A home is typically the biggest or one of the biggest purchases in a person’s lifetime. That makes real estate a big part of life on Long Island — and a big business. We talked with Ann Conroy, who recently became CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Long Island division after being president, about trends, technology, and changing times.
How did you get interested in real estate? Real estate appealed to me. It probably started when I was 13 or younger. My parents would buy properties and stay a couple of years, flip and buy. I went around with them and loved the business of real estate. I love houses. It’s a hobby and a passion. When I went to buy my own home, I was married with no children at the time. I went to new construction. It was great, picking things out. I loved it. I think I fell in love with houses and decoration before I fell in love with the business.
When and why did you go from an interest to the industry? It was a typical thing in those days back in the ’80s. Women stayed home with their children until they went to school. I came out of a Fortune 500 company in the city. When I decided to have children, I stayed home. I had to think of something flexible so I could bring up my children and not miss their soccer games.
What was your first real estate job? I became an agent with Merrill Lynch Realty in 1981 at a little seaside town, Sayville. It was close to my home. I bought a home in Oakdale, loved the town of Sayville, the proximity to the water, the old architecture. It had a New England feel. The first day I walked into the real estate office, I knew I found the industry of my dreams. Every day’s a new day. You meet a tremendous amount of people. There’s a challenge every day. I loved the inventory.
What makes a good real estate agent? A good agent needs to be passionate about the job. They need to care about the consumer. They have to put in the time and energy and be tenacious. It’s good to be smart. However, it’s more important to have a high emotional quotient, to have empathy. It’s not just about showing everything you have. It’s about listening to them, taking care of them, making sure you follow up.
How would you describe the Long Island residential market today? It’s a strong real estate market. The economy is great, jobs are great. Interest rates are low. Our inventory is tight up to the luxury market. In the luxury market, we have increased inventory. It takes longer to sell those homes. They’re not flying off the shelf like with the first-time home buyer market. Buyers are loosening up in this market and are ready to buy, but at a reduced price. Those sellers who truly want to sell are negotiating off their asking prices.
What trends are there in terms of what people are looking for? The vibrant downtowns are attracting seniors and millennials. People aren’t necessarily interested anymore in buying large homes with large acreages. Not only are taxes very high, but so is the upkeep. People like to travel more. The consumer’s wants and needs have changed.
Do you plan to open more offices on Long Island? My goals are to expand and penetrate the markets we need to be in. We opened in Sea Cliff, which is an area we hadn’t focused on properly. That includes Glen Cove, Glen Head, and Glenwood Landing. We just opened in New Hyde Park and we’re going into Forest Hills. We’re opening in Rockville Centre and in Cutchogue. We’re already on the North Fork of Long Island. We are in Mattituck and Greenport, and we also wanted to be in Cutchogue.