The Manhattan real estate market was one of the most severely impacted by COVID-19 – during the height (depths) of the pandemic, only 31 contracts were signed there (normally, several hundred are signed per week).
It’s been a tough year, but the city is in recovery. Offices are opening up, art fairs are appearing on the streets, and Broadway shows are getting ready to reopen. Sales are robust and the “COVID-19 discounts” of last year have disappeared.
Nikki Beauchamp of Engel & Völkers in Manhattan sat down to tell us how she managed her business during the 90 days she didn’t leave her apartment, and how she uses referrals to grow her business.
Hi, Nikki. How are you doing? What did you do to keep your business going during the pandemic? And will you keep doing any of those things now that the market is returning to normal?
It’s been a tough year, but things are getting better – on a recent Sunday, I was in three different boroughs before noon!
The pandemic pause allowed me more time to think, and allowed me to focus on getting things done that I normally wouldn’t have as much time for. I worked on my website, cleaned up my database, was active on social media, and did a lot of writing.
I also leveraged Zoom beyond my international clients and used that expertise to help many of my US clients organize and host online events.
I also adopted virtual Zoom tours, and used the opportunity to “revisit” inventory virtually, and leverage the visits in discussions with clients – which then led to many virtual client visits to the developments, and some purchase contracts!
I realized how efficient and effective Zoom can be. Meeting in person is always best, but I think everyone is now more comfortable having a quick video call as well, so I’ll definitely continue to do those as much as I am able to.
Where do you focus your business and who is your “typical” client?
I’m primarily in Manhattan, but my clients are all over the place. My business is almost entirely by referral, so I go where my clients need me to be.
I’m firmly embedded in the lives – both real estate and in general – of my core sphere of influence. I’m unapologetically “New York.” I was born here, went to public school here, and also attended university and graduate school here. I’ve transacted with most of my clients multiple times, and have helped their children and friends as well.
In fact, I was recently in the Bronx with a client who was referred to me by another client. The listing agent for the property was the same agent for a property that my other client had purchased. She mentioned that she had just seen my client – and my client said “Oh, that’s my friend.” It immediately helped to link all of us together and establish a level of trust.
I know who my clients are…they are typically native New Yorkers, or live in NY, or want to live in NY. They are highly educated, and either extremely creative and artistic or analytic and entrepreneurial. I also have a very wide price spectrum – whether it’s a $150K studio or a $50 million estate or penthouse, everyone gets the same level of service and advice.
How did you get started in real estate?
I was in finance and tech before real estate. Since I was always the “New Yorker” in the room, people would ask where they should live and if I knew someone who could help them, and I would refer them to my friend.
My friend kept telling me to get a real estate license because she wanted to pay me a referral fee vs. a coffee gift card. I kept telling her I didn’t want to get into real estate and that I didn’t need the referral fee – until she told me that my referrals had paid for her car. So, I thought I would try something new and I got my license – and I loved it.
I spent many years at Warburg Realty and then joined Engel & Völkers in May 2014, where I was one of the founding advisors of the New York City office.
What type of marketing do you do to promote yourself and your business?
I am often asked to provide insights on the NYC market by the media, and also do a lot of speaking and writing. I’ve been an Inman ambassador for many years, and have been active on social media for over a decade.
My social content is meant to engage my existing sphere and attract prospects similar to them. I’m currently active on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and I just started experimenting with TikTok. The reality is that you have to find what works for you and continuously try new things.
I know that you’ve had some recent success with HighNote. How do you use it?
I’ve used it for pre- and post-listing presentations. Being able to see what people are looking at is really helpful in guiding conversations. If I had sent everything attached to an email, I would never know.
I think there are a number of creative ways to use the platform. I can create a presentation that focuses on new developments, or when I have new clients who want me to send over a bunch of listings I’ll be able to see what’s of interest to them.
Nikki, it’s been great to catch up with you! Thanks for your time!