“There are no hacks” said Lisa Lippman, licensed Associate Real Estate Broker and top producing agent three years in a row at Brown Harris Stevens, a luxury real estate firm in New York City. When asked about the “tricks of the trade,” Lippman said, “You can’t survive, not in this town, as a real estate broker – I mean, are there some people who try to do this and are hacks? Yeah, but they’re going to get lucky if they make a sale.”
In a post HGTV world where everyone feels like they could flip a house or play the real estate market, Lippman maintains that it is not as simple as Hollywood may have us believe.
“Somebody said this to me early in my career, that you can’t do it part time and that was 22 years ago when there were really no cell phones, no e-mail,” said Lippman, “People are just not going to want a broker who does it part time because the only way you can be a good broker is knowing what else is on the market and what’s out there and it’s such a fast-paced business because life is so fast paced.”
According to Brown Harris Stevens in their bio on Lippman, it is her knowledge and understanding of the city she lives in that makes her a top agent. Basically, she knows her stuff. Having lived in several different areas throughout New York City, working as a broker for twenty plus years and participating as an active member within her children’s different schools, Lippman provides her clients with a wealth of insider knowledge that helps a buyer feel confident and comfortable. In Lippman’s mind, there is no way a part-timer could maintain that kind of status quo.
When Lippman says there are no hacks, she simply means there are no easy or fast track ways to success in New York real estate or any other large market. From the perspective of a broker, there certainly are no cutting corners if you want to be respected and successful.
“You need to be outgoing, you need to be energetic, you need to be curious and positive. You need to be able to multitask which I think is really important,” said Lippman as she described the qualities she feels one would need to go far in New York real estate. “Hardworking, patient and you need to, I think, have some kind of bedside manners because people get really emotional about their purchases. It’s not just a straight business transaction like when you buy or sell a stock. This is where someone is going to live.”
These are qualities Lippman herself has seemed to always possess. She claims to have fallen into her career almost by accident after working as a litigation lawyer. No doubt a busy career as well, Lippman tried doing it part time after the birth of her second son but it just became too much to juggle and she decided to stay at home.
Wanting to get back to work though, Lippman found herself “intrigued by the process” of home buying and decided to try and see if it was for her. Twenty-two years later it seems she found her calling.
“I still think that there are people who see real estate brokers as sort of dishonest and just sales people and it helped me that I was a lawyer because I think people tend to trust me more because of that,” said Lippman as she reflected on her motto as a broker, “My M.O. has always been that I’m not telling people whether they should buy or something or not. I’ll give them advice if they want to buy it and I’m never pushing them to do something – it’s their money and not my money. So, I think there are more and more real estate brokers that do take that attitude of realizing that they’re one of a person’s sales advisors. They should not be salesmen.”
It’s perhaps this attitude that has fueled Lippman’s success as it was in her first year when she made three deals that made her decent money. Quickly, Lippman found herself really enjoying it, despite the intensity of the work, effort and time because even within all that she found independence and some freedom.
“The entrepreneurial nature of it [real estate], the flexible nature of it, sort of the movement nature of it – you know you’re never really sitting at a desk, which I like. You’re always meeting people – you can really use your memory and social skills and those are two of my good things,” said Lippman, “I think it was also exciting to me that basically the more you worked the more money you could make. I think on many levels it was just well suited and as a mom — I have three kids now — I certainly work 80 hours a week minimum, but on Thursdays my youngest son has a softball game, so I’m going to go to the softball game. I don’t have to ask the boss.”
Even with the ability to make time for things that matter most to her, Lippman still doesn’t forget that at the end of the day work needs to be done, it isn’t easy and there certainly are no short cuts.
“The hardest thing can be that you can work really hard with somebody or on something and then they would decide not to buy or not to sell and then you make no money,” said Lippman, “You literally eat what you kill. You get no benefits. So there are people who start in this and they don’t make any money for six months and they don’t get anything. No salary – there’s no health insurance; there’s no nothing.”
As Lippman describes it, New York real estate can be a tough business to be in. But, if there’s passion, if there’s determination, knowledge and the willingness to put in the hours, it is possible to get past the hardships and enjoy successes and sales.
“As you do it for longer and longer it gets better,” said Lippman who says that with time a sense is developed on how to read clients and assess their seriousness.
“Do I watch TV and put my phone away for three hours? No,” said Lippman who maintains that time equals achievement. “But there are plenty of brokers who are successful who don’t work like I do, but one of the reasons that I am as successful as I am is because I work a lot and I’m on top of things and there are people who hire me because of that.”