Welcome to Ten, CORE founder and CEO Shaun Osher’s rapid-fire interview series with prominent CORE figures. Read on to find out how this week’s subject deals with being on the hot seat.
Tony Sargent joined CORE this year after a long association with a much larger firm. He is an agent who has built a sound reputation in the industry and is known for his Sargent Report. His attention to detail and thorough knowledge of the market is an asset to us as a company and he is also one of the most approachable people in the business.
1) How long have you been selling real estate?
2) How did you get involved in real estate?
I grew up moving around internationally and so I saw a lot of different styles of living and design in my youth, and I love architecture and working with people. In 1999 I met someone in real estate and we talked about his clients. One morning I started looking online at luxury townhouses and apartments and never stopped. A month later I was sitting on the beach watching the sun rise and I knew I wanted to do this. I am driven by my passion to help others and to be able to create a positive difference in someone’s life by helping them find or sell their home. It makes me incredibly happy.
3) What was your quickest transaction?
A Park Avenue classic seven. I was sharing it with another broker. The co-op board rejected the first buyer on a Thursday. The other broker called me to say the owner’s daughter had called on Friday out of the blue and was threatening to pull the listing. Given my numbers background and the fact that the owner’s daughter was in finance, I called her and used my business skills to give her confidence we were going about things the right way. I shared that we’d had another buyer interested three months prior who had strong qualifications. I reached out to that buyer’s broker on Super Bowl Sunday with a strategy. I let her know that the deal had dissolved, but we were about to raise the price (true). If her buyer was willing to come up $150,000 higher than their last offer, make no contingencies and simultaneously sign a contract by Tuesday morning with the seller, they had a deal. It happened in two days for over $3 million.
4) What is the most challenging part of your job?
In this market it’s finding the right inventory for my clients to buy. There is not enough available. Also, keeping a healthy balance between life and work. I could do this 24/7, but it’s important to re-charge and do things outside of real estate to come back with new and innovative ways to market and look at the business.
5) Who is your mentor?
I have four. My business coaches Christina Banaga and Tom Ferry, Tony Robbins and you. I always look to see who is doing things differently and succeeding in their field, and then I ask, what can I improve on? I know it sounds hokey but I met you when you were a broker working on the conversion of the GMHC building on West 20th Street. Watching you start CORE and make this company what it is today inspires me. It’s why I moved here.
6) You produce the “Sargent Report.” Why?
The Sargent Report is a brochure that delivers insight and perspective on the market. It grew out of a one-sheet I started in 2005 which summarized new developments. In 2006 I wanted to provide my clients with a more reality-based perspective on the market, and discuss what was truly happening: the good, the risks and my predictions. While there’s a lot of information out there today, my question always is, “Who’s giving you a trusted local perspective on the real estate market?” The Sargent Report covers both Manhattan as well as national and international news, and I’ve taken it online as well.
7) When and how do you know if a buyer or seller is wasting your time?
I prefer to think of that question as, “When is a buyer afraid to commit or a seller not ready to sell?” I don’t think anyone sets out to waste time. Buying and selling stirs up a lot of emotions for a client and sometimes they get overwhelmed. For me the signs are: 1) A buyer continually makes offers close enough to be in the game but always just low enough to miss out. 2) A seller won’t negotiate or sets unreasonable price expectations or makes the property incredibly challenging to show. Clients need to trust and value their broker and be in communication. If they cancel appointments repeatedly, find something wrong with every apartment or want to see units that they are not financially qualified for, these people make me ask if they are serious about making the move. Then I’ll have the conversation with them and we’ll go from there.
8) How many apartments do you show on average before you make a sale?
It varies from client to client. With serious buyers I’ve narrowed it down quickly and made the sale after showing the best five units. My first-ever client needed to see about 100! But she bought. Today, because of my knowledge of the market and ability to interpret a client’s ideal and match it with my market knowledge, the average is probably ten units.
9) Where do you see the market going in the next year?
The “market” is actually many micro markets in my opinion. I believe that a lot depends on where the European and financial market shakeout ends up. Overall, I envision that the Manhattan market will continue to see market stability due to foreign interest in Manhattan apartments, low inventory and a growing need for more housing. Certain segments will lag due to high inventory levels – entry-level in Midtown East for example, but it provides opportunity. The mid-luxury $2-$4 million market will be stable assuming everything remains economically as it is now. The high end: some predict it will slow down, but I think while it may short term, that segment of the market has been robust in terms of rebounding from the crisis in 2008. Manhattan provides a safe harbor for foreign and national high net-worth individuals. It’s also the diamond-in-the-sky dream for many people. So when they make it, they want to own a piece of it.
10) Do you have a question for me?
I’m excited about the Hudson Yards development plans and northwest Chelsea. I think it’s going to open a whole new commercial and residential neighborhood in Manhattan that will attract investors and residents alike. Do you agree?
Yes, I do agree. I think it is one of the most exciting under-developed neighborhoods in Manhattan. It will be transformed over the next ten years.
Photo by Richard Caplan