Coming from a long career in the wealth management and private equity business where he developed invaluable financial and sales skills, Daniel Hickey – licensed real estate salesperson at Houlihan Lawrence Commercial Group – is the latest expert to share his insights with us. Growing up on the western Long Island Sound gave Daniel deep roots in the area and a great understanding of how it has evolved over the decades, helping him build a career based on market knowledge. His time on Wall Street also taught him how to form the foundation of lasting relationships beyond closing a sale.
When he’s not guiding people through the real estate sea, Daniel enjoys spending time at home, in City Island, with his wife and three children. Read on to find out more.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and why you chose a career in real estate.
My background is on Wall Street mainly on the advisory side and I still have a small clientele that I run through my Registered Investment Advisory firm. I saw my commission business decimated by discount brokers in the nineties and now the advisory business is facing a similar threat from robo advisors. Commercial real estate looked like a good alternative to employ my financial and sales skills. More importantly, I like it. Analyzing a commercial property is more interesting to me than analyzing a stock or a money manager. Every property has unique attributes.
Q: What do you love most about your job? Can you maybe briefly describe a typical day at work for you?
I typically begin each day following up on phone calls and emails before going out on showings or other appointments that get scheduled a day or two in advance. Most of my days are fluid putting out a fair amount of fires that pop up. Either leads that need to be followed up on or deals that need to move along to the next stage. If the pipeline is full, there are always different things going on, and that’s what I like most about the job, it changes too much to get boring.
Q: What sources do you use just to understand the trends in the real estate environment?
In addition to Propertyshark.com of course, real estate stories in general news and business sources get my attention and friends and colleagues send a lot of articles. Far too many to read all of them though. The best information comes from simple conversations with other real estate professionals and business owners. Real people living real lives. Lawyers and mortgage brokers tend to have good information on trends. I always enjoy conversations with people like that.
Q: What traits and skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in this industry?
You have to be conscientious and diligent, and never stop trying to please the customer and keep the pipeline full. You have to be sociable and pleasant so people want to work with you. As with any field, you need to be honest because most people can see through anyone who’s not. I find being forthright and addressing negatives up front goes a long way to building trust. Any deal’s negative points will come out eventually so it’s better to get them out in front to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Q: How would you describe the real estate market in the U.S. today in terms of trends and challenges?
Free money has driven asset prices to historic levels so trying to find an upside in sub-5 caps is one trending challenge. That said, people trying to replace maturing bonds continue to flood into commercial real estate and finding product for them is particularly challenging. The Bronx is a very hard place in which to find good product as investors are coming in from other boroughs and trying to avoid rising taxes in Westchester. I would love to be able to find more large multifamily properties in The Bronx and Westchester to satisfy huge institutional investor demand.
Q: Do you have a current listing that you’re particularly excited about?
It’s always the latest, but I have few new ones. Two restaurants and a lovely two-family house with a big yard on City Island, and a great restaurant paying a percentage lease in Larchmont that has been growing about 20% annually. The restaurants are for the real estate only with leases in place and apartments upstairs. There is good demand for mixed-use properties and restaurants are a rare strong sector in retail. The house is currently used as a single-family but it’s nice to have the option for extra income on the CO.
Q: How do you expect the needs and desires of home buyers to change over the next ten years or so?
I hear the needs and desires of future home buyers will be fully met by robots but I’m skeptical. Investing in shares of stock is commoditized but investing in a house where you live or a facility where you conduct business is not. I think most home buyers will continue to want personal service and a professional who understands their needs and desires as well as local market issues. It’s not only about price per square foot and I haven’t noticed things getting any simpler these days. As life becomes more complex, professionals become more valuable.
Q: What would you recommend to beginners in the industry?
My best advice is to align with a good company. This is true for beginners in any sales field. When nobody knows you, being part of a respected firm will alleviate customers’ concerns. Also, have mentors to lean on for those times when you’re not sure how to handle a situation or you want a sounding board for ideas. Houlihan Lawrence Commercial Group has provided both for me. I don’t have time to do many of the marketing campaigns I see other brokers doing because I’m too busy handling leads from my firm. With that, don’t hesitate to welcome and pay out referrals and co-brokes. Half a loaf is better than no loaf at all as the saying goes. Don’t pass up a co-broke because you think you can find your own buyer. Get the deal done and form a new relationship with a colleague who could direct future business to you.
Q: Any other insights you’d like to share?
Spending so much time driving around Westchester and The Bronx, I’ve come to know so many great delis. A rule of thumb is that you get more meat on your sandwich in the lower tax municipalities.
About Daniel Hickey
As a licensed real estate salesperson for Houlihan Lawrence Commercial Group, Daniel Hickey is always looking to build long lasting relationships with his clients. Having spent more than 25 years in the wealth management and private equity business, he learned the value of due diligence, how to negotiate the right terms for all parties and built his career on market knowledge and liquidity. Find out more about him here.
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