ZMI ALPHA:The Agency, a real estate firm with roots in Beverly Hills, lands in New Canaan

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ZMI ALPHA:The Agency, a real estate firm with roots in Beverly Hills, lands in New Canaan

A new real estate agency sign, emblazoned in red, is destined for Elm Street in New Canaan.

The Agency, a Los Angeles company whose founder Mauricio Umasky has been featured on “Million Dollar Listing” on Bravo and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (with spouse Kyle Richards), will open its first Connecticut franchise under a pair of local brokers.

Previously with the Higgins Group, which has a dozen Connecticut offices from Stamford to Milford, brokers Todd David Miller and Cliff Smith said they were drawn to The Agency for its California vibe and success there, driven in part by its investment in emerging digital tools and social media platforms.

“The West Coast tends to be ahead of us in terms of their marketing,” Miller said. “People really know [The Agency] brand quite well on the East Coast, … and that’s due to the social media presence as well as the television shows that our CEO has been on.”

One of The Agency’s California brokers was among the top 10 on this year’s Real Trends list of the top agents by dollar volume at $249 million — approaching double that of Rob Johnson, Connecticut’s top agent on the list with the Greenwich office of Halstead. Three more California brokers with The Agency were among the top 40 nationally last year.

The Agency’s first Connecticut listing — a five-bedroom home on three acres in Easton — is priced at just below $1.7 million. Its priciest, a $9.9 million manse in “Backcountry” Greenwich with modernist architecture, would fit right into the enclaves of Malibu or Beverly Hills.

The Agency is taking over a former Elm Street office of Halstead, which itself is in the process of rebranding to Brown Harris Stevens, an affiliate under a common corporate parent based in New York City.

For any real estate agency hanging out its shingle for the first time in Connecticut, New Canaan might be among the most challenging addresses to do so.

In addition to the relationships curried over the years by established brokers, the town is among the few in Connecticut with an ordinance banning agency names on signs outside homes listed for sale, limiting the branding of any new arrival.

If The Agency is the newest entrant to the Connecticut market, Smith thinks more will follow as Manhattan dwellers explore buying second homes in Connecticut after the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, or moving outright.

“Because of what’s happening in the current market environment with the exodus from New York City and other major cities, the suburbs are doing to start seeing these major firms wanting to take advantage and plant their flags,” Smith said. “The Agency is on a very strategic growth path right now and they are … putting their newest offices in areas that will be able to take advantage.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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