NEW YORK—Does the broker team equal more than the sum of its parts? Broker team leaders Elaine Clayman and Jessica Cohen seem to think so. Clayman and Cohen are among a growing number of brokers who have gathered a team of specialists to increase their capacity for real estate turnover. Each team member brings their unique skills to the table, allowing the top negotiators to focus on what they are good at—securing the deal.
Clayman and her team, The Elaine Clayman Group, work for Brown Harris Stevens and turn over around 100 properties a year, essentially one every three days.
“I like the volume. I like to sell a lot of properties. I'm not a broker who can just sell one or three properties a year—I need the action,” Clayman said. There is no shortage of action for her as she points to the list of 30 current exclusives taped on her wall, along with five files in negotiation on her desk.
“We're trying to get the highest price, in the shortest amount of time, with the least inconvenience,” she said. Clayman spends three to four hours every morning cultivating her database. “Whatever it is, I want them to come to me first.”
She ran an art gallery and worked as a school teacher before entering real estate—joining Brown Harris Stevens 10 years ago. Now there are 13 people on her team, one of which is her daughter, Justine.
The team is getting along pretty well, she says. “There's no tension. I have to like coming to work every day. If I get a broker or a staff person who doesn't have the team spirit, and if I start wanting to not come in, then I know I have a problem and I have to look for somebody else.”
Clayman doesn't work with buyers at all, but her sales people must know every apartment on the market, so she can get a good match, she said.
Enter Cohen, a 31-year-old, self-described “anomaly” in the industry. With seven years of brokering under her belt, she now has a team of six to push through around 50 properties a year. The Jessica Cohen Group works out of Prudential Douglas Elliman.
The team brings a different perspective skill-wise and demographic-wise, Cohen said. She is “the dreamer” and she has “Park Avenue Nan,” “the realist,” “the quintessential New Yorker,” and “the encyclopedia” to round things out.
“I am looking to elicit the talent in my people. They have a skill set that I admire and I want them to add that skill set to my company. There's a mutual respect among all of us.”
Cohen bought her first apartment when she was 20, a pre-med student. Selling it a few years after renovating was the hook that drew her in.
“This kind of became an obsession,” she said. Most of the business comes through Cohen through word-of-mouth referrals, and she works with both buyers and sellers.
“I love feeling needed. The most fun is calling someone and giving them great news—to be the hero,” Cohen said.
Leading a brokering team requires top sales and management skills—not always an easy combination to find.