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Brothers Oren and Tal Alexander started their real estate careers at the height of the Great Recession as home values plummeted, foreclosure rates soared and former homeowners struggled to pick up the pieces. Instead of giving up, the duo decided to charge forward, and they are now Douglas Elliman’s go-to team for celebrities like Tommy Hilfiger, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
“We really started from the bottom of the business,” Oren told moderator Katie Kossev during their Connect Now virtual session. “Even though we were [at the bottom] we had our eyes set on the top, the pinnacle of the business, and representing trophy properties.”
The duo said the key to their success comes from learning to leverage their strengths and weaknesses, building personal relationships with clients, and approaching real estate as a lifestyle instead of a career.
“I think we were very lucky just to find a great partnership that complements each other, [and] doesn’t really take two brokers to work on one transaction,” Tal explained of their expansion into South Florida and several international markets. “We’re always sort of sharing ideas and we’re problem solvers. I think I wouldn’t be able to be as successful as I am without him.”
“We have two different styles that complement each other, but what’s great is that we know certain clients appreciate one style versus the other,” Oren added. “We’re really two of the top agents that collaborate and work together to ultimately create this powerhouse in the business.”
Beyond balancing their skills and personalities, both brothers said they’ve learned to build personal connections with their clients — a skill that makes them longterm, trusted advisors instead of one-time salespeople.
“I think if I was just offering a commoditized service as a broker, I wouldn’t be as successful,” Oren explained. “I would consider [the] majority of my clients my friends and I think when you take a relationship to a friendship level, you have the ability to really work with a client long term.”
As the market shifts, Oren and Tal said becoming a knowledgeable and trusted advisor is key to building a business that can withstand the test of time.
“In today’s market, you know, we’re definitely in uncertain times where a lot of people don’t have confidence in the market, don’t know exactly where we are in the market,” Oren said. “At these times you really need someone — a broker, an advisor — who you could trust, who is telling you that now is the right time to transact.”
To reach trusted advisor status, Tal said agents become obsessed with providing cutting-edge market data and making themselves available 24/7.
“I like to really look at the data. We’ve been tracking it for about 12 years,” Tal explained. “Every morning that’s like my Bible. [I] wake up in the morning [and] look at what closings took place within the last 24 hours.”
“I think there’s knowing your markets really well, but I also think we work really hard,” he added. “I would like to live by the slogan ‘work smart, not necessarily hard’; [however], we work really hard. It’s an around-the-clock job.”
“We don’t turn it off at five o’clock,” Oren chimed in. “We’re constantly figuring out how to continue to build our network.”
The brothers said their dedication to building relationships, providing valuable information and stellar service has resulted in a rock-solid reputation — something that’s propelled them to the peak of New York City real estate despite only being in their early 30s.
“I remember early on, we were pitching $10 million, $15 million and $20 million listings, ” Tal said. “[We were] probably 23, but one of the first questions we [got] posed with when we [saw] these sellers and their apartments were, ‘You’re 23, 24 years old. How can I go with you? Aren’t you guys just too young?'”
“We realized from day one, [that we wouldn’t] continue to ultimately grow and be successful, especially for us starting at a relatively young age, if [we didn’t] build [our] business on a great reputation,” Oren added. “We managed to grow the network and have constantly have people say nice things about us, which helped with further introductions from those clients and so forth.”
The duo said these skills along with developing an optimistic and resilient attitude will help agents enter 2021 with momentum.
“You’ve really got to love [real estate],” Tal said. “I do not think you have to love it from day one, but you’ve got to learn to love it. We’ve made it part of our lifestyle.”
“There’s still opportunity out there,” Oren concluded. “You just have to do things a little different because what you’ve done in the previous markets might work for you. Now’s the time to really innovate.”