Here now, man-on-the-ground Ian Volner reports from one of the most secretive annual events in New York City real estate: an insidery peer-to-peer awards ceremony honoring the best brokers in town.
The Real Estate Board of New York’s annual Residential Deal of the Year Awards is a thing of mystery. Who are the judges? They’re not allowed to tell you. Which agents submitted deals for consideration this year? Not gonna say. What specific deals, for what specific properties, have won in the past? None of your beeswax. The good folks at REBNY were still keeping their cards close to their chests Tuesday evening—along with their canapés—at the annual gala awards evening at Chelsea Piers.
“Basically, brokers have this nightmarish experience, and they have to write it down,” explained Sotheby’s Mara Flash Blum. She and colleague Meg Siegel had just been squeezed through a throng of nattily attired brokers, bankers, and legal types pouring into the Pier 60 ballroom for the awards announcement. A panel of anonymous judges selects winners in a variety of categories from among the submitted real estate horror stories; the exact identity of the deals is kept secret to protect the identities of the clients involved. Curbed insinuated itself into the crowd, trying to get a peek beneath the veil.
Curbed: What does it take, exactly, to win a Deal of the Year Award?
Barbara Fox, Fox Residential Group and Chairman of the Gala Committee: Hey, my assistant reads Curbed every morning! The criteria have definitely been changing over the years. And I’ve been coming here for 23 fricking years.
Curbed: You’re on the finance side. Does it make a difference, working with someone who’s won the prize? Like, you feel more confident a deal is going to get made?
Financier Who Wished to Remain Anonymous: Definitely. Just like brokers, we don’t get paid unless the deal goes through. This award is for people who’ve succeeded in doing deals in very difficult circumstances.
Curbed: Wow. Nominee for Rookie Salesperson of the Year Award! You’re only 22, and you’ve been doing this for less than two years—in other words, you were in this industry before you could actually drink.
Sarah Williams, Halstead Property LLC: I don’t drink. But I had one tonight because I’m so nervous. REBNY brings you in and asks you a bunch of questions. You just have to tell the truth? Yeah, real estate agents do have an ability to expand the truth.
Curbed: And who do you think is gonna win?
Elegant Attendee: Couldn’t tell you. I’m with The New York Times.