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Selling New York: May I Pretty Please Be Your Broker?

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HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner. Episode air date: 7/28/2011.

Customer service. Communication. Fear. These were all hallmarks of my high school summer job working the drive-thru at Arby's (the headset and contents of the cheese dip endlessly confused me) and also of last night's Selling New York! Brokers rustled up the hustle all over town as they tried to please potential clients and anxiously assuage annoyed tempers. First, a broker busts out all her tricks when wooing the owner of a notorious Chelsea townhouse into her agency arms. Then, SNY's most intense broker ever has an emotional multiple heart attack when the developers of his Upper East Side exclusive listing pump up the pressure to sell, sell, sell!

Come join me with wine and cheese fries (never get this at you know where) as we journey into the eye of the stress-storm in what I call Hurricane Recap!
CRISIS #1: BROKER MUST SOFTEN TOUGH CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE SELLER ENOUGH TO LAND A LISTING

CORE agent Maggie Kent is amped to meet seller Evelyn Van-Zeller in her infamous Chelsea townhouse at 232 West 15th Street, an address we're quite familiar with around here. Evy's been around the broker block trying to sell the 5,000-square-foot home she inherited from her brother in '95, but no sale. Now Evy's on the hunt for a new broker who won't leave her disappointed like others in the past. And one who can see just how special she thinks the $10.99 million mansion is.

Take a trip into this triplex that features two rental units on the top and the rarest of the rare?an indoor pool that's a (now) illegal 8 feet deep!

The pool comes with its very own pool knight boy:

Evy and Mags sit down for a heart-2-heart where Evy reveals other brokers were "not imaginative" with showing the house, because it's not just a house?it's "a lifestyle." One I imagine that involves insane indoor pool parties, growing giant marijuana plants in the solarium and a time machine to 1987. Sign me up!

Mags launches into marketing mode, telling Evy about all the attention CORE's gonna pour into the listing if she gives it to her. Evy's interested, but she's not hopped up on the hype just yet. Mags knows she's gotta prove to Evy that CORE believes in their buildings, so she brings her to an open house on the Upper West Side where...

Evy's totes not into it. There's a historian giving a lecture on the neighborhood which is not what rock n' roll Evy's about. Mags, sensing Evy is a flight risk, ushers her to meet CORE marketing maven Kristina Helb who, OOPS, starts talking marketing strategy to Evy like they already have the listing. Mags' plan has officially backfired when Evy dresses her down after they leave the open house, exclaiming, "it has nothing to do with my property. What were they thinking?"

Evy falls into the Janice the Muppet/Donatella Versace aesthetic, amiright?

Grasping onto whatever shred of hope there is left for business with Evy, Mags begs "Don't give up on us yet!" But the stakes have been upped, and Mags has a daring new plan...

...bringing a buyer to see the townhouse even though Mags has no signed exclusive! Here's Karim Chbib checking out the pad with Evy's watchful eye on Mag's performance:

Karim is "very impressed" with the pad. And Evy seems like she's warming up to CORE. But will she make it official?

Only if her dog gets to sign the contract:

After the paw print dries, Mags wins Evy's exclusive listing and gives her more good news?she's got an interview set up with the New York Times! According to the update, Evy's house was featured in three major NYC papers but no lifestyle-takers yet.

CRISIS #2: ALREADY INTENSE BROKER GETS MORE INTENSE WITH DEVELOPER'S DEMANDS

It's been awhile since we've seen Warburg broker Richard "I am always alarmed" Steinberg!

Welcome back to the show, R-berg. We dive into Richard's World as he's meeting with Greystone Property Developer bigwigs Jeff Simpson and Doug Benach. Richard has the broker exclusive at their luxe seven unit building at 180 East 93rd Street. and has sold four of the units quickly (without price chopping!). But Jeff and Doug are itching to unload the other three units and need Richard to come up with a unique plan to get some buyers yesterday.

His ideas for an ad, a party, or doing another model penthouse apartment are quickly nixed. The developers want to "target brokers who deal in the $6 million range" without spending a bunch o' bills. Richard comes up with an idea to have an elite open house with super high-end brokers who have visited the building before?aka call in all his favors to save his tuchus. The developers OK the idea while Richard ratchets up his anxiety fourteen levels about doing a stellar job to keep in Greystone's good graces.

Next, Richard kicks off a three-stop I Demand You To Help Me Out, Pleeeeeease? Tour with a call to Warburg colleague Bonnie Chajet, a broker with some kaching cachet. He promised the Greystoners that she'd be at his event?which he's decided is an open house/book signing party with 180's interior designer, Richard Mishaan. Bon hedges with saying she'll come, claiming she has crap to do which makes Richard all "hells no, you gots to do me a fave!" (liberal quote).

Then, Richard swings into the office of Andrew Murstein, the President of Medallion Financial. He's a well-connected guy and R-berg wants him to help out with his clout, saying "In NYC, it's not what you know, it's who you know." Time to Facebook friend Andrew!

The final stop on Richard's Rampage is the guest of supposed honor himself, Other Richard (Mishaan) who is, at best, reluctant about attending the book signing.

It looks like they've rehearsed this fight a couple times:

What business person would refuse a televised book signing and opportunity to be celebrated by rich people? Anyunbelievableways, the open house begins, the selected brokers arrive, and naturally, Other Richard is nowhere to be found!

A lookie into the $5.95 million 4 bed/4 bath penthouse that must be sold or else:

R-berg checks his Bergberry and Murstein checks his watch to emphasize STILL NO OTHER RICHARD:

In one whoosh of the door, Other Richard and Bon arrive, making R-berg's stress turn into smiles. Mishaan takes the brokers through the penthouse, sharing his design-o-vision:

Extremely pleased with the party, R-berg gushes "I'm Richard Steinberg! I did my thing!" And then he gets handed some very cautious optimism from the Greystoners when he meets up with them at the Court Club. Even when R-berg says he has a potential offer from one of the broker's clients, Jeff chimes in with "the party doesn't mean anything without results." Doug says that you have to have an understanding with brokers, namely that "there's pressure, and they've gotta perform." Validation for R-berg's insanity!

P.S. Can someone tell me where Jeff's shoulders are in this suit?

Did the mystery offer come through? Nope! It fell through, and then they had to pricechop the penthouse which, yay, got an offer. But looks like that fell through too!

Episode grade: High-pressure efforts + no profit makes this bottom-line worth 2 out of 5 cackling Kleiers!

· Selling New York [HGTV]
· Selling New York coverage [Curbed]

232 West 15th Street

232 West 15th Street, New York, NY