Given the fact, that in Latvia it is necessary to introduce modern ideas and concepts in real estate management I decided to gain new experience from one of the leading countries in this sector. Therefore, I applied for the Baltic American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) professional internship program in the United States (U.S.). After overcoming application contest and an interview process I was accepted in the program which enabled me to receive scholarship and internship placement at U.S. company. With help and coordination from BAFF I was able to find my internship placement in New York City.
After arriving in New York City on March 29th, 2015 and settling in the mecca of real estate, I started my 1-year long professional internship at Elegran Real Estate & Development. My perception of real estate business processes changed from day 1. Elegran Real Estate & Development is a full service real estate firm focusing on the buyer side and developer services in New York City. The company in recent years has grown to become one of the top midsize residential brokerages in New York City. Elegran predominately works with luxury residential apartments in Manhattan and has extended their reach to booming neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.
Firstly, real estate may be the biggest decision New Yorkers have to make. It is a proven fact that many people are willing to pay more than $1,500 to live in a small room and share the apartment with four other people somewhere in Manhattan. At the other end of the spectrum, we have luxury residential apartments worth tens of millions of dollars. All of this attracts huge capital from all around the world that flows into real estate transactions — which means that there is great involvement with different parties and middlemen who represents each side of transaction.
In spite of worldwide trends about all the transactional methods moving electronically and variety of services (UBER, AirBnB, WeWork and others) being shared between multiple users, real estate brokerages are keeping their ground. Of course it doesn’t mean that technology is passing by the real estate train stop, quite the opposite. The companies who are able to make savvy investments into real estate tech will have a competitive advantage over their competitors. Taking into consideration each new generation is born into a digital-run world, the importance of information, technology, and the impact of the internet is continually growing. Therefore, it only makes sense for companies to invest into technological development whether those companies are in finance, transportation and food services, or real estate.
Thankfully, I had the chance to do my internship in a company that is investing in the future, which is quite unique in the real estate sector. The knowledge and technology at Elegran provides real estate professionals (both the agents and managers) with broader perspectives of the real estate market. It is not only about making a few sales or rental deals, it is about consistency and long term thinking. You need to capitalize on the right marketing strategies and cut out the processes that don’t work. In the age of modern tech, it is important to emphasize the human aspect to our businesses and cultivate a strong company culture.
I believe that Elegran was able to achieve the right balance. They used this mentality to implement fantastic customer service, which ensured smooth transactions with clients. I have concluded, the most important things I gained professionally from my internship program is:
- Understanding the necessary skills within client relationship management to close real estate transactions
- The importance of technological development in real estate and the pipeline around it
- Long term thinking and sustainable business practices that should be implemented carefully and effectively
- Working with an international team broadens your professional growth
- Decision making needs to be backed with facts and analysis
- For complex problem solving it is necessary to have out of the box thinking.
Finally, I think that the strong academic knowledge you gain in school or university goes hand in hand with the professional knowledge you gain in your work. I had a great opportunity to study real estate management in the Institute of the Civil Engineering and Real Estate Economics in Riga Technical University, which helped me to understand essence and related business processes. I believe that uniting academical knowledge with professional skills, allows an individual to achieve intended career goals. Of course University or your job only gives you the tools. You as an individual need to put the tools into action and put in the necessary effort to reach your goal. This is one of the keys to success that is put into practice in the real estate industry in New York City.