Revealed: 10 brokers under the age of 30 who are fast risers in a marketplace increasingly infused with technology
By Theresa Agovino and Amanda Fung
Happily, in many respects, life isn't what it used to be for newbie brokers. Newmark Knight Frank Chief Executive Barry Gosin chuckles as he recalls how, as a fledgling broker, he sneaked into the Chrysler Building back in the 1970s to glean information on the tower's tenants, only to be escorted out by the building's owner.
“I didn't even know who the guy was,” said Mr. Gosin.
But that was before CoStar and Google, back in an era when Mr. Gosin literally kept market information in a shoe box on his desk.
Today's young brokers—commercial and residential alike—begin their careers with resources their predecessors could not have dreamed of even 10 years ago. They have iPhones and iPads along with social-media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Amassing and even analyzing data is now a snap. Residential brokers can use social media to tap into their own personal networks to drum up business.
Meanwhile, free-flowing company news allows commercial brokers to home in on firms that might actually need their services instead of just opening the phone book and hoping for the best.
Yet with everyone using the same tools, standing out becomes harder. For commercial brokers, what might have been a 40-page lease for a midsize deal 20 years ago is now double that—which is one reason why more new brokers boast a law degree or an M.B.A.
Residential brokers, meanwhile, increasingly find themselves competing with technology. These days, websites such as StreetEasy.com make it easy for apartment hunters to find places without ever contacting, much less paying, a broker. As a result, residential brokers are willing to widen their net to include not just other boroughs but also rentals in addition to sales.
“Twenty-five years ago a Manhattan broker would never think of going into Brooklyn to do business,” said Richard Grossman, executive director of sales for downtown Manhattan at Halstead Property.
On the cost side, all brokers face a common peril as New York has become a much more expensive place to put down roots. Rent on Mr. Gosin's first Upper East Side apartment was $200 a month in the 70s. That was doable on his $14,000-a-year salary, but in the intervening years, starting salaries haven't kept up with the enormous jump in rents.
In this report, Crain's profiles 10 brokers under the age of 30 who are viewed as rising stars by their firms—evenly split between those on the commercial and those on the residential side of the business.
Gen Y gets hard start
The member of Generation Y, born between 1982 and 2000, grew up during the digital boom and were reared to value concepts such as creativity and personal expression. Some employers maintain that this generation is also harder to please, and maybe even to communicate with.
“A lot of people refer to them as entitled because they've been told they're smart and capable,” said Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. “This is a generation that has proven itself to be less understanding of the need for grunt work by seeing [Facebook's] Mark Zuckerberg and others build quick success.”
Some recruiters observe that the proliferation of social media and texting seem to have weighed heavily on the generation's writing and social skills, making them more comfortable with abbreviated electronic interactions than with the face-to-face variety.
Increasingly, members of Generation Y—along with everybody else—are having to make adjustments. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed a shift in Generation Y's job priorities away from former top items, such as high starting salaries and opportunities for advancement.
Today, Generation Yers put a premium on the opportunity for personal development, followed by sobersided considerations such as job security and good insurance benefits.
“When they come out of college in tough economic times, it's a reality check,” said John Landers, New York regional manager for staffing agency Robert Half International. “They start to lower the bar quite a bit.”
Ari Harkov, 29
Halstead Property, senior vice president
Start date: April 2007
Highest degree/school: B.A., Vassar College
Favorite music: Classical and opera
Favorite restaurant: Freemans
Preferred social media outlet: Facebook
If not a broker? An entrepreneur
Many brokers chafe under the stresses of their jobs. Not Ari Harkov.
“Real estate is a walk in the park compared to the performing arts, ” said the broker, who started out as an opera singer, performing on stages both here and abroad.
After 18 months of living out of a suitcase, he decided that real estate offered some decided pluses.
“It was the closest thing to being your own boss, and artists like to be in control, ” said Mr. Harkov, who began in his new field late in 2006 by brokering rentals at a small agency.
The central New Jersey native entered the business with two big handicaps: He had minimal experience, and no network to rely on. At first, he made endless cold calls.
Shortly after switching to Halstead, he snagged his first exclusive listing: a one-bedroom TriBeCa condo that sold in two weeks for $650,000—$25,000 above the asking price. A wave of deals followed as he honed his skills.
He was named Rookie of the Year by the Real Estate Board of New York in 2008, and shortly after that, he was promoted to vice president at Halstead. Two years ago, Mr. Harkov expanded into commercial brokerage and found a partner at his firm.
Now he is getting his M.B.A. at Columbia, launching a travel website, and opening a bar and restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Sunday, October 23, 2011