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Ten: Rhythm of Real Estate, Potato Chips and French Realism According to Reggie Grayson

Agent Insight // Aug 27, 2014

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.

Born and raised in Alabama, Reggie Grayson‘s small-town beginnings have quickly translated to a bustling career in real estate right here in Manhattan. Having lived in the City for almost three decades, his nostalgic love for Manhattan remains one of the driving forces behind his pursuit of a career in the industry. Here are Reggie’s answers to Ten questions:

1. What did you do before you found this career?  Reggie_Grayson_TEN
I led many lives before beginning my career in real estate, but mostly, I worked in economic development and non-profit management. I was also the co-founder and president of a special events company.

2. What has changed about the industry since you first got into the business?
I’ve lived in New York for 26 years, and the biggest change is that neighborhoods that at one time had been considered marginal, are now very much in demand. Case in point, my partner and I bought a 1-bedroom on West 148th Street in 2010. When selling the apartment in June, we had a bidding war and went into contract within six days for 21% more than what we had paid for the apartment barely three years ago. When the financial industry collapsed five years ago, few people would have guessed that a 1-bedroom on 148th Street would sell for over $700,000 in 2013. I wish we had bought five more in 2010, because we could have sold them all!

3. What is your greatest daily challenge?
Keeping each transaction on track and moving forward. Real estate deals have a rhythm and a pace. I know exactly where each deal should be, but it takes a lot of tact and diplomacy to get all the parties involved – my client, managing agents, co-brokers, lenders, attorneys – to keep the momentum going. It’s exhausting, but that’s what a good agent does.

4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will have chosen to retire early and will be living in Barcelona.

5. Where do you find inspiration?
This may sound corny, but I still get inspired by the Manhattan skyline. One of my favorite things to do is run around the Central Park reservoir at dusk, and when I get to the northern end, I look south and see the towers on Central Park South, juxtaposed against the trees and the water. It’s magical. It’s one of those “wow-this-kid-from-Alabama-made-it-in-New York” moments.

6. Name one thing we might not know about you.
I love potato chips! So much so that for my birthday two years ago, I had a gourmet potato chip party. Mind you, while I love these crunchy, salty creations, I rarely indulge, as I cannot control myself.

7. What’s your favorite movie or book?
I love Lost Illusions by Balzac. Balzac is considered to be the founder of French realism, and when reading his vivid depictions of post-Naploeonic Paris, there is an evident authenticity. My favorite contemporary novel is Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The ostensible subject matter – the heyday of comic books – is not something in which I am particularly interested in, but the book is about so much more, and for me, Chabon’s writing is the literary equivalent of a bag of potato chips – thoroughly satisfying, yet leaving me craving more.

8. What do you do in your free time?
I watch TV shows about real estate (sad, but true), read, write and run. I also love to entertain. I can’t cook at all – well, actually, I’ve never tried – but my partner, Michael, is a great cook. I contribute by picking recipes for him to try. One of my best choices was cheddar grits, topped with shrimp and bacon – YUM! (Can you tell that we are both from the South)? Our guests LOVED it.

9. What is your favorite thing about New York City?
The variety of really talented people I can meet here. When I first moved to New York, I was a project manager for a city agency, and my group was charged with attracting foreign direct investment. In our marketing materials, we used a quote from a CEO, where we had asked him why he chose to keep his company in New York. He said that “in the suburbs, you’re in a beautiful park, surrounded by trees, but you’re all alone, and soon you begin to think you’re the smartest guy on Earth. In New York, everyday you can meet 10 people who are smarter than you. That keeps you on your toes. It’s hard to put a value on that.” I love that energy.

10. Tell me something about your home.
We live on the 11th floor of a “classic” 1950’s red brick high-rise. They’re short on charm, but the apartments are large. Our apartment has a balcony and open views, looking east, toward the Bronx. I love that our vista is thoroughly and unapologetically a Manhattan view: a continuous stream of pedestrians, a small well-used park, other residential buildings, a school, a slice of the Harlem River, and in the distance, the control tower for LaGuardia Airport. Like some of our past apartments, we painted this one grey (I think the color is Tormenta), a color we have found to be a wonderfully elegant neutral.