High-rise Confession from a Manhattan Real Estate Broker

Views. Manhattan is all about the view, especially when you’re looking to purchase an apartment. The view can make a so-so apartment appear to be SPECTACULAR. It bumps-up the price, dramatically. Sometimes by a million or two or more. There’s nothing more impressive than walking into an apartment and having that “WOW” sensation. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. Over the years I’ve witnessed many of high-rise buyer enthusiasms. Views are sexy and pricey. Period.

But the truth of the matter is that showing these high-rise buildings makes me a bit uneasy. I’m not sure if I have a fear of heights or small bouts of vertigo. It’s a professional vulnerability, for me, to say the least. And a bit embarrassing. I mean I’m a NYC real estate broker, showing impressive views on high floors–this should be a thrill for me, and an easy sell. It’s no thrill, just something I have to do; it’s my job.

This past Friday, I showed two apartments, located on the 31st floor of a downtown building. The first apartment of the two was no big deal for me. The second unit, with floor to ceiling windows, including a windowed corner, got to me. The thing is, if I keep my eyes straight on the vista, I’m fine. But, if I walk to the window and look down, I feel panicked and slightly dizzy. Not exactly New York sexy. While the listing agent was pointing to the protected view, standing about 5 inches from the window, on this rainy day with my customer, I stood in the middle of the living room. I just let the listing agent talk her spiel, while I took in the interior view to my right—the state of the art kitchen. A Sub-Zero never looked so beautiful, to me, as it did last Friday! And I was pretty proud of myself for remaining rather cool and collected.

But Saturday. Oh Saturday. On this not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day, I had scheduled to view a penthouse unit located in a primo Midtown building. Standing in the elevator with my customer, listening to the listing agent babble on about how amazing this particular building was, my ears started to pop as we sped pass the 30th floor. I swallowed clearing the cloudiness in my head. Then repeated it again, passing floors 40, 50, and 60, and then the elevator opened on the 70th floor. Walking through the hallway to the unit, I told myself, “Think of the smell of lavender. It’s calming. Soothing.” That seemed to work. Once in the unit, the view was breathtaking. Again, floor to ceiling windows. We were towing over Manhattan. On Top of The World, practically. Times Square looked miniature. And I was calm, quite composed…for about fifteen minutes.

Then the listing agent, doing her impressive Vanna (with a slight Turkish accent), decides to open the window. (It opens from the bottom, where the glass meets the floor) What do I do? I do what most people do automatically. I looked straight down. Looking down seventy floors through an open window caused that unwelcoming panic. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I stepped back. I felt dizzy. I excused myself, walking to the center of the apartment, stating, “This is a rather high, for me.” My customer chuckled, responding, “I forgot that about you.”


So, here I am today, confessing that it’s a small challenge for me to show high-floor apartments. Yeah, it’s a bit embarrassing for a real estate broker to admit. It’s an occupational consequence. But I still love this job. Because it is just a small part of this thrilling profession of  Manhattan real estate broker, even from the top of a skyscraper…on a clear day.




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