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The unchanging face of real estate



Diane Ramirez at the $25,000,000 Perry Street penthouse the firm is selling. Information is below. (Marie Claire Andrea)

Diane Ramirez, 62, has been president of Halstead Property since 1999. In her nearly-40 years in the industry, she’s seen ups and downs. The good news: It looks like we may be headed up again. We asked her for some advice on getting into the business now.

What does your job as president entail?
My job is to be the visionary and make sure the company is going in the right direction.

I help agents in pitches when necessary and help in guidance. I still bring business to the table, but not for myself.

How did you get your start in real estate?
I started in Palm Beach. Once my two children went off to school, I had some hours to spare and took all classes. But we moved back to our native New York and I got my license. What I developed in Florida was a real passion for real estate. I’ve been doing it for about 35 years.

What are some of the current challenges?
It’s a challenge keeping the sellers in the right mode for proper pricing. Proper pricing is absolutely the only way you’ll sell.

Buyers also need hand-holding, because confidence is not as strong. You need to keep buyers aware that these are long-term purchase.

But confidence is up a bit. Our fourth quarter of 2009 was a total turn. The prices of apartments are still off from 2-3 year ago highs, but confidence is back a bit.

There’s been some pent-up activity from 7 to 8 months of frozen transactions, from September 2008 to April 2009.

What makes for a successful broker?
You absolutely have to be a people person. You have to be very comfortable making cold calls and networking.

Today you absolutely have to know every bit of technology out there. As a newcomer, that can give you an edge. Viral marketing is the marketing of the future, and it’s about building your network — knowing whom your buyers and sellers will be, not necessarily who’s buying now. It’s about tapping into the people around you.

Also I always say you have to have a little bit of a nest egg, since sales can take at least a year to close. Rentals, on the other hand, give an opportunity to have more transactions and a more steady income.

What would you recommend to someone trying to break into the field?
First of all, do all the research you possibly can — there’s nothing more flattering than someone who knows a lot about your company.

Because you’re starting out, it’s also a chance to interview at as many places as possible, so you can know what the competition is up to.

Would you recommend people join the industry now?
I think it’ is a good time. The hardest time to come into the market is when it’s frenetic. When the pace is more normal, you’re not going to be outpaced by someone with more years than you. And quite honestly, a lot of agents may have left the industry, so there is potential.

Where do you live?
I live in a wonderful pre-war building on the Upper East Side. The scale of the rooms are generous and gracious, and I have two fireplaces.

I’m a certifiable mover — I’ve moved a lot of times. My kids lived in 17 room apartments, 10 room apartments, lofts, brownstones, everything. I’ve probably moved over 30 times in 40-plus years.

The essentials:
To become a licensed real estate broker, you must take a licensing exam. Ramirez recommends having a mentor or working with a firm with training opportunities. “What you learn in the licensing course is Real Estate 101, but you need to learn the practicalities like how do a board statement, how do work with buyers and sellers and a lot more.”

Information for 173 Perry St., Apartment 14:

This spectacular sky penthouse triplex offers breathtaking 360 degree floor to ceiling views from internationally acclaimed architect Richard Meier's minimalist glass tower overlooking the Hudson River, the Hudson Park and New York's dynamic city skyline. The glass curtain walls
provide each of the three full-floors with stunning, panoramic views in a spectacular celebration of light and space. This elegant, sophisticated loft is delivered "Architect Ready" with multiple plumbing stacks to offer considerable flexibility for custom layouts. Elevator
with keyed access opens directly into the space where you can create your own layout with 5,111 Sq Ft indoor space plus 731 Sq Ft of outdoor space with 2 terraces per floor including one 49ft long 309 SF set back terrace. Located in the Historic West Village, the extremely quiet and comfortable atmosphere has individual climate-controlled environment, with triple glazed and UV protected windows. The Condominium is a Full Service doorman / concierge building with private gym.

Rooms: 12.0
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 4.0

For information on 173 Perry St., Apartment 14, contact Suzun Bennet at 212-381-4223, or Rosa Murphy at 212-381-4251,

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