PROFILEmiami had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman's Florida Brokerage. Douglas Elliman has been one of the major driving forces behind the evolution of the luxury real estate markets in South Florida and Jay has been one of the cornerstones of the company's growth. Find out how he helped Douglas Elliman stand out in a crowded, cut-throat industry.
PM: How has Douglas Elliman's presence in South Florida grown? Where do you see it heading?
JP: Most notably we've seen an extraordinary expansion over the last four years because of the repositioning of our company as Douglas Elliman Real Estate other than the former, Prudential. I would hope to think I also had an impact along with the core of my colleagues and executive leadership team. Ultimately, having been a real estate lawyer in this market over the past 20 years, I recognized having worked with many of the top real estate professionals that there was a defect in the real estate brokerage model. The model here became one where broker-owners, whether they were franchises or independent operators, were really using the brokerage side of the business almost to augment or supplement their real estate brokerage operations. This forced an unsustainable push of the real estate splits where agents just kept saying, "you're not giving me much, so why should I continue to pay you such a significant share of my revenue." It was a question of "I might as well keep something rather than nothing." I used to see this as an attorney because so many of the agents that I would work with would come to me with questions that I felt should handled in a typical professional association environment.
When Howard Lorber and Dottie Herman approached me to run the company, at the first round when we were Prudential, I wasn't all that excited because I didn't see us as having the strengths and cohesion and the flexibility that I thought could be opportunistic. Howard and Dottie at the time agreed with me. A year later when I was approached the decision was made to unify Douglas Elliman and eliminate the bureaucracy that came with the franchising structure. We have since really enjoyed remarkable growth. We have gone from four offices to nineteen offices, from a couple hundred agents to over one thousand agents and $300 million in sales to $3 billion in sales in just four years. That is extraordinarily disproportionate to any other real estate company in South Florida. I think what we have done is lay the foundation to an industry which has suffered from a lack of foundation. My team and the market knowledge that they bring, the ability to find the right people, industry knowledge, and recognizing what has gone wrong in certain areas and what works. Each of us having come from different disciplines has really allowed us to capitalize on opportunities. Our strengths both domestically and financially has allowed us to do things that other companies has allowed us to have the ability to do. We are hyper focused, and already in the markets where our clients want to be or already are. We are able to hold the hands of our clients throughout the transitions, investments or movements in their lives and have earned their trust through a much more professional, sophisticated, approach to real estate consulting. We used to say we're not commission chasers, we're information providers. That message has been lost. Capitalizing on all of our diverse backgrounds, the real strength, knowledge base and reputation of Douglas Elliman in New York has really allowed us to develop this platform and allow our agents to grow, and strengthen, and spend more of their time doing the things they should be doing.
PM: Can you comment how Douglas Elliman has been one of the major players in the growth of the Luxury Real Estate market in South Florida?
JP: Three years ago I sat on a panel and I was asked the question of where do I see the greatest opportunity for migration to South Florida. My colleagues said Colombia, Argentina, Brazil; I said New York. It wasn't because I was a visionary, it was because I saw it from my practice of law. I heard it from the messaging in New York. I heard it from the people that lived there. I knew that the New York wealth was recognizing that they could now live in a market like South Florida and enjoy so many of the critical creature comforts that could make that next step a reality. Our school systems have evolved, our medical systems have evolved, our culinary and dining experiences have evolved, our culture, our real estate. We have become an answer to so many New Yorker's needs, that that release and transfers of wealth has been unbelievable. I saw that happening and with the credibility, strength and power that Douglas Elliman has, we were able to train our agents and our clients to look to us from other parts of the country. Unlike some of our competitors today, we remained very focused on what we do, our core business. Howard and Dottie have allowed us the flexibility to sometimes take chances and sometimes make investments in things that might not provide immediate return but then in the long run will certainly sure up the corners of the market and provide our clients with the representation, support, direction and exposure.
PM: Within South Florida and its different markets, where have you guys seen the most success over the past few years?
JP: We helped change the condo market in Miami. Before us, prices never hit anywhere close to where they are today. We redefined luxury living in South Florida with projects like Faena, Edition, Eighty Seven Park, Park Grove, One River Point, The Bristol in West Palm Beach. We have seen tremendous success in Coconut Grove. We have seen great success in parts of Fort Lauderdale with projects like The Four Seasons Residences. We really have been able to leverage our intellectual capital to help our clients, whether they be individual buyers or sellers, or developers, to succeed. What started as a vision and a dream, has now become a reality when as it relates to Douglas Elliman. We knew that their was a gap in the market, we filled it, and we continue to steamroll forward while our core focus remains.
PM: When it comes to the luxury market in South Florida, do you see moving forward the buyers being more full-time resident buyers or buyers looking for second homes?
JP: I think we are going to have both. We are seeing more and more younger families call South Florida home. I think that the potential tax changes under the Trump administration may benefit us in that initiative. Potentially waiving or eliminating certain deductions for state income tax (in northern states) may provide us with another surge and transfer of wealth. I also think the idea that we are now no longer a market we we are dominated by old folks homes, criminals and nightclubs, we are now a real, international, cultural epicenter and business center. We are a real player on a global scale. I think that many of the hedge fund operators, investment bankers, are saying why should I pay such high state income tax when I live in Florida. I forsee a continued positive trajectory in that sector of the market. There is a little over 1,000 people per day moving to South Florida.
About Jay Parker:
Jay Parker is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario where he received his B.A. He continued his studies at the University of Miami, School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1998. Jay began his career in Miami at the Law Firm of Gunster Yoakley Valdez Fauli & Stewart. In 2000, Parker moved to New York City where he was General Counsel for LandTel Communications. He oversaw the implementation of a Pan-European fixed wireless market, raising over $375 million from numerous private equity firms.
In late 2001, Jay returned to Miami Beach and founded Clear Title Group, LLC., a boutique real estate title insurance company focused on offering closing services. In 2006, Parker entered a joint venture with Titan Capital, founding Titan Capital Florida, LLC. Parker is now the Managing Partner of Titan Capital Florida, a Direct Lender with offices in New York, Connecticut and Miami. In the first year of Titan’s Florida operations, Titan Capital Florida closed on over $100 million in transactions. In 2010, Parker formed Beloff Parker which grew to Beloff Parker Jacobs, a real estate and transactional law firm based in Miami Beach. Building off Parker and Beloff’s long standing relationships in the Miami Market, Clear Title Group quickly distinguished itself as one of the largest and most successful real estate law firms in Miami Beach, representing many of Miami Beach’s most respected developers, landlords, tenants and handling some of the most significant real estate transactions.
In 2013, Parker accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer of Douglas Elliman’s Florida Brokerage, where he has been fundamental to the growth of Douglas Elliman’s presence in Miami, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Aventura, Boca Raton and Palm Beach. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association, serves on the Pillar Trustee Board for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. Parker is President of the Executive Board of Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Jay is also active in Miami Beach politics and sits on the City of Miami Beach Community Development Board.
About Douglas Elliman:
Douglas Elliman was established in 1911 and has grown to become the largest regional and the nation's fourth largest real estate company. Douglas Elliman has a current network of more than 6,000 agents in over 80 offices throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island (including the Hamptons and North Fork), Westchester and Putnam Counties, as well as South Florida, California, Connecticut, Colorado and New Jersey. In addition, through a strategic partnership with Knight Frank Residential, Douglas Elliman's powerful network extends to 488 offices in 59 countries.