmer Lane, across the street from the Samsung Austin Semiconductor plant.

Firm's strategy explained Douglas Elliman's Austin office will officially launch Jan. 1 with exclusive agreements to sell new construction condominiums and single-family residences, Sudhoff said.

The firm will also seek to handle leasing on apartment projects. The brokerage is currently in talks with developers of master-planned communities and condominium projects around Austin, according to the firm’s Austin leadership. It’s also hiring staff, largely in Houston, and building its data and analytics for the Texas market.

In addition to the city of Austin, the firm is targeting new developments in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties and such cities as Spicewood and Bee Cave for exclusive agreements, said Mike Reddell, executive vice president and managing director of Douglas Elliman Texas.

Aside from marketing new properties, the firm will also offer resale, commercial land sales, apartment leasing, development and builder marketing and relocation services in Austin.

With such a broad strategy, the firm is poised to compete with — and work alongside — a variety of other brokerages, from Urbanspace and Den Property Group in the city's core to suburban Realtors at outfits such as Keller Williams Realty and Realty Austin. Douglas Elliman seeks to lease permanent office space in Austin rather than moving into a coworking location.

The firm will hire real estate agents in Austin prior to the Jan. 1 launch, but recruitment isn’t the top priority for the firm, Sudhoff said.

“Our primary focus right now is getting the business,” he said.

Reddell said the firm isn’t trying to gain market share by recruiting agents from other brokerages. Contrast that with the approach of Compass, which entered the Austin market in fall 2018 by poaching top luxury agents from other firms. Reddell and Sudhoff said about a dozen Elliman agents originally from Texas but now working across the country have already contacted them wanting to move back to the state to work.