Real estate is a people business and people crave authenticity, panelists at Inman Connect New York stressed. They urged agents to focus on being present.

Inman events are the best way to connect, learn and grow. Don’t miss the next one, Aug. 3-5 at Inman Connect Las VegasGet your ticket now for the best price.

Real estate agent Brian Lewis got his biggest deal ever — a $42 million listing — when he took advantage of serendipity.

Lewis, an agent with Compass in New York City, met someone in a ride share. Instead of just putting on his headphones, he chose to engage.

“I put my phone down and I was just talking to her,” Lewis told Inman Connect New York attendees Tuesday morning in a session called “What It Takes to Get to the Top.”

“We didn’t talk real estate. I did not say I was an agent. I was petting her dog, being present. She was French. I was speaking some French with her. And we just had a ball. At the end, she goes, ‘What do you do?’ And I said, ‘My name is Brian Lewis. I sell real estate here in New York.’ And she goes, ‘My friend Tony is gonna love you. Could you meet him today?’ I’m like, ‘Sure.’

“She texted me the address. I go in and I got it. And we sold it.”

Lewis said he’d gone to ICNY fresh from a listing presentation for a $599,000 listing, which is not on the high end in New York.

“But I learned something at the Four Seasons hotel when I was a bellman there, which is everybody gets a luxury experience,” he said. “If you’re in the presidential suite or in the basement where you’re looking at bricks, you get the same journey.

“To be successful, you just keep grinding, keep listening, be honest, put the phone down, be present. These are just fundamentals that I think in any industry will take you far.”

Real estate is a people business and people crave authenticity, according to the panelists.

“Accuracy makes money,” Frances Katzen, an agent with Douglas Elliman, told attendees.

“People can smell real very quickly. If you are very straight about it and say what you think, not what people want to hear, is when you actually enroll people into your world because they know that you’re coming from real.”

Kindness and honesty is key, according to Lewis.

“In our industry, it can be very cutthroat and people can be very sharky,” he said. “The dolphin will always win.”

Lewis said he works daily at being “completely and utterly present with what I’m doing. If it’s with my daughters, if it’s with my husband Matt, if it’s with my parents, a client, a customer.”

Katzen gave some advice she admitted might sound “really weird”: Declare what you want and then let it go. She said she did that once, saying she wanted “one of those ridiculous opportunities,” and just “put it out there.” Then during the pandemic, she got a call.

“The guy says, ‘I see you on the elevator every morning with your daughter on the way to school and I just think you’re awesome as a mom. I’m not hiring anyone else, would you represent my sale?'” she said. “And I said, ‘Sure.’ It was over [$]30 [million] and we got it.”

Both Katzen and Lewis are active on social media and advised attendees to be themselves on the platforms.

“Show yourself a little bit more,” Katzen said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. I mean, yeah, we do pretty pictures and successful returns on real estate, but things that you love, things that are close to your heart, let people see a little bit of that. Not all of it, but I think it gives people a flavor of what’s important to you.

“It’s an instant-gratification culture that really sort of connects and speaks to the cadence of what’s going on for them. I think that’s how it builds connection.”

Be authentic, Lewis said. “Find your voice and your way — there’s not one path — and just have fun with it.”

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

Like me on Facebook | Follow me on Twitter

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Navigate real estate's new frontier at Inman Connect Las Vegas. Register with your Select subscriber discount for an extra $100 off!Learn more×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription