Gratitude occupies the space in my life which used to be occupied by passing judgment on people. I have always felt closer to the empathy-based leader than the taskmaster, more comfortable with the carrot than the stick. While that has sometimes gotten me in trouble, I try to lead my company with compassion and respect for the individual talents which make each member of both my brokerage and support staffs unique. So as I start my annual Thanksgiving pie-baking marathon, and we all prepare for this wonderful, uniquely American holiday, here are six things in my professional life for which I am grateful:
September 26, 2013
The recession changed my thinking, for a while. After years of expanding Warburg Realty and trying to enter new markets, I had to pull back. I closed two of my offices in early 2009, leaving the firm with three. I had to let a number of employees go. Because I acted fast, we did not suffer much financial fallout. Our base was steady and, when the recovery began for real estate in April or May of that year, we were poised to take advantage of it. Most of the city’s other high end firms had a similar experience. We were careful, we weren’t overextended, we had reserves, we did just fine. But it made a big impression.
June 11, 2013
The face of the real estate business has changed during my career. I love that. Thirty years ago, real estate agents in Manhattan were white, almost exclusively female, and, with few exceptions, selling properties on the Upper East and West Sides, with the occasional foray to Gramercy Park or to sell a house in the Village. And honestly, the fact that it was seen as a “women’s business” devalued it. The low esteem in which brokers were, and to some degree still are, held always seemed to me to carry a whiff of prejudice about it, denigrating the drive of these successful, independent women.
April 22, 2013
Without fail, I have the same conversation with every new Warburg agent after they have spent about a year in the business. They say to me, “I had no idea it would be so hard.” Well, I knew it would be hard! When I interview prospective hires, I try to warn them. Success in residential real estate requires a multi-faceted approach. A number of skill sets must be developed simultaneously. Nonetheless, newbies tend to project their own romantic notions onto the business: they will be earning six figures in no time; they will show fabulous properties and collect big checks. And all the while, they will be making their own schedule.
January 28, 2013
Last Thursday a couple of my downtown Warburg agents held a first open house for their new multi-million dollar loft exclusive in Tribeca. The open house began at 12:30; by 2:00, when it ended, they had a full price offer which sets a new price-per-square-foot record for the building. Welcome to 2013!
October 10, 2012
I read an interesting opinion piece about compromise in this Sunday’s Times. Tip O’Neill’s son, Thomas, wrote about his father’s working relationship with Ronald Reagan; how the two men, who disagreed about practically everything, learned to work together for the good of the country. This successful collaborative effort was based on compromise. In addition to being a serious indictment of TODAY’s governmental process, the piece made me think about the real estate business. Buyers and sellers so often get in their own way, shooting themselves in the foot by their inability or unwillingness to reach for common ground. As agents, we see this at every step in the process.
October 4, 2012
Warburg Realty’s third quarter sales upend the conventional wisdom about real estate in the summer months. Traditionally, the summer is always the weakest quarter, with August the weakest month within the span. This year, the third quarter burned hot! With 30% more sales than in July, and 140% more than in August of 2011, Warburg saw more contracts signed in August than during any other month of 2012 so far (as the attached chart indicates, the market overall had a slightly different experience.) These results for the summer months are extremely unusual, as a look at 2010 and 2011 in the chart demonstrates. What is going on?
September 10, 2012
August was remarkably busy at Warburg Realty. Formerly the month when nothing happened, when buyers were "out of town" and sellers did not want to list, August morphed this year into a bonanza, with more contracts signed for more money than during almost any month since 2008. This phenomenon has led me to think about how this busyness differs from the busyness of five years ago, and how it is the same. These two eras, separated by only a few years, stand on different sides of the serious recession of 2008-2009. So in spite of the competitive bidding, the scarcity of inventory, and the harried buyers, the landscapes seem to me more different than similar. Here's how:
September 4, 2012
When I travel around the country I am struck by the fact that most of our cities have turned into donuts. This is not an original thought. Many urban planners have noted the way downtowns are dying as cities are increasingly ringed by malls and big box stores where, more and more, everyone shops. Fortunately this fate has not befallen New York. Our downtowns and shopping thoroughfares remain vibrant and engaging in innumerable neighborhoods throughout the city. So how do we make sure they stay that way?
August 30, 2012
Courtesy of Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty
I have spent the last few days visiting friends in coastal Maine, where there are wonderful summer "cottages" and antique houses, often cheek by jowl with newer homes both beautiful and not so beautiful. The trip has led me to ponder again the aesthetics of housing. What are the qualities which make one space welcoming and appealing while another leaves us uneasy and on edge? Here are some ideas about the confluence of factors which inform our perception of interior space: