Excerpt from Negotiating New York Chapter 5
The Negotiator: How Alfred Began His Real Estate Career

By Joanne R. Douglas and Alfred Renna

For our first website design, Barbara had given me one directive. She said, “I do not want my photograph anywhere on the website.” But she turned down every design and mockup I did. She hated layout after layout. Our home page had to be exceedingly special.

Then, in spite of what she told me, I had a thought to go ahead and do a layout featuring her in one of the dozen red suits she always wore. We had lots of photos to use as her image was on some of our ads and brochures. Before I showed it to her, I had a little editing done after having seen a documentary on how fashion magazines changed photos, enhancing the models. So I figured, fashion model? Why not Barbara Corcoran. I made her legs the equivalent of a foot longer, and did a bit of reshaping. She was a knockout. I waited for the right moment to present it. Late that day, I walked into her office with the layout on a big board facing her. She took one look and said, “Wow! I look great! Let’s do it!” I left the office laughing, and she called me back to ask what was so funny.

I said, “You’re going to kill me.” I was still laughing and could barely get the words out to say to her, “Those aren’t your legs.”

She laughed with me and said, “No wonder I love it!” Corcoran.com became a national leading website.

After this great success, my core team and I were assigned new office space. When Barbara called me in to tell me about it, I was very excited. That was until I looked at the blueprint of the newly expanded office space that was undergoing a complete build-out, the term used for office renovations. To my great disappointed, I saw we were right in the middle of the entire office, far from the wonderful huge windows in what would clearly be a small, sunless, shared space with tiny desks. Nothing special or rewarding given the success of my project. I was not about to whine and complain, and knowing how much she appreciates humor, I decided to thank her with a photo illustrating my interpretation of our newly assigned stations.

I took Sheldon, Julie, and myself into the men’s bathroom. We staged one of the bathroom stalls as a private office. I had a small file cabinet brought in to act as the desk, balancing an old computer monitor, mouse, and phone on top. Then we each took turns sitting on the toilet with a keyboard on our lap to take photos. I then created a triptych of the three of us with big smiles, gleaming with joy and appreciation. I wrote a note on the photo that said, “Dear Barb, Thank you for our new private offices. Love, Alfred, Sheldon, and Julie. I printed it and put it on her desk. As soon as she saw it, she called me into her office. She was laughing so hard she nearly peed in her pants.

“Alfred, this goes into my special file of things I keep forever.” Shortly thereafter, each of us were awarded a private windowed office, and I got to design my own furniture.

Negotiating New York

Negotiating New York: Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Real Estate

Siblings and top real estate duo, Joanne Renna Douglas and Alfred Renna, bring readers along on an engaging and often hilarious journey into the world of New York real estate. An accounting that is more exposé than how-to, Negotiating New York will have you glued to the page from start to finish, as you delve into the outrageous antics and adventures these two (along with sisters Donna and Rosemary) share as they travel from New York to Italy to the Hamptons, and start all over again.

Douglas and Renna have become a force in the real estate scene, finding the potential in each property and in each client they encounter along the way. Readers experience all the laughter, losses, additions, family politics, and plenty of crazy deals as the siblings navigate their way across the varied landscape of high-powered real estate to come out on top in this highly competitive industry.

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