John Antretter is consistently one of Triplemint’s top sales agents, and his laid back, buttoned up style, polished aesthetic, and pristine collection of listings contributes to his success. We sat down with John to learn about his recipe for success, the inspiration behind his work ethic, and what advice he would share with new agents. We think you’ll love his story as much as we do.
Thank you so much for joining us for this interview. You recently earned the top agent spot at Triplemint. How does that feel?
I’m appreciative. I’m quite competitive so I like the ranking process because it helps to keep me motivated and in constant awareness of my goals.
Tell us about your competitive nature.
It’s very natural to me. Everyone has their own way of defining success but as far as business goes, I like to be towards the top. Thankfully, I have been number one quite a few times. When I was number two, that pushed me to work harder. It’s not even about the money for me – It’s nice to see the recognition.
How did you get interested in real estate?
My story goes back quite a few years. When I was six years old, my family was moving and I remember loving the process of going to open houses. I’m from Long Island, and the local supermarket had listing books that included local homes on one side and homes in Manhattan in the back. I would take those home and pore over the pages, with a particular interest in the Manhattan section. Throughout my high school and college years, online listings became more and more popular, and I would find myself looking at listings in the middle of the night. When I graduated from college, I worked for a bank for quite a long time, and when it came time to apply for more senior positions, I realized I was not on the career path I wanted to pursue. I enrolled in real estate classes and, fortuitously, my friend and former college classmate, Gabriella Michin, had recently transitioned from banking to real estate and was having pretty immediate success. I sent her an email asking her perspective on the new career, and she emailed right back that she was in the area and would take me to coffee to discuss. Within 20 minutes of my email, we met up. She felt strongly that real estate was the right path for me. I was originally hesitant to go from a salaried position into a purely commission based role, but seeing a like minded person of my age doing so well encouraged me. Knowing how highly motivated I am by nature was also important, because intrinsic motivation and perseverance are the keys to success in real estate.
That’s especially true in New York City, because the cost of living is high.
Yes, exactly. And I knew I wanted to be able to buy a home one day. I wanted to work in an industry that would give me the ability to do that. In real estate you can make $100K, or you can work a little harder, perhaps get a little lucky, and make half a million to a million or more, but that all depends on how much you want to work. Many people think they can get into real estate and not be full time. That isn’t likely to bring success. Real estate is my sole career, and although I am involved in other investments, all of my time goes to the real estate work I do.
On that note, how much would you say you work in a week?
I’m always working, and I have two phones so I’m always reachable. I work late hours, too. I discovered early on that it’s easier to communicate with clients later in the day. Sometimes between 10pm-12am is not unusual because that is often when their workday is done and their kids are asleep and they can focus and get back to me with feedback on listings. If they communicate with me late at night, I respond immediately so our conversations can continue moving our process forward while I have their attention. I tell my clients I’m usually available, but if I’m busy, I’ll get back to them as soon as I can. It’s all about managing expectations. I typically work later than earlier because that is when my clients are most available and focused.
That’s understandable and so important. Working with agents that don’t respond for long periods of time is anxiety provoking.
Yes, all of my clients say I’m the best responder. I’m always watching my phones. It’s funny, if I’m out with friends for dinner, they will sometimes try and steal my phones because I’ll always respond to a client, unless I’m at a wedding or a similar occasion. A few months ago I was on my way to a funeral and I got a client introduction. Obviously, the timing was not ideal, so I had a very short email exchange, and fast forward, I’m closing that client next week. That might not have happened if I waited much longer to respond.
In real estate that’s so important, because chances are that if a new client is reaching out to you for the first time, they’re reaching out to other agents at the same time as well.
Exactly. I always like to be the first one to respond.
Do you have, want, or need work life balance?
I have a solid balance. When I go on vacation, I fully take it. Earlier in my career, I had bad anxiety when going on vacations, but now I have a structure in place that allows me to travel while still being reachable. If I’m international, I always have international plans on both of my phones. Sometimes the time change is a benefit. Could I have more of a work / life balance? Probably, but I’m 31 years old. How much balance do I actually need right now? If I have kids in the next five or ten years, things might change. But for now, I’m at the prime time when it’s okay for me to be solely dedicated to my career.
Prime time. Prime city.
Exactly, and we’re in the prime market. Sometimes my clients think I only do high end properties. I just got a referral from a past client who was unsure if I’d help her friend sell her one bedroom home. I’m happy to work with all clients. We’re listing the home tomorrow and it’s going to sell immediately. We did a beautiful job staging it and it will get a lot of interest. Any listing can become a source of many referrals, so I do not turn down business.
Do you have any self-care routines that help keep you in a good headspace?
I like to go to the chiropractor, and I get massages weekly (that one hour massage is the only time I’m awake and not glued to my phones). I have a personal trainer at the gym. All these things help me maintain both my physical and mental health. Travel is a big part of my life, and it’s also a good way to continually build rapport with clients and grow relationships. I follow Formula One, and I’m going to the upcoming race in Miami. I have clients going to the same race, so it’s an opportunity for us to connect further whether just saying hi or meeting up for a meal or drink.
What are some places you’ve recently traveled?
I just got back from the Bahamas. Prior to that, I traveled to Amsterdam and Paris earlier this year. I went to Istanbul in October – that was a great trip – I went for the Formula One race and hadn’t been to Istanbul since college. It’s a beautiful city, that’s still somewhat under the radar, and the currency value is about 1/10th of ours, so a little bit of money goes a long way. The Turkish people are warm and offer great hospitality.
What skills and habits make you most successful?
I am very honest. I think honesty is key to being successful in any career path. Whether people like it or not I always give my honest opinion. That honesty helps me build trust with my clients. They know that I am always going to have their best interest at heart. If something is a bad deal, I tell them straight up.
I have great communication skills, and I don’t have a lot of fear. I’m not intimidated by my clients or by wealth if they’re very wealthy. I think this lack of intimidation differentiates me from many of my peers. I treat everyone the same, and I give everyone the same amount of respect. I’m extremely respectful of people, which I learned from my family, and that definitely helps.
I also have an incredible memory. This helps me to keep track of inventory and my clients likes and dislikes without having to look at notes.
Favorite watches at the moment?
My favorite watch is the Rolex Daytona. I just bought a white gold oysterflex which I’ve been waiting for for quite a while. I have a laundry list of watches on my wish list and look forward to hopefully adding another watch or two this year.
Who would you say inspired your work ethic and business style?
My grandfather. He started from nothing. He was extremely poor growing up in Bed-Stuy in a very impoverished family in the 1930s. They were destitute. He started working at the age of seven, sweeping the floors of a local pharmacy, and then eventually became a pharmacist. Over time, he purchased his own pharmacy and then three pharmacies; then, he built up a real estate portfolio of commercial properties. He worked until the day he died, and that work ethic still drives me. I have a lot of entrepreneurs in my family, so they also contribute, but my grandfather had the greatest influence. When you teach your children a strong work ethic, it travels for generations.
Absolutely. What is your five year plan?
I’m in the process of determining whether now is the right time to form a team. Within 5 years I see myself with a team and being in multiple regions throughout the country, starting with The Hamptons and Miami.
What do you love most about living in New York City?
I love the convenience of New York City. Especially where I live on the Upper East Side, I can walk out my door and accomplish so much within a few blocks.
I also love that every neighborhood is so different. I can start my day on the Upper East Side and then spend a few hours on a tour with someone in Soho or Tribeca. The change in atmosphere and architecture is pretty mind boggling. Every neighborhood is different, which keeps the job very interesting. I knew I didn’t want to be in a desk job when I changed careers. What I love about real estate in New York City is the fact that I’m out everyday and every day has something different. My client’s wants and needs vary so I see a range of property types daily.
We know you’re a big hotel bar fan. What are the top 3 hotel bars you’re loving right now?
Bemelmans bar at the Carlyle, The Bar at the Baccarat Hotel, and the Grand Bar at the Soho Grand Hotel.
What do you do to make your own home special for you and comfortable for you?
Everything is to my taste and my home is very bright. I live on the penthouse level of my building, which is the 28th floor, and I have open city views with a slight view of Central Park. Light is the most important part of my home. I learned how important light is in a home very early in my career. I sleep with blackout shades, but the living areas have to be well lit, and I think bright light is something that I would never want to sacrifice. Also, I see a lot of homes with beautiful furniture that inspires my interior visions. Two years ago I purchased all new furniture so I love the current aesthetic in my home, though I’m already thinking about, “what’s next?” but I’m on pause until I buy my next apartment which I think will be this summer.
What advice would you give to someone just starting in real estate who wants to have a career similar to yours?
- Go into it with the desire to do well but without wanting to move too quickly. I run into a lot of new agents who have little experience yet very high expectations for the type of business they want to do. They watch real estate TV shows and expect big commission checks right away. They only want to work with clients with seven figure budgets, but what’s important to understand is how much knowledge they will gather from doing smaller deals. A lot of times the smaller deals are the most complicated deals which will prepare the agent for other situations that will come up down the road. Someone who wants to buy a studio apartment for $400K could become a lifelong client and source of referrals. I had one client when I started out with whom I probably saw 60 apartments between $1.5M and $4M. After seeing 60 homes, they didn’t decided not to buy. At the time, I felt like I had wasted six months showing them homes. Another successful broker gave me the perspective that the experience gave me so much market knowledge so it was not a waste of time. In the end, I sold the client a $2M home and then later re-sold it for her, and now I’m working with her children.
- Know the inventory. This is really the most important part. If you’re not doing bigger deals, but you know the inventory that’s out there, you never know who you’re going to run into who is looking for a multimillion dollar property. Even though you haven’t sold it yourself, you’ll be able to have a conversation about it. I started studying inventory when I was very young, and I still do all day long. When I see new homes on the market, I think about who I know who should be buying it. Even if a client is on pause, sometimes I will send it anyway and say “I know we’re on hold, but I want you to see this.” And they may ignore it, but one day they might respond which makes it worth the time and effort.
Yes, and real estate is the kind of thing that even when you’re not looking, you’re looking, because it’s interesting.
Yes, and when you’re not looking, you’ll still hear of people who are looking and who can become referrals.
Yes, and a good broker is like a diamond, and their guidance will make all the difference. A good broker will be highly recommended and people love working with good brokers.
Yes, brokers are like diamonds, and there are a million of them. The key is to be flawless.