Most people will tell you that one of the things they love most about New York City is the energy the city radiates and the unending possibilities of culture and experiences it has to offer at all hours. And while hundreds of thousands of tourists pass through NYC streets every day, the residents who live here are fortunate to have these opportunities right at their fingertips.
Don’t miss a beat! Click HERE to become a BELLA Insider!
For Gregory M. Roache, real estate broker and father of four, living in NYC was something he envisioned since childhood. Trips with his mother into the city’s Garment District in the early 1980s left him intrigued by its pace and energy. “Ever since I was a kid I loved the city,” says Roache. “I knew back then that I wanted to run my own business and live here when I got older.”
The youngest of five children, Roache grew up in River Edge, NJ. At just 14 years old, the future broker started his own landscaping company – Greg’s Lawn Service – and after one year amassed more than 30 properties in town as clients. “This was my first taste at running my own business and I absolutely loved it,” he says.
Watching both his father and his brother start their own businesses, which would later grow into larger companies, lit the fire inside Roache to do the same. As he worked his way up in the real estate industry, first with rentals and then cooperative and condo sales, he landed a job with the prestigious real estate firm of Brown Harris Stevens in 2000, a position he says was a “dream come true.”
The decision to join the company turned out to be one of the best Roache has made both professionally and personally. A year and a half later, he met his wife, Emily, who worked at the firm; together they decided to sell real estate as a team. “We made a pact to each other that we were going to be successful,” he says.
BELLA sat down with Roache, one of the most sought-after brokers in the industry, to talk about his life and career, and why he thinks the Big Apple is one of the best cities in the world.
What is it about the real estate business you enjoy most?
The satisfaction that comes from people [both buyers and sellers] entrusting me and looking for my guidance in the most important decision and often their most significant investment. I enjoy the process of listening to buyers and spending time with them to understand what they’re looking for in a home and guiding them to the right buildings. Approaching 20 years in the business of finding homes for New Yorkers, there are very few buildings that I have not been inside.
The best compliment is when buyers tell me that I’m not like any other broker they’ve met and they don’t feel any sales pressure. For me, I have my own business and I am focused on building relationships, not trying to make a quick sale.
What qualities do you think are necessary to be a successful broker in NYC?
Someone once told me very early on in my career, “If you’re afraid of wasting time, you’re in the wrong business.” I feel in this business one needs to be ready and willing to take risks and be resilient when you hear “no” from time to time.
Along with all of the positivity and satisfaction that I enjoy in working with buyers and sellers, there are plenty of times for one reason or another things don’t work out, oftentimes in the 11th hour of the process. Now in hindsight I realize that nothing is a waste of time; every relationship is important, even the ones that don’t result in a sale.
Which neighborhoods are in high demand these days? Which is your personal favorite?
There’s been a big shift from Upper East Side and Upper West Side to Downtown Manhattan. A surge in new construction downtown has led to several great new schools and more beautiful, polished neighborhoods that uptown folks would not have considered five to 10 years ago.
Harlem is my personal favorite. Since we are growing out of our apartment on Central Park West in the 100s, we are looking for a new apartment in that neighborhood. Harlem is such an incredibly beautiful part of town. The architecture and the building inventory consist mostly of brownstones and shorter buildings, which lend themselves to much less congestion and brighter living spaces.
To date, what is the most extravagant home you have listed, and what made it so special?
I am proud to say that I have sold in every neighborhood of Manhattan, from a small one-bedroom to elaborate homes in excess of $20 million. One of my personal favorites is a four-bedroom that I have currently listed at Manhattan House. This home, designed by the brilliant Nina Seirafi, is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and incredibly spacious homes I have listed.
How would you describe the quintessential New Yorker?
They have an innate and effortless sense of style that is only New York. I know I am biased, but I really feel my four kids are great examples of quintessential New Yorkers.
For example, every morning during the school year we take the C train down to the boys’ school in Gramercy Park. As we approach Columbus Circle, my 9-year old son Giles heads straight for the singer/piano player to say hello. At least once a week he drops his own dollar in the jar. It’s always interesting to watch their faces as we pass by the more interesting characters. From my 12-year-old Liam down to my 4-year old Slane, they don’t bat an eyelash. It is a live-and-let-live mentality rather than simply being desensitized by the sometimes chaotic surroundings.
As a father of four young children, what led you to choose city life over the suburbs? What do you think the benefits are to raising your family in NYC?
I have always wanted my children to be exposed to things at a young age that I don’t feel could be as feasible anywhere but here. For the obvious reasons, within several miles of our front door we have the culture and diversity of the entire world. The city life provides a safe level of autonomy for my children, which is such an important part of growing up. Since my business is based in Manhattan, my wife and I made the decision early on to sacrifice space for a quick commute home.
The best piece of advice you’ve received?
It would be from my older brother Kevin – to take risks. In running my business, this advice has proven to be golden on countless occasions. Personally, I feel that taking risks and taking the harder road go hand in hand. What I’ve learned is that when faced with a decision, the more difficult path is most often the better one. To quote Malcolm Forbes: “Failure is success if we learn from it.” I think this applies to every area of life and business.
As a New Yorker, what are some of your favorite things to see and do?
Like many New Yorkers, Emily and I have a love/hate relationship with running that we’re passing along to our children. Another favorite is eating. We love Upstate in the East Village for oysters and beer and frequent Josh Capon’s El Toro Blanco for the best margaritas and Mexican street corn in NYC. The Cecil in Harlem has the most amazing Afro-Asian fare and I feel like New Wonjo on 32nd Street is our second home; hands down it’s the best Korean BBQ (charcoal) restaurant in the city.
In your opinion, why is New York City the best city in the world to live in?
There is a strange pull that New York has – no matter where we go for vacation and however beautiful that place may be, we are always happy to come home.
Photography: Anastassios Mentis and Philip Fischetti