New local CBRE office poaches foursome from Harrison & Bates

Harrison & Bates Inc. is closing its Norfolk office as it ponders its next step for its Richmond division. (J. Elias O’Neal)

A California-based commercial real estate firm continues to rebuild its Richmond ranks, as it has picked up a band of brokers from a local competitor.

CBRE last week added Eric Williford, Chris Wallace, Andrew Ferguson and Jason Hetherington from Harrison & Bates.

It’s the first sizable roster shakeup since CBRE announced last year that it would open a corporate-owned branch in Richmond, which coincided with its previous local affiliate jumping to Colliers International. Colliers then cut ties with Harrison & Bates, which had carried that national flag in Richmond since 2012.

Starting essentially from scratch, CBRE now has at least five brokers in the Richmond area, including this latest foursome and the earlier addition of Peyton Cox, a multifamily broker who had been with the previous CBRE affiliate.

David Williams, president and CEO of Harrison & Bates, said his firm is down to 16 full-time brokers.

“We wish them well,” Williams said of the group that left last week. “We’re sorry to see them go, but we know they will do well at CBRE.”

Williams also confirmed the recent departure of Daphne Berkowitz, who served as Harrison & Bates’ senior vice president of brokerage services, and that the firm is closing its Norfolk office this week.

Berkowitz could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Harrison & Bates also in December had a deal in the works to sell off its property management business to Richmond-based competitor Dodson Commercial.

Williams said his company continues to explore its options, which include keeping the Harrison & Bates flag operational or aligning in some way with another local brokerage.

“We’re not ruling out any options,” he said. “There’s a lot of movement in the industry at the moment … and we’re looking for the best options as we move forward.”

CBRE would not provide any details or comments about its strategy for ramping up hiring in Richmond, including any additional brokers it has retained from other firms in the region.

“We are excited to bring … to life with our recent staff additions in (the first quarter) of 2019,” CBRE spokeswoman Ashley Houk said in an email. “We look forward to sharing more details on our expansion in Virginia in the months ahead.”

CBRE’s announcement last fall to end its affiliate agreement with the CB Richard Ellis Virginia franchise after nearly 20 years also included the affiliate’s operations in Charlottesville, Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg.

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