The Board Supremacy

Last night I attended another one of those great REBNY (The Real Estate Board of New York) Inside Secrets of Top Brokers seminars. The panel consisted of four real estate attorneys (attorneys are brokers, too, you know), and the subject was "Deal Makers/Deal Breakers: Legal Titans Speak Out"...and speak out they did. With all the anecdotes, questions, and answers, my own synapses began to fire. (Yes, it was me who asked if we're required to make a disclosure when a property is haunted).

It has been said that when we face death (our own) we enter a series of five mental stages as defined in the
Kübler-Ross Model. When death is unexpected and very imminent there often occurs another stage called "the retrospective" or so-called "watching your life flash before your eyes". Well, listening to these guys was like being pushed out of a plane without a parachute, and my many past adventures brokering real estate started to hit me pell mell.

When I began this website in 1998 our original navigation bar was the 5 W's, i.e. "Who, What, Where, When, Why (and How)" compliments of Rudyard Kipling (or was it Doris Day in "Teacher's Pet"?). Since then we've added a few more W's--just look to your left, folks--and yesterday's seminar inspired me to add yet one more which we will call "War Stories..." and here's its first entry:

This is an easy one to pass along since my client later told the story on The Late Show with David Letterman. I had found a wonderful place for this well-known actor, but in a co-op, which meant dealing with an admissions committee. It had been a tough deal from the start especially when another offer arrived from a different buyer, and for $400,000 more. In this particular case I was the buyer's broker and successfully convinced the seller and his broker to go with my person even though it was for less money. The details of how I did this will remain a trade secret, but I will say it was in large part a matter of understanding the seller's concerns and addressing them in the best way. Anyway, we got the contract signed, the board package completed, and were only awaiting an interview. Unfortunately, when the call came, my Oscar winning buyer was down in Georgia filming a movie directed by another Oscar winner--a heart throb in his own right. When I called to tell him it was time to come to NY, he was conflicted. Now understand, this guy was a real sweetheart, brought up right, super smart, selfless, (and a great impressionist, too--his "Mike Tyson" had us rolling on the beautiful hardwood floors). The trouble was he was in the middle of shooting and didn't think he could leave. I told him he really had little choice and urged him to try and make it happen. The story goes (as later told to David Letterman) he had to go to the director to try and explain the situation. He was apprehensive about what the response would be, but as soon as he mentioned it was regarding a board interview the boss said "hold it right there, say no more, we recently bought our own co-op and you absolutely MUST go; when a board calls, you won't be a problem, we'll shoot around you for a day or two". So, with a nice jacket, a chartered jet, and a pre-interview broker-client briefing at The Mercer, we completed our deal a few days later.

If you enjoyed reading this true tale, you can read more "war stories" by clinking
War stories--a sub-blog....

--Leigh Zaph. (any comments can be emailed to us at, thanks).