By Holly Dutton
Bill Cunningham, a veteran of the real estate industry, has big plans for Corcoran, having recently returned to the firm as general sales manager.
Cunningham, who began his career at Corcoran in 2001 as a sales associate, quickly rose through the ranks to become executive managing director of the 660 Madison Avenue office, a title he held for seven years.
After an eight-month stint at Trump, the ebullient manager was offered his current position at Corcoran in January and he accepted.
A native of Jonesboro, Arkansas, Cunningham graduated from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville with a degree in marketing and management, and began working for ExxonMobil in Dallas.
Though he was hired in a management position, the company felt he had potential to work on the engineering side of the company and he began attending night school at nearby Southern Methodist University to obtain an engineering degree.
“At that point, I kind of thought, you know, I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing and I’m young enough to look at other options,” said Cunningham.
He switched gears and started working in marketing for American Airlines (AA), bought a home and two condos in the Dallas area, renovated the condos and eventually sold them.
Six years after moving to Dallas, his job at AA took him to Miami, where he spent the next decade. He continued to buy, renovate and sell real estate on the side.
“While I was in Miami, I bought a home and renovated it, and after it was finished, someone knocked on the door and asked to buy it,” he said. “It wasn’t even for sale. So I said, sure why not.”
After selling the home and making a nice return, a light-bulb went off. “I thought, I’m kind of digging this,” said Cunningham.
With some guidance from a friend in the business, he obtained his real estate license and worked in real estate part-time while still working for AA.
Buying and selling two more homes along the way, he found himself doing very well.
After ten years in Miami, Cunningham transferred to the NYC offices of AA and another friend told him his talents would work well in real estate.
“I wanted to do something with flexible hours since I had this other job, so I became an agent assistant,” said Cunningham, who started his real estate career at Corcoran.
After six successful years as an agent, he was approached to be a manager.
“After much thought, I decided to leave being an agent and be a manager,” said Cunningham. After seven years as manager at that office, he made the jump to Trump International Realty, where he was named president. After a year at Trump, he was offered the position he has now and returned to Corcoran.
“I talked to them for quite some time and it was very intriguing for me,” he said. “It was one of those things where you don’t realize how good you have it until you leave it, and I had it really good here,” he said of Corcoran.
“The culture here is unbeatable; it’s really positive, good work ethic-type professional culture. Not saying anything against Trump, it’s just different. I went from this to a smaller situation with less moving parts. The Trumps were fantastic to me, they couldn’t be nicer.
“And if this opportunity hadn’t been presented to me at Corcoran I’d probably still be there,” he said. “But here I am, happy as can be.”
Reflecting on his days as an agent, Cunningham said the deals he liked best were often the most challenging.
“I was an exclusive agent, meaning I mainly represented sellers,” he said. “I felt the more challenging the sale, the better the success story. Sometimes, the market can work against you, or the seller can work against you, but you have to be forthright and get through everything.”
His advice to young agents? Work your way up.
“A lot of agents go after white glove, doorman buildings on the park,” he said. “But there’s also people that live in walk-ups and non-doorman buildings that sell and rent apartments, too. Target those buildings, market those buildings, make a name for yourself and then move up from there. That’s what I did.”
He also stressed the importance of remembering the basics.
“A lot of it is how you present yourself, how you communicate, how you use manners,” he said.
“Sometimes I think agents forget the basics, the real minor details that a seller or a buyer appreciate that I feel agents don’t take advantage of. That’s one of my big mantras – getting back to the basics.”
In his new role, Cunningham is looking forward to being a support system to the agents in his office.
“I’ll be working with a lot of agents and making sure they’re using their tools as wisely as possible, helping them build their business, get more leads, and make sure they know I’m here to help them up their game,” he said. “I consider each agent an asset, every one of them has strength in one area or another. I like to see a collaborative spirit, I feel like that’s something that could be brought to the front more.”
In his spare time, Cunningham enjoys traveling, and spending weekends at his home in Suffolk County on Long Island.
“I want to remain happy, because I am extremely happy,” he said of his hopes for the future. “I feel like with this brand, and the caliber of agents we have, there’s unlimited possibilities. And I like being a part of that.”