These are the most famous NYC real estate brokerage firms

Share this article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
June 18, 2020

Apartment hunting can be time-consuming and not everyone has enough spare time on their hands. Let’s check out the most famous NYC real estate brokerage firms that can help you with your search.

NYC real estate is constantly in high demand. But where did it start and how did the real estate market grow into what it is today? New York City’s real estate market started booming during the 1870s to early 1990s due to increasing housing and office space demand in the Manhattan area.

This demand led to a large developmental shift from farmland to apartment buildings and skyscraper offices. Since then, the housing market in NYC has continued to grow along with housing demand, property sales, and rent price hikes.

The largest reason for the high demand for housing and high housing prices in NYC is because NYC is made up of islands. This means it has a small land size and limited space for new construction. Instead of expanding outwards, buildings are forced to go up in order to create more space, but can only be built up to a certain point depending on zoning and developers’ budgets. Due to this limited supply of space and apartments along with the influx of people moving to the Big Apple, NYC’s real estate value continues to increase.

How to find the right broker

With the small housing supply compared to the high demand for housing, you may be wondering how to find an apartment in NYC without too much stress. While it is possible to easily find your perfect apartment on your own through Localize, many of those who are too busy may choose to use a broker instead. So what’s the difference between working with a broker vs with no broker?

If you decide not to use a broker for your NYC apartment search, this means you have to research and find apartments on their own. This includes looking through various listings in different neighborhoods to see which ones match what you want in a space. This can take up a chunk of your time, but it also means saving on a broker’s fee. Additionally, many landlords sometimes use brokers to sell their properties, so if you want to ensure you don’t have to pay a broker’s fee, you’ll have to focus on finding no-fee apartments.

What would make your next home perfect?
Find it now on Localize ✨

When you choose to work with a broker, this means you are hiring a real estate agent to help you look for places that fit your budget and home needs. This can be useful for those who don’t have time to apartment hunt on their own and is useful for navigating the confusing parks of NYc real estate. Additionally, they can easily assess the best apartments and neighborhoods for your particular wants and needs. However, this comes with the price of a broker’s fee.

A broker’s fee is usually 10-15% of the annual rent for an apartment. So if your space costs $3,150/month, then a fee of 15% comes out to $5,670. Finding a broker that best fits your needs includes the type of properties they specialize in. This includes things such as luxury apartments, if you’re focused on rentals, if the brokerage focuses on wealthy clients, and much more. 

The top real estate brokerage firms in NYC

Finding a brokerage to help you look for the perfect apartment in NYC can also be a challenge. With so many options, it can be difficult to find one that fits your lifestyle and wants perfectly. Here are just a few of the biggest real estate firms that you can check out for your home search:

The Corcoran Group

The Corcoran Group was founded by Barbara Ann Corcoran in 1973 and was sold to NRT in 2001 for $66 million. It started off in a tiny office on the Upper East Side with just a $1,000 loan and later expanded in 1989 to the Upper West Side. Today, it is one of the top real estate companies with offices in New York City, Florida, and the Hamptons with Pamela Libeman as the company’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. Corcoran also has a reputation as a record-breaker with the biggest property sales in NYC: a $45 million condominium in 2003, a $101 million condo deal in 2015, and a $80 million townhouse sale in 2017.

Top Commercial Real Estate Brokers in New York
432 West 52 Street, #7E is now listed by Compass

Douglas Elliman

Douglas Elliman was founded in 1911 as a basement store in Manhattan and was sold first to the Milstein family, then to Insignia Financial Group, and later in 2003, to Montauk Battery Realty. Currently, there are four different regional branches that include New York, NYC, Florida, California,Texas, and more. They currently have more than 7,000 agents and have 113 offices across the country. Douglas Elliman is the second largest independent residential real estate brokerage in the U.S. by sales volume and has more than 44,000 sales and rental transactions annually.

Available listings from Douglas Elliman on Localize:

Top 10 Best Apartment Brokers in New York
35 North Moore Street, #PHAC is listed by Douglas Elliman

Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty is a luxury real estate brand that was founded in 1976 by the Sotheby’s Auction House. It is known around the world for the distinctive properties it represents. In 2004, Sotheby’s entered a long term alliance with Realogy Holdings Corp and began offering membership in its franchise system to certain brokerages and individuals that meet qualifications.

The brand was winner of the Franchise Business Review’s Best in Category for Real Estate Franchisee Satisfaction award in 2014 for the seventh year in a row. As of 2018, Sotheby’s international Realty network was made up of more than 19,000 sales associates and 990 offices in 72 countries and territories worldwide.

Available listings from Sotheby’s International Realty on Localize:

Who is the best broker in New York City?
40 West 116 Street, #A808 is listed by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc.


Compass was originally founded in 2012 by Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin as “Urban Compass”. It started off in a single downtown Manhattan office, but by 2016, they’ve expanded into Aspen, Los Angeles, Santa Barbra, and San Francisco. Then in late 2017, they also expanded to Chicago by signing the city’s top real estate team. Currently, they have also expanded into Texas, Connecticut, Florida, Washington, and many more. Compass utilizes various technologies such as Compass Collections, Compass Insights, Marketing Center, Compass Markets, and Compass CRM.

Available listings from Compass on Localize:

Who are the top Realtors in NYC?
470 Classon Avenue, #3 is listed by Compass

Brown Harris Stevens

Brown Harris Stevens was founded in 1873 by Charles Stelle Brown and is headquartered in New York City. The company is known for its real estate brokerage and management divisions that caters to wealthy buyers and sellers. While the company went through a few name changes, the current name “Brown Harris Stevens” originated in 1948 and represents Charles S. Brown the founder, Duncan G. Harris, and Francis K. Stevens.

As of 2016, the company had closed more than $4 billion in sales in NYC and in 2017, the company had around 500 agents. Brown Harris Stevens was also the exclusive agent for the sale of David Rockefeller’s Upper East Side home in 2017. Currently, Bess Freedman is the Chief Executive Officer of Brown Harris Stevens and Hall F. Willkie is the President. They also represent properties in NYC, The Hamptons, Palm Beach, and Miami.

Available listings from Brown Harris Stevens on Localize:

Top Manhattan Brokerage firms
212 Warren Street, #17S is listed by Brown Harris Stevens

Keller Williams NYC

Keller Williams is an international real estate franchise company founded in 1983 by Gary Keller and Joe Williams. They began franchising in 1991 and have been among the fastest growing real estate franchises in the industry. In 2011, they became the 2nd largest real estate franchise in the U.S. and in 2014, they became the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count.

Keller Williams has more than 800 offices and more than 160,000 agents across the globe. In its two offices in NYC, they have more than 1000 agents and have been ranked top 10 for real estate agencies in NYC in many categories. Their two offices are located in Manhattan and are quickly growing into other parts of New York City.

Available listings from Keller Williams NYC on Localize:

What is the largest real estate company in the world?
143 Avenue B, #3C is listed by Keller Williams NYC

Citi Habitats

Citi Habitats is a Manhattan-based residential real estate brokerage firm in NYC that specializes in the rental market. It was founded in 1994 by Andrew Heiberger and was sold to NRT in 2004 for $49.6 million. Within the residential real estate NYC, Citi Habitats is known as the biggest rental brokerage firm in New York CIty in 2004. Within 2001-2004, they have helped more than 40,000 New Yorkers find new apartments. Currently, they have offices in the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Cobble Hill, Park Avenue South, Greenwich Village, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.

nyc real estate market
464 West 44 Street, #PHC is now listed by Douglas Elliman

Warburg Realty

Warburg Realty was originally the Albert B. Ashforth firm. However, when it was acquired by former broker Frederick Peters, he renamed it to Warburg. Warburg was named after Peters’ mother’s family which is a banking dynasty that stretches back to 16th century Europe. The company is a privately-held residential real estate brokerage firm in NYC that specializes in mid-range to higher-end cooperative and condo deals. They also focus on rentals in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens and has provided luxury real estate services since 1896.

Available listings from Warburg Realty on Localize:

top commercial real estate companies in nyc
28 Laight Street, #3C is listed by Warburg Realty Partnership, Ltd.

Whether or not you choose to use a broker for your NYC apartment search, Localize already has many listings represented by these top brokerage firms so you can see all available spaces in one place! You can easily search through our listings to find your perfect space and our insights help you find the truth about any apartment.

Share this article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Find your next home on Localize

Related stories