Is all fair in love and domain name registrations? So says Saunders Real Estate, who was just discovered to be the owner of SusanBreitenbach.com, which happens to be the name of one of Corcoran's top Hamptons brokers.
Until Corcoran's lawyers got involved yesterday, if a visitor looked for Corcoran über-broker Susan Breitenbach by typing SusanBreitenbach.com into their browser, they would have been automatically redirected to SaundersRE.com. Clever!
Understandably, Corcoran was not please to discover what they see as a "sleazy" attempt by Saunders to try to capitalize on the success of one of their top brokers.
But au contraire, says Andrew Saunders of Saunders Real Estate. He says that part of his rapid success in the Hamptons has been due, in no small part, to a "very aggressive web strategy that involves the purchase of all sorts of names." For example, he says he paid $31,000 to snag Saunders.com from a guy in Canada and spent a whopping $100,000 to secure the very Google-friendly HamptonsRealEstate.com. He also spent weeks registering thousands and thousands of other domain names that might help drive people to his website, including most every available street and place name from Westhampton to Montauk. This strategy also involved registering the names of top East End brokers, too.
We asked Corcoran why they didn't just register the domain name while they had the chance. Matthew Breitenbach, Susan's son and business partner, says that he's tried for years but it was always registered (and the name squatter at the time was asking for thousands of dollars to sell it). But he apparently didn't realize the previous registration for SusanBreitenbach.com expired and became available for purchase last year, which was how Saunders was able to sweep in and buy it for the low, low price of $12.17 (click here to view the PDF receipt). Had the Breitenbach's backordered the name with a service like NameJet.com, this whole situation could have likely been avoided.
Saunders says that Corcoran's complaint is "reflective of the frustrating they're feeling about having to compete against us." But Matthew Breitenbach says that "it takes more than domain names to compete against us in the Hamptons." And, at more than $210M in sales volume last year, the mother-son team is certainly doing just fine without the domain name (indeed, if you google Susan Breitenbach, her Corcoran page does come up first).
So what happens now? Attorneys for both sides are looking into the legality of the situation and Saunders says they're suspending any domain forwarding to their site from SusanBreitenbach.com until that gets resolved. Saunders adds that "if anything that we do is deemed to be improper?we would certainly stop doing it." But there's a big difference between illegal (which this likely isn't) and improper, so whether or not the forwarding resumes will mostly depend on whether Saunders is in the mood to be ruthless or merciful. Matthew Breitenbach says that he cares less about who owns the domain name at this point and is really just concerned about the principal of the thing; his hope is that, as a professional courtesy, Saunders will agree to permanently stop forwarding the domain name to their website.
UPDATE: Curbed tipsters have alerted us that the following domain names have also been registered to Saunders, too:
LoriBarbaria.com (Elliman broker)
MichaelaKeszler.com (Elliman broker)