By Gregg B. Slotnick, Commercial Real Estate Broker / Helmsley-Spear
The commercial brokerage business has changed in many ways since I started in the 1980s. Back then, new brokers did not have access to the electronic tools available today. There was no Co-Star, no databases, no Internet and no cell phones. I learned the brokerage business literally from the ground up. I had to canvas each building with a notepad. I walked each floor and recorded who the owner was, who the tenants were and what the building specifics were, including building type, gross area and rentable areas. I also had to note special characteristics of each building such as the state of interiors, the mechanical systems, the fenestration, the finishes and light and air quality of the offices. It was grueling work, but it provided me with the kind of professional foundation that books could never provide. I got to live, eat and breathe the buildings. Over the years, my clients have come to rely on the knowledge and insight gained from my “feet-on-the-street” experience. For that I am grateful.
I remind young brokers that they have to look beyond the technology and the trappings of the modern tools we are blessed to have. Those are only tools. What is more important is our fidelity to the profession of brokerage, and the integrity of services which we provide to our valued clients. This is a competitive business, but it is intrinsically rewarding for those that understand that it is first and foremost, a service business. New York City is both a large and a small city. It is large in stature, but it is intimate in terms of the relationships and reputations we build over decades of work. We must not forget that reputations are built over a lifetime but can be eroded quickly.
The excitement of the real estate business still burns within me. I feel the vibrancy of our great city, and hope to continue to draw from the energy that resides in our industry.