Trust is essential. People have to trust what you’re telling them; they have to feel that you have their best interest in mind
Mark Weissman grew up in New York as the oldest of four brothers. He would often listen to stories from his father – some about surviving the Holocaust, about moving to America, and about becoming a lawyer. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mark decided to pursue a career in law.
He attended Queens College and then went to NYU School of Law. Mark Weissman then worked for a commercial law firm for a short time before joining his father’s law practice, Law Offices of Marcel Weisman, a well-known personal injury firm based in Manhattan.
With a passion for real estate, Mark dove into the real estate industry, first as an investor and then becoming a real estate broker, starting Weissman Realty Group, LLC more than 10 years ago.
Mark Weissman currently lives in Long Island, New York, where he and his family are very involved with community organizations and events. He is happily married to his wife Sharon, and they have four daughters and nine grandchildren. Mark enjoys spending time with his family, reading non-fiction books, listening to self-improvement audio books, going for walks, and studying different Jewish texts, such as the Talmud.
Where did the idea for Weissman Realty Group, LLC come from?
I was representing several real estate clients as an attorney, and I realized that I could be just as effective, and potentially make a lot more money, as a real estate broker, since I really enjoyed deal making. I was already involved in different types of real estate transactions as an attorney, and I knew a lot of the players, investors, buyers, and sellers. I thought to myself that if I acted as a real estate broker on transactions, in addition to making more money, it would provide me with greater satisfaction because I really enjoyed the deal-making aspects of real estate.
My primary area of focus at Weissman Realty is the sale of multi-family investment properties in the New York City area, with an emphasis on the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. It took a few years for the business to establish itself, but after hiring some young talented commercial agents, the company became successful, resulting in several awards from a leading rating company in the industry.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves spending time overseeing my father’s personal injury law practice and dealing with clients who have been involved in accidents. At the same time, I need to work together with my agents and clients on brokering real estate deals at Weissman Realty Group, LLC.. It’s not easy to juggle both jobs and it involves a lot of hard work as well as a great deal of my time.
In terms of productivity, I try to remain focused on the task at hand. Multitasking doesn’t generally work. It’s hard to do two or three things at the same time, so you have to focus on one task, complete that task, and move on to the next one.
How do you bring ideas to life?
One of my strengths, I believe, is that I try to find creative solutions to the problems that I encounter. In other words, if I have a problem, I don’t just give up right away. I ask myself, how can I get it resolved? I like to think out of the box and be creative, and I feel that that has given me a certain edge with people in the real estate business. With that creativity, I can come up with a solution that others may not have thought of.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Unfortunately, the trends in both personal injury law and the real estate industry do not excite me, but instead make me nervous. Representing clients who are involved in automobile accident cases are less lucrative that when I first started working with my father.
The marketplace for personal injury lawyers is very flooded making it difficult to attract
clients. In addition, the new safety features in cars results in people sustaining fewer injuries, which is a wonderful thing for society, but not good for business. Moreover, insurance companies are giving attorneys a much harder time settling cases.
With respect to real estate market in New York, I am worried that the liberal administration in NYC will make it less profitable for landlords to own multi-family properties. Unfortunately, new legislation is in the process of being adopted which places significant restrictions on landlords from increasing their rents, even when they make major improvements to their buildings.
Although tenants may think that these proposed new laws will help them with lower rents, it will discourage landlords from making necessary investments in their properties, which may hurt the housing market in New York.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of the things that I’m willing to do is take risks. I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is. If I feel that a real estate deal represents a good opportunity, I will try to take advantage of it even if others may be concerned about the potential risk.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I had nobody to teach me the ropes when I started in real estate. I didn’t have a professional who was able to guide me or whom I could consult with, for the most part. So, l essentially learned from my mistakes. Ultimately, you can succeed doing that, but there will be inevitable problems along the way, and you are bound to have setbacks. However, if you have a knowledgeable mentor, you can avoid many of the mistakes and setbacks that I experienced.
So, my advice to my younger self would be to align myself with someone who has the experience so I can learn from him rather than learn from my own mistakes.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You can be a nice guy and still build a successful business. There is a common perception out there that you have to be aggressive and do whatever you can to get a deal done. I’m not like that, and that hurts me at times. I’m not as successful as I probably could be, but at the same time, I have a good reputation in the industry. People know when I say something I mean it. So that certainly helps.
I believe you can still be a nice guy, be extremely generous to your employees and customers, even if it means giving in when you don’t want to, and still have a successful business.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Not so much as a lawyer, but as a real estate broker and investor, one thing I tell people is that you can’t take no for an answer. You have to be nice and polite, of course, but at the same time, persistent. I have several young employees that work for me who make a lot of cold calls, and it can get extremely frustrating when you reach out to potential investors or people that own property that you’re trying to encourage them to sell. It can be very discouraging. So, in order to be successful in this business, you have to follow up with people and be persistent.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Trust is essential. People have to trust what you’re telling them; they have to feel that you have their best interest in mind. People consult with me all of the time, asking if a building represents a good real estate opportunity. The reason they come to me is that they know I’m not going to mislead them. I believe that the good reputation that I have developed over the years enabled me to grow my business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I got into real estate, as you know, I didn’t have anyone to guide me, and early on someone interested me in a development deal. Development deals are much riskier than buying an existing building or property. So I got involved in this development deal with the impression that the market was going to continue to rise, but instead, it took a turn for the worse and collapsed. The financing we were counting on was no longer available, and the deal was a disaster. I lost a lot of money. It was a major setback.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think that a location-based app should be developed that focuses on connecting charitable organizations with people looking to volunteer. That would be wonderful.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I don’t have much time to read, and I’m in the car often, so I recently subscribed to Audible, where I download audiobooks. The books I listen to are mostly self improvement books, and I find them to be very valuable. I am hoping that over the long term, these audiobooks will help me improve certain life and business skills. I found this to be a productive use of my money.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use outlook for email and the standard apps on my phone. I really don’t use anything else.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
‘Real Estate Investing Gone Bad’ by Phil Pustejovsky. There is a perception out there that real estate is a great investment vehicle, and that if you get into real estate, you’ll make a lot of money. To some extent, that’s true, but there are a lot of risks involved and potential pitfalls. I feel that this is a good book to read so that you can get a sense of the potential risks before getting into real estate.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you don’t know what you are living for, you haven’t yet lived.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg
- If you have a knowledgeable mentor, you can avoid many of the mistakes and setbacks that I experienced.
- You can be a nice guy and still build a successful business.
- Trust is essential.