Douglas Elliman luxury agent Darren Sukenik has been involved in some major projects in New York City, specifically in Downtown Manhattan, including the new Bjarke Ingels project The XI, 111 Murray Street, 10 Madison Square West and 150 Charles, which counts among its residents Jon Bon Jovi and Ben Stiller.
Mr. Sukenik, 42, also runs a complimentary interior design firm that’s offered exclusively to his buyers and sellers.
We caught up with him to discuss why you buy with your heart and your head, why you should always count closets and more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Darren Sukenik: It’s all about location, light and ceiling height. Those are also three variables that can never be changed.
A house on a busy road will always be a house on a busy road.
MG: Do you have a property that got away?
DS: My husband and I are looking for a new house out east, and we had a horrible inspection on one, but, looking back, that one got away from us. If we had pushed harder, we could have gotten it.
In the city, there was an incredible loft in what was a horrible neighborhood. It was perfect—corner loft, incredible light. But that part of NoMad was terrible then.
My dad used to always say no one ever says they were sorry for buying Manhattan real estate. And it’s true.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
DS: It’s completely overused and means nothing. Being sold a lifestyle doesn’t appeal to discerning buyers. They don’t want a new one. Instead you need to intuitively cater to the lifestyles that they have.
We sell the intuitive knowledge of their lifestyle. What they want that they don’t know they want.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
DS: In addition to New York, Aspen, Miami, Los Angeles and Palm Beach.
Our clients travel to Colorado or Miami or Palm Beach depending on their demographic.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
DS: Hudson Yards. It’s an interesting, bold venture. As a West Village resident— and most of my clients want to live here—it’s almost like Queens to me.
International buyers are really interested, but it’s hard as a native New Yorker to really understand that.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
DS: We went out of our way to design it in a way that we enjoy every part. We probably use the family room the most, where we wind down, commune and play with the dog.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
DS: It’s like the Guggenheim. We’re avid modern art collectors. We like the art to tell the story. The furniture is very much like background music.
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MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
DS: My husband. Then, the art.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
DS: It’s definitely not a smart home, because those don’t ever really work.
A full-service building that actually has services people use—a valet is very, very useful in Manhattan, someone who’s orchestrator of Amazon, dry cleaning, mending and shoe repair.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
DS: Buy with your heart and think with your head. It’s good to have a visceral reaction, but be wary of comps and upsides and little things like closets. I fell in love with an adorable vintage house in East Hampton. I didn’t realize that there was not a closet in the house.
But always buy what you love. Always be diversified. You can’t live in your Amazon stock. In real estate, you can enjoy your investment, so you need to have the visceral connection. That weathers any market.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
DS: I have always lived in new, but my Manhattan fantasy is a SoHo loft with 3,000 square feet. I’m into the pre-war thing, but I think it would be a little rough for me. I like having all the services.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
DS: The West Village and Tribeca have a diverse demographic. Those areas hold strong in a bad market and rally in a good one. Any neighborhood that appeals to more than two audiences—an empty nester from Westchester who moves to be close to the grandchildren is probably not moving to Williamsburg, Brooklyn—is a good bet.
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