Luxury Lifestyle Magazine
December 31, 2022

Meet the broker guiding international buyers through the New York luxury real estate market

Robert Danker’s network is expansive and he is often the first call from sell-side brokers and owners who have an off-the-market property.

Montauk Building Exterior

For many high-net-worth individuals in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East, New York and the Hamptons are prime destinations for a foothold across the pond. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger concentration of influence and culture in the US (and maybe the globe) than New York. The Hamptons, meanwhile, is where New York’s elite spend their summers and many weekends throughout the year.

They are also two of the most competitive and complex luxury real estate markets in the world. Each one comes with its own dynamics that many prospective luxury buyers may not be aware of. It takes someone in the know to guide buyers through this ecosystem and find them a property that will not only make the buyers happy but give them real investment upside. And this isn’t even getting into the off-market world, where some of the most phenomenon properties lie outside the world of listings.

This is where Robert Dankner comes in.

As president and founder of boutique luxury real estate firm Prime Manhattan Residential, he has transacted more than $2 billion in properties in prime neighbourhoods of Manhattan and the Hamptons, both on the buy- and sell-sides. But it’s on the buy-side that he’s really carved out a niche that other brokers don’t have.

“To be honest, it’s more work, but the buy-side is where I find really rewarding challenges and take a lot of pride in getting to understand my clients and their needs,” says Dankner. “When I started my real estate career, I knew I didn’t want to create listing inventory. I wanted to add value and so I started by primarily representing buyers and finding them the properties no one else could. The buy-side is an underrepresented side of the industry and there aren’t a lot of people who can advise on where people should go to preserve the value of their assets and their lifestyles.

“I learned the market differently by working backward, in the process creating a service that sets a different tone for my clients and gives them a deeper level of access.”

When you meet Robert, it’s clear he’s not your average luxury broker. Rather than tight suits and high and tight haircuts – seemingly the look of every luxury broker running around Southampton and the West Village – he has a rockstar vibe but also a sense of zen-like calm. He started his professional life as an investment banker, and while you wouldn’t expect it from his cool haircut and designer glasses, you know the moment he starts talking that he has his fingers on the pulse of the property market’s many financial, cultural, and regulatory complexities.

“I give advice the way I’d want to get it,” explains Dankner. “I’m direct with people about helping them navigate the waters. Real estate is a tricky business because it’s an investment but you also want a space where you can wake up and smile every day.”

That balance of feelings and figures can create a lot of challenges wherever you’re looking for property, but New York can be a particularly stressful one due to its demand and the city’s fast pace. Robert refers to it as the Apple stock of real estate. There is a high barrier to entry, but once you have that townhome or condo, it doesn’t experience the ups and downs of other American markets, in no small part because people from all over the world want to be there.

It’s also the reason it’s such a competitive environment and one that is showing no signs of slowing down despite recession fears elsewhere.

“If you love New York, there isn’t another American city that’s going to do it for you,” says Dankner. “In fact, I am seeing a lot of people who moved elsewhere during the pandemic moving back. They missed the city too much.”

Finding a place that people love is no easy feat, especially among the world’s most discerning buyers. It’s another reason why he puts so much focus on the off market, where homes go for sale without being listed. High-net-worth individuals are looking for singular items and experiences that even money can’t often buy. Property is no exception – and the off market is where you can often find these, but most brokers, even luxury ones, aren’t keyed into this whisper world.

Dankner, because of his reputation for selling and buying some of the most expensive properties in the Hamptons and New York’s choicest neighbourhoods, such as Tribeca, SoHo, the Village, and Upper East Side, as well as his ability to speak the language of his elite clients, has this kind of access. His network is expansive and he is often the first call from sell-side brokers and owners who have an off-the-market property.

“The off market is about being in the know, but it’s also about knowing who will love which property,” says Dankner. “A client will often have a wish list, but inherent in that wish list, between the lines, are things that they don’t even know they want yet. The off market is where you can find many of the true one-of-one properties with features that just don’t exist in a lot of other homes, if at all.

“Especially in Manhattan, where space is at a premium, it’s the singular items that stand out for luxury buyers, such as a home with three free sides, a garage in a downtown townhouse, double- or triple-wide street frontage, or a pool in the basement, to name just a few. These properties tend to be owned by people who want to stay under the radar, so if they can help it, they want to work quietly to find someone who’s going to love their space as much as they do.”

For the international buyer in New York, this level of access is invaluable, especially if you are, for example, living in London and taking meetings in Dubai or Frankfurt. Having a buy-side broker who can manage – and prevent – potential problems and find the places few others even know about is the difference between getting what you want (or something better) and being frustrated by the whole process.

For Dankner, he believes good brokers need to embrace those challenges and high expectations from clients. It’s about taking clients through a process of discovery.

“I sometimes hear brokers complain about couples who aren’t on the same page or buyers and sellers who have odd sticking points, and what I always think in those conversations is that maybe that broker should find another line of work,” comments Dankner. “If luxury property were easy, there wouldn’t be brokers. It’s about taking joy in the challenges and keeping the process smooth for your client and giving them the right advice backed by real information and local experience.”

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