Long Island’s diversity is nothing new; the island caters to everyone from city commuters who prefer the suburban life, to those who can’t live without sand between their toes and surf wind in their hair. It is no wonder then, that in order to continue to lead in residential sales on this “slice of magical geography,” Douglas Elliman chose to promote Ann Conroy as the division’s new Chief Executive Officer. Elliman Insider caught up with Conroy to find out how she got her start in real estate, what makes Long Island different from other suburbs and what she is planning as the new CEO.
Elliman Insider: Tell us about your start in real estate, and when did you get involved with Douglas Elliman?
ANN CONROY: I started as an agent with Merrill Lynch Realty, back in ’81, in Sayville. Merrill became Prudential Douglas Elliman, and then [Douglas Elliman CEO] Dottie Herman and [Douglas Elliman Executive Chairman] Howard M. Lorber purchased the company. A few years later we dropped ‘Prudential’ from the name and the rest is history.
EI: How have you seen the Long Island market evolve over the 35+ years you’ve been in real estate?
AC: The evolution since 1981 is like night and day. It has evolved from a very “local” business with “print advertising and grabber ads” into a sophisticated entrepreneurial business model with business plans, marketing strategies and global campaigns where the sky is the limit, and flexible hours means you’re on 24/7. The business is just NOT local anymore. Companies need the ability to connect people because that is the business we are in—the people business! At the very least, a company needs empathy. It must be authentic, have a philosophy and above all… CARE. “Nobody cares what you know until they know you care,” and nobody should be able to boast that they outwork you.
EI: What do you love most about Long Island; what makes it different from other suburban areas?
AC: Our proximity to New York City, the greatest metropolis in the world; our diversity; our cultural centers; sports and entertainment arenas; and miles of public and private shorelines, golf courses, equestrian trails and parks. You can take a quick ferry ride to Fire Island, or a trip to the Hamptons or the North Fork and enjoy the best day of your life. You can attend a concert on Jones Beach, or a ballet at Tilles Center. This slice of magical geography attracts the most influential thought leaders, residents and visitors from around the world. And what I live for is our sunsets—they never get old. Most other suburban areas I know are not on an island, so how could they possibly compete?
EI: What allows Douglas Elliman to be a consistent leader in the Long Island residential market?
AC: We consistently outperform all competitors in terms of units sold, year after year. That happens because we attract the best managers and the most sophisticated agents who burn with the belief that “nobody does it better than Douglas Elliman.” Our managers’ dedication, our reach, marketing influence and training curriculum are all part of what makes our agents the best on Long Island. In fact, I would put them up against anybody in the nation and feel proud.
EI: What are some of your initial plans for Long Island as the new CEO?
AC: I want to continue to build on the successes of what I have been able to do as president; strengthen our footprint in the markets we currently serve, and expand into those markets we have identified as consistent with our customer and client base. Our brand, known for trust, confidence and luxury, beats in the heart of each agent because it beats in my heart and in the hearts of our management team. We continue to provide the best tools and resources to our agents so that they can better serve their customers and clients, and this is fluid and always evolving. Our commitment to the communities we serve will continue and expand as we are opening five new locations this year.
EI: If you had to pick a hot Long Island neighborhood, which one would it be and why?
AC: That is so personal. Our neighborhoods are diverse and offer a spectrum of amenities depending upon what suits you. We have great vibrant downtowns, rural-like areas, developments, seaside neighborhoods, towns that are close to the city, and towns that are like a zen retreat. Millennials and boomers seem to converge on the same “likes.” They like vibrant towns, easy access to transportation, great restaurants, theatres and night life. You name it, we have a town for you that can fit your budget.