These Brokers Have Worked in NYC Real Estate for Over 30 Years. Here Are 5 Lessons They’ve Learned

published Dec 15, 2021
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New York City real estate is a special breed with its own special playbook. As one of the largest markets in the country, closing deals here can be a real thrill — and it’s been this way for decades. One brokerage, Warburg Realty, was founded in 1896, and currently has over 120 agents in offices on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side and on Hudson Street in Tribeca. 

How exactly does a real estate broker “make it” at a century-old brokerage in such a fast-paced environment? I spoke with a few Warburg Realty agents and brokers to discover the lessons they’ve learned about the New York City real estate market.

Relationships Are Everything

Bonnie Chajet has been a real estate broker since 1978, and she points to one thing that has helped her to consistently rank as a top performer: “I’ve learned it’s paramount to build connections and not to look at sales as simple transactions,” Chajet says. “It’s important to establish a strong network with clients, which leads to trusting business relationships.” In fact, these relationships last so long that it’s not uncommon for her to help three generations of families sell their homes. “Nothing is more rewarding than that,” she says.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Dorothy Schrager has spent over 20 years in the business, selling real estate all over the city. “I’ve learned that everything you read in the press about the real estate market is not accurate,” she tells us. “Sellers and buyers can sometimes have a false, and often confusing, understanding of home values.” She recommends teaming up with a real estate broker who works in the field every day, since this individual can provide a reality check on market prices and comparative analysis. (There are actually some questions real estate agents wish you would ask them, too.) 

Think Outside the Box

Ronnie G. Lane has worked in the real estate industry for more than 30 years. “I’ve learned that occasionally you have to think outside of the box as to what your customers think they want, in terms of location specifically,” she says.

She recalls a time when one client was looking for a residential property on either the Upper East Side or the Upper West Side for quite a while. “I was able to convince her to look at similar pre-war spaces that she desired in a Midtown building in a more commercial neighborhood — and it turned out her husband was thrilled to be able to walk to work.” Sometimes agents may have a better idea of what you want — before you know what you want.

Use a Local Real Estate Attorney

Sheila Trichter has been a broker in New York City for 37 years. One mistake she sees buyers make is related to their choice in a real estate attorney. “If you are buying in New York City, use a NYC real estate attorney,” she advises. “Don’t use your cousin’s brother-in-law or the best divorce attorney in Westchester County — even if he says he has done dozens of these,” she says. It always pays off to use someone with local knowledge.

Timing Is Everything

Trichter has also learned the importance of time in the real estate biz. “The longer a contract is out, the less likely it is to be signed,” she says. “Also, people don’t buy until they are ready, no matter how good the deal may be.” (So if you’re thinking about purchasing a home sight unseen, check out these pandemic homebuying tips.)

Finally, she says that most people buy when prices are high and the market is hot. “When the market cools and the prices drop, people are too frightened to buy.”