As president of real estate giant Douglas Elliman’s Long Island division, Ann Conroy presides over 26 offices, and that number is growing. New locations in Cutchogue and Sea Cliff are coming later this year, along with plans on expanding in Queens as well.
Born in Brooklyn, Conroy caught the real estate bug as a child while watching her parents house hunt. “They dragged me along and I just got into it,” she said. Conroy now has more than 35 years in the business and has grown along with the industry. Always looking at what her company can do better, Conroy said the job starts with core values and understanding the consumer. In this case, that’s buyers, sellers and staff. “It’s a people business, after all,” she said.
What motivates you?
Our industry is very, very exciting. I’ve always been with this company, whether it was Merrill Lynch, Prudential or Douglas Elliman—I never moved, the brand moved. The brand always seemed to attract the highest-skilled management team, as well as agents. I get to work with very smart people. They’re tenacious and they’re exciting and they have these great sales personalities. I feel like every day is like going on vacation. It’s fun. You meet new people. It’s just enjoyable. I never dread any day.
What’s your business philosophy?
If it doesn’t benefit the buyers, sellers, agents or our managers, then why are we doing it? I think that’s the key to the company’s success, as well—that we stay focused on what counts and what’s right.
You must have hit a challenge along the way. Can you give me an example?
If you have to make a management change, you want to make sure there’s a good fit, that they treat the agents with respect….You don’t make rash decisions. You don’t make emotional decisions. I always say [to staff], “When you throw that pebble to skip across the pond, just think about what the ripple effect is going to be. What boats are you going to rock?” You want to do right by everyone involved.
What buying trends are you seeing?
We’ve found that millennials want to live close to transportation, to villages. They like to walk to restaurants or be close enough so that they have a little more of a leisure life. And we’re finding that with baby boomers, they are looking to be much closer to activities. There are certain towns that lend themselves to that. Great downtowns like Huntington, Sayville, Babylon, Rockville Centre. We’re really looking to be strong in those markets. That’s why we’re looking to go into New Hyde Park and Sea Cliff, which is right next to Glen Cove and just a great place to be. And of course, Queens, which, if it isn’t already, is [going to become] the new Brooklyn. The way Brooklyn is on fire, we see that great growth and excitement for Queens.
What makes a really good real estate broker?
They have to care about the people they are working with and they have to do the right thing by the people they are working with. They definitely have to be tenacious. Follow-up is key. And I think they have to listen more than they talk.
As a woman in a position of authority, you serve as a role model to many. What’s your advice to women in the workplace?
Have a philosophy in life and always do the right thing. Don’t get torn into the politics of a situation. Be prepared to reason. Be measured. Stay educated. Make sure you read voraciously—not only about your industry, but everything that affects your industry: the economy, stocks. Remember your core values and never deviate from them. I always tell people, “Never compromise your integrity, because your integrity is the only thing you can take with you throughout life.”
In honor of Women’s History Month, Long Island Pulse is celebrating inspiring females leaving imprints on Long Island and beyond. Check back next week to hear from successful real estate attorney Leslie Feifer.