Real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry. This week: Find out how NYC agent and former chef Andrew J. Feldman learned that no matter what you think you know, get it in writing.

Looking for more advice? Check out Inman’s New Agent Essentials.

In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

Compass’s Andrew J. Feldman comes by his ability to handle high-pressure situations in not one, but two ways: As the child of a New York City real estate investor, he grew up knowing the ins and outs of the business. As a former chef, he learned to handle it when things get hot in the kitchen.

A lifelong New Yorker, Feldman loves spending time exploring the city and volunteers in organizations for children with cancer and with wounded veterans. Find out how he learned that when it comes to deal-making, getting everything in writing is essential.

How long have you been in the business, and how did you get started?

I was born into a real estate family. My father was an investor in multifamily properties, and my mother worked as a broker and even owned her own firm in Brooklyn when I was a little boy.

Being a know-it-all teen, I wanted to make my own way in this world despite being fortunate enough to have my family’s wealth of real estate knowledge and experience to help me. I had a passion for cooking and entrepreneurship, so I forged ahead with a career in culinary arts. I was accepted into the most prestigious school in France.

First, I moved to southwest Florida to become the second in command at a country club’s kitchen. I dreamed of graduating and working on cruise ships for a few years to travel the world before making a grand return to New York City and opening a restaurant.

It did not take long for me to realize that my passion for cooking did not translate into what I wanted to do for a living. So I moved back to the city and sought my father’s guidance. He said to me, “You’re an incredible salesman. You put yourself through school being a salesman. You should sell the biggest ticket item you can.” Of course, my first thought was to sell Ferraris, but he meant real estate, and off I went.

I started in the commercial real estate world for almost half of my career, which spans 22 years. I still work on the commercial side today, but for the last 10 years I have grown the residential end of my business and team, and it continues to grow.

Where do you see yourself in five years?  

I have learned over the years to be open to possibilities. Life rarely turns out how you envision it. But by being open to different perspectives, wonders can happen.

The truth is that I am open to the mystery that is life. I know one thing for sure, however: I will not be retired if I can help it. I love working with people and challenging myself too much to lay down the gloves anytime soon.

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?  

Nothing is final until it is signed, sealed and delivered. So, to reduce the odds of something going wrong, I always have everything in writing, especially my commission. It is better to be cautious than surprised, resentful, missing money and losing friends.

How did you learn it?  

Painful story alert! The short version is that a friend of mine, who had purchased investment real estate from me in the past, was responsible for paying the commission on a package of buildings I had sold him and his partners. Because we were friends, I felt comfortable foregoing a formal written agreement.

He had paid my commissions before, and we emailed and texted about it. Nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. He ended up beating me out of 90 percent of my commission, and that’s how I learned the lesson of always putting everything in writing. Expensive lessons are the best ones, I suppose.

What advice would you give to new agents?  

Get mentored by a solid agent. I was lucky enough to have very talented agents teach me to save me from mistakes. It’s invaluable, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel to succeed in this business.

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 TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Do you want to be featured in an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here!

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