Q+A with Corcoran CEO Pamela Liebman

June 16, 2010
Pamela Liebman

Pamela Liebman

I sat down with Corcoran CEO Pamela Liebman after she came in for the Reuters Global Real Estate Summit and spoke with her about how she got into the real estate business and why she’s stuck with it for so long.

Where did you grow up in New York?
Staten Island. I went to Curtis High School

Do you live still in New York?
I live in Warren, New Jersey and have another home in Miami, Florida.

Why did you leave?
My husband wanted to live outside Manhattan. We are both very passionate about our outdoor activities and we like to be close to our golf course.

But you lived in the Manhattan before you were married?
Yes, on the Upper East Side. 77th and Lex.

Do you have pied a terre in the Manhattan?
No, I stay in hotels if I have to spend the night. I’m staying at the Mark this week. I love hotels.

Which one is your favorite?
The Regency. Probably because it is a block away from my office. But, I also love the Peninsula because of the spa and gym. And I like the Soho Grand when I am downtown. The next hotel I want to check out is the Crosby.

What made you want to get into real estate?
I was 2 years old and in Miami with my parents when I kept looking up and asking, “What is that?” and my mom said they were condominiums. All day long I kept pointing up and saying “condominiums,” “condominiums.” From then on, my parents always thought I would go into real estate.

So when did you know?
I think I knew early on while visiting my aunt, who is a Beverly Hills real estate broker, on a vacation. Rather than relaxing by the pool I asked her to please take me with her to see all the houses. It must have been in my blood from an early age since I was only about 12 on that trip. After college, a friend of my dad’s introduced me to Barbara Corcoran. During our interview Barbara said she didn’t see me staying around very long because she thought I seemed restless. Well, 25 years later I am still here. It has been a great experience. I started as a broker and during my first year I became the top agent in the office. In 1990 I became a partner in the company and then founded Corcoran Group Marketing in 1995. In 2000, I was appointed president and CEO. When people ask me what I love most about real estate it is getting the deals done. I love the action. And, it’s hard to get bored when you are experiencing something new every day.

So your parents weren’t in the real estate business?
No, my dad was a CPA, and my mom was a special education teacher.

What’s been the best thing you learned?
You have to surround yourself with great people. If the wrong people are on the bus, you’ve got to get them off because otherwise the bus won’t be able to travel at the speed you want it to go. Additionally, I learned early on, from Barbara Corcoran, never to compromise my principles and ethics for the sake of a deal. I believe that advice has served me well as it is very much a part of Corcoran’s core values today.

What was your favorite job at Corcoran?
I’ve really loved them all. But what has helped my career most was my early start in the new development business. Getting in early helped me to make all the right contacts and to learn the business from the ground up. Being a fairly decent golfer hasn’t hurt either as its true what they say, relationships built outside the business environment are often some of the best.

What do you like about new development?
It is very satisfying to be there from the beginning to the end. Being able to merge the right strategic thinking and the right creative package can be very rewarding.

So where is Corcoran/the real estate business headed now?
We will continue to build the Corcoran brand throughout the markets which we serve as well as look for new opportunities for growth. We will also continue to embrace technology and stay ahead of the curve. The abundance of information that is available now to buyers and sellers makes it more important than ever for brokers to be on top of their game. Information as it exists online is flat and we expect that our Corcoran broker’s are the best ones out there to bring it to life.

How do you handle being a leader in your field, having a husband and two kids?
I’m very lucky that my husband is a chiropractor so he knows how to keep me in line! Together we make sure we strike the right balance between work and home. My daughters understand that they have a mom who works and they are very proud of my success.

So how do you stay on top?
I never get complacent. I am constantly looking for new opportunities and my entire team loves a challenge. In a way I am lucky that I get bored so easily. Because of that I can never sit still and I don’t get lazy. And most importantly, I love change – I am not afraid of it.

What about Miami do you love so much — the real estate, the city, a combo, or something entirely different?
Everything. It’s a fantastic city that has a great vibrancy along with gorgeous weather and beautiful beaches.

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