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Brokerage built on change.

For many, 1988 was no time to start a residential real estate company. But Barbara Fox figured she would succeed if she created a firm that responded to the rapid changes occurring in the industry.

"I saw the market was bad and didn't think it could get any worse," said Fox, who was previously executive vice president and director of sales for Cross & Brown Residentials, Inc. "Things were done one way in the 80's, but I sensed change, I could feel it in the air, and I started the wheels in motion in 1988 to start my own company."

Today, Fox Residential Group has 20 brokers and the actually increased sales by nearly 40 percent last year.

For attributes her company's success to two essential skills -- clever negotiating and creative marketing.

According to Fox, her company's marketing strategies have included: Direct mailings to Hong Kong, Tokyo and Italy, targeting special advertising markets, and using private banks in Europe and Asia as part of an extensive marketing plan.

"I've always been sort of a natural negotiator," Fox said. "Negotiating skills give you an edge on the market ... My brokers are the best they can be. A poor negotiator has the inability to know what to do. You have to know the next move and know where you want to end up."

For said she shares her negotiating skills and the ability to make deals happen at attractive prices with her husband, James C. Freund, a leading attorney who is the author of the recent book Smart Negotiating: How to Make Good Deals In the Real World, published by Sinon & Schuster.

"He said he was inspired by my negoations," Fox said about her husband. "He would hear me handling transactions on the phone at night or on the weekends."

New Approach

When Fox founded the Fox Residential Group in 1989, she started with four brokers who operated out of a townhouse on 78th Street of Madison Avenue. Today, Fox Residential has 20 brokers -- up from 14 in 1992, a new office at 1015 Madison Avenue, and plans to add five more brokers before the end of the year.

Many people who started in real estate in the 1980's, Fox believes, were never able to get out of the 1980's frame and mind in which money and deals appeared to just fall from the heavens.

"Thousands of brokers came into the market during the 80's who really knew nothing," Fox said. "I saw that with the market climate changing we needed a new footing, an aggressive marketing approach, an approach targeting specific markets. When the time came, it was an easier move for us, we were poised and ready."

Originally from North Carolina, Fox moved to Manhattan in 1972 after attending the University of North Carolina where she studied political science.

"When I first arrived in New York, I didn't know which was East and which was West," Fox recalled.

The broker said she planned to enter the commercial real estate market but found her niche in the residential market and never looked back.

She started her real estate career as a salesperson at Whitbread-Nolan. From 1980 to 1982, she was vice president for sales at Stribling & Assciates before moving on to Cross & Brown. At Cross & Brown, from 1982 to 1988, For reorganized the residential group, guadrupled the size of the sales staff and saw sales increase dramatically.

In addition to heading Fox Residential Group, Fox has been active in the Real Estate Board of New York as a founding member of the group's Residential Committee.

"Seven or eight years ago, a couple of us decided it was a real shame that there was no residential division of the Real Estate Board," Fox said. "The residential committee was created to give us a forum to get together and hash out problems. Today it's big, all inclusive, and about 90 percent in residential sales are members."

Fox served as the director of the Residential Committee of the Real Estate Board of New York for the first three years of its existence and she recently retired as a member of the Board of Director's of REBNY's Brokerage Divison. She is currently co-chairman of the Interfirm Subcommittee of the Real Estate Board of Residential Committee and a member of REBNY's Ethics Committee.

Upbeat on Market

For says she feels the real estate market in the city is on an upswing with the supply of the best apartments actually drying up.

"Since January, the market has gone into ful speed," she said. "I have not seen the market like it is today since 1987 and 1988. It's the first time we've had multiple offerings, people bidding against each other."

In fact, Fox noted, a number of recent auctions required potential buyers submit to sealed bids to determine who would purchase apartments that were up for sale.

"There is a major shortage of good apartments," said Fox, adding that most scarce are pre-War, up-scale family apartments. "There was a real glut in 1991 and 1992, but all that product has dried up.

"I feel very positive about the residential market," said Fox, " ... the market is on an upswing."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Fox Residential Group
Author:Alger, Derek
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Mar 17, 1993
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