Following the Mantra of Credibility, Visibility, and Profitability

Lee Presser, an agent with exp Realty NYC, never intended to have a career in real estate. Now HGAR’s Regional Director for New York County, Presser spent 22 years in the technology industry and even owned a consulting firm on Wall Street for 16 years. Computer science and finance dominated his world. “I had a knowledge of the industry from end to end—from the mortgage all the way to purchasing, selling and the resale of the mortgage,” he said.

Presser was enjoying a successful career until 9/11, when things changed drastically. However, because of his expertise in mortgages and financing, Presser decided that real estate would be the next natural career chapter.

It was 2001 when he joined Coldwell Banker, and it was there that he earned the Rookie of the Year designation. “My mentor, the late Scott Claster, basically let me follow him around for about two months until I actually got a listing appointment,” he recalled. “We’d start at about 8 a.m. and I learned what it took to build a real estate practice. He was very disciplined, successful and out the door early every morning.”

Living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Presser began to focus on just a few buildings, listing and selling condos and co-ops. Becoming a “building expert,” he was able to handle 30 to 40 deals a year in just one building. “Most agents will take what they can get instead of focusing on just a handful of buildings,” he explained. “Focus is so important—it makes you so much more successful.”

Presser also credits his colleague Michael Shapot with helping him to learn the ropes of real estate. After also spending time at Corcoran and Keller Williams, Presser joined exp Realty in early 2021. Now living in Katonah, his deals include Westchester County, along with Manhattan residences.

“The biggest difference about selling in the suburbs versus the city is that 80% of what you’re selling in Manhattan is not real property—it’s co-ops,” he said. “Also, when you’re selling a house, you’re dealing with one agent on the other side. When you get an accepted offer on a co-op, your work is just beginning.” It usually involves interaction with the building’s management agent, board and lender. Suburban deals can close in a couple of weeks, whereas in the city, it can typically take 90 to 120 days.

Concerning the Manhattan market, Presser notes that anything priced under $1 million is moving, but in the $3-million to $5-million range, buyers are looking for deals. “People are definitely coming back to the city, either because they now need to report to their offices again or they’re looking for a ‘crash pad’ in the city,” he said.

Now playing the role of a mentor to a 21-agent team, Presser recommends new Realtors start with their sphere of influence and gradually build up to at least 5,000 people in their personal databases. “I also teach them how to get through a deal—whether it’s a sale or rental—how to network and how to get referrals,” he added.

Presser’s “Three-Step Process” involves credibility, visibility and profitability. “You have to be visible, so people see you on a regular basis and credibility comes from your clients,” he explained. Profitability, he noted, will come last.

As HGAR’s Regional Director for Manhattan, Presser is planning an early November breakfast or luncheon with a panel discussion on how to thrive in the market. “Our goal is to have Manhattan agents attend and get more of them to join HGAR so we can demonstrate what a Realtor Association can do for them and their business,” he said.

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