Top Realtor with Douglas Elliman; On Success, Balance and Manhattan Market
What began as a childhood fascination turned into a lifelong commitment to working in the family business, and ultimately an exciting career with one of Manhattan’s top brokerage teams. With more than $75 million in sales volume under her belt for the past year, Cory is an integral member of the Noble Black Team at Douglas Elliman.
Cory is motivated by the uniqueness of the Manhattan market, the entrepreneurial nature of the real estate business, and the talent, dedication and accomplishments of her team. A wife, mother, successful realtor and fitness enthusiast, her journey to success will inspire you to thrive. She proves that all women, really can have it all!
Tell us about the path that brought you into real estate?
I earned my BA at Barnard College and then I began working in equity trading at one of the large Wall Street firms. After a few years, I went back to graduate school to get my master’s degree, which brought me onto the investment banking side of the corporate world.
After being on Wall Street for over a decade, I realized that I had started to focus more on my professional career and not enough on my personal life/family goals. I wanted to leave that rigorous schedule for something that had more flexibility and began thinking about a career change. During this time, I moved from the Upper West side down to the West village. We had purchased a condo and met a very classy real estate broker, who was the listing agent on the transaction. After signing the contract, I said to the agent that it seemed like a wonderful career choice and asked if he was hiring. His response was “I wasn’t, but why don’t you come in and talk to us”. Fast forward eight years and I am still working with this incredible broker who I met back in 2014.
So after almost a decade in the industry, what are the key areas that you focus on right now location wise?
I tend to have a large focus downtown, simply because over the last ten years the market has made a significant move towards downtown condominiums, but I do a lot of business uptown as well, and my office is in midtown. With the emergence of Uber, people do not necessarily need to stay uptown for schools, plus the World Trade Center and surrounding neighborhoods have been reinvigorated tremendously over this time period, with many firms having returned to the area.
Doing close to $100M in sales is impressive as is; what would you say has been a reoccurring theme in your life that has really set you up for immeasurable success?
I believe that no matter where you start your career, there is always something to learn. Whether it be a new fact, a new skillset, new outlook or something new we can learn about ourselves. Finding the ‘perfect job’ the first go around is not as crucial as making sure we are constantly evolving and picking up key tools along the way.
I believe the most transferable skills I developed in Investment Banking are a strong work ethic and self-motivation. Real Estate sales are similar to financial transactions in the sense that you have a working group that consists of smart clients, financial advisors and attorneys. It is therefore important, as an agent on a transaction, to be resourceful, consistent and to be prepared.
What is your long term vision and plan? Whether it’s in the next five months or a long five year goal that you see happening.
This question is always interesting for me, I know some people like to plan five years or ten years out; envision themselves running companies down the road. Honestly, I never liked to plan that far ahead. Life is full of curve balls. The only way to set ourselves up for future successes is to focus on doing quality work every day.
Covid-19 was obviously a curve ball on a global level, but I also recently had an unexpected personal life event. After the birth of my second child, I had a major complication that almost took my life. After showing up to the emergency room having lost almost half my body’s worth of blood, the doctors told me I was very lucky and that being physically fit is what single-handedly helped me to withstand the trauma. Since then, fitness has become a crucial part of my lifestyle. Staying in shape, staying focused, and staying strong will help me achieve any goal, be it short term or long term.
For me, the best way to get ‘lucky’ is to be prepared. I am diligent with my work, stay up to date on market trends and make myself available to my clients, 24/7. Word of mouth referrals are the best way for me to get more business. In addition, renters often become purchasers shortly thereafter.
What advice would you give to either your younger self or to a young realtor now who is going into the industry in New York?
You should definitely look around and make sure that you have good role models at your workplace. I believe that it is very important to surround yourself with people who inspire you to achieve greatness. For me, there is also strength in numbers – I believe in the team approach. Transactions are about working together towards a common end goal – a smooth closing! I love coming across a talented photographer, passionate decorator, reliable contractor, insurance agent, resident manager, and so on. I keep them close and refer to them on future transactions. (shout out to Tina Gallo – amazing real estate photographer who also captured me in action for this article’s photos).
Photo Credit – Alberto Ortiz
Also, always stay true to yourself. There is enough business to go around that you shouldn’t try to be someone else. I have always maintained that I do it my way; there are personalities that will shift towards me and there are personalities who will shift towards some of my partners, but I never try to be someone else.
Is there anything coming out in the near future such as new developments, projects or any big items on the list that you would like to talk about?
Manhattan real estate is alive and kicking. The market continues to set new records. This, even before the international buyer has yet to return! Obviously, we continue to face major headwinds but there is no place like Manhattan.
As this article goes to print, I am thrilled to say that we now have a signed contract on John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s apartment – quintessential Soho living!
I am looking forward to sales beginning at 50 W66th Street, a new Extell Development on the Upper West Side. This truly elegant condominium tower will rise 70 stories, with breathtaking views of Central Park, 50,000 sqft of amenity space, including indoor and outdoor pools, all in a beautiful neighborhood setting between Lincoln Center and Central Park West. Any buyers out there? : )
When it comes to motivation and inspiration, what is something that motivates you to keep growing?
A few things come to mind here; my father was a Holocaust survivor and came to this country in 1951, with nothing. My father ended up with an engineering degree, began his career in the grocery business and then parlayed his skills into real estate development. He dreamed big and started building houses in Staten Island at a time when it wasn’t necessarily in vogue.
My father has definitely been a huge source of inspiration for me. He stressed the importance of being genuine and trustworthy. He passed away at the start of Covid – a constant reminder of life’s curveballs and the importance of staying focused and prepared.
Photo Credit – Photography by Roxanne
Do you have a morning routine? Are you an early bird or a late night person?
I wake up at around 6 am every day. I prepare my kids for school, make sure they have a well-balanced breakfast, and then we hit the road on my cargo bike. Rain or shine, you can find me on the west side highway biking path, with a kid or two in tow. I am not sure who enjoys the ride more, but my legs certainly feel the pain by the end of the week.
How do you keep your balance and what are the things you do to set yourself up routine wise?
I feel ‘accomplished’ when I believe that I have sufficiently filled my three buckets – work, family and self/fitness. With time being the limiting factor, I really try and incorporate exercise into the daily schedule wherever possible – i.e. bike to showings, run to appointments, and keep the weight training to the late evenings.
I start my day off by biking them to school – I have a Nihola cargo bike from Denmark. I begin my day with a fast ride from the West Village to the Upper West Side. I pack breakfast for my boys to eat in their cabin and we spend time listening to music and talking on the bike. I quickly get home before the phone starts ringing. I try to fit everything in and be efficient, sometimes at the expense of looking disheveled, but it enables me to have the work/life balance that fills my cup (or did I say, ‘buckets’?).
When I turned 40, I decided it was time to set a ‘personal best’ on the fitness front. After having two kids and suffering a near fatal complication, I did not think this was going to be the decade for reaching new heights (‘lows’, rather). So, if I can impart one major lesson – you are never too old to reach your goals. In 2021, I became a semi-finalist for the cover of a fitness magazine. What a truly awesome experience – the physical training, dietary discipline and then putting myself out there on social media for the first time in 40 years. Can cross that one off the bucket list!
Cover Photo Credit – Tina Gallo
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