Commercial real estate broker Josh Feldman has left Marcus & Millichap Inc. (NYSE: MMI) after more than 14 years to launch a new firm specializing in investment sale properties in Greater Washington.

Feldman, who had led The Feldman Group within the Calabasas, California-based brokerage, has partnered with Ian Ruel to now form Feldman Ruel Urban Property Advisors. The pair decided to hang out their own shingle after determining the niche they carved out in investment sales, specifically properties in the range of $1 million to $15 million, was more dominated by local buyers and less dependent upon a national affiliation like Marcus & Millichap.

The new brokerage, with about seven employees including Feldman and Ruel, is based in Bethesda. It was formed in July and registered to do business in the District in January. While the listings that The Feldman Group generated at Marcus & Millichap will stay on that firm’s books, Feldman Ruel hopes to come out with a slate of new listings in the coming weeks.

It was Ruel, vice president of investments at The Feldman Group, who suggested about 18 months ago that they should venture out on their own, Feldman said.

“He said maybe it makes sense to do more on our own because it’s such a hyperlocalized market,” Feldman said. “The vast majority of buyers are local, and if they’re not local, they come out of national firms and are already active here so we really didn’t need a national platform.”

Their listings with Marcus & Millichap tended to fly below the radar of major shops like Cushman & Wakefield and Eastdil Secured. Among them were the recent sales of the former China Southern restaurant in the Washington Highlands neighborhood for $5.15 million and the Midtown Youth Academy’s building along D.C.’s 14th Street NW corridor for $2.275 million.

Feldman, Ruel and the rest of the firm's employees moved late last month from their Marcus & Millichap space in Bethesda to a roughly 4,000-square-foot office nearby at 4800 Montgomery Lane. The brokerage launched a new website earlier this week.

The partners estimate they spent about 2,000 hours collectively in the past 18 months in the lead-up to Feldman Ruel's launch, including seeking out office space and lining up accountants, attorneys and others to support the new enterprise, Feldman said.

Each invested well into six figures, though Feldman declined to disclose total startup costs, and they are also lining up a Small Business Administration loan through Sandy Spring Bank. They had offers from prospective equity partners but decided to retain ownership between the two, in part so they could create an equity-sharing program for agents and other staff members.

"We are definitely not trying to do this on a shoestring budget," Feldman said. "We obtained access to all the same services provided by your traditional large national brokerage companies. Although we understand that's unusual for a boutique brokerage firm, there are certain areas where we felt improvements were necessary."

Those improvements include a full-production-level printer rather than a smaller, less expensive version, to generate higher-quality marketing materials for clients. There are other enhancements in the works as well, particularly on the digital end, but Feldman said the firm is not to the point where it can disclose those yet.

The launch of Feldman Ruel would appear to run counter to a larger push toward consolidations like JLL’s acquisition of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LLP last July. That’s not to say there's not room for independent firms to compete — local brokerages including Summit Commercial Real Estate LLC; West, Lane & Schlager Realty Advisors; and McBridge Real Estate Services rank among Greater Washington's largest, per the Washington Business Journal's most recent List.

Much of the merger-and-acquisition activity has been more on the landlord or tenant-representation side of the business, rather than on the investment sales side, which the Feldman Group specialized in. Feldman Ruel may look to expand into other areas in the future, possibly to include leasing or property management, but in the interim, the team is focused on its initial launch, Ruel said.

“That’s kind of long term, but for us, we’re excited about having the flexibility or the autonomy of managing our own firm,” he said.