By Karen Maserjian Shan
It’s almost as if Michael Loftus’ 35 years in finance opened the way for a new career in real estate.
“I’ve always been fascinated by New York real estate,” said Loftus, a licensed real estate salesperson with William Raveis New York City.
Yet, until recently, Loftus worked in institutional sales and equity trading, a career that lost its luster with the advent of electronic trading and its impersonal manner.
“I had spent decades developing intimate relationships with my clients,” explained Loftus. “However, the advancement of technology meant I wasn’t able to engage with my clients the way that I once could; employers simply weren’t valuing those relationships as important. That just wasn’t in line with my approach.”
Still, it wasn’t until he ran into a friend who mentioned how Loftus’ networking and people skills were a great fit for selling real estate that Loftus considered a career switch.
He contacted his longtime friend, Paul Purcell, managing director of William Raveis in New York City, who told him the company was about to open a Manhattan office, the 100th location for the real estate titan, which is the number one family-owned residential real estate firm in the Northeast, and that they’d love to have him on board.
Loftus moved forward, earning his real estate license before joining the firm’s team at 126 East 56th Street.
He’d handled hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions over the years. He’d gained the trust of clients through discretion and his ability to advise with their best interests at heart. In fact, he was expert at essential talents used in the real estate business, making this a natural transition. Loftus also realized that while a home is likely the largest asset a person or couple invests in, the process of finding an effective real estate agent to handle its purchase or sale is largely random.
In New York City that’s even more of a concern, since costs for homes are high. Very — as is the demand.
“Every Sunday, the New York Times comes out and the first section most people open is real estate,” said Loftus. “They can’t help themselves. If they’re not talking about real estate, real estate is on the minds of every New Yorker.”
Nor is New York City’s real estate market likely to change much anytime soon.
With the Big Apple’s high demand and extreme lack of inventory sure to continue, available residences undoubtedly will command top prices well into the future.
Plus, with attractive, properly-priced homes getting immediate offers, there’s no time to wait 60 to 90 days for financing, making all-cash deals, or the need for creative financing expertise that much more sought after.
That means working with a top-notch real estate agent that’s well versed in suitable properties — and high-level financing — is critical. Lucky for those that want to buy or sell a home, Loftus has both areas covered.
“I spend a lot of time walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn, looking at buildings,” he explained. “So I have a working knowledge of what the inventory is, what type of building it’s in, and what would be an acceptable residence for one of my clients.”
He’s also invested considerable time rebranding himself, in part, by talking with his old contacts about serving them as their real estate agent, and he’s tapping his connections with brokerage houses that have entered the mortgage business, like Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to secure necessary home financing options for his clients.
Loftus is also able to leverage William Raveis’ capacity to underwrite its own loans through its mortgage arm.
“I wanted to take as much emotion out of this whole process as possible and bring a level-headed, finance savvy approach to real estate here in Manhattan,” Loftus said.
Loftus, who’s lived in Manhattan’s Upper East Side since the 1980s, likes that William Raveis is a family-owned business that’s led by Bill Raveis himself, and his two sons, with plans for ownership to pass eventually to the next generation. In all, the firm boasts an impressive 3,500 agents and 110 offices.
“I’ve had numerous meetings and conversations with Bill Raveis,” said Loftus of the brokerage’s hands-on approach. “I think there’s a lot to be said for working for a family-owned, private company, rather than a publicly owned firm.
“Bill, as well as Paul Purcell and Kathy Braddock, who head the New York City office along with him, believe in treating their brokers as customers and as part of the family. That starts with a true open door policy and with equipping their agents with the support and resources they need to succeed.”
Beyond that, Loftus likes the people aspect of working in real estate and that he’s an independent contractor, two factors that make a strong case for his long future in the business.
“I think it’s much more satisfying because I’m working for myself,” he noted. “It’s a long sales cycle, but I can see the results happening.
“Best of all, I’m able to get back to doing what I love: using my knowledge to build relationships and help others with their most important investments.”