Editor's note: Decoding the bro code

Jan.January 01, 2018 01:00 PM

Stuart Elliott

Real estate’s “locker room talk” isn’t just confined to the locker room.

It’s in the boardroom and the ballroom as well.

At a recent rooftop holiday bash, a pumped-up male executive grabbed a colleague by the shoulders and presented him admiringly to his buddies.

“This guy!” he bellowed. “This is the Matt Lauer of real estate. This guy is fucking Matt Lauer!”

At another big extravaganza, a husky commercial broker gave his female colleague a bear hug. “Is this sexual harassment?” he shouted as his colleague and others laughed. “Is it?”

As part of our cover package this issue, reporter Christopher Cameron dove into real estate’s holiday party circuit (and beyond) to look at the overwhelmingly male-dominated development and commercial brokerage worlds in New York.

There might be a little less boorish behavior and increased sensitivity in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and continual flood of sexual misconduct allegations all the way up to the president. But not by much. There’s still enough frat-boy antics to take the word “professional” out of real estate professional and make female colleagues uncomfortable — or worse.

I am not subject to the worst of it as a man, but I have always found the excesses of “bro culture” a drag. That includes the kind of banter at parties that leads to being told things like, “Dude, don’t be a pussy, do another shot.”

I suspect that some who play that part don’t always enjoy it either, but feel it’s the price of admittance for hanging out with other dudes — and doing deals.

But having a 71-year-old “bro” in the Oval Office makes one think twice. This kind of behavior usually gets muttered about, but rarely called out, in the real estate world. It’s good it is being discussed and brought more into the open.

The other part of our cover package examines the gender imbalance at top real estate firms across the city. The story by Kathryn Brenzel looks at everything from the pay gap to the ways firms are combating (or ignoring) gender disparity — and finds that there hasn’t been much progress in the past decade.

Elsewhere in the issue, we’ve got a story on real estate’s winners and losers as a result of the gigantic tax overhaul; a piece on the changing leadership team and other palace intrigue at Douglas Elliman; and an article on developer Joe Moinian’s uphill battle to build a skyscraper in Hudson Yards. We also dove into the data to come up with a list of the next hot neighborhoods for real estate investment in New York City — including some areas that might not have great name recognition.

With 2017 in the rearview mirror, it’s also a time to look back at The Real Deal’s most-read articles of the past year. Our top story also had to do with the issue of diversity in the industry — including an examination of race and the role it plays in New York real estate. Other hot topics included the Kushners, WeWork and Soho House. Our first-ever ranking of general contractors drew a lot of eyeballs, too. And as always, readers wanted to know about when the other shoe is going to drop on the market — when distress might rear its ugly head.

Here is the list of 2017’s most-read stories: 

1. “Real estate’s diversity problem” by Elizabeth Kim, Kathryn Brenzel and Rich Bockmann (January issue)

2. “Charlie Kushner’s redemption” by Katherine Clarke (February issue)

3.  “Soho House’s soul-searching” by Katherine Clarke and Gabrielle Paluch (January issue)

4. “George Soros is the secret financier behind Kushner-backed startup Cadre” by Konrad Putzier (Jan. 27 online)

5. “The story of WeWork’s mysterious first investor” by Konrad Putzier (December issue)

6. “Sizing up NYC’s biggest construction bosses” by Kathryn Brenzel (May issue)

7. “Is New York real estate showing symptoms of distress?” by Mark Maurer (June issue)

8. “An insider’s guide to real estate syndication” by Mark Maurer (Dec. 5 online, and in this issue on page 76)

9. “The danger of a multifamily mortgage morass” by Konrad Putzier (Feb. 1 online)

10. “The new investment sales game” by Mark Maurer (February issue)

Here’s to 2018. Enjoy the issue and the new year!

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