Elizabeth Stribling, founder and chairman of Stribling & Associates, started her own company in 1980. Since then, it has grown to include over 300 agents.
In 2012, Ms. Stribling and her team oversaw the sellout of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on its conversion from a hotel into condominiums.
While based in New York, she has also had success selling large chateaux in France.
Today, the company is jointly run with Ms. Stribling, 73, and her daughter, Elizabeth Stribling-Kivlan. In January, Ms. Stribling received the Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership award from the Real Estate Board of New York.
We caught up with her to discuss her current dream home, how doormen service sets New York City apart, why you should always act on your gut, and more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Elizabeth Stribling: My dream property is the one I just built in Brooklyn. I have a penthouse with wraparound 360-degree views of all of New York. I’m on the edge of the water in Brooklyn Heights. I built this apartment to my own specifications, to exactly what my husband and I wanted at our stage of life. We took a four-bedroom and made it a one-bedroom. We have a study now and double libraries.
I was living in an 1882 townhouse on the Upper East Side. It was getting a little decrepit. I saw the view of this apartment and said this is the best view I’d seen in 50 years of real estate. I thought, this is the chance of a lifetime.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
ES: Not really. I did see, many years ago, a townhouse in Chelsea that I wanted. But my late husband didn’t like it that much. In retrospect, I’m so relieved we didn’t buy it.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
ES: What luxury means today is ease and quickness and accessibility. People want things in very good condition. People today love to move into new, glossy condominium buildings. They’d rather wait two years for the building to be complete than go through the hassle of renovating themselves.
When they get there, they want the concierge, the sports club, the library and the dining room they can take their friends to. It’s ease of lifestyle people are looking for.
Comfort is luxury.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
ES: Anything that offers a view and is high in the sky. You’re parked in a skyscape.
People will go anywhere. That’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in 50 years. It used to be all about the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side and maybe Greenwich Village, but now luxury buyers are everywhere. Look at Hudson Yards, West and East 57th Street, the South Street Seaport, Chinatown. These places are getting apartments with major views. And that’s the sexy today. The area doesn’t make any difference.
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MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
ES: Downtown [Manhattan] is where it’s at; it’s not uptown anymore. A fancy address in a Park Avenue building isn’t so sought after anymore.
Condominiums are no longer second-class citizens. They’re now where people want to live, and not just an alternative when you can’t get into a co-op.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
ES: To me, any very vibrant city. You have the luxury of being able to do whatever you want whenever you want, or not doing any of it because you know it’s there if you want it. Some people who move to remote places or cities that are not as bustling, they miss that.
Cities that fall into the category are London, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Buenos Aires. I’m beginning to hear a lot about Mexico City—the modern art scene and the cuisine, too.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
ES: My boudoir. I have a clawfoot tub, bookshelves around me and a television. I also have an antique chaise longue where I can read. It’s a room that’s just mine. Like Virginia Woolf wrote, this is a room of my own.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
ES: I’ve tried to combine a loft-like space with furniture from around the world—a chandelier from Spain, some Louis XV objects, some furniture from Italy, a mirror from Holland. These are my souvenirs from places that I love. Most people who see it say it’s my little Italian palazzo in New York, but there are lots of French items, too.
MG: Most valuable thing in your home?
ES: I purchased at auction at Sotheby’s two 18th century lacquered doors with chinoiserie, with a marvelous interpretation of what people thought China looked like. It’s full of reds and greens and blues.
I planned the apartment around these doors, and people always ask about them when they come to my apartment.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
ES: Service in a building. Someone you can call. One of the grand things about living in New York CIty is the doorman system. London and Paris don’t have those. When we sell apartments people want to know about the services in the building—that’s one of the first questions they ask.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
ES: Act on your instinct. If you see something you like, move on it. It may never come again. Follow your heart, you won’t regret it.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
ES: I’ve been in this business since 1967. The actual news doesn’t have as much impact as you think it would. What’s in the news causes personal concern, but not buying concern.
New York is a city that attracts, and will always attract, other people. How many people have come to this town with a couple of pennies and now can buy the entire building?
Also, how many people come to New York City because they see it as the safest haven in the world to put their money?
What does happen is before a presidential election there’s always a pause. And then, it always comes back no matter what. People can deal with bad news, but they can’t deal with uncertainty.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
ES: I would put my bet on the far East Side on the Upper East Side. The bars, the restaurants, and the Second Avenue subway are divine.
East End Avenue used to sell for a discount, but not anymore. You’ve got the river view, and the neighborhood.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
ES: You’ve got to follow your heart. I can’t say condo or co-op is better. Condo resale is not always assured, but for a co-op, you need to make sure people can get in the building. There are pros and cons to both.
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