By Sarah Trefethen
Barry Brandt started in real estate before he graduated high school.
He grew up on the Upper East Side and his mother, Sheryl Brant, was a broker with a number of firms in the city. In the summer, Brant helped show apartments and did internships with real estate firms.
The new head of Argo Residential’s brokerage division immediately fell in love with the business and its personalities.
“It was very different from any other job that I could have taken on as a teen,” he said.
When it came time for college, he didn’t stray far from home, or from the industry, choosing to major in urban planning at Columbia University. He already knew real estate was in his future.
“I wanted to get a really full view not only of the brokerage and the management side of real estate, but also architecture and development and all the other variables that go into real estate,” he said.
Fresh out of Columbia, a family friend introduced him to Leona Helmsley, who recruited the young graduate to set up a corporate leasing program for the Helmsleys’ hotels.
“She liked my enthusiasm,” Brant said of the mentor he worked with for a number of years. “She was very interesting. She was certainly mercurial, but very smart; very well researched.”
His first full-time job was with Perlbinder Realty, where he leased both residential and commercial space for more than seven years before his career took a detour into advertising.
He joined an advertising firm, where he specialized in new construction and developed his marketing skills.
“While I’m a business person, I also enjoy the creative efforts,” he said.
He was lured back to the developer’s side of the table in 2004 when an opportunity arose to work with Metrovest Equities on The Beacon, an adaptive reuse of the former Jersey City Medical Center.
The opportunity to be part of the transformation of 14-acre historic site into a 1,200-unit condominium appealed to Brant because he’d never worked on a project like it before.
“I was able to use all of this market experience I had built in the five years prior… I love the idea of a challenge,” he said.
Since then, Brandt has worked on a number of major projects in the tri-state area.
In July, he took on the challenge of expanding Argo’s brokerage division.
Starting with a team of 10 brokers already in place, Brandt say’s he’s actively recruiting both seasoned veterans and those new to the business who share Argo’s core values.
Argo Real Estate is one of New York City’s longest-standing independent real estate companies. As an owner/manager, third-party manager, and broker, its portfolio includes includes residential and commercial holdings in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and New Jersey.
It owns and manages 5,500 units and also manages 6,500 units on behalf of condominiums and cooperatives.
Mark Moskowitz leads the firm, which was founded in 1952 by his father Henry Moskowitz .
“It’s a startup, but within a 60-year-old company,” Brandt said of the growing residential brokerage division.
Veterans might appreciate the more entrepreneurial atmosphere and opportunities of a smaller team, while a newcomer would be able to take advantage of Argo’s strong property management business and good reputation to jumpstart their own career.
“The platform is really unlike any other that someone coming on to build a team could be afforded,” he said.
Brandt, 50, still lives on the Upper East Side, and in his free time he likes to get to the gym as much as possible.
He also enjoys playing golf, but he’s self-depicting about his game.
“I limit the amount I play so that I can say to people if I played more I’d be better,” he said, adding later, “If I don’t take it too seriously, I enjoy every time I play.”