Talk with almost any successful real estate professional, and they will openly admit to you that the first year or two in the sector can be an arduous grind.
Even at a market’s height, the beginning of a professional journey in real estate is paved with long hours, modest compensation, and other hardships that truly test the mettle of those that eventually persevere until they hit their stride.
For Joshua Arcus, the trials and tribulations that typically impact newcomers were amplified by the sliding health of New York’s real estate realm in 2008, his rookie year as a broker.
Now president of The Siderow Organization’s Residential & Commercial Divisions, Arcus was one of the company’s first brokers.
After beginning his career as an assistant with Douglas Elliman, he had joined the fledgling operation with hopes of hitting the ground running as a newly licensed broker. Events in the outside world made that goal all but impossible.
“I remember sitting at my desk in my first office in November, 2008,” Arcus told Real Estate Weekly. “I was staring at my screen with nothing to do, business was slow,” he continued.
“Why didn’t I completely freak out at that point? I didn’t really have another option. I needed to make this work.”
Arcus had already hit the reset button on his professional path once.
During his college years he was aiming for a career in law, but a late change of heart lead him to consider other options.
He admitted that he could have changed fields once more and perhaps moved back home until he could navigate a new course, but he simply did not see that as an option.
“I waited tables in college. I knew that I could make a couple hundred dollars per week if I wanted to be waiting tables (on the side). I didn’t want to do that,” said Arcus, pointing to the amount of time that would take away from building his future in real estate.
“As far as I was concerned, I was already ahead,” he continued. “I had my own business, I was happy with what I was doing.”
In fact, the lean times of the downturn played a role in preparing him for the plentiful harvest of the upswing.
“If you have a backup plan you’re always going to feel like you have a safety net, and sometimes you need to be operating without that safety net,” said Arcus.
“In sales, especially in the beginning, you need to know what it is to be hungry in order to fight for a deal and to fight to make money,” he continued.
“You need to be able to say to yourself ‘I’m going to be able to support myself by selling real estate’.”
Now Arcus is more than just supporting himself. After clearing the hurdle of late 2008 and 2009 — a time when he “wasn’t eating Ramen Noodles, but needed to survive” — his rise went hand and hand with Siderow’s upward trajectory.
Originally brought in to help develop the residential side of the company, Arcus has recently turned more attention to helping expand the commercial side of the operation.
“On a day-to-day basis I deal with more residential clients, brokers and agents, but the commercial side of our business is something we’re trying to grow beyond where we are at this point,” he explained.
The reason for the push is that while Siderow’s current bread and butter is residential leasing and sales, the overall road to success involves a more robust commercial docket.
“There’s no question that residential consumes a majority of our time,” said Arcus,
“I’d also argue that some of the bigger clients that are more long-term, I would say that they fall under commercial real estate.”
While being intimately involved with both sides of New York’s real estate market is certainly no easy task, Arcus is grateful that Siderow provides him the opportunity to dive into multiple sides of the pool and said that it gives the company a “huge advantange” when it comes to growing the client base.
While they operate throughout the majority of Manhattan, one section Siderow will likely be bringing more of the “huge advantage” to in the future is the Upper East Side.
“Right now, I’d say a lot of stuff that we’re looking at is in the Upper East Side. There just seems to be a lot of opportunity there.”
If anyone would know, it’s Arcus.
He moved to the Upper East Side in 2008, a time when it was still considered one of the more affordable neighborhoods for young people in Manhattan. He’s since seen the flock of many other young professionals help drive the prices northward.
With its value on the rise, Arcus sees it as a hotspot for both the commercial and residential interests of Siderow.
“Where there’s residential development there’s going to be commercial development also,” said Arcus. “I think there’s a demand for new retail there.”
Arcus is also big on the Bronx and pointed to rising prices in popular Manhattan neighborhoods and the placement of the borough on major subway lines as driving forces in its pending uptick.
“In 15 years, we may talk about the Bronx the way we used to talk about Williamsburg,” said Arcus before pointing to the area’s lack of flood damage during Superstorm Sandy as another selling point when compared to the pricier areas of lower Manhattan.
Wherever Siderow focuses as the firm contiues to grow, Arcus plans to grow with the company founded by Brad Siderow in 2008.
Since being promoted to an executive role in 2011, Arcus has gained an invaluable perspective on both sides of the industry and believes that Siderow, the company that believed in him as a rookie, is a key piece of his future.
“What I’ve learned from working in New York — in this business where all sorts of horror stories can happen — is that it’s hard to find a good partner,” said Arcus. “Brad [Siderow] and I really work well together.”