On New York City Real Estate, Living with Passion, Internal Success
The one and only Heather Swicicki is a household name in the New York City real estate market. With over 18 years in residential real estate, and over $200M in sales, Heather’s passion alongside her dedication for the industry has made her a recognizable force and powerful influence. With an impressive portfolio of skyscrapers and New York’s finest homes on the market, it’s no surprise that she consistently makes it on the Top 20 agents for Manhattan and Brooklyn.
She is intimately familiar with the markets, trends, pricing and opportunities that validate both sellers and buyers in a market that keeps growing and presents the best return on her client’s investments. On top of being an excellent realtor and business woman, she is also a humanitarian at heart and sits on the board of the Changing Leads Foundation, an equestrian charity that raises funds and connects at-risk youth to horseback riding opportunities. Here is the impressive journey of passion meets persistence, of hard work and dedication, of success.
With such a successful career in real estate, tell our readers what brought you to real estate from the beginning?
I grew up in Huntington, Long Island, a suburb of New York City. Growing up, I was always involved in many sports and extracurricular activities which taught me how to manage my time and scholastic responsibilities from a young age.
In particular, I began horseback riding when I was five years old and started competing in Equestrian competitions shortly thereafter. I continued to compete in competitions on most weekends through grade school, high school, college and beyond, which also taught me time management and goal setting from a young age. There are many parallels when working with a client as there are when competing in a horse show. Both require preparation, team work, trust, patience and perseverance, so in many ways the ground work I learned from horseback riding made entering the field of real estate feel familiar to me from the start.
After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Psychology, I moved to New York City (Manhattan) with the intention of going back to school for my Masters Degree in Psychology.
I always loved real estate and even as a child and teen, I remember flipping directly to the real estate section of every magazine and newspaper. I was also curious about every house with a For Sale sign on the front lawn. Though I never thought I would enter the field of Real Estate, I always had an interest from a young age as to which factors go into valuing a home. My grandparents also owned a small investment apartment building on Long Island and I was immersed from a young age in witnessing how to manage an apartment building and many other facets of property management, further adding to my interest in real estate.
Tell our readers about the path that brought you to real estate with Douglas Elliman.
Upon moving to NYC in 2003, I quickly obtained my real estate license and applied to work with Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Though I was just starting out, I assumed selling Real Estate would allow me flexible hours (little did I know) to earn a consistent income while I attended graduate school. From the first day as a licensed agent, I absolutely loved Douglas Elliman. The company was and always has been a great fit for me. They have always been positive and supportive of all of their agents and I felt encouragement each day to persevere.
Aside from Douglas Elliman’s positive encouragement, I sold my first apartment, a small one bedroom, during my first month, which was a deciding factor for me to postpone my plans of attending graduate school and commit to real estate for one full year in order to make a decision as to if a career in real estate was the right fit for me.
Now, 18 + years later, sticking with real estate as a full-time career has proven to be a decision that I am incredibly grateful for. I was one of the youngest agents in NYC when I started and it wasn’t easy during the first few years for other agents who were more established to take me seriously. Due to this, at times early on, I felt discouraged, but looking back, this definitely made me work harder and not want to give up.
I also have been very fortunate to grow with Douglas Elliman as it has expanded substantially since I started, which has played a big role in encouraging me year after year. We are one of the largest brokerages in New York City, The Hamptons and Long Island. We have thriving offices throughout the country, and have become a household brand in luxury real estate. The leadership by our CEO, Scott Durkin, who is not only an inspirational leader, but is also a fellow equestrian and friend has been impressive to witness. All of the employees within the Douglas Elliman family make it possible for agents including myself to operate as smoothly as possible each day. I would need an entire separate interview to list them all- all who have devoted their sincere time to the company’s success and for me personally, have been like a second family to me for many years, further adding to my feeling supported.
Are there any markets in particular you specialize in for Manhattan and Brooklyn?
I have represented buyers and sellers in all price points across Manhattan and most of Brooklyn. While I started off selling and leasing first time homes to recent college grads, (and still do) my sales have grown to include several luxury apartments, downtown lofts, townhouses and penthouses from $500,000 to $35m. Regardless of the price point, my work ethic commands 100 percent of my effort for every client I work with.
Currently, I have just listed a new building for sale, a former Firehouse in Morningside Heights/South Harlem in Manhattan for $6.5m that is being offered as an income producing residential multi-unit building or with the right contractor, architect and DOB approvals, it could possibly be converted to a single family mansion with a private garage. This is the first former prewar Firehouse I have ever represented and as with every new listing I take on, I have enjoyed learning about the building’s rich history and I am grateful to be representing this sale.
The most important factor for me when it comes to working with a client is not their search criteria or location of their apartment or townhouse, but teamwork. I have formed wonderful and special friendships with many of my clients and colleagues and I never feel like I am selling anything, but rather helping to guide everyone I work with the best I can to help them make the best decision(s) on selling or leasing out their home and purchasing or leasing their next home or investment property.
The cohesiveness formed when getting to know each of my clients has always brought me much fulfillment and satisfaction. It is always my mission to make the process from locating a property to finalizing the sale or lease for each client as easy and stress free as possible. This has always been my business motto and I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon.
Looking back at everything you’ve accomplished thus far what advice would you give yourself or other women today?
If I had to give myself advice, it would be to remind myself more often on how to be my own cheerleader in all situations. It is easy to get caught up in the demands of daily life and not give yourself credit when credit is due. I always try my best to show up as the best version of myself in all areas of my life, both professionally and personally, and I think it is important that we remind ourselves to be proud of each mini accomplishment achieved along the way to tackling each goal.
Advice I have for other women would be to be a support to others as much as possible. My Mom and Nana (Grandma) always instilled in me that a woman who can support herself can then also be a support to others and it makes me feel good knowing that my clients, family and friends know they can rely on me.
I have also learned it is important to take personal time when needed no matter your career or lifestyle. I think we all need to learn to slow down and be more forgiving towards one another, because everyone is always doing the best they can in a fast paced world.
A favorite quote of mine by Anne Lamott is “Almost everything will work again after you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”
What does success represent to you?
Success to me is waking up each day with a positive outlook to go about your day, forgiving yourself for any mistakes you may have made the day prior and doing the best that you can.
Success to me is also being grateful for all that we have and giving back as much as possible.
What is your long term vision with your brand, and something you would like to see happen in the next few years?
My long term vision is to continue servicing my past, current, and future clients in NYC and also expand to Florida where I will soon be licensed and possibly California. I have witnessed first hand that everything Douglas Elliman touches turns to gold, so it would be amazing if I can personally represent clients in all three of these major US real estate markets and take advantage of the Douglas Elliman offices in each of these states.
What inspires you to think bigger?
I have always been a glass half full person vs a glass half empty person and I always try to find the silver lining in every situation. I find inspiration when I read about other people’s success journeys and enjoy researching how other people and women have accomplished their goals while also achieving a positive work life balance. Without comparing ourselves, I think we can all learn from one another.
When I remind myself to be open-minded, I am able to expand my vision to dream bigger. This has always proven to be a much easier approach for me than trying to follow a script.
How do you define work life balance?
I have given up on having the perfect work life balance because even on my “days off” I find myself frequently checking my e-mails and making sure I am available for my clients. I have instead adopted a no guilt approach where if I have to rearrange my personal plans to accommodate a client, I will. I find this provides me with flexibility to be available for all of my clients while also making plans in my personal life. I also help many international investors and clients who live on the west coast, so trying to coordinate my day according to all of my client’s schedules is a full time job in itself. Instead I just work around my client’s schedules the best that I can.
When I’m not working, I enjoy my downtime and aside from spending time with the people who are most dear to me, I enjoy horseback riding wherever I am (except for Manhattan), yoga, organizational projects, my sweet Yorkiepoo, Maxie, tackling learning a new language and getting away. A few years ago, I also joined the board of the The Changing Leads Foundation, a charity that connects at-risk youth to horseback riding opportunities.
In the winter, when my schedule permits, I take as many trips to Florida to visit my Mom and family who have relocated there over the last several years and go to Wellington to horseback ride and attend the Winter Equestrian Festival and to see many of my friends and clients from NYC who reside in Florida during the winter.
Even though there were many consecutive years where my work schedule did not allow for me to take any trips at all, I think if it is possible, treating ourselves to at least one completely off the radar trip per year (even if it is a local trip) is the best reward we can give ourselves to recharge. Now that we can start traveling freely and safely again, I hope to be able to plan a trip in the near future.
Overall, the perfect work-life balance for me is taking each day as it comes and making the best of everything and everyone I invest my time, devotion and earnest effort into.
Follow @Heaths5 on Instagram.