When Michael Lorber says he has always been in real estate, he means it, starting out in childhood by dragging his father to open houses. As a broker and global real estate consultant with Douglas Elliman, and one of the original cast members of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to build a professional career in New York real estate.
As a co-founding partner of the Michael Lorber Team at Douglas Elliman, Alexander Boriskin has represented listings in some of the city’s most iconic buildings. However, he has found that even the smaller deals can have a big impact on your real estate career.
Find out how Lorber learns to temper his enthusiasm for the business with a realistic view of what it takes to succeed long term, and how Boriskin learned to make consistent follow-up pay off big time.
How long have you been in the business, and how did you get started?
Lorber: I’ve always been in real estate. After I got my law degree and master’s in real estate, I became a broker about 15 years ago.
Boriskin: Close to a decade. I jumped right in because it’s something that I always wanted to do. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Lorber: Hopefully, doing the same thing with the same colleagues and clients (but at higher prices)!
Boriskin: Hopefully, seeing my business grow as well as our team’s business.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
Lorber: Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. So many brokers celebrate so many times. I don’t celebrate till the closing.
Boriskin: I am going to break the rules and give you two. Sometimes, the smallest deals turn into your largest. It’s not uncommon to hear that a broker did a small rental deal that led to a $10 million sale years down the line.
That client either winds up in a better financial position or they refer someone because you treated them well and did a great job. So don’t ever let your work correlate to the commission. Treat everyone as if they were spending $100 million with you.
The other lesson is that you should master the art of the follow-up. It will define how far you go in this business.
How did you learn it?
Lorber: I have had the same listing for over seven years and have had four board turn downs, I stopped getting excited about this deal years ago. I just keep working for my very loyal clients.
Boriskin: I have an example of how I did both in one story. I represented a client in renting an investment property that they owned. It was a $7,200 rental. A year later, the tenants moved out, so I began following up 60 days before their lease was to expire so that we could get the apartment back on the market to find the next tenant.
I followed up with this client once a week and did not hear back from them for four months. That’s 16 emails and a few phone calls — and some texts!
The owner responded to the 16th email, asked me to list that apartment again, and asked me to help them find another investment property for $7 million. which we are closing on today. (I can send the records to prove it.)
What advice would you give to new agents?
Lorber: Decide if this is what you really want to do. If you think it’s glamorous, it’s not. If you think it’s easy, it’s not. If you think you will make a million dollars your first year, you won’t. If you think you have 10 friends who want to buy homes from you, you don’t.
Just work hard, and don’t give up. And find the very best mentor — and hopefully, partner (as I have)!
Boriskin: If you want to make money quickly, this is not the right business. It takes years to build a good business. If you aren’t ready to give it your all, you will be wasting your time. Depending on the source, the percentage of real estate agents that fail in the business within the first five years ranges between 85 to 90 percent.
You only have to work half a day to be successful in this business. Just pick whichever 12 hours work best for you! The moral of the story is that your success will be measured in how hard (and smart) you work and how relentless you are.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.