Douglas Elliman Development executive vice president Susie Glass is taking the lessons learned from stints at several prominent South Florida real estate firms and New York University, where she is slated to earn a master’s degree in real estate development in December, and hoping to apply them to a future career as a developer.
Glass, 32, oversees sales and marketing efforts for Douglas Elliman’s $3 billion portfolio of luxury projects in Florida. She served a similar role at Cervera Real Estate, with an emphasis on social media and online marketing. Glass started her career at Tony Cho’s Metro 1 Properties, which she helped position as a sustainable real estate specialist.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How were you able to balance a full-time job with Douglas Elliman while you were finishing graduate school in New York?
I joined Douglas Elliman in August 2013 and was in New York until earlier this year working out of the New York office. I worked for Cervera remotely until I went to Douglas Elliman. It was hard to live in between both cities. Last year was really brutal in the fall. I lived in New York most of the week then in Miami from Friday through Monday. Finals were during Art Basel week. It was hard but totally worth it. The professors were great working with me. If you’re going to learn real estate, learn it in New York. My professors at NYU were repositioning Rockefeller Center. The degree has already paid for itself.
When did you decide that development would be your career end game?
I didn’t want to get into development until a few years ago, when I left Metro 1. I was going to go to law school. I wanted to write leases for LEED buildings after being so involved with sustainability at Metro 1. Right before I was going to go to law school, I was recruited by Cervera. I then decided I can hire an attorney to handle LEED issues [for me].
My goal is very clear to people I work with: I want to build buildings. That’s the way I’ve structured my whole career. I could have easily jumped into sales and made considerably more money. I’m taking a long-term approach. My objective is always to learn on the back end and be able to apply that down the line by working with all these different developers. Having worked with Metro 1, I learned about sustainability and the commercial side. At Cervera I learned how to handle agents, which is another part of the business I appreciate. With Elliman, I work directly with developers. I could go work for a developer right now, but I wouldn’t learn how seven different developers operate. When I decide to do it, I will know how not to do things. One little thing can have a trickle effect on so many other things. I won’t work for another company after Elliman. Everyone’s goal in real estate is to find ways to make your mark.
Have you thought about the kinds of projects you’d like to develop?
I have a couple of ideas of what I want to do. I learned some of the highest returns come with developing super-luxury, since you are doing the same amount of work to sell 40 units versus 200. You’re still having the same meetings.
I would want to do something that is completely sustainable and have everyone involved in the project be local. I’m not spending crazy money on the name of the interior designer; I’m spending on the finishes and to find great local talent. Micro-housing is not popular to talk about but it makes sense in the urban core. Most people want some privacy; a lot of my friends have a roommate situation. I’d be targeting young professionals with [units] the size of studios but built out for a one-bedroom. In real estate there’s a herd mentality. People forget that it operates in cycles.