Real EstateBrokerage

Fast-growing brokerage Side enters NYC

The San Francisco company has tapped a managing broker, but is still looking for real estate agents

San Francisco-based Side has taken the side entrance into New York. The real estate brokerage has not announced agent hires, but it has tapped a managing broker for the state in John Wollberg.

“Wollberg will support and guide Side agent partners as the company expands its unique brokerage-as-a-service model into New York,” reads a Side press release Tuesday, which also notes: “Wollberg brings to the role over 35 years of experience in residential real estate and expansive knowledge of the Manhattan market.”

Wollberg was most recently the executive vice president and managing director of sales and operations at Brown Harris Stevens, a Manhattan-based brokerage headquartered on Park Avenue.

Prior to that, Wollberg spent 12 years as managing director of another Park Avenue-located brokerage, Halstead Real Estate, according to his LinkedIn page. And Wollberg was once managing director with Atco Residential Group, a Manhattan brokerage.

The hire recalls Side plucking Spencer Krull to be the managing director of its Southern California region in 2020. Krull brought his own resume of managing high-end Los Angeles brokerages, and a good reputation among the who’s who of L.A. real estate. Wollberg, a longtime active member on the Real Estate Board of New York, enjoys similar esteem.

“John is one of my favorite people in the business,” said Frederick Warburg Peters, CEO of Coldwell Banker Warburg. “He is smart, ethical and generous of spirit. Any organization which hires John has hit a home run.”

But unlike Krull in Los Angeles, who came in after Side recruited agents such as Ben Bacal and Anthony Margules, Wollberg is a managing broker with no one to manage.

Side CEO Guy Gal addressed the company’s New York strategy over email.

“When we started partnering with agents in Los Angeles, we already had a presence in California – it was a new market, but not a brand-new state,” Gal wrote. “As we expand into new states like New York, we’ve prioritized hiring exceptional managing brokers, like John, who can be our boots on the ground.”

Gal declined to say what agents Side is targeting, but stated, “When we launch our first partnership in New York, John will be there from day one.”

Fueled by venture capital money, Gal started Side in 2017 as a white label brokerage that would recruit well-established, high performing agents.

Those agents – like Bacal’s Revel Real Estate and Marguleas’ Amalfi Estates – create their own consumer-facing brand (what the company calls partnerships) and tend to bring on a team of agents from their prior brokerage. Side, in turn, provides administrative and back-end support. Side collects 10% of each sales commission with the agent keeping the rest.

Besides California and now New York, Side is a registered brokerage in Texas, Florida, and, starting last month, Oregon, Washington state, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Nearly a dozen “partners” made the RealTrends 1000 list in 2021, headed by Brett Jennings’ Real Estate Experts in Campbell, California, which tallied $462.2 million worth of real estate, good for #30 on RealTrends’ list of mega teams.

Still, the company is not growing quite as fast as once planned.

In June, Side announced that it had “raised over $200 million in just three months” from venture capital investors and claimed a valuation of $2.5 billion. “Raising over three $200 million in just three months, Side prepares to enter 15 new states by 2022, paving way for IPO,” declared a press release.

Besides being in nine states, counting D.C., and not 15, Side has given no further plans for an initial public offering of company stock.

“We don’t have any particular timetable,” Gal emailed, regarding the IPO. “It’s not something we think about very much. We are singularly focused on helping our partners grow their businesses and provide extraordinary services to their clients.”

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