The Real Deal New York

Broker gifts that keep on giving (hopefully)

November 15, 2007
By Tom Acitelli

Richard Topp’s first clients as a sales associate at Bellmarc Realty were Korean-American newlyweds. After he shepherded them to their first home, Topp did a little research on traditional Korean wedding presents and discovered that something with permanently mating birds was appropriate. While vacationing in Italy, he bought a hand-made crystal goblet supported by a pair of swans, and later gave it to the couple.

“As the couple are very American,” Topp wrote in an email to The Real Deal, “I’m not sure that they understood its significance, but I am hoping that one of their mothers or grandmothers recognize what it is about.”

A few years ago, Steve Hakimzadeh, president of HH Realty Group, bought a big box containing hundreds of thank-you cards. He suggested that agents at his firm, which specializes in rentals on the Upper East Side, send the thank-you cards to particularly receptive clients. Some did; many didn’t. And Hakimzadeh eventually tossed the box with most of the cards still in it, unused by his agents.

The agents that didn’t send the cards, Hakimzadeh said, aren’t doing all that well in real estate and some have left the industry. The ones that did, however, are still in real estate and doing generally pretty well. “These are the agents,” he said, “who understand the need for great networking.”

And that’s the point of broker gifts to clients after the deal, from a simple thank-you note to a crystal goblet. Not only are the gifts nice, but, hopefully, the gifts spark a warm memory in a client’s mind, so the client uses that broker again — or recommends him or her to others. Thus, the broker gift becomes important on two levels: what it actually is and that it’s even given in the first place.

Sometimes the gifts don’t always immediately follow a close. Lisa Maysonet, a senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman, sends a bottle of champagne or wine to her clients on the one-year anniversary of a closing — a friendly reminder of the relationship she formed with them. The bottles have labels with Maysonet’s name and her Douglas Elliman group logo on them.

In the end, the momentousness of the occasion can gel nicely with what the broker might get from the gift. Gigi Van Deckter, a sales associate at Bellmarc, gave a young couple who spent $952,000 on their first New York apartment a pair of large monogrammed key rings from Tiffany’s. It was Van Deckter’s first close, but the gift seemed to her a no-brainer.

“Frankly, it never occurred to me to not give a gift,” Van Deckter wrote in an email. “I always will. It is one of the important events of a lifetime, purchasing your home. So, it deserves some ceremony.”

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