Lesson Learned: Be Patient And Do Your Homework

Key Takeaways:

– The old way of doing business is over and it’s time to adapt to market challenges and seize new opportunities
– Annie Cion Gruenberger is a highly successful real estate agent in New York City with a strong reputation
– She emphasizes the importance of patience in the real estate industry and shares a personal experience that taught her the value of thorough research
– Gruenberger wanted to be a lawyer when she was younger, and although she ended up in real estate, she still feels that she helps clients by guiding them through important decisions
– Her father, who owned clothing stores, taught her the importance of understanding every aspect of the business and prioritizing relationships, trust, listening, and attention to detail
– Gruenberger believes that agents should focus on the emotional component of real estate transactions and take the time to understand their clients’ needs and preferences
– She shares a memorable transaction where she prevented a client from making a costly mistake and ultimately helped her find the perfect home
– Gruenberger’s advice to other agents is to prioritize the client’s best interests and never sell something they know the client shouldn’t buy.


In this column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

Ranking among Warburg’s top brokers, and currently ranked as the No. 2 producer company-wide, Annie Cion Gruenberger enjoys an exceptional professional reputation in her New York City market. Many of her clients are repeat or referral clients, often spanning several generations.

In addition to her real estate services, she prides herself on providing even more service after the sale as a life resource, providing recommendations for contractors and painters, physicians, tailors and restaurants.

Described by one client as “hard-working, patient and no-nonsense,” Gruenberger splits her time between Manhattan and Boca Raton. Find out where she learned her service-oriented philosophy and the advice she’d offer to other agents.

Name: Annie Cion Gruenberger

Title: Licensed associate real estate broker

Experience: 30 years

Location: New York City

Brokerage: Coldwell Banker Warburg

Sales volume: Over $600 million in career sales 

Awards: Year after year, Annie ranks among Warburg’s — and New York’s — top-producing brokers and currently ranks as the No. 2 top producer company-wide

Q&A with Annie Cion Gruenberger

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?  

Real estate has taught me the power of patience. Many years ago, before I worked in the industry, I had moved out of NYC for a short time, but when I was looking for a place when returning to the city, I was anxious to buy an apartment quickly since I knew it took several months for the entire process. I looked and could not find anything I loved.

My broker at the time took me to see a gorgeous, newly renovated apartment on York Avenue with a terrace with amazing views. I fell for the view, bought it and moved in. However, I had not researched enough to know this was not a well-managed building; the water pressure was awful, the building’s service was not very professional, and it was a terrible location for everyone in my family.

My broker did not guide me, and I had never bought an apartment before. Six months later, I sold it and moved to an apartment on Madison Avenue that had no terrace, but we could all walk everywhere, and the building management was terrific.

I learned the hard way to take my time and to thoroughly research the property myself. While the view is important, location and building management are key.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I really wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger. I wanted to help people by providing the most accurate information and advocating on their behalf — especially for women who, in those days, did not know much about the intricacies of the law.

I wanted to guide people at a time when they were faced with an important decision so they had all the facts to help assess their needs and trust in the process, which can be overwhelming.

However, back then, women of my generation were only encouraged to become teachers or nurses. Now, working in real estate, I feel that I do something very similar: I look for the best plan of action and try to help my customers understand what is entailed in their pursuit of a purchase or sale.

What’s the best advice you ever got from a mentor?

My father was my mentor. He owned a chain of clothing stores, and I started working there at a young age, vacuuming. He felt it was important that I start at the very bottom so I understood every aspect of the business. The same holds true for real estate — there are a million details, and it’s important to understand all of them and how they impact every aspect of the sales journey.

He also always told me that all sales — no matter what business you’re in — are based on relationships, trust, listening and details.

Finally, my father always told me, “Never sell a customer something you know they shouldn’t buy.” The same applies to selling homes. You may want the sale, but if you know the client won’t ultimately be happy with some aspect (the location, a lack of light or windows — all based on understanding what’s important to them), then you are doing them a disservice by not pointing it out. Then, it is their decision.

What do too few agents know that would make their lives easier?

Real estate isn’t just about transactions of buying and selling property. You are helping someone purchase or sell the most important asset they will have. There is often an emotional component to consider, and these transactions take time.

You need to really understand your clients and find out the specifics of what’s important to them so you can help them find the right home for them and provide all the important information about the market so they feel comfortable.

Some clients think they know it all, and some will need a tutorial on the very basics; you need to meet them where they are and understand where they are coming from.

Tell us a story about your most memorable transaction

I had a new client moving into the city from Connecticut. After showing her 14 apartments, she fell in love with a beautiful Fifth Avenue home with views of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We went back several times, and she made an offer.

However, when she mentioned her love of open kitchens, I asked her if she liked to cook, and she replied that she loved to cook and entertain. I realized she had failed to notice that neither the kitchen nor the dining room had windows. When she asked what I thought, I was honest and pointed out that without windows in that area, the entire apartment would smell from her cooking. She thanked me profusely, and we pulled the deal.

A few months later, she came into the city to look at three more places and fell in love with a classic six on Park Avenue in one of my favorite buildings. It was the first day it was on the market, and it was priced accurately. The broker representing the seller was a colleague whom I knew (from another firm), but she was not at the showing because she was out of town at her niece’s graduation.

My client was desperate for this apartment, and I knew it was a good deal, so my client offered to pay full cash and begged me to make it happen. I called my colleague at the graduation and explained the situation. This broker said she wanted to show the apartment to more people since it was only the first day of showings, so I told her I would call the owner directly and say there’s an all-cash deal for the asking price on the table and let’s make this happen. And we did.

In five days, we had the paperwork signed and closed three months later. My client is the happiest lady in the world.

Do you want to be featured on an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here.

Christy Murdock is a freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. Connect with Writing Real Estate on Instagram and subscribe to the weekly roundup, The Ketchup.

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Property Chomp's Take:

In today's ever-changing business landscape, it's important to adapt and find new ways to succeed. This sentiment holds true in the real estate industry, where agents face unique challenges and opportunities every day. At Inman Connect New York, taking place from January 23-25, professionals from across the nation will come together to conquer these challenges and prepare for the future.

Annie Cion Gruenberger, a licensed associate real estate broker and one of Warburg's top brokers, understands the importance of adapting to the market. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Gruenberger has learned many lessons that have shaped her successful career.

One of the biggest lessons Gruenberger has learned is the power of patience. Early in her career, she rushed into buying an apartment without thoroughly researching the property. She quickly realized that the location and building management were not suitable for her and her family. This experience taught her the importance of taking the time to thoroughly research a property and consider all aspects before making a purchase.

Gruenberger's desire to help people and provide accurate information led her to initially aspire to become a lawyer. However, she found a similar sense of fulfillment in her career in real estate. By guiding her clients through the buying and selling process, Gruenberger helps them make informed decisions and find the best plan of action.

One of the best pieces of advice Gruenberger ever received was from her father, who owned a chain of clothing stores. He emphasized the importance of understanding every aspect of the business and building relationships based on trust, listening, and attention to detail. This advice has guided Gruenberger throughout her career and has helped her build a strong reputation as a reliable and trustworthy agent.

Gruenberger believes that too many agents focus solely on the transactional aspect of real estate, without considering the emotional component. Buying or selling a home is a significant event in someone's life, and it's essential to understand their specific needs and provide them with the necessary support and information. By taking the time to understand her clients and meet them where they are, Gruenberger ensures that they feel comfortable and confident throughout the process.

One of Gruenberger's most memorable transactions involved a client who fell in love with a Fifth Avenue home but failed to notice that the kitchen and dining room lacked windows. Gruenberger's honesty and attention to detail led her to point out this flaw, ultimately preventing her client from making a decision that would have been regrettable. Months later, Gruenberger helped her client find another home on Park Avenue that met all her needs and desires.

In the ever-changing world of real estate, it's crucial to adapt, learn from past experiences, and prioritize the needs of clients. Gruenberger's story serves as an inspiration for agents looking to defy the market and bet big on their future. By attending Inman Connect New York, professionals can gain valuable insights, network with industry leaders, and stay ahead of the curve in today's competitive market.

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