BY ROSLYN LO
When New York City was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy in the 1970s, Shirley Hackel was an English professor at Queens College looking for a means to prosper during grim times.
After switching careers to real estate in 1980, witnessing the start of the 21st century and the transformation of Manhattan, Hackel is now an executive managing director at Warburg Realty and was ranked among the Top 10 Women in residential real estate by Residential magazine last year.
She co-chairs the Real Estate Board of New York’s NYRS masters program, writes an online column at www.warburgrealty.com and is mom to two grown children and a Standard Poodle called Bailey.
And, after 30 years in the industry — most of them as a top-10 producer at her firm — Hackel has no intention of slowing down.
“Real estate is not a business you can do part time,” she said. “I take it very seriously.”
When she first started out in the business, working with the legendary Barbara Corcoran, Hackel recalled, “Park Avenue properties were approaching $500,000, and we thought ‘will they ever hit a million?’”
A crime clean-up, dot-com boom and Wall Street gold rush have all contributed to an ever shifting and changing market, according to Hackel, but one of the biggest influences on how the business is conducted today has been technology.
“The computer made everything much easier,” said Hackel. “We used to walk around with thick, three-ring binders for our listings. We would have two, three hours of administrative work, copying and pasting listings and updating information.
“The Internet has changed all that; now information is more transparent. We interpret and add perspective to information. The business is changed — it’s critically important to have good relationships with clients.”
Though technology has reached a level that gives nearly everyone easy and free access of information, Hackel knows that her knowledge is still vital, and that the difficulties that arise with selling and buying property are not issues a client should self-diagnose.
“Hire a good broker — go out there and don’t do it on your own. You might try, but you will loose time,” is her advice.
Outside of technology’s inevitable influence, Hackel believes in the human side of the business, and insists that the foundation of any good real estate business is relationship building. The vast majority of her clients, she said, come from the best kind of advertisement: word of mouth.
Loyal to keeping up with her clients throughout the years, Hackel does not limit herself to certain niches in the New York City market. Besides brokering deals in coveted luxury apartments, such as her current $6.5 million three-bedroom listing in 110 Central Park South, she has worked all over the city, from Harlem, the Upper West side, and most recently, DUMBO, Brooklyn.
“I go where my buyers take me,” she said. “I want to work with them, I prize the relationships. I sold to a couple and then I sold to their children years later!
“Every happy client will lead to the next successful transaction. And, after each deal, you add something to your toolbox, you refine another skill, and you figure how to adapt that skill to a particular market.”
It’s a philosophy that earned Hackel the distinction of co-chairing of REBNY’s New York Residential Specialist (NYRS) masters program, a credential that identifies city agents who have completed a graduate level of study tailored specifically to the New York residential marketplace.
“The curriculum is written for brokers by brokers,” said Hackel. “We study the nuances of New York market, including commercial real estate, law, negotiations, ethics, and technology.”
She also pens the Manhattan Market Watch, a monthly column for The Mann Report which demonstrates not only her commanding knowledge of the marketplace, but which sets an example of professionalism for others to follow.
For Hackel, though, it’s more simple than that. “I write about what I see,” she said.