Real Estate Agent Magazine sat down with Vickey Barron, a successful real estate broker, in Manhattan to share her inspiring journey from a healthcare background to the world of real estate in New York City.
REAM: What motivated you to make the transition from healthcare to a career in real estate, particularly in New York City?
VB: I’ve always had a passion for real estate. I purchased my first home at age 20 and several after that as a speculator, not a professional. When I relocated to NYC at age 41, it was a new chapter in my life. Eager to understand the lay of the land in my new city, coupled with my passion for real estate, it made complete sense to go from speculator to processional. Once that door opened, I never looked back.
REAM: Being featured on HGTV’s Selling New York is quite an accomplishment. Could you share some of the memorable experiences or challenges you faced while participating in the show?
VB: I have fond memories of working with the team at HGTV. One of the challenges was keeping the complexity of New York City real estate authentic, fun, and real. It was very important for me that this not be a reality TV show but an opportunity to allow the viewer to have a front-row seat into my day-to-day reality.
One of the most memorable experiences, as funny as it is, was rushing to get on set and showing up with two different shoes on. Not having the luxury to run home and change, the cameraman insisted on shooting from the knees up. I personally feel they missed an opportunity because most women would have related to that moment.
REAM: Can you provide some insights into the key principles or lessons your book “Every Move Matters: Unlocking Value in Life & Real Estate” conveys to readers?
VB: Where you start does not dictate where you finish. It highlights the importance of asking questions, as it’s important to understand others before being understood. I also touch on something I call “the now what” when things don’t go your way, and you must choose your next move. Those choices and actions have a ripple effect.
REAM: Could you share some examples of creative or unconventional methods you’ve employed to market properties or close deals successfully in Manhattan?
VB: I was once selling a penthouse that at the time had the “largest living room in NYC.” (It was 95′ x 23′) I threw a party to showcase that the space was large enough to even host ballroom dancing! I flew in professional dancers, they had custom costumes made for the event and we had almost 100 people attend. It was quite the evening!
I wrote a book detailing 12 tips when searching online for love or real estate. I then sent that book and invited all of my single clients over the years for a party right before Valentine’s Day. Coverage of the event got picked up, even out of state, and I had people reaching out on how they could get invited to the next event. By popular demand, the book is being reprinted and will soon be available on Amazon.
I also love to send unexpected gifts to my customers. We love to support small businesses and have sent peanut butter in custom boxes with the message, “The market is nuts. Spread the love.” It’s been such a hit that people have emailed asking how do they get more.
Another example was a custom back-to-school candy bar with a bus and pencils on the wrapper. The message here is to be thoughtful and not sale-y. There is never a call to action in any of my pieces, it is purely a thoughtful gift.
REAM: Manhattan’s real estate market is known for its dynamism and trends. How do you stay updated on market changes, and how does this knowledge benefit your clients?
VB: It is important to be laser-focused on your region, but you must be very aware of what is happening globally. Me and my team have my go-to publications that keep me abreast of what is happening – Wall Street Journal, The Real Deal, New York Times, and Leonard Steinberg’s Daily Update, to name a few. Compass also does a great job providing their agents with up-to-date market insights, which helps to better serve our clients.
If you are going to be a real advisor, you must read and have the knowledge to share with your clients so you can professionally guide them. This is not limited to interest rates and finances, I have clients calling to ask me if they should buy an L-shaped sofa or a straight sofa, a marble backsplash or a tile backsplash, the list goes on. When you build the trust and have the knowledge, it goes a long way.
REAM: What are some key attributes or qualities you believe a successful real estate agent should possess?
VB: Problem-solving, negotiation skills, empathy, and the ability to understand other people’s needs. Also, tenacity and a drive to help others. As mentioned previously, I think asking the right questions to gain knowledge is also very important.
REAM: Can you provide some examples of challenging real estate transactions you’ve navigated and how your commitment to service played a role in resolving them satisfactorily for your clients?
VB: A 94-year-old client wanted to sell her townhouse to help her three children financially. She lived in the garden-level apartment and had three tenants above. While I was successful in achieving an ideal cash buyer at an attractive price, once we went to contract, I felt the heavy heart of my seller concerned about leaving her long-time home. I recognized her sadness and shared this with the remarkably empathetic buyer who, to my surprise, wanted to help this seller and was willing to offer her a life estate. It gets better! I received a call from my seller’s attorney sharing that the home was owned as a corporation within a trust, and they needed to push the closing date back or it would be a tax burden on my client. I called the buyer once again and explained the new situation. I asked her if there was any way you can help us by closing later and she said, if it would help my client, she would be happy to push back the closing. On the call, I mentioned that I noticed that my 94-year-old client felt sad about losing her role as a landlord as I believed it brought her joy and purpose. To my surprise, the buyer expressed she did not wish to be a landlord, and she’d be happy with the seller continuing her role managing the tenants and in return, she could even keep the rent roll! You cannot make this up, it was a perfect situation. My seller got to live there and collect the rent and sadly as I write this, she just passed away at age 100. I am not sure if I was happier for my client and her children or the buyer, who showed me people have large hearts and can truly care for others. I am so grateful that I got to be part of this transaction and witness such an act of kindness.
REAM: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a real estate agent, and what keeps you motivated and engaged in your work?
VB: Looking for the perfect apartment in my is like finding Waldo. Once you understand the client’s needs and how to identify what they want it becomes a bit of a treasure hunt and for me the game is addictive. When I’m representing a seller, identifying the ready, willing, and able buyer is equally rewarding.
REAM: How are you involved in the local community?
VB: I have volunteered for the past 20 years with REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York). I have served on the Education Committee, as well as the Ethics Committee, with the goal of helping other agents better serve their clients. I also like supporting Pathways to Independence which helps women find their place in life.
REAM: What is something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
VB: I played the accordion as a child. Also, I don’t think anyone would describe me as shy. I’m known for being personable and friendly, but the inner me is truly an introvert, and I need to have alone time to recharge.
REAM: Tell us a bit about yourself outside the office.
VB: I love to cook, I love to play pranks, and I love all things creative – sewing, making art, etc.
REAM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
VB: Don’t take yourself too seriously and remember that if you plant tomatoes you can’t expect potatoes.