Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon, the stars of HGTV’s “Selling New York,” stand out as leaders in the real estate industry, both in NYC and around the globe. Recently, the dynamic duo sold the a luxury Windsor Park condominium at 100 West 58th St. for the second highest price ever achieved for the property. Examiner had the golden opportunity to interview this heralded “Dream Team” about real estate, NYC hot spots, and more.
Last month you closed on an impressive deal at Windsor Park condominium for the second highest price ever achieved for the property. How did you make this happen?
TOM: Magic, of course! Actually, we do quite a bit of business at the Windsor Park, and we’ve been successful in demonstrating the extraordinary value in this building, which is right in the heart of the newly minted “Billionaires’ Row” adjacent to Central Park South. We’ve made it our personal mission to escalate property values at this particular address. So far, we’re succeeding!
MICKEY: To that end, we’ve broken pricing records here numerous times, and expect that we have a few more left in us. The Windsor Park offers an exceptional pocket of opportunity for those who want a Billionaires’ Row address without the Billionaires’ Row price tag.
I used to work in real estate and am amazed at how you both turned a challenging sales position into a billion dollar enterprise. What are your secrets for selling more than $1.5 billion in residential sales?
MICKEY: Well, you know as well as anyone that ours is not a business for the faint of heart. The industry is constantly evolving, and we have to challenge ourselves to stay ahead of the curve. New York is just one neighborhood in a global community, and any agent who is selling it as anything other will soon be left behind. Our business is based in Manhattan, but we just closed a deal in the Hamptons, another in Miami, another in LA, and are about to list a property in London. We are even marketing a property in Nashville! It’s almost shocking how much crossover there is.
TOM: And, to be able to manage a client’s global portfolio is more important than ever. For those with homes around the world, there is comfort in accountability. Whether one is buying or selling in New York, London, Shanghai, or Beverly Hills, they can expect the same “Tom & Mickey” experience anywhere in the world. We act in the capacity of wealth managers, but there is typically more emotion involved in real estate transactions than there is in stocks and bonds. That is where the service component of our business becomes crucial.
You were both fantastic in HGTV’s “Selling New York.” What was it like to star in your own television show and how did your exposure on HGTV help to fuel your real estate business?
TOM: “Selling New York” has been so much fun to make, and really terrific for our business. Because the show focuses on navigating challenging transactions, while other shows emphasize drama, fans enjoy a sense of transparency about selling real estate in New York. And, as an added bonus, whenever we meet with a new buyer or seller, they feel like they know us already. In fact, we’ve had sellers compile lists of the things they know they’ll have to do before coming to market based on our input to sellers on the show. It makes our job a lot easier.
MICKEY: Going back to our discussion about global real estate, the show has aired in more than 65 countries, and we’re still surprised when we’re recognized by fans abroad. There is a worldwide fascination with New York real estate. We can’t help but wonder what we sound like dubbed in Cantonese.
Douglas Elliman is known for offering some of the most luxurious homes on the market. How do you market these residential properties to help connect people with their dream homes?
TOM: Douglas Elliman’s visibility is a tremendous asset. Marketing is all about drawing qualified buyers to a listed property, and we never truly know who our ultimate buyer will be, so we need to get as many eyes on the listing as possible.
MICKEY: To that end, we strongly believe in the power of a third party endorsement, so our relationships with the media are very important. If we can have a property featured by a major news outlet, it adds credence to our statements about the value and uniqueness of a property. Creating that sense of exclusivity is very important in a highly competitive marketplace such as ours.
How do you make properties sound, look and feel appealing to potential buyers?
MICKEY: When hypnosis fails, we have to get creative! Purchasing real estate is a right brain/left brain transaction if you will. Buyers attach to the fantasy of what their lives will be like if they live in a space, but nobody wants to overpay for the dream. We have to sell both the sizzle and the steak. So, while some brokers rely on trick photography, lists of brand names, and gimmicky language to lure prospective buyers, we craft a story through words and images that speak to buyers’ needs and wants. When the paperwork is ultimately signed, the purchaser takes possession of bricks and mortar, but what they’ve really bought is a lifestyle.
TOM: It’s incredibly important to portray a property accurately. We take great pride when buyers come to view one of our listings and comment that it looks just like the listing photos. It’s hard to win buyers back if their first impression is disappointment. Also, while we’re in the space with a prospective buyer, we “choreograph” our showings. Not Bob Fosse style, unfortunately, but in a manner that conveys a sense of logic and flow. We can’t begin to tell you how many times we have left a showing conducted by a less-experienced broker that left us and our clients utterly perplexed. An apartment shows well when it flows well.
As the ultimate “Dream Team,” you have an A-list group of clients that includes Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, and David Sanborn. What is your secret to landing such impressive clients and keeping them happy?
TOM: Mickey & I both come from show business backgrounds, so we’re both personally and professionally connected to that world. We extend the same level of diligence and discretion with our high-profile clients as we do with those who fly under the radar. While each relationship is different, the result is consistent. We do what we say we’re going to do. Period.
MICKEY: We also pride ourselves on buffering our clients from as much of the behind-the-scenes madness as possible. Even under the best of circumstances, buying and selling real estate can be dizzying, frustrating, confusing, and unnerving. We’ve seen brokers drag their clients into the maelstrom in a misguided attempt to demonstrate their value in the transaction. One of the best compliments we can receive is, “Well, that was easy!” In fact, it never is, but we’ll never let them see us sweat.
Selling New York real estate is a fast-paced business. Share one of your funniest moments showing a home and one of your scariest.
MICKEY: We have enough stories to fill a book, but here’s a quick, funny one. Just last week we were with Lorna Luft for her birthday and she reminded me of a moment that was pure sitcom. A couple of years ago, we had been out looking at properties together, and after several hours of showings and little to eat, we were all a bit exhausted. When we arrived at the last address, the listing broker informed us that the apartment was on the fifth floor and that there was no elevator. So, we can handle a few stairs, right? Oy. We were escorted up five of the longest, narrowest flights of stairs I’ve ever seen. When we finally reached the top, Lorna was the first one through the door and around the corner into the living room. She shrieked! We all rushed through the door to see what had happened. Well, the first thing you see when walking into the living room after the five-flight schlep is a 14-foot tall spiral staircase leading up to the bedroom. We were all a bit punchy, so we couldn’t help collapsing into a heap and laughing our guts out. The listing broker probably thought we were high, but comedy is all about timing, and the timing was perfect. Lorna was the first to point out that the Selling New York cameras could have been rolling at that moment!
TOM: Some moments can be funny and scary simultaneously. We can’t mention the names, but several members of a prominent show business family were touring one of our townhouse listings. During showings, it’s customary to isolate pets for their safety and that of our clients. Well, there were a couple of cats locked in the guest room and unbeknownst to us, one of the clients opened the door and the cats escaped. Also unbeknownst to us, the client’s entire family was deathly afraid of cats. So the clients screamed and ran, which freaked out the cats, which further freaked out the clients. The resulting scene was something out of a Peter Sellers movie. People were running up and down stairs, screaming and flailing to get away from the cats, and the poor cats clearly thought the end of the world was near. I was running around trying to catch the cats, but they were having none of it. The clients ran out the front door, and the cats, desperate to get away, tried to run after them. I beat the cats to the door and locked it. Needless to say, that was a no-sale showing, and the cats probably used up a couple of lives that day.
As two of the top real estate brokers in the country, do you ever get any time to yourselves? What are your favorite places to have fun in New York?
TOM: Our work schedule could easily consume us 24/7, and there are times it does, so we have to work very hard to carve out some personal time for ourselves. Whenever we can sneak a few hours in the evening, we enjoy what we consider old school New York. We’re members of both the Friars Club and the Players, which offer a glimpse back to the glamor of yesteryear. We also nourish our souls with music — our favorite new haunt is Feinstein’s / 54 Below. Sadly, we can count on one hand the number of nightclubs remaining in New York. But, we cherish the ones we have left.
MICKEY: As Noel Coward once said, “Work is more fun than fun.” We’re fortunate to love what we do, and we really do have a great time doing it! That said, I wouldn’t say no to a month on a remote island in the South Pacific though I wouldn’t be surprised if we parked ourselves underneath the only cell tower disguised as a cell tower.
Recently Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon were named among the top 1,000 Real Estate Professionals in the United States by REAL Trends and the Wall Street Journal. The power team, with Douglas Elliman, also hosted a tribute to Frank Sinatra on Dec. 8 at the legendary Edison Ballroom in the heart of Manhattan, with a star-studded list of attendees. Visit Tom and Mickey’s website at Douglas Elliman to find out more about the hottest, most luxurious listings and happenings in NYC.