At the young age of 30, working as a broker for Brown Harris Stevens, Matthew Cohen is known as a top broker in the business. He was recognized as one of the youngest brokers in New York City to surpass $100 million in sales in his first four years in the industry, with nearly half a billion dollars in closed sales.
As COVID-19 spread across the country, Cohen exceeded all expectations by closing on 10 transactions from March to June, when the pandemic first hit New York. Last year, he was ranked in the top 250 by sales volume in the U.S., according to industry reports.
Here, Cohen discusses how he got his start in the industry and how he was able to continue closing on homes when COVID spread across New York City in early 2020, among other things:
RISMedia’s Real Estate Newsmakers honors were created to recognize the people who are raising the standards of professionalism in the real estate industry. What does it mean to you to be named among this year’s honorees?
It’s a confirmation and something that I’m very proud of because I grew up in a real estate family. When I started eight years ago, I wanted to be different and be a nice guy. This is confirmation that you can do that and succeed in New York real estate.
You were selected as a Newsmaker within the Achievers category, which is dedicated to the success stories within our industry. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to surpassing $100 million in sales in your first four years in the industry?
I’m very closely approaching half a billion sales now in my first eight years in the industry. I worked in investment banking right out of college. I wanted to have a small cushion before making the jump into what I was really passionate about, which was real estate. I started in the real estate industry when I was 23, but I didn’t want to be shark-like—like others in the industry. I succeeded because I gave up my 20s, cut my friend group in half and worked really, really hard.
How were you able to close on 10 transactions from March to June, during the first wave of COVID-19 in the U.S.?
It was really tough. During the first quarter of 2020, we thought the market had bottomed out so we had tons of properties being purchased and then COVID happened. I didn’t give up on work when the pandemic hit. I still contacted my clients and checked on how they were doing while they were in lockdown. I had nothing else to do.
What would your advice be to other real estate professionals about moving forward as our country begins to reopen and the pandemic slowly ends?
On the COVID side, it’s a great opportunity because it taught me how much homes mean to their clients. I own two properties so I can connect to that. I mentor a lot of people and I tell them that if you’re not super passionate about real estate don’t get into it. It’s an incredible industry but it can be really, really difficult your first few years. It’s not something you can just do on the side.