“New York City is the best city in the world with the most energetic people,” says Julie Pham, a broker with Corcoran who specializes in the New York market. Pham moved to the city from Oklahoma nearly 20 years, armed with a decade of classical piano training and aspirations of becoming a documentary filmmaker. Her career path instead led her to public relations and real estate, where she’s worked for 12 years and received numerous accolades, including a spot on the Wall Street Journal’s Top 250 Agents list.
We sat down with the industry veteran to talk real estate, as well as about her favorite shops and haunts, the advice and experiences that have inspired Pham’s successful career, and the perks of living in this constantly changing city.
INHABIT: What experiences—outside of your education and professional development—have contributed to your success in real estate?
JP: My parents are immigrants from Vietnam, so I feel like I bring an outsider’s perspective to my deals, which helps me relate to different kinds of people well. I think it is important to be a chameleon of sorts—to step into another person’s shoes and see their perspective.
INHABIT: Can you describe the career path that led you to the Manhattan real estate business and to Corcoran?
JP: My background is a mixed bag. I have an MFA from Columbia University in filmmaking. I also worked in public relations for three years. There are many facets to real estate to keep me intellectually engaged, and the demands are constantly changing, so it keeps me on my toes.
INHABIT: You specialize in new developments, townhouses and the high-end luxury market. What are some common mistakes you see made in these areas? What challenges do buyers in the market typically face?
JP: I think the biggest mistake I’ve seen is when buyers follow a herd mentality about a property. Just because buyers are being told a new development is hot and selling fast they have to rush into buying it without looking at fundamentals. Sometimes buyers get swept up with the razzle-dazzle of a sales office and buy from a floor-plan without having a deep knowledge about the specifics of the floor-plan or view, the developer’s reputation, or the designer’s finish choices that may or may not age very well over time, which affect resale value.
INHABIT: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever received?
JP: I’ve received a lot of great advice in my life, but the overarching life lesson for me is to always try to maintain my financial independence. That’s the key to happiness. I think my grandfather gave me that advice as a little girl.
INHABIT: You’re a classically trained pianist. Is there another talent you’d like to learn?
JP: I wish I learned a second language. Multilingualism would be very valuable in this business.
INHABIT: What drew you to your current neighborhood between Chelsea and Madison Park and your apartment?
JP: I love the neighborhood for more practical reasons—my loft is a 15-minute walk to my 5- year old’s school, Avenues. The loft has 11-foot ceilings, and I have a view of the Empire State Building.
INHABIT: What are some of your favorite shops and restaurants in your neighborhood?
JP: I love Izakaya Nomad, [but] my guilty habit is Dunkin Donuts.
INHABIT: How would you describe your personal interior design aesthetic?
JP: I could love all styles done well. I could personally go for ultra-contemporary or old-school Parisian. I have a fetish for all things French. I’m not a fan of anything overly fussy.
INHABIT: Please complete the following sentence: ‘My home wouldn’t be home without…’
JP: My kids.