How real estate brothers closed some of the priciest deals around

Hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin paid $238 million for a 24,000-square-foot penthouse in a New York skyscraper still under construction, shattering the previous record price for a U.S. home by over $100 million. Brothers Tal and Oren Alexander represented Griffin in the deal.
(Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images))

Since Jan. 1, brothers Tal and Oren Alexander, who oversee a 10-person team of brokers at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, have worked on three deals worth nearly a half-billion dollars.

First came the Jan. 21 sale of a London mansion to billionaire Ken Griffin for $122 million, the highest recorded purchase in that city since 2011. The brothers served as referrers.

Two days later, the Douglas Elliman team closed the sale of a New York City penthouse at 220 Central Park South for a whopping $238 million, the most expensive home ever sold in the U.S., also to Griffin.


Then on Feb. 1, the Alexanders represented the seller in the $50-million sale of a Miami mansion. That price, paid by an undisclosed buyer, was a record for a single-family home in Miami-Dade County.

Sitting poolside at their sprawling Miami Beach mansion, Tal, 32, and Oren, 31, acknowledge their record-setting real estate hat trick has been a little surreal.

Just don’t call them lucky.

“People often say we’ve had beginner’s luck,” Oren said. “But we’ve been doing this for over a decade. There were deals that we’ve been working on for the past three years, using relationships that we’ve cultivated over the last decade. We’ve been able to grow a network that is unprecedented. There’s not a person or a client we can’t get to.”

In just 10 years, the Alexanders have established themselves as major players in an industry that often takes decades to crack: The competitive world of ultra-high-end real estate.

After growing up in Miami Beach, the brothers separated to attend college. Oren went to the University of Colorado Boulder, and Tal attended Hofstra University in Long Island. Upon graduation, the pair moved to New York City to launch their careers in 2008, just as the real estate market imploded.


Still, they pushed forward. Oren landed a job with Douglas Elliman Realty and focused on sales. He was only 21 when he brokered his first major deal, an $8.2-million penthouse at the Park Imperial in Manhattan, in the summer of 2009. The buyer was the well-known Miami attorney Jim Ferraro.

Four years later, Ferraro paid $7.75 million for the adjacent penthouse in the same building, again hiring Oren as his broker.

“It definitely crossed my mind at the time that Oren was so young,” Ferraro said recently. “But I started my law firm three years out of law school, so I started young too. He got me a great deal. The numbers were really good and they got a write-up in the New York Post, because the market was dead at that time. And my place today is worth more than double what I paid for it.”

While Oren concentrated on sales, Tal started his own company in 2009 focusing on luxury rentals.

“I was showing apartments to an elderly couple who were looking to sell their place and move downtown,” Tal said. “They owned a seven-room apartment at the Eldorado on 90th and Central Park West, and I told them they had to meet my brother.”

That $7.5-million unit became Oren’s first listing in 2011 and made the brothers realize they should be working together. Since then, the pair have negotiated sales for clients including the state of Qatar and the unnamed Russian buyer who paid $47 million in cash for that Miami estate that just sold for $50 million ($47 million was the previous record price in the county).


Other famous clients have included footwear magnate Steve Madden, designer Tommy Hilfiger and “Hamilton” producer Sander Jacobs. The Alexanders currently represent more than $1 billion of properties in New York and Florida.

“Word of mouth is the most important kind of marketing,” Oren said. “It makes up 90% of our business.”

The other 10%: Showing their high-worth clients they play at the same level. The Alexanders’ various Instagram accounts, which have a combined 65,000 followers, are filled with photos of the brothers frolicking in the Bahamas, Aspen, Cambodia and West Maui. They travel constantly, whether it’s bouncing back and forth between Manhattan and Miami or visiting Art Basel fairs in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and wherever else their clientele might be.

“Oren and Tal have a knack for being at the right event during Art Basel, at the right camp at Burning Man and at the right party at the Oscars,” said Jay Parker, chief executive of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage. “They have the gift of gab, they work very hard, they’re very disciplined and they’ve been able to leverage their previous successes. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and these guys never stop squeaking.”

Parker said he first met the Alexanders at a Shabbat dinner at their parents’ home — a familial connection that remains intact today. Their father, Shlomi Alexander, a developer who specializes in building high-end mansions and spec homes, said the real estate bug bit his sons early.

“They would run around with me when they were still kids at the construction sites, already negotiating with people,” said Shlomi, who built the Miami mansion that has paid off so handsomely for the brothers.


Oren is the ambassador, the one who speaks about architecture and design and stonework. Tal is the salesman, the one with the encyclopedic knowledge of statistics and market trends.

Jonathan Miller, chief executive of the New York-based Miller Samuel Inc. real estate consulting firm, said he was walking down Madison Avenue last fall when he ran into Tal.

“He started grilling me about the market, and in return shared a lot of intel with me,” Miller said. “I don’t know what their secret sauce is, but they have something that gets them in the middle of many high-profile deals other brokers can’t touch.”

Part of that secret sauce may be the confidence the brothers exude — the kind of self-assurance that only comes with success.

“Our deals do the talking for us, and we’re a lot younger than the competition by far,” Tal said. “We look forward to settling down and starting families one day, but right now this is a 24/7 job for us. And our parents taught us to be equal partners and work together from an early age. We bring a different perspective into the industry because of that. For the price of one, you’re getting the best of both.”

Rodriguez writes for the Miami Herald