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LOS ANGELES-In the latest sign that the war for top talent in the Southland’s hot real estate market has reached a fevered pitch, the LA office of Cushman & Wakefield has hired away five top brokerage professionals from competitor Lee & Associates.

A senior C&W exec suggests his firm’s headhunting has just begun. “We going to keep recruiting top talent for our Southern California team,” Brad Cox, C&W’s senior managing director in the Downtown LA office, tells GlobeSt.com.

With rents and prices soaring across most of Southern California, local brokerages have found themselves competing against one another to obtain new talent, while keeping what they already have. The race for the “best of the best” arguably began last year, when Insignia/ESG hired away more than a half-dozen top commercial brokers–sometimes paying $1-million signing bonuses–to staff its new Downtown operations.

Just last week, Colliers Seeley told GlobeSt.com that it had hired nine top brokers away from some of its chief competitors, as part of its aggressive effort to expand its share of the lucrative Southern California market.

The five-member Lee & Associates team joining Cushman & Wakefield is topped by Jeff Woolf, formerly president of Lee’s LA and Sherman Oaks offices. The other four are brokers Lawrence H. Rappoport, Allan Seelig, Robert D. Erickson and C. Douglas Wolfley.

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