Buying and Selling Real Estate: A Colombos Family Tradition
Despite only covering approximately 22 square miles, the island of Manhattan keeps hundreds of Real Estate agents employed. However, few have had the career and lineage of Nicholas Colombos, a fourth generation salesperson with nearly two decades of experience in the business.
Born in Athens in 1968, Colombos came to the US when he was seven months old. As a child, he often accompanied his father to work, thereby learning the ins and outs of the business. “I always had a love for all aspects of the real estate business,” he says. “I was at my father’s side on the weekends watching and learning from him. We walked through the properties together talking about all the details that go into the day to day operation of a building.”
Though the young Colombos had dreams of being an actor when he grew up, he admits, “the first time I listened to my father negotiate a deal I was hooked.” He would eventually enroll in Pace University, where he got his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Finance. During his college years, he also worked part-time at a real estate management office that handled his family’s personal holdings. “I was drawn to New York City real estate, particularly the downtown area, so I hit the pavement as an agent at Sopher Realty,” he says. Though Colombos has been in the real estate business for almost 20 years now, he still remembers his first sale. “It was a two bedroom loft apartment at 77 Bleecker Street. I felt a big sense of accomplishment because it was my first time negotiating a deal between the buyer, the seller and their respective attorneys. Anything and everything can be negotiated in order to secure a transaction. It is very exciting to constantly think outside the box, to handle last minute obstacles and to maintain calm between all the parties involved.”
Colombos would eventually become the manager at the downtown office of Swift and Watson Realty. However, perhaps due to traveling to properties with his father as a child and pounding the pavement at Sopher, he wasn’t happy being cooped up in the office. “My passion was the art of the deal and not being at a desk all day,” he admits. “I enjoy meeting different people and matching the right property with the client. The negotiations and meeting of the minds keep me engaged during the entire process.” His next career move brought him to Douglas Elliman Real Estate, where he has remained ever since.
Today, Colombos works out of Douglas Elliman’s 17th Street office in Manhattan as well as its Plandome office in Manhasset, New York, where he leads a team with his partner Angela Dooley. “Between us, we are able to cover the real estate market from Manhattan to the Hamptons” he says. “Leading a team of realtors with my partner is very rewarding. We depend on each other on a day-to-day basis and bounce ideas off each other. A team structure is imperative to building a successful real estate career because you are able to take on more clients and serve all their business needs.”
Colombos’s day begins at 6:00am when he logs on to the internet to check the markets and latest listings. He then helps his children get ready for school and out the door before heading off to work. Though most of his mornings begin the same way, that is where the routine ends. “My day is never typical because my schedule changes throughout the day and I have to be available to all my clients. Juggling all of that keeps things exciting and challenging,” he says. Also, though he enjoys spending time with his family, playing tennis, going to the theater, and traveling, he’s rarely completely off the clock. “The real estate business never stops so I am available and constantly in touch with clients and the market.”
Aside from being a real estate agent, Colombos also likes to be the buyer. “I grew up with a real love for the art of putting a deal together, of buying and renovating a great building and of finding the next big neighborhood,” he says. “After all these years, I now own real estate in Queens, Long Island, Harlem, and the West Village of Manhattan. One of my favorite recent projects was purchasing an old townhouse and restoring it to its former glory. I pay particular attention to the details of the architecture of the building.”
As a fourth generation real estate salesperson, Colombos had the business passed down to him like a beloved family heirloom, and perhaps his love of discovery was given to him in the same way. Colombos’s father is from the town of Pirgi on the island of Chios, a rumored birthplace of Christopher Columbus where the famed explorer kept a house. When asked about the next generation, his two sons and daughter, he says, “I would like for them to follow the family tradition and enter the real estate business, but only if they have a true interest in it. I take the time to show them around the properties we own and explain how things work so they can respect the process and the business. But it is important for them to make a career in a field that they are truly passionate about.”
Colombos is clearly a family-oriented man. Aside from teaching his children about the real estate business, he and his wife Alexandra are also raising them to honor their culture. “Being Greek gives you a sense of responsibility to honor the reputation of your culture and heritage. I am always aware that my actions and choices represent that and I want to live up to that reputation in my life and in my work,” he states. “It also gives you a heightened sense of business savviness which comes from my innate Hellenism and from the way my family raised me. I grew up in a traditional Greek-American family that placed a lot of emphasis on Greek customs. My wife and I are instilling these Greek ideals in our children. I have enormous pride in my heritage and am very aware of what an impressive impact Greeks have made in history.” Besides Greek values, Colombos and his wife are also making sure their children have a connection to Greece as a country. The family spends their summers in Nafpaktos, a seaside town in the southwest.
Part of the secret to his success is his ability to blend the past, present, and future. He has four generations of experience and nearly 20 years in the business to rely on, an “ideal fit” at his current agency, and an eye on what’s to come. “I believe the prices, particularly in New York, will continue to rise. More and more international buyers will be investing their money in the United States.” When asked how the real estate business has changed since he first started, Colombos says, “it tends to be more of a buyer-driven market because all information is accessible to the buyer through public websites. The pressure is on the broker to provide a service that a buyer or seller cannot find on their own. A successful broker is able to offer listings before they hit the market and they have established relationships with other brokers in the industry.”
As for Colombos’s own future, he says he’d like to be “continuing to invest in Manhattan and Queens and hopefully my children will stand beside me and run the family business. I just want them to be happy in life, this is most important.”