Trends & Tides: Meaningful Connections

03 October, 2016 posted by: CORE


Last week, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel at the NYC Real Estate Expo with some of my esteemed colleagues from other firms. The topic of discussion was how to be a world class connector. Buzz words like authenticity, transparency, trust, high energy, clarity, sincerity and purpose were discussed as all of us shared anecdotes regarding the meaningful relationships we have forged in both our personal and business lives. Here are four important takeaways that I so graciously received from my fellow panelists:

  1. Be the “connector.” – Chris Schembra, the Founder and Curator of the 747 Club, the only non-real estate agent on the panel is doing just that as his dinner club brings together complete strangers to participate in evenings of “authenticity, empathy, vulnerability and safety.” In short, consider hosting events to bring the “right” people together to make meaningful connections with each other and you will surely be remembered as the catalyst for those relationships.
  2. Social media is but a tool – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn nor any other of the online platforms that allow you to “connect” with others are NOT a substitute for genuine person to person connections. Face time, and I’m not talking a video screen on your phone, builds meaningful relationships.
  3. Listen – Let me repeat that in case you missed it. LISTEN. It is no secret that most people like to talk about themselves, so ask questions and then just hear what they have to say. And oh yes! Don’t forget their name!
  4. Be yourself – Sounds obvious right? Don’t make yourself out to be someone you’re not. Be authentic. Be genuine. Be enough. But if you are going to seek out real connections you must also be interested in them!


The below quote, shared by Chris from the 747 Club, sums up the afternoon beautifully:

“Don’t worry about knowing people; just make yourself worth knowing.”

Be the person that other people would want to know, remember, recognize and appreciate. That will most definitely help you to forge meaningful connections and relationships.


True Gotham: Culture Fit Directly Impacts Consumer

13 June, 2016 posted by: CORE

Central Park Columbus Circle

Reporting from the front lines, Douglas Heddings brings us “True Gotham” – your source for NYC real estate tips, advice, anecdotes and general market insights that aim to inform and enlighten. 

There are many factors that determine the success of a real estate agent and in turn the success of the real estate transaction. Some of the obvious internal forces are charisma, professionalism, emotional intelligence (EQ), negotiating acumen and overall real estate knowledge. And of course the obvious external factors are the tools and support provided by the agent’s firm. But many agents and consumers alike underestimate the role that company culture plays in the nurturing, support and success of the real estate business.

Think about your favorite job for a moment. Perhaps it was last year or maybe even decades ago? Perhaps it is the job you currently hold? Now consider what makes/made the experience so positive. A proper culture fit is likely to blame. I can tell you from 25 years of experience in the NYC real estate business that when the culture of a company matches that of the real estate agent, the results are astounding and resonate beyond the agent’s business into every aspect of the real estate transaction. Imagine the real estate agent who is happy, positive, feels supported and nurtured and has an overall optimistic outlook of their business and the upshot of that on each and every real estate transaction that he or she touches.

In an effort to determine if a culture is the right fit for you as an agent, consider asking yourself these questions (via Katie Bouton of Harvard Business Review):

  • What type of culture do you thrive in?
  • What values are you drawn to and what’s your ideal workplace?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture based on what you’ve seen? Is this something that works for you?
  • What best practices would you bring with you from your previous organization? Do you see yourself being able to implement these best practices in this new environment?
  • Think about a time when you worked with/for an organization where you felt you were not a strong culture fit. Why was it a bad fit?

Finding a good culture fit is key to business success, and agents who love the culture in which they work are more successful and better equipped to serve their buyers and sellers.


True Gotham: Spring Inventory Climbs but Summer Looms

26 May, 2016 posted by: CORE


For buyers of New York City real estate, any report of expanded inventory is welcome news to say the least. It is surely music to the ears of many buyers that Manhattan inventory has indeed increased by 52% since the first of the year (via UrbanDigs). It may be equally as exciting to buyers to hear that although the number of contracts signed has increased by 6% in the same time period, the year over year comparison shows a 13% increase in inventory and a nearly 20% decrease in contract signings. But this is what has happened this spring. What can we expect going forward?

Summer tends to be a more historically predictable season with both contracting inventory as well as fewer signed contracts. If we look at the past 4 years of inventory and contract signings, the patterns are quite predictable:

Sales Inventory

Contracts Signed

If history is any indication of what summer will bring, it is safe to say that inventory will contract by approximately twice as much as contract signings. Our market will remain tight as it continues its search for equilibrium.


True Gotham: The Illusion of Control As An Obstacle

11 April, 2016 posted by: Douglas Heddings


Reporting from the front lines, Douglas Heddings brings us “True Gotham” – your source for NYC real estate tips, advice, anecdotes and general market insights that aim to inform and enlighten. 

Control is indeed an illusion that is all too often an obstacle to consummating the real estate transaction. I have written before on True Gotham about the multiple parties involved — often as many as 13 different people in a single real estate transaction — each party frequently believes that they have control over certain if not all aspects of a transaction. There are a plethora of Zen and Buddhist quotes on the subject of control. Psychologist Ellen Langer even named and defined the illusion of control as a tendency that occurs when someone feels a sense of control over outcomes that they demonstrably do not influence. Many other psychologists have studied this phenomenon over the years and the greatest obstacle appears to be that the more a person believes that they are knowledgeable or even an expert on a subject, the greater the presence of the illusion of control.

‘The Master allows things to happen.
She shapes events as they come.
She steps out of the way
and lets the Tao speak for itself.’
— Laozi

Think about all of the ways we go through our lives with the very false sense that we are somehow in control of outcomes — just ask any parent of a teenager. I’m not suggesting we should all throw our hands up and surrender to chaos or anarchy. Not at all. What I am suggesting is that mindfulness is a very powerful asset when attempting to navigate what is often a complex real estate transaction. In my own personal experience, I have been much more of an asset to my customers and all parties to a transaction when I am mindful of just taking the next right action on behalf of my customers. I control the action but not the outcome. That said, if the seller, buyer, real estate agent, attorney, mortgage broker or whomever else may be involved could remember to do the same, it is my belief that each transaction would have a greater probability of proceeding in a much more smooth and efficient fashion.


Trends & Tides: Ten Trends Over Ten Years

30 March, 2016 posted by: Douglas Heddings


Trends & Tides’ takes a look at the ever changing environment of New York City real estate – past, present and future – by offering observations, analyzing perceptions and challenging myths, while giving a dose of reality along the way.

There is one thing for certain about most trends in real estate and that is by definition that they rarely remain in vogue for long. Let’s take a moment to examine ten trends in real estate over the past ten years in honor of CORE’s ten year anniversary. Some have come and gone and others remain, at least for now:

  1. Granite has been replaced by a plethora of different stones and materials.
  2. Jacuzzi bathtubs are now steam showers.
  3. Eat in kitchens have given way to the open kitchen concept.
  4. The Upper East Side is no longer the only neighborhood for the uber wealthy.
  5. The arrival of Billionaire’s Row and the $20+ million pied a terre.
  6. The gentrification of neighborhoods such as Harlem and the Lower East Side.
  7. The birth of new neighborhoods like Hudson Square, Nolita and Nomad.
  8. Additional green spaces (Hudson River to The High Line).
  9. An unparalleled influx of global wealth.
  10. Investors’ perspective of  Manhattan as a single neighborhood.


What are some other trends that you have witnessed over the past ten years?



Trends & Tides: Perception vs. Reality in Manhattan Real Estate

02 March, 2016 posted by: Douglas Heddings

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‘Trends & Tides’ takes a look at the ever changing environment of New York City real estate – past, present and future – by offering observations, analyzing perceptions and challenging myths, while giving a dose of reality along the way.

Here is a selection of email subjects found in my Inbox in just the past 10 days:

  • “Seller Says Sell”
  • “Priced to Sell”
  • “Price Drop”
  • “Price Reduction”
  • “Price Improvement”
  • “New Asking Price”
  • “Price Slashed”

The obvious perception of anyone receiving these emails would be that the market is softening and perhaps even tipping in favor of buyers. Just ask a buyer currently searching for a Manhattan property if this is in fact their reality and more often than not you will hear a resounding, “NO!” In fact, take a look at UrbanDigs most recent analysis of the days on market in multiple price points that make up Manhattan’s real estate landscape. A quick glance at all of these price points show a clear divide between the market above and below $5M. I would argue that agents representing sellers in the higher end of the market have had a greater tendency to overprice than those in the under $5M market.

So what IS happening? Buyers are no longer blindly bidding on overpriced properties and some real estate agents, scratching to survive in an ultra-competitive market, have continued to escalate prices to a level that has finally become unpalatable to the consumer. Sellers who have priced their property in line with current market conditions, comparable unit sales, etc. have seen greater success than those who have listed with agents who sold them a dream. The perception of a softening market isn’t reality, it’s more a story of overpriced inventory searching for more realistic selling prices. Unfortunately for the price dropping sellers, they have likely left considerable money on the table by not pricing properly right out of the gate.


Trends & Tides: A Real Estate Concierge Providing Bespoke Services

03 February, 2016 posted by: Douglas Heddings


‘Trends & Tides’ takes a look at the ever changing environment of New York City real estate – past, present and future – by offering observations, analyzing perceptions and challenging myths, while giving a dose of reality along the way.

As a genuine boutique real estate firm, CORE prides itself on our ability to custom tailor each facet of the sales and purchase process to each customer’s needs.  That bespoke experience starts with our agents and the individualized support that they receive at CORE. Just as no two properties are alike, the same can be said about real estate agents. Similar to marketing an individual’s home, each agent’s business must be supported and nurtured based on their specific strengths. When an agent receives consistent and constant personalized support, they develop a confidence and a business acumen that translates to an incredibly positive experience for the consumer.  Pair this agent with an incredible suite of marketing materials, ideas and concepts and the consumer wins every time!

Having sold Manhattan real estate since 1992, I can tell you without reservation that many talk the talk, but very few actually walk the walk. The next time that you decide to meet with a real estate agent, consider asking them precisely what it is they will bring to the table that makes them an asset to you. Then listen carefully.


True Gotham: The Press, Panic and Pause

20 January, 2016 posted by: Douglas Heddings


Reporting from the front lines, Douglas Heddings brings us “True Gotham” – your source for NYC real estate tips, advice, anecdotes and general market insights that aim to inform and enlighten.

The first few weeks of 2016 have been incredibly volatile. Global economic insecurity, US stock market declines and numerous “man bites dog” anecdotes in the press have created an atmosphere that I have seen a few times before. One of the consistent factors throughout all of these panic periods has been that those who are active as opposed to reactive generally come out on top. Panic is never the answer. Hindsight is 20/20 and if we look back at the internet “bubble,” September 11th and the financial crisis in September 2008, there is no denying that many experienced some serious financial downfalls. However, I would argue that the majority who felt the greatest negative impact, other than our friends, family and fellow Americans who so tragically lost their loved ones, were those who pressed the panic button in a knee jerk reaction.

As I recall all three of the examples above, I think of the conversation between me and my wife on each occasion. “What should we do about our living situation?”  When the internet bubble burst, we were perfectly positioned to purchase a 2-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side. We were lucky. Post September 11th, we like many of our New York City friends and family were exploring options outside of what we deemed to be an unsafe urban environment. We could have sold our apartment at that time for about the same price as what we paid for it or perhaps a small loss. We stayed.  As the real estate market came back and exploded post September 11th, we observed the equity in that home increase nearly 30% and were able to sell in 2003 and purchase a larger home for our growing family. By the time the 2008 financial crisis hit, my wife and I had discussed selling our new 3-bedroom condo for TWICE what we had paid. A 100% gain in 5 years! Again, my wife and I decided to stay. We have since renovated that same home where we live with our 14 year old son and our 11 year old daughter. Our home is now worth about two and a half times what we paid in 2003! And we still aren’t selling.

My point in sharing the story above is that each individual must carefully evaluate his or her own specific situation to determine what makes the most sense for each individual.  For instance, had we decided to sell our home prior to 2008, we would have likely watched our equity disappear into the abyss of the post Lehman stock market. And what if we decided to sell now, where would we put our money to keep it “safe”? I don’t have all of the answers by any means, but I can assure you that each and every individual must consider every element of their current situation before determining whether to buy, sell or sit tight.


Trends & Tides: Meaningful Innovation is Redundant

06 January, 2016 posted by: Douglas Heddings


‘Trends & Tides’ takes a look at the ever changing environment of New York City real estate – past, present and future – by offering observations, analyzing perceptions and challenging myths, while giving a dose of reality along the way.

On Monday I had the pleasure of sitting down with some of the brightest people in the real estate industry for what was our first meeting of the New Year. The general theme of our discussion was how are we going to continue to evolve and make the real estate sales and purchase experience a more positive one for the consumer. Creativity and imagination are perhaps the two most fundamental components of innovation. Without them, change or real transformation is impossible. The power of collective creativity when an honest to goodness brainstorming session among peers takes place is absolutely invaluable. Passion, excitement, honesty, respect and intelligence were very much alive in the room and I am very much looking forward to being a part of the innovation that will continue to define CORE as it continues to evolve both the agent and consumer experience in 2016.


True Gotham: No Need to Sell Authenticity

18 November, 2015 posted by: Douglas Heddings


Reporting from the front lines, Douglas Heddings brings us “True Gotham” – your source for NYC real estate tips, advice, anecdotes and general market insights that aim to inform and enlighten.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a status update on my Facebook newsfeed from a colleague in the New York City residential real estate industry. Disclaimer: not all of my “friends” on Facebook are “friends” at all! I have known this person for many years and his update discussed why he and his company were best suited to “sell your home for the highest and best price.”

I have mixed feelings about hard selling on social media. Actually, I don’t – I think it’s a bad idea. That said, I can appreciate a salesperson’s desire to share what she/he believes to set her/him apart from the rest of the industry. I get it. But when I read this post from someone I have known for many years, it came across as disingenuous broker-babble that anyone who fancies themselves a Manhattan real estate professional could spew to a potential customer.

This got me thinking about how “salespeople” must constantly overcome the stigma of being “salespeople”. The answer: stop selling. The agents with whom I have had the greatest pleasure of working with in my 24 years in the business have all been AUTHENTIC. They are trustworthy, genuine providers of service to their customers and their colleagues. They seem to have a passion for being an essential asset in the real estate transaction, treating all parties to the transaction with the same authentic respect.

Most human beings can spot a phony from a mile away. It has been my experience that when a real estate salesperson comes to a transaction with a “how can I positively impact this transaction and the people involved” mentality, their business thrives, their customers are happy and they sleep very well at night.

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