Trends & Tides: Traditional vs. Tech Brokerage

07 August, 2017 posted by: CORE

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.

Yesterday, I was privy to an interesting war of words regarding a LinkedIn post. The two sides ultimately battled over whether a traditional brokerage model or a tech-centric model would fare better in today’s real estate environment. The comments were incredibly revealing with one member of a deeply entrenched, once-traditional brokerage clearly pointing out that adaptation is necessary to provide the best service to the consumer and ultimately cement the survival of any company in today’s real estate industry. I couldn’t agree more that a hybrid of tradition and technology best serves the consumer. The traditional broker who turns a blind eye to technology better rethink the ways in which they do business. Or suffer extinction. Similarly, the tech-centric brokerage that spends all of their dollars generating leads for agents, while showing little concern for the quality of customer service they are providing, is also doomed. Both models will fail independently without the other. Let’s look at the pitfalls of each:

Traditional Brokerage:

  • focuses on its brand more than the consumer
  • highly leveraged with office space and expensive leases
  • makes promises to its agents that it can’t deliver due to corporate bureaucracy
  • decreases dollars spent on the consumer in an effort to maintain profit due to high overhead
  • is “trapped in the box” with no ability to truly see outside of it
  • claims to embrace change all the while avoiding it like the plague
  • talks the talk but resists walking the walk

Tech-centric Brokerage:

  • puts all focus on its agents with no regard for the consumer
  • spends a majority of their dollars on lead generation for agents and not marketing property for their customers
  • hires agents blindly, creating an opaque environment that often negatively impacts the consumer
  • claims that their technology is consumer-centric with only an eye on the company’s bottom line
  • talks the talk but resists walking the walk
If there is one thing that seems to get lost in the battle of brokerages trying to stay relevant and profitable, it is the consumer. There is no substitute for high touch customer service when assisting someone with the purchase or sale of one of, if not the largest asset in their portfolio. Sophisticated consumer friendly technology should be a welcome addition to the customer experience. But high touch and high tech do not have to be mutually exclusive, which is why CORE will be launching a new and exciting listings platform. This platform will allow consumers to collaborate with their agents while simultaneously receiving the outstanding high touch customer service for which CORE and its agents are renowned.


CORE 10: Doug Heddings

11 April, 2017 posted by: CORE

Me Relaxed

Welcome to CORE 10, an off-the-cuff interview series with prominent CORE figures. Read on to learn more about this week’s guest, Executive VP of Sales Doug Heddings!

Who is the living person you most admire? David Innocenzi. He’s our Manhattan Sales Manager with whom I’ve worked for nearly 10 years. He’s a dedicated and awesome husband, an unwavering, loyal father and a present and supportive best friend! He’s smart with an incredible work ethic. I can count on him always and we share a bond for which most could only hope. We have no secrets, we can be brutally honest without fear of hurting each other’s feelings and if we do hurt feelings, we are quick to make amends. Most importantly, we share lots of laughs! There is only one other with whom I share a greater bond, and that is my wife.

Who is the most interesting New Yorker you know? Without a doubt, it’s Kevin Sheekey. Although I haven’t seen Kevin in years, my now teenage son went to nursery school with his twins. As often happens, we have lost touch, but I admire him and his family from afar. Kevin is liked by all, friends with so many and always shares a once-in-a-lifetime type story about some celebrity who he’s recently had the pleasure of meeting. A former campaign manager and then Deputy Mayor for Bloomberg, Kevin would totally have my vote if he ever decided to throw his hat into the New York Mayoral race. One can only hope!

What is your earliest New York memory? I had never even visited New York prior to moving here in July of 1989 from the suburbs of Baltimore. I arrived via bus into what was then the very grimy and dangerous Port Authority Bus Terminal. The walk through the terminal, including all of the sights, sounds and unpleasant smells, still resonates with me, as does the trek from 42nd Street and 8th Avenue to 10th Avenue and 51st Street where I first lived. I was in complete awe even as I questioned what I was doing here.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Embrace yourself! All of yourself. The good, the bad and the ugly. Your history makes you who you are and life is all about perspective. On any given day I could write down the same ten items on a piece of paper and depending on my perspective, I could call it a “Gratitude List” or “Burdens List.” I do my best to remain grateful on a daily basis. Definitely an imperfect practice.

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far? I really believe that I am an excellent father. My kids are my greatest teachers. They are windows into my soul and show me my strengths and most definitely my defects so that I can change to become a better person. The irony of fatherhood is that while you are making every effort to raise fantastic children, they are influencing the father and the man that you are becoming. In essence, they are “raising” me.

What are your three most treasured possessions? My wedding ring has only been off my finger ONCE when I dropped it in a crashing wave. Miraculously, I sprung to the “sparkle” in the sand as the wave receded and scooped up the ring. As a child of divorce, this ring symbolizes so much more than just my wedding vows. Our home is a sanctuary and since we renovated to create a space that we cherish, I frequently prefer to cocoon at home in front of the fireplace rather than spend a night out on the town. My daughter has an authentic Pittsburgh Steelers football helmet signed by Hall of Famer “Mean” Joe Greene. It’s technically hers but I bought it and love looking at it on her book shelf. I touch it every time I leave her room. I don’t even think she knows that.

Name a movie, book or work of art that changed your life. It may sound bizarre, but Top Gun changed my life’s trajectory in a way that I never could have imagined. Long story, but shortly after seeing Top Gun in 1986, I joined the U.S Navy Nuclear Engineering program in an effort to maneuver my way into the U.S. Naval Academy. I had applied in high school and despite receiving the necessary congressional nomination from then Rep. Helen D. Bentley, I withdrew my application out of complete fear of the unknown. Six months into training, I experienced a spontaneous pneumothorax that landed me in the ICU and eventually received an honorable discharge after serving only 8 months and 8 days. After that, I did a short 8-month stint at the FBI in Washington, D.C. and ended up as a bartender at a very trendy hotel bar in Baltimore City, where I met the person who brought me to New York in 1989. Three years later I met Kate and the rest is history, as we have built a beautiful life together. Who knew that Maverick and Goose would have such an impact on my life?

What’s your greatest extravagance? I try to get a 2-hour massage every week. It doesn’t always happen, but it is something I do for myself that is a 2-hour escape into pure mindfulness.

What’s your secret talent? Those who know me will tell you that I have no SECRET anything. I’m an open book with limited boundaries (I continue to work on that…hahaha). But I guess if I had to choose something that not everyone knows, I’m a decent actor and I can do a few impressions, with my favorite being Jimmy Stewart lassoing the moon for Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life. I also dabble with a guitar but would hardly call it a talent.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Get out! No really. Get out!” “Awesome.” “Oh my G*d!” Just about anything that evokes drama! With a lot of exclamation points!!!!!!!


True Gotham: Mindfulness Matters in Work & Play

10 April, 2017 posted by: CORE

Central Park East from 1280 Fifth (1)

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.

I just returned from a family vacation where I decided to truly drop off the grid. I left both my smartphone and my laptop at home and decided to focus on relaxing and spending quality time with my wife and two teenagers. I believe that it was for this reason that I would rank this vacation as one of my top three of all time. Coincidentally, my boss and the CEO of CORE, Shaun Osher recommended that I read Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It was an appropriate read on the beaches of Mexico, where it is quite easy to eliminate noise and be in the now particularly when you’ve decided to “unplug.”

As the Director of Sales at CORE, I’m often pulled in so many directions that at the end of a day I lack any real sense of accomplishment. All too frequently I seem to get caught up in busy work and simply spin my wheels. The doing “less but better” mantra in this book appealed to me. Who doesn’t want to simplify their lives in an effort to become more productive?

Essentialism lays out a road map of exactly how to eliminate the noise from your life, both business and personal, in an effort to live a more meaningful and mindful existence. We have the ability to choose that which we focus on and McKeown does a fantastic job of illustrating how the choices we make, including the things that we consider yet eliminate are all part of the voyage toward a better and more productive life. The author discusses things like the necessity of implementing play in our lives as a means of stimulating creativity and clarity. Play is not just for kids. He also illustrates that an essentialist is not one who simply cuts things out of their lives but rather someone who considers all options in an effort to choose the best and most productive path.

If you are feeling stretched at home or at the office, this is a must read. Being busy does not necessarily equate to being productive and trying to be all things to all people can be overwhelming and unhealthy. As someone who has some experience with meditation, Essentialism provides additional tools to help anyone on the journey to true mindfulness. I have already begun to implement strategies from the book that have helped me to focus on the task at hand whether it be a project that needs my attention at the office or a meaningful father-daughter conversation during an evening ride to soccer practice. The relatively simple act of determine what is most important and productive to you is incredibly liberating!


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

x2 (2)

‘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.

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