- Douglas Elliman has promoted COO Scott Durkin to president and COO, effective immediately.
She joked with her protege of many years at the Corcoran Group: “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to take all the credit for this. I groomed you to get you here.”
Durkin was happy to agree. Corcoran tapped him on the shoulder, or cornered him in the swimming pool to be precise, in 1991 and said the agent should forget sales and come into the executive offices.
Prior to that Durkin had a hotel career with the Four Seasons; he was the assistant manager of The Pierre in New York before starting in real estate in the early 1990s and, under Corcoran, rose to COO and managing director of the Corcoran Group’s Chelsea-Flatiron office, which ranked in the top 10 of all Realogy companies during his 11 years there.
He was also a key player in the sale of the Corcoran Group to Realogy-owned NRT in 2001 and a number of subsequent acquisitions.
In 2015, Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman recruited Durkin as executive vice president of acquisitions and growth, promoting him to COO in October this year. He will be both president and COO going forward.
Durkin said he was attracted to Douglas Elliman for its ambitious expansion plans while Herman was interested in hiring the man behind the great woman, he quips.
“What interested me most was the fact that there was such a big growth initiative going on in the company. That’s what I love about it, is the growth part, expanding the brand in other luxury markets, it really piqued my interest,” he said.
In the last two years, the president/COO has helped the company expand in New York, South Florida, California and Massachusetts and “restructured operations” in Westchester, Connecticut and the Hamptons. He was also closely involved with structuring the partnership with Zillow-owned listing portal StreetEasy, which is giving the brokerage a new agent-facing platform for New York City next year. He has also streamlined Douglas Elliman’s operations team.
Herman said: “I knew when I met Scott many years ago that I wanted him with Elliman, and I am very happy he is finally home.”
Durkin said in future plans he would like to see a hotel residence division for the brokerage, which he said would be a smart move given the interest in this kind of property.
The new president said his hotel background taught him the importance of anticipating people’s needs rather than reacting to them. “If you are reacting to them, you’ve missed the boat, you’ve missed the moment. It’s all about first impressions.”
The company’s expansion on the West Coast will continue. San Francisco is next on the list, though it is early days and there is still homework to be done, said Durkin. The company is still deciding whether to make an acquisition or start an office fresh.
“San Francisco is a very special market,” he said. The company is also doing some expansion closer to home in New York state, in southern Westchester.
When asked how Douglas Elliman is competing with New York City upstart Compass, he said: “We give the best service to clients in selling — that’s all we do. We market, we sell, we are not a tech company.”
He added: “What differentiates us from a company like that is their identity is tech, and they are basing their whole valuation on that. We are not a tech company, we don’t build it.”
The recent deal with StreetEasy is an example of the importance of finding the right partner to service his agents, he said.