Both New York City real estate brokerages are owned by parent company Terra Holdings.

Brown Harris Stevens (BHS) and Halstead Real Estate, sister companies both owned by parent company Terra Holdings, are merging, the companies confirmed Thursday to Inman. The two brokerages and their combined roughly 2,500 agents and 55 offices in New York City, the Tri-state area, the Hamptons, Palm Beach, Miami and other locations throughout the East Coast, will operate under the BHS banner.

Bess Freedman | Photo credit: BHS

“The power of Terra Holdings working as one will further solidify Brown Harris Stevens as an unstoppable force,” BHS CEO Bess Freedman, who will continue to serve as CEO of the combined companies, told Inman.

“This exciting union enables us to focus our extensive resources and forge a larger, even stronger firm to better serve our valued agents and customers in our current and expanded regions,” Freedman added. “As the real estate industry begins to reopen around the country, we are growing a company with a purposeful culture and incredible depth and breadth for the future.”

The merger, which was first reported by The Real Deal, combines the two competitors under one flag, although Brown Harris Stevens was more Manhattan luxury real estate focused, while Halstead focused more on Brooklyn, Riverdale, Hamptons, Fairfield County in Connecticut and Metro New Jersey.

The two firms, which will keep all of their senior leadership in place, combined for roughly $9 billion in sales in 2019 and both placed in the top 50 in the Real Trends 500.

“The owners of Terra Holdings are confident that Bess and the executive team will lead Brown Harris Stevens to even greater success,” Alan Kersner, Terra Holdings’ chief operating officer, said in a statement. “This venture creates new synergies and the ability to reinforce our position as an industry leader in the post-pandemic era.”

Many of the real estate industry’s top leaders have predicted a consolidation would hit the industry as result of COVID-19, with brokerages either being absorbed into larger brokerages holding companies or affiliating with a franchise network.

The New York City real estate market in particular has seen a number of shakeups even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2019, Compass acquired Stribling & Associates, one of the city’s top remaining indie brokerages and Town Residential opted to shutter entirely in April 2018. 

In a move similar to the BHS and Halstead merger, Realogy-owned Corcoran and Citi Habitats decided to merge earlier this year under the Cocoran umbrella, after similarly competing in the market place despite having the same parent company.

The market was also hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with transactions slowing to almost a standstill in April. The local real estate companies felt the pain, with Compass and Douglas Elliman announcing layoffs. Terra Holdings, meanwhile reportedly cut executive pay and furloughed some employees.

Email Patrick Kearns

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