Interview With Associate Broker Ian Norris
Team Agorafy speaks with Ian Norris about his experience in real estate.
From waiting tables in restaurants to leasing spaces for them, associate broker with the Kaufman Organization, Ian Norris typifies the New York real estate dream. As the Pittsburgh native explains, a single day in his life is like a trek around the globe with a myriad of diverse clients thrown into the mix. From Bali to Brussels, baguettes to brownstones—and that’s just the B’s! The emerging broker explains why no two days are ever the same.
JEFF VASISHTA: How did you get involved in real estate?
IAN NORRIS: I grew up with commercial real estate in my life thanks to my father. He started out as an urban planner and then founded his own successful CRE firm that grew to be the market leader in the greater Pittsburgh region and eventually merged it with CBRE. Given his example, it was a natural choice for me to follow after college. After graduating I moved from DC to NYC to be closer to one of my sisters and brother, and got a job waiting tables at an Italian restaurant while I got my real estate license. While working there, I interviewed with the company that I’ve been with for the past seven years, the Kaufman Organization, which happens to have its office right across the street from that same restaurant at 450 7th Ave.
VASISHTA: What was the first deal you did?
NORRIS: Hard to remember which deal was my first. However, within the first year, I had secured several deals including relocating a PR firm in SoHo to several deals in the Penn Station area; everything from relocating a financial services firm, to a men’s apparel showroom, to a college-oriented lifestyle website company etc.
VASISHTA: What was the hardest deal you’ve done? What deal are you most proud of?
NORRIS: The hardest deals are the ones that you don’t close after investing so much blood, sweat and tears into them. I once spent over a year on a 30,000 RSF multi-floor deal where we had executed leases and the first month’s rent was deposited, but after waiting weeks, the LOC never materialized and the deal collapsed. I was not pleased to say the least, but you can’t let yourself wallow in it and just have to keep on going. Real estate is a numbers game. Some deals are unfortunately going to fall by the wayside.
VASISHTA: What life lessons have you learned from real estate?
NORRIS: Nothing goes as planned, but it’s important to stay focused on your goals and think long-term. For example, I might not make one deal, but instead I potentially develop a strong connection with a client, executive, agent etc. I might end up doing a deal elsewhere or a couple years down the line because there are many foreseen and unforeseen benefits to maintaining positive relationships.
VASISHTA: What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you in business?
NORRIS: One word – elevators. On several occasions, I’ve been showing space with a customer along with a building agent as we head up to a space in an elevator and the elevator will either get stuck or jump a bit or (in one case) fall several floors. On that occasion, I was with my customer and didn’t want to freak them out, even though I was pretty darn concerned. However, before I could even react, the building agent was already touting the positive aspects of modern elevators illustrated by the fact we didn’t get smushed at the bottom of the shaft… no big whoop. Needless to say, the customer wanted to explore other options.
VASISHTA: What deals are you currently involved in?
NORRIS: Right now, I’m working on numerous deals representing financial technology firms, VC firms, and TAMI-related tenants; as well as building agency work representing and leasing 27 West 24th Street and 259 West 30th Street. They’re gorgeous loft office buildings that are perfect for creative/tech tenants.
VASISHTA: What do you think makes those projects unique?
NORRIS: The deals are unique because they run the gamut from office to showroom uses for a variety of industries from fashion, furniture, finance, venture capital, mobile tech, advertising etc. The companies also range from local NYC start-ups to foreign firms based out of places such as Sweden and China. That diversity and opportunity is a major draw for what I do and there is no better place to do it than this amazing city. New York is chock-full of absolutely unique people coming together to make things happen. Every day is a world tour of different cultures, languages and industries. No two days are the same.
VASISHTA: What makes you unique at what you do?
NORRIS: Having a generally positive and lighthearted demeanor with an attention to detail and a belief in frank no-nonsense dealing makes me distinct. I pair that approach with a little bit of humor and people are quickly put at ease, which I hope makes the often complex and grating process of commercial real estate feel a bit more human and bearable for each of my customers.