On How to Fire Your Realtor: 101

You're FiredBeing fired just sucks. It burns like taking a shot in the chest and it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve experienced it; it still leaves a mark.  And firing someone, unless you’re Donald Trump, isn’t an easy trigger to pull, either.

So here’s my Emily Post on the matter:

As real estate agents, in addition to scheduling appointments for customers to view properties, we highlight neighborhoods, introducing them to restaurants, local gems, new friends, new business contacts, child care providers, and interior designers and so on.  It’s easy to go way beyond just selling or renting a home because we get to know our customers rather well.  Buyers, Sellers and Renters talk to us a lot—about their kids, their jobs, their spouses, their exes, their finances and sometimes even more intimate details about their lives that we’d rather not know.   Typically we don’t get paid to do anything else but sell or rent a home and of course that “possibility” of a commission is why we, as agents, often go above and beyond our job and also because our customers have pulled us in, like a new family member, with all of that way too “personal” information.

So, when we have worked our arses off for months and sometimes for years for our customers and then, they seem to fall off the face of the Earth:  We know somethin’s up, so just be straight with us, like we have been to you.   Don’t just ignore us, thinking that’s all you need to do to fire us and we’ll get the picture, eventually.  That’s so not cool on so many levels.

Look, we’ve been doing this for a while, Renters, Buyers, Sellers:

  • We know there are going to be those days when you are cheating on us by viewing properties with another agent or interviewing other agents to take over listing your property.
  • We know you might just walk into an open house without us and impulsively purchase/rent that home with the agent hosting the open house.
  • We know that you might feel it is better to purchase a “For Sale By Owner” or even sell/rent your property on your own, even if we, as your keepers-of-your-personal-secrets, have provided you a real estate education—that foundation for you to do such.

What you don’t know, Renters and Buyers:

  • We register your name with the listing agent/homeowner in order to schedule a viewing for you (for security reasons).
  • We are often required, per the listing agent, in addition to just your name, to provide a short bio about you, including your job title and where you work (and sometimes your yearly income), prior to showing you higher-end properties.
  • And because of the two bullet-points above, you are a known entity. You’re not anonymous when viewing properties.

And as much as real estate agents are known for being “cut-throat,” most of us in the biz, have established a good working relationship with our peers over the years.  It’s very common for us to receive a call or email from one of our colleagues, “Just thought you should know that Bob Buyer, who you showed my listing at 123 Main Street a few weeks ago, just sent me an email to see my other listing at 345 High Street and said he wasn’t working with anyone,” or that they met our buyer/renter at one of their open houses.

So, how should you inform us it’s time to part ways or we’re just not a good match for you?

If we have showed you more than a few properties or performed a listing presentation for you, don’t go MIA on us. That’s just rude, especially since you’ve shared so much of your personal information with us over time, like a dear family member. If you don’t have the guts to give us a call, having a conversation about your decision to not continue working with us; send us an email, something like: “We really appreciate all of the time you have spent with us, but we feel it is time to move in a different direction.”  And send it sooner than later (because we’re probably still working behind-the-scenes, searching new listings and marketing campaigns for your property).  And please don’t just send a text, adding “TY,” that’s beyond tacky.

Finally, on rare occasions, I have had customers who have even sent flowers or gift certificates thanking me for my time, even though they have chosen not to work with me anymore.  They’re class-acts, who know how to alleviate a bit of that burn of being fired.

And, That’s a Wrap.


Art Nouveau vs. Art Deco

If my life could be represented by a particular movement found in architecture and design it would be Art Nouveau.  Just as its name suggests this “New Art” was born around 1880.  The curvilinear motifs often inspired by natural forms just sing to me, like the music of Ravel and Strauss, with floridity and sensual undertones.

More often than not, Art Nouveau is confused with Art Deco. So today, I’ve decided clear-up that obvious blur and simply explain the differences of the two: Art Nouveau is prior to World War 1 and Art Deco is post, lasting until World War II.  Basically Art Nouveau is the big sister who inspired the more popular, stronger, little brother Art Deco. Art Nouveau is flowing, often “coloring outside of the lines” and Art Deco is geometric with clearly defined outlines.

AN 24, place Etienne-Pernet

High Deco -- the Lexington Avenue entrance to the Chrysler Building

AN Victor Horta, Tassel House

AD 570 Lexington Avenue

If your life could be represented by a particular Architecture & Design era, what would it be?

Which movement sings to you?  

Bauhaus? Baroque? Georgian?

Cleveland Culture via THE COCKTAIL

MocaAs a real estate professional one of the best ways, for me, to introduce the culture of a city is by food and drink, especially in Cleveland. The hospitality agriculture of C-town is a gastro-tapestry woven with varied ancestral traditions, held together over the years with nouveau threads that’s interesting; lush and different.  And it’s pure bliss, for me, when a client is able to see—embrace the evolving textile of CLE.

This past Thursday I invited a home buyer, relocating from the East Coast, to accompany me to hear a lecture, THE COCKTAIL: ORIGINS + EVOLUTION at The Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, known to locals as MOCA. (Yeah, we went to an art museum to hear a lecture on cocktails; way cool and very #ThisIsCle)

I was thrilled that I was able to introduce my client to two of my favorite proprietors in Cleveland, both of whom happened to be experts on the panel that evening. Today, I’ve decided not to write about the lecture, but about these two men because they are vibrant fibers in the flavor of Cleveland culture and very different from one another.


I met Paulius Nasvytis back in the mid-1990s. He’s a gentleman of thought and courtesy, often wears a three-piece suit with ascot, and he’s the only man I know who can don a walking stick, without pretension. Much like his attire, he’s a layered man—appreciating the finer things in life, respectfully, master of conversation and introductions, and his Lithuanian heritage hums in the background of what makes Cleveland unique; it’s residents. Back in 1996 he embarked on bringing that way of civility—that we’ve all read about in Edith Wharton novels, to Cleveland with The Velvet Tango Room.  The VTR is a place where you sip your cocktail, slowly as if you’re savoring that sustained “Ahhh…” in the beginning of Bachianas Brasileiras nº 5.  More simply, it’s an aria in a glass.  The Velvet Tango Room is referred to as a speak-easy, but I think that description just doesn’t do it justice; it’s more special than that. There’s too much thought, execution to detail within its walls with reminders of elegance, much like its proprietor…


You know when you first meet someone and after a minute of conversing with them you think to yourself, This person is really, really smart. And it’s not because they are highlighting their resume or parroting some article, theory or book they have read; they just have that spark—that brilliant energy, a distinct zeal.  That’s Michael Nowak the Chef/Owner of The Black Pig. I can’t tell you how many times I look at a menu and I just don’t hear the music—that true distinct voice of the Chef throughout, from the pre-dinner cocktail list all the way to the dessert menu; it doesn’t blend, not balanced. Well, that’s not the case at The Black Pig.  Chef Nowak really understands food, cocktails and wine; all of them—intimately—and historically, creating this really incredible, unheard-of music in dining. For me, it’s like if the French composer Hector Berlioz collaborated with Bad Religion composing a modern-day, Symphonie Fantastique. There’s something happening—something exciting and new at The Black Pig, and I can’t wait to see what transpires over the years with Chef Nowak’s Symphonie Gastroteque—Cleveland-style.




¾ oz. gin
¾ oz. green Chartreuse
¾ oz. maraschino liqueur, like Luxardo
¾ oz. fresh lime juice


Vigorously shake all ingredients together with ice. Strain into a martini glass or a coupe.

(Alright. So this drink originated in Detroit, but a Clevelander did introduce it to me.)



MASTER CLASS: The First Date

A little over a week ago I met a male friend of mine for a bottle wine. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year. We had a lot of catching-up to do, to say the least. After our usual discourse on business and real estate matters and all of the countries he’s traveled to; he’ll always ask about my love-life.  Ugh.

“Well,  I’ve been on quite a few Happy Hours dates…”

My friend chuckles asking, “Have you had a c-o-n-v-e-r-s-a-t-i-o-n with these men before you meet them?”

“Of course! Obviously more than just one conversation. And texting.”

Shaking his head, “Heather, Heather, Heather.”


“Look, if a guy likes you—if he really wants to get to know you—he doesn’t ask you, Heather Bise, to meet for a coffee or drinks. He requests to take YOU to dinner. Hell, three years ago when we met, after talking to you for five minutes, I knew you’re a woman to have dinner with.  I don’t even think it was seven minutes in when I interrupted that charming Cleveland-banter of yours, asking if you’d like to have dinner the following evening. Right?”

“Yeah. Actually, it was one of the best pick-up lines I had ever heard,” pausing to lower my voice to sound-like my male friend, with a bit of a playa’ bravado, “I NEED to know you, REALLY KNOW YOU. Let me take you to dinner tomorrow night.” I laugh.

He laughs: “Damn, I could’ve done so much better than that! Jesus, now I know why you have such lousy luck with men.  You’ll go out with anyone…for coffee!  And pay their mortgage too!” (not really)

My retort, “Hmmm, I wouldn’t say that. I’m just practical, down to Earth. Open-minded.”

“You are, but there’s so much more to you than that practical Heather. You’re priceless, in a very good way. You need to embrace that…”

To tell you the truth, I thought my friend was completely off base, giving me too much credit for being some “special woman,” putting me on some kind of pedestal or whatever.  Then, days later I started thinking, really thinking.  He was right, in a way. When I looked at all of the men I’ve dated—those who I had dinner with on the first date, whether they blossomed into long romances or fizzled into friendships, the majority of them are still in my life–as friends who I admire, and I’m pretty sure they respect me too. I think of them with fondness. They’re good memories—those dinner dates.  The guys I just had coffee with or met for drinks:  Some of them blossomed into relationships—and those didn’t necessarily end well, and for the most part, they’re not part of my life at all anymore.  I don’t even think of them, fondly or otherwise. It was “just coffee” or “just drinks” and some turned into “just a relationship,” and I usually picked-up the tab. And I don’t really have time for just that, anymore.

Then I asked myself what happened to courtship and sharing a meal on that first date: Was it the Recession? The Internet? Smartphones? Online dating? The acceptable era of hook-ups? Female Equality? Social media?  I don’t have a clue, but now I see The Light, so to speak.

There is something magical that happens when you go to dinner with someone who you are beginning to know.  I like the ceremony of dining with someone and there’s so much you learn about a person-of-interest when you share a meal (accompanied by wine) with them. And for the most part, we wear nicer clothes when dinner is involved; we look our best—because a meal is involved. It’s respectable; we value it and somehow we actually value the other person’s time more too.

You just don’t get the same vibe from someone when you just meet to drink, munching on bar-bites with televisions in the background, or just having a cup of coffee, wearing jeans. It’s too casual. Don’t get me wrong, I love casual and I’m always down for drinking at a dive-bar; but that should come later in the relationship, not the first date.  I mean, if I had to impress a client on that first day of showing properties, I definitely wouldn’t take her to some random “happy hour” place, in between appointments. I’d step-it up, big time, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll even get a sale out of it. Yet, I still continue to court my customers and future clients, anyway.  So, why should I settle for “just coffee” or “just drinks” on a first date…

Finally, before my male friend and I parted ways, he said, “Heather, promise me that you will never go out with a man unless he takes you to dinner on the first date. And he has to be the one to suggest dinner—NOT you. And stop paying—let someone court you.”  (Yeah, he knows me)

Today, I can make that promise to my friend. I get it…and bit more than he intended.

And, I feel that every woman deserves dinner on the first date. We’d all be bit more choosey if we went back to that old-fashion courtship. It’s a nice foundation for whatever the future holds…romance or friendship or possibly both.  I can embrace that.



Tree of Many Lives

Well, this year I decided to do things a bit differently:  Instead of the usual Christmas tree adorned with ornaments, I decided to use books that others have given us throughout our lives, going back thirty years—for me. Looking at our tree this 2014, it’s a lovely reminder of each person who has touched our lives with the gift of a book and the journeys we were taken on by reading them.


(Christmas) Tree of Many Lives 2014
Tree of Many Lives 2014

Events in NYC this Holiday Season

Events in CLE this Holiday Season

Tips on Tipping this Holiday Season

The Explorers Club

Exterior TECCelebrated societies and members-only clubs are, well, perceived as rather haughty, and there are many in NYC; but over the years I have been to a few—as a guest, cherishing each visit with a glimpse into history and of a lifestyle I’ll probably never have. They were all wonderful learning experiences, for me.

So, I thought I’d write about a Jacobean pad located at 46 East 70th Street. There’s no flashy sign, just a flag that’s visited Mariana Trench, North and South Poles, Mt. Everest and a cozy place called The Moon; it’s the current home of The Explorers Club.

“The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.”

“Founded in New York City in 1904, The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences.”

“The long, wooden table is where President Teddy Roosevelt held his cabinet meetings, and is what he and his coterie of engineers drew up the initial plans for the Panama Canal on.” (Yeah, TDR was an instrumental member)

Now, the only things I explore are buildings and homes (and books), so a membership to this club is not on my goal list, per se, because I am still exploring real estate…But, what I do appreciate and savor is that The Explorers Club offers lectures and events open to the public—to learn—explore what members have experienced. That’s really cool, to me.

And on tonight’s agenda:

The Four-Tusked Elephant: An Evening of Club Lore, Live Music and Dancing for $30—a real bargain, with cocktails! Oh, and the music includes the cello works of Ravel, Debussy, and Poulenc. Oui, merci!

And on 13 November:

Exploring the Amazon’s “River of Doubt” and the life of Theodore Roosevelt for $20—again another bargain (no French music or cocktails for this one).

For other events click HERE

Okay! That’s all I’m going to write on The Explorer Club because last month JOE MCGAULEY & ETHAN WOLFF-MANN wrote a great piece on their personal tour, which you can read HERE. And if you’d like to know even more about the TEC visit the WEBSITE.



(Photos from ny.curbed.com)


JackalopeA little over twenty years ago I visited the little town of Cody, Wyoming:   A cowboy settlement known as the Rodeo Capital of The World and named after that great showman William Fredrick Cody, aka, Buffalo Bill.  At twenty years of age I was mesmerized by the culture of this quaint town and saw my very first jackalope hanging on a wall, so with Wild West jubilation I purchased my father the most beautiful calfskin gloves, with fringe, for a hefty c-note, thinking he’d just LOVE this token from Cody. He didn’t. Oh well…

What I didn’t know back then is that the cowboy of the art world “Action Jackson” was born in Cody, sharing my birthday of January 28.  If I had known, since I do have a passion for “tracking” interesting dwellings, I would’ve tracked down his birth abode like a “Wild Bill” Hickok of the real estate world.

But I didn’t. So here I am today, making-up for my wish-I-would’ve-known, bringing you the east coast abodes of the man who is known to be the leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement: Jack the Dripper, aka, Jackson Pollock.

Pollock Krasner HomeThe most famous of Pollock’s dwellings is 830 Springs-Fireplace Rd in East Hampton. The property was constructed in 1879 as a fisherman’s house, resting on 1.56 acres, with a barn near Accobonac Creek.  Pollock and his artist-wife, Lee Krasner, stumbled upon this home in 1945 with an asking price of $5,000. Somewhat struggling artists at the time Peggy Guggenheim gave them $2,000 for their down-payment in exchange for art. Ole’ Peg did well on that trade or did Pollock…

I’d say Pollock did. He found his ‘drip and splash’ voice in that barn-studio, mastering that Wild West-style of not using an easel, but the floor. He became worldrenowned.

After Lee Krasner’s death the Springs home was given to The Stony Brook Foundation. For five buckaroos you can visit the homestead too. INFO

Jackson-Pollock-Aaron-Burr-46-Carmine-StreetNow, if you’re like me and can’t afford your very own Action Jackson drip-n-splash masterpiece, you might want to consider taking out a mortgage (or paying cash if you’re a Peggy Guggenheim-type), and purchasing 46 Carmine Street #4 in the Wild West Village, where it’s said that Pollock resided as a renter. It’s only $1,250,000.00. Now that’s an affordable Huckleberry. Yeehaw!

Click here for the listing details.