If you wander through the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on a typical Saturday, you might see Corcoran agent Robert Herskovitz with his two dogs in tow, enjoying nibbles from cheesemonger Cato Corner Farm. Herskovitz’s favorite is an aged Bloomsday, especially when paired with fruit from a nearby vendor, or with a glass of vinho verde back at home, a few blocks away. Bugsy and Moe are happy with any scrap.
A resident of Park Slope for more than two decades, Herskovitz has instilled his real estate practice with his love of community and commitment to rescuing animals. He’s a longtime volunteer and director of the Mighty Mutts dog rescue, as well as a veteran agent who specializes in Brooklyn and Manhattan. When these two passions converge, as they often do, Herskovitz’s attention to detail and strong work ethic means positive change for animals, buyers and sellers, all on journeys to and from home.
Herskovitz talks to INHABIT about building his personal brand, how he broke into the Manhattan market and why buyers should learn to think outside the box.
INHABIT: How did you develop your niche combining rescue dogs and real estate?
Herskovitz: It makes sense to take the thing I care about most and link it to what I do for a living. Mighty Mutts matches who I am, and I showcase that in my work with Corcoran. A nonprofit organization called Fido, which advocates for off-leash dog play in Prospect Park, hosts a monthly gathering there called “Coffee Bark.” Within a week of finishing Corcoran training about 10 years ago, I went to a Coffee Bark with my dog at the time and asked if I could sponsor the event.
INHABIT: How has that affiliation increased your visibility in the Brooklyn real estate market?
Herskovitz: Ever since I got involved, I’ve been its only real estate sponsor and greet people from my table with Corcoran signage. It works. A woman once introduced herself to me at a Bark and asked me to sell her house on the spot. Since then, I’ve helped her to adopt a dog. It all connects, especially in Brooklyn’s tight-knit community.
Herskovitz: I believe that you should never look down on a small sale or rental, because you never know where it might lead. I worked with a management company that owned a six-unit rental property in Park Slope. The manager there then connected me to The Sterling, a property they owned on East 56th Street. He introduced me to the co-op board by saying, “This is a guy who knows what he’s doing. He could help build value in the building.”
So I got some listings and constantly market and re-market myself within the building. It’s built slowly, all from handling that single rental in Brooklyn.
INHABIT: To what do you attribute your ability to focus on the big picture?
Herskovitz: I learned that in the wholesale rug business. I worked for 15 years as a sales manager, sourcing rugs to high-end companies like ABC Carpet & Home in New York, but on a national scale. Some of our clients spent a million or two per year with us. Others spent just $20,000, and I learned early on not to forget about them. If you let them go, your business will collapse. So I look at even small rentals as a building block.
INHABIT: How else has your time in the rug business informed your work in real estate?
Herskovitz: I’ve always had a very strong visual sense, and I got to strengthen that in the rug business. Before that, I taught myself to use computer-aided design (CAD) to create 2D and 3D drawings and designed custom cabinetry. In both fields, I got a good sense of how people occupy space.
In showing residential properties, I encourage people to think about the view when seated. What will they see when relaxing? It’s my version of feng shui. Much of what I learned in previous work has to do with listening. I ask the questions they need to ask, and their answers tell them what to do. At least that’s the goal, if I’m doing my job well.
INHABIT: What other insights might you share with clients?
Herskovitz: If it feels like home, and it works financially, make the offer. If you keep waiting for something else, a year could pass, and you’ve still bought nothing. I was raised on Long Island by Eastern European Holocaust-surviving Jews. I grew up knowing that home is emotion: You have to be happy when you open the door. If it feels like home, go for it.
Lastly, always leave yourself open. Sometimes, the best things — people, places, or dogs — are unexpected.
INHABIT: When walking potential clients around Park Slope, what favorite spots do you point out?
Herskovitz: My go-to restaurant is Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats on 8th Avenue. It’s a very simple Italian restaurant with a small menu, and everything is great. I also love Dizzy’s. It’s what they call a “finer diner” — really fun and timeless. And I go mad for the elote [grilled corn coated with cotija cheese and chili powder and lime juice] at Bogota, the Colombian-Latin restaurant on 5th Avenue.
I also love Community Bookstore on 7th Avenue. The shop cat, Tiny the Usurper, has its own Instagram page, and the staff is very friendly, smart, and relaxed. They organize great literary events, too.
INHABIT: Your home wouldn’t be home without …
Herskovitz: Dogs and foster dogs. Park Slope is a great community for dogs and animal lovers, with the park and all of that space for play.