NEW YORK—As a child, Emma Hamilton learned a lot about real estate. Growing up in a family of landowners, real estate developers, and preservationists, it was a common topic of conversation at the dinner table.
“I saw firsthand that you could buy something and fix it up and few years later you could sell it and trade up, get something nicer,” Hamilton said.
Today, she is vice president at Corcoran Group Real Estate as well as New York City’s second ever eco-broker. And she is currently sporting a fake tattoo of a whale on her forearm, courtesy of her daughter, Stella, 3, who thinks it’s funny.
Hamilton, her husband, a Swiss product designer, and her daughter are avid foodies. Stella recently ate a spicy octopus cooked by her father, who loves to grill. Hamilton believes that a neighborhood’s dining scene can influence a person when choosing a place to live.
“I think people are drawn to neighborhoods that they enjoy hanging out in,” said Hamilton.
That joy can translate to exploring the neighborhood further, eventually making the case for moving there.
For those who, like Hamilton, like to cook at home and have friends over, the kitchen becomes a key element when choosing a home. According to Hamilton, floor space in a kitchen is not as important as counter space, while a big dinner table is fundamental.
“But most importantly you need good knives,” she added.
From Broker to Eco-Broker
Hamilton never thought of becoming a broker. She got a real estate license thinking the knowledge would be useful sometime later. Two years later, a friend was looking for a place and asked for help. That friend bought, and still owns, a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side. She also became Hamilton’s greatest source of referrals.
Hamilton is also New York City’s second ever eco-broker. The certification provides environmental education on a variety of topics. Applying her knowledge over the years, she developed a network of vendors and resources to help clients mitigate common issues like mold, lead paint, inefficient appliances, heat loss, lack of light, and more.
“I took it on personally more as a way to help my clients live more healthily in their homes,” Hamilton said.
Oh, the Inventory
Like many brokers today, Hamilton is struggling with the lowest number of listings on the market in decades.
“I have great buyers. I have very qualified buyers and I have nothing to sell them,” she said.
Things are particularly tough in the townhouse market in Brooklyn, where a new listing can draw 60 to 70 people on the first day of an open house and many bids shortly after. Hamilton’s client was recently outbid by about $500,000 on a $3 million Brooklyn townhouse.
When she searched 12 Brooklyn neighborhoods for townhouses new to the market for another client, only five properties turned up. Why aren’t people selling?
“Because if you are staying in New York, there’s nothing to trade up to,” Hamilton said.
In this difficult market a broker is essential to give a buyer the best possible chances when making an offer.
“An offer isn’t just a number. There are so many components to an offer,” Hamilton said.
To help her clients be as prepared as possible to make an offer when the right property comes on the market, Hamilton has adopted a project management approach, turning the search for a home into a well-defined plan.
The Project Management Approach
Before seeing any properties, Hamilton sits down with her clients to sort out their financial situation, as well as determine their goals and a timeline. For most people, buying a home is the largest purchase they will make in their life. Hamilton walks her clients through the maze of a New York City real estate deal, from open house to signed contract.
“I’m very much like a ducks-in-a-row girl,” she said.
Having experienced the complexity of New York City real estate before she ever became a broker, Hamilton realizes that to guide a client through this market a broker must also be an educator.
“I’ve had clients that have 10 properties all over the world. But there’s no market and there’s no industry like the New York City real estate market. It’s completely different from anywhere else in the world.”