In the age of merger-mania, this one was a bombshell. The Jills Zeder Group had drastically raised the bar on selling Miami luxury real estate, leaving competitors scrambling to step up their game. Prior to the merger last March, the dynamic duo of The Jills in the East, and The Zeder Group in the South, had closed a staggering combined total of more than $5 billion in sales of the most lavish properties in Miami. The new alliance under Coldwell Banker joins three powerful real estate stars, their just as talented families, and their coveted “black book” of contacts.
A TRIFECTA OF LUXURY
As surprised as many were, the merger of Jill Hertzberg, Jill Eber, Judy Zeder and their teams was years in the making. They had collaborated on multiple luxury sales in Coral Gables, enjoyed working together, and their children were friends. “We would talk about it, and then talk about it again. It was about a year and a half ago, and our kids said ‘what are you waiting for,” said Zeder.
Founded nearly 25 years ago, The Jills’ client list reads like the who’s who of world-famous celebrities, sport stars and top CEOs. Hertzberg, the more managerial of the two, lives in Miami Beach with her husband, Robert Hertzberg, who also serves as the company’s attorney. She started in real estate as a full-time mom looking for a career with flexible hours, and met Eber when they shared a desk at Framer Realty. Every summer she went to manage a summer camp her children attended in the Adirondacks, and Eber would handle her listings. “When they used to post sales they would put Jill H. or Jill E., and when we started doing business together, they just would say The Jills,” recalled Hertzberg. As branding history would have it, they went with it.
Raised in Miami Beach, Eber toured as a singer with a band until developing nodes on her vocal cords. Unable to talk for four months, her friend suggested she go to real estate school, a decision Eber never regretted. The thrill seeker of the two, she loves to scuba dive in exotic places with lots of sharks. “There’s no telephones under the water, nobody can reach me,” she said. Married to Seth Nachman, owner of a mortgage company, the couple lives on Fisher Island.
“Judy is probably a little of both of us,” said Hertzberg, describing her as hard-working and charming. Married to attorney Jon Zeder, she’s an expert cook with a flair for hosting dinner parties that connect friends with new friends. “My husband will ask, ‘what are we doing tonight,’ and I’ll say, ‘we’re having some people over for dinner,’ and he’ll say, ‘does that mean 4 or 40?’”
The new blended family is composed of Jill Eber, her sister Felice Eber, Jill Hertzberg, and her children Danny and Hillary Hertzberg; The Zeder roster incorporates Judy Zeder and her children, Nathan Zeder and Kara Zeder Rosen.
Much like a board, these expert negotiators have regular family meetings. “Everyone has a full seat at the table,” said Hertzberg. “That’s the beautiful thing about this whole team, everyone is a stand-alone and a team player.”
A WINNING APPROACH
So far, their 2019 sales numbers have been phenomenal and none of these matriarchs seem worried about a bursting real estate bubble any time soon. In fact, Florida’s no-state tax is fueling an exodus to Miami of buyers seeking refuge from enormous tax bills in New York, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey, Connecticut and even California. “We’re getting a huge influx of those tax refugees. And if people are able, they are also moving their whole company,” said Jill Eber.
Last year, The Jills faced an extortion attempt by Kevin Tomlinson, a rival broker who accused them of manipulating MLS data to inflate their performance record. Tomlinson was found guilty and is serving a 364-day prison sentence, and although The Jills stated they weren’t aware of what an employee was doing, competitors wondered why they weren’t sanctioned.
“The court has ruled. The defendant was convicted of extortion. This was a difficult time for us, and we have moved on,” said Hertzberg.