REBNY doles out resi “deal of the year” awards

Agents snagged resi honors through bidding wars, a toilet survey and karma for working on Yom Kippur

A photo illustration of several REBNY award winners (Corcoran, Brown Harris Stevens, Douglas Elliman)
A photo illustration of several REBNY award winners (Corcoran, Brown Harris Stevens, Douglas Elliman)

The Corcoran Group’s Lawrence Rich was one of three brokers who took home a top residential award this week, but he’ll be the first to tell you the real prize was the lesson he learned along the way: never work on Yom Kippur.

The winners at this year’s Real Estate Board of New York’s residential awards all encountered the unexpected as New York City’s real estate market returned to — and sometimes surpassed — some pre-pandemic norms in 2021.

Five brokers were recognized this year for closed deals with frustrating and bizarre backstories, including cutthroat bidding wars, flaky buyers and an impromptu survey about toilets.

Rich, who split the award with colleague Dakota Scotto and Steven Marvisch of Brown Harris Stevens, took a call during the Jewish holiday from an overly persistent client. The client insisted he wanted to buy one of Rich’s listings and went through a seven-month vetting process by the co-op board, only to back out three days before the deal closed.

“I’m a Jewish guy that’s never worked on Yom Kippur before, [but] the salesman in me just could not let it go,” Rich said. “Like the apple from Adam and Eve, they were tempting me.”

By the time the deal fell through, the city was in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. Rich and Scotto had to slash the price and couldn’t show the apartment in person. Enter Marvisch, representing a motivated buyer happy to tour the unit remotely. But just as that deal was coming together, the initial buyer manifested again.

Despite Rich’s advice, the sellers opted to sell to the initial buyer, only for them to back out a second time 30 minutes before closing. Luckily, Marvisch and his buyer were still around and they were able to get a deal done in three days, ending a two-year ordeal.

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Second place went to Joe Ulam of Brown Harris Stevens, whose award-winning deal came down to a flush.

Ulam was showing a unit to buyers who became convinced the toilet bowl was refilling too slowly and started flushing the toilet to time how long it took to refill. Ulam offered a solution: he would poll 15 people on the street, and if 10 of them said they had issues with their toilet running, the buyers would take the unit.

“I’ve had so many different types of jobs, I was just enjoying it, I was frankly having a good time,” said Ulam, who once worked as an actor.

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Third place went to Corcoran’s Martha Friedricks-Glass, who helped first-time buyers navigate a bidding war.

The young couple fell in love with the apartment and submitted a low offer in hopes of scoring a pandemic deal. After a parade of other buyers pulled out before going into contract, the sellers eventually accepted a higher offer from the initial hopefuls before another buyer swooped in, offering the full price and the flip tax. They too eventually reneged on the deal, allowing Friedricks-Glass to finally close the deal for the young family.

Clifford Marks of Brown Harris Stevens won the Rookie of the Year Award after hitting $10 million in sales, despite getting his broker’s license during the height of the pandemic.

Corcoran’s Gary Malin won The Eileen Spinola Award for Distinguished Service. Douglas Elliman’s Doreen Courtright, who entered the real estate industry 18 years ago after a successful run in the music industry, took home Residential Agent of the Year.