This Father’s Day, Behind The Hedges celebrates real estate professionals who are not only fathers but who work closely together in the business with their children. It’s a unique relationship that presents challenges, from simple matters, like how to address one another in front of clients, to how to achieve a balance between work and personal life. But, it is also a partnership that several fathers and their sons or daughters have proven yields beneficial results and builds unmatchable trust — perhaps the best gift for anyone, this Father’s Day.
Time Together And Apart
Harald Grant, one of the top producers worldwide for Sotheby’s International Realty, started the Sotheby’s office in Southampton with six brokers in 1987. For the last eight years, he’s gotten to bring his son, Bruce, into the business and together they list some of the most expensive real estate in the Hamptons.
One of the benefits, Harald says, is that “I can delegate a lot of business to him.” He explains that often when customers are shown a home by a subordinate, they can feel neglected. Not the case with his son.
“They’re not with me if you will, but in this case with my son, who’s been very successful on his own. They’ve come to be, they’re more comfortable with that than if I just hired somebody to come in and delegate.”
In advertisements, the father-son duo is side by side, making an important point to customers, Harald says. “They recognize Bruce right away as my son,” Harald says. “They know it’s a partnership.”
Even as they approach a decade of working together, Bruce says he continues to learn from his dad. “There’s always something new to learn, especially with real estate out here. There’s never the same case per deal. There’s always something new and different,” he says.
The most challenging part, for him, has not been working together, but the time real estate requires. “Bruce gets that,” Harald says. “In this business to keep success going or to have success one has to be there 24/7. . . .We’re a service business.”
They enjoy yachting and scuba diving together — they’ve done so throughout the Caribbean. “Ever since Bruce was seven or eight, we’ve charted a boat, a catamaran or a sailboat of some sort, and we’d go scuba diving on different islands. That’s a great way to relax. It’s a great way to have companionship as well.”
Of course, the pair spend a lot of time in the Sotheby’s Southampton office, but they know it’s important to have time apart. “The separation is needed, too, because you’re not going to be in a good situation if you’re with each other 24/7. We’re in the office, work hard, we’re diligent about it, we work off each other,” he continues. “Once you’re out of the office, he has his life and I have my life.”
Working together allows them to take some personal time. When Harald took a vacation for five days, he was comfortable knowing that Bruce would take care of everything. “Having my son here is a big relief, knowing if I want to take some time off, the people that I have are in good hands with Bruce.”
Plus, he says, “As a dad, you feel proud that your son’s working with you or your child’s working with you.”
“When you do this this long, you create a portfolio of both customers and clients, we call it a book,” he says. “It’s nice knowing whenever I do decide to semi-retire, if you will, that that portfolio will be in good hands with Bruce.”
Having Each Other’s Back
Corcoran’s Robert Murray and his daughter Amanda Murray have been working together for six years, with Meredith Murray, Robert’s wife and Amanda’s mother, making their team a trio. The Murray Team is among the Westhampton Beach Corcoran office’s highest producers.
Bob has been working in the Westhampton Beach area for 15 years, though he has been a real estate professional for 30 years. He used to own a property management firm in Princeton, New Jersey.
His family’s roots in the area go back generations. He grew up in Quogue, where the family still lives, and he served in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant, doing two tours of duty in Vietnam, before joining Procter & Gamble.
“I think we complement each other a lot. Bob’s first career was in sales, so he’s kind of a natural people-person,” Amanda says. “He’d be voted least likely to turn down a party invitation!” she says, as her father roars with laughter.
“He’s definitely the more outgoing of the two of us, but I think we’re both equally motivated. I think we’re both problem solvers. We both really enjoy connecting people with the right property and vice versa. Our work ethic is very similar, so it’s been incredibly smooth.”
Amanda was in book publishing before she went into real estate. “It was actually a great surprise to me to realize how many parallels there were with real estate. For instance, as an acquiring editor, my job was to acquire new literary projects and shape them editorially and present them to sales forces and be the author’s main contact. There’s a lot of parallels with bidding strategy and contracts and client management, presentations, talking to people, how we’re going to market your home.”
“Book publishing is always kind of an unstable business,” she says, but sensing a change was ahead at the last company, she decided to get her real estate license. Amanda says she is much happier now. “I feel really stupid that I didn’t do this before,” she says.
“We work very well together. I thought we would fight, that there’d be a lot of resistance,” Bob says. “She’s extremely detail-oriented and she can hold me back when I go on some kind of tangent and rush to judgment or something.”
Asked about challenges they’ve had to overcome, Bob says the first challenge “was having Amanda call me, ‘Bob,’ instead of ‘Dad’ in front of customers.”
Even though they wanted to set the tone in front of customers, hearing anything other ‘Dad’ from his daughter still took some getting used to.
“I can’t really say, ‘Well, that’s my dad. He’s my real estate partner. That’s how I describe him,” Amanda says.
“I guess that is one challenge, trying to figure out how to communicate that we’re really partners,” Bob says.
“I think that was extremely important that we are partners in this business,” Bob continues. “Even though there is, obviously, a big age difference, we can’t have people thinking I’m always the lead because I’m the older guy or the more experienced person. She definitely is experienced and can hold her own. I think one of the beauties of working together is that you give people choices of who they choose as their lead person.”
“For customers,” Amanda says, “it’s just having the variety of generations and gender — I think it is important.”
The best part of working together?
“The amount of trust we have for each other,” Amanda says. “We certainly know, without question, that somebody’s got our back.”
Always Talking Deals
Peter J. Moore Jr. got his first introduction to the business when he worked with his father, Peter J. Moore Sr., one summer during college. He spent a lot of time making calls — prospecting — vacant land owners in Montauk to see if they wanted an analysis of their property.
“Pete’s first success,” his father notes, was when he spoke to Charles Entenmann, who turned his family’s New York bakery into a national brand. While Entenmann wasn’t interested in selling, it turned out that his son was. “He so enjoyed his conversation with Pete that he called him back the next day,” the elder Moore recalls. They ended up selling the son’s more than $10 million home for what was, at that time, the highest price of any house sold in Springs, he says.
Despite this early success, the younger Moore took a different path. He went into private equities, working for a firm in Boston for several years after college. Then, he started a brick-and-mortar retail clothing business called Mainstay, which he still owns today (stores are located in Montauk, Amagansett and Greenport). He got back into the real estate business before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The elder Moore went into real estate professionally later in his own life, though his father was a realtor in Port Washington. He worked on Wall Street for 20-plus years; his last position was with Ernst & Young’s wealth counseling division. He and his wife built a house in Montauk and he went into real estate 19 years ago.
It seems both of his sons have followed in his footsteps. His other son, Robert Moore, works for a commercial real estate firm in Brooklyn.
Though Pete Sr. and Jr. technically work separately at Corcoran, they consult with each other a lot and are back-and-forth on the phone daily about business. The elder Moore lives in Montauk and his son’s primary residence is in Connecticut, though he is on the East End all the time — in fact, he was recognized for having Corcoran’s top commercial deal in 2021.
When they work on a deal together, they divide the gross revenue based on how much work they’ve each done, the older Moore says. “The interesting thing about that is, Peter has always tried to give me more and I’m trying to say, ‘No, no. I don’t deserve that.’ I want to give him more. It’s exactly the opposite of the conflicts that you have with a business partner.”
“I think that’s definitely one of the reasons it works,” his son adds. “Of course, we genuinely care about each other and want the other to succeed. I think that’s just a good place to start a business relationship for sure.”
How do they handle the name situation, especially since they share a first name? “He’s Pete and I’m Peter,” the older Moore says.
Asked about challenges, Pete Jr. says he has a hard time thinking of any. “I have a direct line to a broker who I consider one of the best in the business who I can ask any question, share any idea, and who is always willing to help, offer guidance and share his deep experience. That’s a rare opportunity from which I’ve benefited greatly, and I’m thankful for it.”
One drawback Peter Sr. has realized is that there are times when his wife asks about something happening with their son’s children and he doesn’t have an answer. “She said, ‘Did you speak to him today?’ I spoke to him four times! We seem maybe to not talk about family as much as we should.”
“We do spend time on things that aren’t related to real estate, but I suppose we do continue to talk about the deals we’re working on. I also just think it’s a function of us really enjoying the business for the most part. I certainly don’t mind talking about those things. I quite enjoy it.”
Real Estate in the Blood
Courtney Piliero joined her father, Allen Piliero, at Douglas Elliman in 2018. “I came from a background in finance and had previously worked in Manhattan for a hedge fund as a bank debt analyst since I graduated college. The fast-paced atmosphere and ever-present pressure of that industry really helped prepare me for a career in real estate,” she says.
Her father, who has 40 years of selling experience in Westhampton Beach, has been in the real estate business essentially his whole life.
“My father was a broker,” says Allen, “and had his own office, that’s where it turned out my destiny began. I thought the grass was greener in Florida and in the early ‘70s I obtained my Florida real estate license. However, I was soon missing Long Island. I returned, landing in Westhampton Beach where I worked for Sea Realty for over 20 years.”
He joined Douglas Elliman in 1999.
Courtney says she was always intrigued by her father’s business growing up. “I guess you could say it is in my blood, so it seemed like a natural path to take for me. My father is so incredibly knowledgeable about real estate, especially in our area, and it has been my privilege to work beside him and learn from one of the best. I would say the number one thing he has taught me is to always be honest and to treat everyone the same.”
“It’s been inspiring working with my daughter Courtney,” Allen says. “She brings her technological skills as well as her natural social skills to the team. She has a great energy and a desire to help our clients feel secure in their relationship with us. I’m proud of how she’s grown as an agent in these changing times. She’s always able to adapt and handle any curve ball that’s thrown.”
Courtney also feels lucky. “My father is one of my favorite people and I get to work beside him every day. There is always something I am learning because each day brings something new, and my dad has always been patient in guiding me.”
“I think one of the best parts of working with my daughter is bouncing ideas off each other, formulating a plan and watching it all come together and of course getting to see her every day is pure joy!” Allen says.
Asked if he has any special plans for this Sunday, he says, “No special plans for Father’s Day. Every day I get to spend with my children is all the gift I need.”
This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of Behind The Hedges. Read the full digital version of the magazine here.