Welcome to the latest installment of our ongoing interview series, Meet the Neighbors! In our first duo edition, we bring you Robin and Jeremy Stein, a husband-and-wife team from Sotheby’s. Ms. Stein used to work in advertising while Mr. Stein was in theater and shot a film with Maggie Gyllenhaal for HBO a decade ago. Since then, they have become one of the top 25 sellers at the firm in the country.
Where do you live?
We live in a loft on Greenwich Street just above Canal in the neighborhood now referred to as “Hudson Square.” We have great views of the Hudson River and wonderful light. We love the loft but, as gluttons for punishment, are about to take on a renovation of our kitchen and bathrooms. Gulp.
How is work these days? What is your latest deal?
Work is great–very busy. We just went into contract on a nine-room apartment in one of the grand Candela co-ops in Sutton Place for high-seven figures. We represent the buyers who plan to move from Tribeca, so we will also be listing their home for sale in the near future. It’s actually a very good example of how we work both up and downtown.
What was the best meal you’ve ever eaten in New York?
ROBIN: Le Bernadin has always been a favorite of mine. For any birthday, anniversary or special occasion it is my number one choice
JEREMY: Any and all meals at Giorgione on Spring Street. As a creature of habit (and loyal patron), it’s become our commissary and I can never get enough of it.
What was your first apartment like?
The first apartment we bought together was an A.I.R loft in Soho on Grand Street. Jeremy was still working in the theater so he qualified for an artist certificate. The loft was over 3000 square feet and in need of a total renovation. The first thing we did was tear down the dropped ceilings which revealed an extra 2 feet of space and the original tin ceiling which was beautiful. The loft was cavernous with amazing bones but the real estate broker in Robin couldn’t resist putting it on the market for a number we thought was a total pipe-dream. We were in contract a week later.
What is your recession war story?
Robin had a client who was selling a very high end condo and just kept chasing the market down-rejecting offers at prices we would later drop the price below. Ultimately our buyer accepted an offer $1 million dollars another offer he had received and rejected six months earlier. It was a painful and eye opening experience. That said, unlike a lot of brokers, by winter of 2009, we were very much back in business representing both buyers and sellers. 2009 ended up being the best year Robin had had in her career and 2010 far surpassed 2009 for us both.
How do you get around town?
When we are on our own, we take a lot of cabs so we can stay in touch with clients and work on ipads. With clients, we either hire a driver who drives our car or take car services.
What is your favorite building in the city?
Our favorite building in New York is 812 Park Avenue, designed by famed architect James Carpenter. The building has a grand lobby and a top notch staff. The apartments, mostly duplexes, have elegant layouts with curving staircases, high ceilings, beautiful details, and working fireplaces. The scale of the rooms is grand but not gratuitous. What we love most is that you really feel like you’re in a house rather than an apartment.
If you weren’t a broker, what would you be?
ROBIN: I think I’d still be in real estate but would be an investor/flipper of apartments and/or homes. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a project through to the end.
What is your dream home?
Between owning homes, we rented in a non-descript loft building in Hudson Square at 533 Canal Street. It’s a total sleeper building that has the most amazing bones, water views, and southwestern light. We tried to buy the loft we were renting but it didn’t work out. When people walk past the building, they probably think it is abandoned when in fact it houses some of the greatest lofts in the city. Owning a high floor remains a dream of ours–so much so we had to think twice about mentioning it here.
You just won the lottery. What store do you stop by and what do you buy?
We would go to the Yancy Richardson Gallery and buy an Andrew Moore photograph we’ve been coveting for a while but not been able to justify.
If there was one thing you could change about New York, what would it be?
ROBIN: I’d like the waterfront to be more boat-friendly. It would be nice to be able to rent a boat and go for a cruise down the Hudson on one of the many weekends we here during the summer. I’ve always thought it was strange that we live on an island yet have virtually no access to being on the water (except for The Beast, of course). It’s a shame.
JEREMY: I’d like to do away with the local city tax, which simply adds insult to injury when you live in a city where a $150 dinner for 2 is considered reasonable.