Phil Scheinfeld was the very essence of the chic, dishevelled debonaire stud. Exuding that supreme self confidence only a New Yorker born in New York City could cast so effortlessly. He’s angled laconically, his long frame making the most of a thread-bare armchair at the Soho House members club – on a bustling and festive night. Genuine and effusive, the strapping uber agent out of the elite Compass group, was clearly in great spirits. And who wouldn’t be? After all, he and his team are coming off their best year ever – closing in on sales of more than $100 million and counting. He’s what they call in the barracuda world of high-end real estate — ‘’a rising star’’. ‘’I definitely consider myself one of the Top Ten Broker’s under the age of 30 in Manhattan which is arguably the world’s most competitive market.’’ Well, I did warn you about that self confidence. He’s dressed in black jeans, fancy trainers and one of those vintage looking ‘T’ shirts buffed rock stars tend to wear–and that one could easily surmise– cost upwards to $300 at some high-end fashion emporium. His eyes sparkle and the tattoo ink-stained and pumped biceps bristle as he tucks into a rib-eye steak the size of a MTA subway car in this packed members only club in the Meatpacking district. The arbiter has been intrigued. His name keeps popping up in real estate circles as the hot eligible bachelor broker with his own four person team at Compass. He clearly considers himself the new metric. Developers love the kid, so too, his vastly burgeoning network of buyers – the top shelf celebrities, movie producers and hedge fund types that clog his rolodex. And so we had to meet him to size him up (every pun intended) and to see if he is, in fact, the real deal…
GW- When I reference ‘tentpole’ I assume your role at Compass to be that of a well-regarded producer/star affiliated with a major Hollywood studio. Would you consider that the equal to your having your ‘own team’ (Compass)- as you like to put it? Talk about that and what entails and what it means…leading your own team.
PS- Having my own team is quite the undertaking. It’s not all glamourous like many would describe but it definitely is the ultimate goal. Having a team of agents that work under you that are able to assist you close deals is truly the best. I wouldn’t be able to be as successful as I have without having a team to work with. I don’t actually think of them as they work for me rather they work with me. They help me with my weakness and make my strengths ten times stronger. It requires a lot of work to have a team, being there for them to help them with their deals, their questions no matter the time of day or night. My phone is constantly ringing from 7am until 12am sometimes later and it is my job to be there for them. To keep them hungry and motivated and make sure they are laser focused. That’s when people are most successful.
GW- Would you consider yourself one of Manhattan’s Top Ten real estate agents under the age of 30? And if so? Why so? What makes you special. Why are you that 2020 maverick of the business?
PS- Based on what I have seen, there are only a handful of brokers under the age of 30 performing at the same level that I am at doing residential real estate. There of course agents under 30 on big teams of established agents who are doing very well but if we look at individual agents or agents leading teams on their own under 30 there aren’t many that have outperformed me in the last two years. I don’t think im necesairly special rather I am hardworking and will outwork anyone out there. I will stop at nothing to sell something and I never give up. I use out of the box thinking and rely heavily on social media to market my properties.
GW- And your #1 trick-of-the-trade would be?
PS- My number one trick is Expired listings. Listings that have been on the market with previous brokers that didn’t sell and then I come in and work my magic to get them sold. Iv’e done it many times and usually am successful. Of course, there’s times where a seller is unrealistic or it’s a very challenging apartment but for the most part my speciality is listings that have been on with one maybe even two other brokers and have failed to sell. I come in and usually get my designers in the do a full or semi stage to make it fresh, re shoot photos with Tim Waltman who is my go to photographer and then if it’s a luxury listing over $4,000,000 I typically do a very unique video to help get eyes on it. This has given me tremendous success especially when the brokers on the listings have been more established brokers. My pitch is that I am young and hungry and will do pretty much anything to get it sold. I will also spend my time on it rather then putting a junior agent on it. Sellers hire me and they want me.
GW- And how can you consider yourself a five-star superstar broker when you have no exclusive listings on Billionaire Row?
PS- I am actually not your traditional broker. I market quality products that sells and right now units on Billionaire row are actually not selling. It’s not a type of product I go after. I don’t take every listing that gets thrown my way and I am particular with who I work with. In this market specifically where units that are overpriced just sit and become stale I need to work with sellers who are realistic. For instance, the PH at Park Avenue Place that I am listing in January. I had it listed in 2015 for $7,700,000 and it didn’t sell, we took it off the market and we are going to be listing it for $6,000,000 come January. That’s $2,600 a foot for a PH and I am confident it will trade near that price. I am on the sales team of 570 Broome in SoHo and that is a product that is quality and priced in line with where the market is. We just had our first closings last week and more coming. Sure, if a seller on billionaires row who bought in 2014 wanted to give me a listing I would take it but the price would have to be realistic otherwise I would rather be the second broker on it.
GW – So what would you consider your corridor of expertise with regards to the Manhattan market?
PS – My top neighborhoods are Flatiron where I live now and the Upper East Side where I grew up. I live at the Jade on 19th street where I have sold almost a dozen units in the last two years including both PH for $10,000,000 and several other larger units in the building. I think it’s a great building with amazing amenities and high ceilings which I love. The building was designed by Jade Jagger and the lobby has this amazing mirrored hallway which makes for great photos.
GW – Just don’t rush to take on the Greenwich, Connecticut market which is tanking.
PS – I went to school in Greenwich for two years back in the day and actually really like it there. It is very peaceful and relaxing however the market there is definitely not great. You can’t pay people to buy your house, especially if it’s a large house. Houses that once sold for $8,000,000 are now selling for $4,000,000. It costs more to build the same house then it does to buy it which is a problem. I have a few clients who live in
Greenwich and are looking to sell and move to the city. I think for a family of 3 it doesn’t really make sense to buy in Greenwich until you have that second child. Then you can get more value with a backyard and larger square footage. The issue is, in 5 years what will the house be worth. No one wants to try and time the market so it’s a very scary thing.
GW – One listing you have on the market that you consider that most over-the-top and glamorously fabulous!
PS- 8-AN at 150 Charles is probably my favorite listing I have ever gotten the chance to sell. It’s 3,000 square feet with a 1,200 square foot terrace overlooking the Hudson river and NJ. It was on the market before me with a top broker at Elliman and I am taking it over and doing a total overhaul of the listing to make it pop. I had IMG (Interior Markets Group come in a do a full stage of the unit as well as painting the entire apartment to make it look brand new. We are going to drop the price a tad to make it look more fresh and then re shoot photos and do a blockbuster style video. People hire me for my out of the box thinking and my marketing skills.
GW- Are you looking to explore that ”Bravolebrity” world? Is this what all this is about or to get some show on HGTV . You seem born for a role on that famous Bravo show/ What do you think of all that?…
PS- All my friends and family have told me that I should try and get on one of those shows. For me I am not sure if that’s something that I would want to do but I would definitely consider it if I were approached. I love having fun doing what I do and think people would find me interesting. I have thought about doing my own Vlog and I would say in the next 18 months that is something I would like to explore and do. I know the MDLNY brokers and over the summer co-listed something with Ryan Serhant who I look to as a top broker in the city.
GW- The four rules you tell your team about growing brand and most importantly your network…
PS – I tell everyone on my team that they should be meeting at least 5 new people each week. That’s the most important thing they should do. Second to that would be they need to know the market better than anyone else. That means previewing new listings that come to market, reading The Real Deal and Curbed everyday staying up to date on trends and the last rule is that other brokers in the business are colleagues that they should work with and learn from. Whether its running into a broker in our office or at a showing always ask them how they are experiencing the market and what their clients are saying. Getting the information from the source is very important.
GW- How do you go about first sizing up a client? And then fine-tuning your pitch after you’ve met them?
PS- Every client is different and everyone wants a different pitch whether for sellers or buyers. Some sellers want an aggressive broker who is going to send them updates every day, week and other sellers just want you to sell it and don’t really need constant updates. For buyers, especially first time buyers they typically want their hand held from start to finish. They want to know the whole process and be kept in the loop every step of the way. You need to know your audience and be able to adapt to that person.
GW- Is the real estate bubble about to go bust in New York City? Not that you would want to tell me if it was.
PS- I don’t think the market is going to bust, rather I think we are in a correction period. Inventory is at an all time high and sellers need to come to reality with where things are trading. Sellers still think their apartment is worth X but buyers are valuing it at Y and in order to get deals done both buyers and sellers need to be educated on the market. Having a smart broker on both sides is key to getting deals done. I think over the next 18 months we will start to see more deals happen but it also depends on the quality of product that is being built. Buyers are super savvy and won’t overpay for crappy product. If they are paying $3,000 plus a foot they want it to be perfect and move in ready.
GW- Talk about this 570 Broome Street jewel where you have the exclusive?
PS- 570 Broome is a collection of 54 units in Hudson Square. I was added on to the sales team in July and since then we have put 6 units into contract. Closings began last week and we finally have a beautiful model unit. Prices start at $1,515,000 for a one bed, $2,650,000 for a two bed and three bedrooms at $2,995,000. We have one PH left priced at $5,995,000 with the most amazing views downtown ever. I’m really proud of the product that I am selling and think it is some of the best new dev downtown.
GW- Do you have a lot of affluent tech set types as clients. You know – the rich hoodie contingent….
PS- My buyers range from wealthy New Yorkers to Celebrities and hedge funders. I am very picky with who I choose to work with. Working with me is like dating it has to be a match. When I am working with clients, I like to feel that I am working with friends. It is much more rewarding to find a friend their new apartment then just making it a business transaction. Of course there are people I work with where it is strictly business and once the transaction is over there isn’t much continued talk until they want to sell but I always try and keep the relationship.
GW- What’s the advantage you think your bring to the table that your peers can’t match?
PS- Growing up in NYC in a co-op on the upper east side gives me an edge against most brokers who don’t have that knowledge. I have lived all over the city and know the inside scoop on many buildings that not everyone knows. I also spend a lot of my time previewing the best new developments and stay up to date on market trends.
GW – Are you being presumptuous calling yourself ”a real estate mogul?”
PS- I wouldn’t say I am a real estate mogul per say but I would say that I am on my way to being one of the best brokers in NYC. At 29 years old I feel I am in a top ten of brokers under 30. I have sold in some of the best buildings in NYC and have represented some of the best new projects in Manhattan such as 570 Broome. I have sold at the famous Greenwich Lane as well as buildings such as 10 Sullivan and111 Murray.
GW- Are you the sort of dude who would have a pet vegan cat?
PS- I am not really a cat lover, but I do love dogs. I grew up with dogs my whole life and had a dog for a long time but with my job schedule it became too much to manage so I gave him to a close family friend who takes great care of him.
GW- The most common mistake buyers tend to make is ….
PS- Buyers think if they buy directly without a buyers broker that they will get a better deal but in fact when you go to a seller broker without being represented that broker has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller. It is always wise to work with a broker who has knowledge in the market and has relationships with top brokers in the city.
GW- How has the onslaught of social media game-changed the real estate profession?
PS- Social media has changed the game and as time goes on it will continue to change things. Last year I sold 4 apartments off of Instagram and the more I build my social media presence the more people are reaching out to me. Being able to use social media to market properties in a creative way that will separate you from everyone else’s listings is paramount to being successful in this market. If you are not passing someone you are being passed.
GW- There are more than 30,000 professional agents in Manhattan and you are telling me that you are on the city’s Top 20 brokers under the age of thirty? Support those facts..
PS- In the last two years I have sold nearly $100,000,000 worth of real estate and currently have $65,000,000 in listings including 570 Broome where I am the exclusive broker. There are many brokers under the age of 30 but none that I know that have their own team with the listings and sales volume that I have done. I built a business using my connections and market knowledge.
GW- What is your motto?
PS- Persistence always beats resistance which is also the first tattoo I ever got.
GW- And tell me your seven keys to business success again….You like to say ‘Hustle’, ‘Market Knowledge’ and ‘Honesty’ are three key for you but what are the others?
PS- Hustle, Market Knowledge, honesty, integrity, Empathy, Follow up, and Hustle. Yes I know I said hustle twice but it is very important to hustle and work harder than the other guys. There are 30,000 brokers in nyc, if you’re not passing someone you’re getting passed. I said that before and I will say it again. “IF you’re not passing someone youre being passed.” You must always be working, learning about the market, new listings that come to the market and new projects. You must also study your competition, because time and time again you will learn from them more than you think. Brokers that have been in the business for 20 years even 15 years you will learn so much from them.
GW- What is your favorite NYC restaurant?
PS- My favorite NYC restaurant is Sette Mezzo on 71st and Lex. I have been going there my entire life and use to live around the corner. Every year for my sobriety anniversary I go there with a select group of my friends and it is always a great time.
GW- And the ‘Starchitect’ you most admire?
PS- I really admire Eran Chen of ODA. His work is pretty amazing and he was one of the first architects I was exposed to when I got in the business nearly 6 years ago. I am selling a three bedroom at 15 Renwick which he designed.
GW- And how important is ‘staging’ when trying to close a deal. And which staging team do you most often collaborate with?
PS- Staging is probably the most important thing when selling an apartment only next to the photography. Buyers these days are seeing dozens of properties online before they actually go and see something in person. Empty apartments always get skipped and if the layouts are mediocre and need furniture to showcase the space and give buyers an idea of what they can do with it. I work with many stagers but my favorites are Domaine NY ran by Dan Ennis or Kick It ran by Alex Yaraghi who’s family operates and owns Safavieh.
GW- Are you looking to set a new record listing for your brand come 2020?
PS- My new listing at 150 Charles 8-AN which I am listing in 2020 for $12,950,000 with Ian Slater will surely be one of my favorite listings to have and I look forward to selling it. We are currently staging it and creating brand new marketing as it was previously on the market with a top broker at Douglas Elliman before we took it over.
GEORGE WAYNE MANUSCRIPT
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – 2019