Cynthia Jacinta Keskinkaya: “ It’s also rewarding, especially when I match clients to their dream homes”

Study your market, be an expert in the neighborhood, develop relationships with key neighborhood figures, be on top of new housing trends and if you can, get yourself a mentor. Do this, and you will climb the ladder faster. Real estate is an intensely competitive industry, and you need every tool in order to thrive […]

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Study your market, be an expert in the neighborhood, develop relationships with key neighborhood figures, be on top of new housing trends and if you can, get yourself a mentor. Do this, and you will climb the ladder faster. Real estate is an intensely competitive industry, and you need every tool in order to thrive long-term.


As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cynthia Jacinta Keskinkaya

Like apple pie and ice cream, Lucy and Ricky, and movies and popcorn, New York City real estate and Cynthia Keskinkaya are a natural fit.

Cynthia entered the industry as a teenager — 18 to be exact — when she was recruited by Robert Hertzka Real Estate., Although she was attending Pace University, studying for a degree in international banking, she was intrigued enough to accept Hertzka’s offer. She was a natural, and her first-ever real estate transaction — the sale of three buildings — proved his intuition was right.

Cynthia learned the real estate business from the ground up, and as she matured in her career, so did her skills, among them negotiating, managing complex transactions, use of technology, and attention to detail. Today, she is known not only as a top-ranked residential real estate broker, she is widely acknowledged as a trusted real estate advisor to her clients. Whether they are buyers, sellers, investors — from New York City, the rest of the United States or overseas — they know that Cynthia will get them the home of their dreams, no matter how complicated the deal is, at the best price, in a timely manner. And she makes it a point to stay in contact with her clients — even after their transactions are completed — providing them with nuanced market advice that influences their housing decisions, whether it’s to buy, sell, invest or simply hold tight.

Among her specialties is working with international buyers and investors. A native of Portugal, Cynthia — who is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish and conversant in Turkish — innately understands how to work with foreign clients, knowing that understanding the culture is critical to identifying the right properties and neighborhoods that address their specific demands. And her expertise in and knowledge of the intricacies of the Manhattan market serves her local, domestic and international clients well. They rely on her, and that is evidenced by the fact that 95% of Cynthia’s business is repeat and referral customers. And her business is booming, with Cynthia having sold more than 250,000,000 dollars worth of properties in her career.

Her accomplishments have not gone unrecognized. In a highly competitive industry where there are three times the number of listing agents as there are properties, Cynthia has consistently been honored as one of New York’s top agents. After Robert Hertzka Real Estate, she worked at The Corcoran Group, where she achieved top broker status. At Douglas Elliman, where she has been for 11 years, Cynthia has racked up award after award, and is a member of the prestigious Elliman Frank Knight Global Network, a group that only top producers with an international clientele and business track record are invited to join. This allows Cynthia to participate in their global conferences, giving her further insight into markets and real estate trends. She is also a recipient of the Pinnacle Award, the highest award given at Douglas Elliman. Cynthia’s other accolades include:

•Chairman’s Diamond Winners Circle
•Chairman’s Gold Winners Circle
•Chairman’s Platinum Winners Circle
•#9 Broker in entire company of over 7,000 agents*
•Ranked among America’s Best Real Estate Agents by Real Trends as advertised in The Wall Street Journal

But it’s not all about the work. Cynthia believes giving back is essential, and is involved with Smile Train, a nonprofit that provides corrective surgery for children born with cleft lips and palates. She also supports the Hilde Back Education Fund, a Kenyan charitable organization that assists children from low income families complete secondary school education. When not working, her downtime is spent with her family.

“I love my career,” Cynthia says. “It’s more than making a living. It’s about getting to the heart of what my clients want and making it happen. I find them homes, places of security, warmth and happiness, which is especially needed during these times.”

Cynthia is always readily available to speak with you about finding the perfect home or about selling or investing in properties. Email or call her at [email protected] or 917.885.1777 to arrange a private consultation. And you’ll see for yourself how much of a natural fit Cynthia is for you.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

I entered the industry as a teenager — 18 to be exact — when I was recruited by Robert Hertzka Real Estate., Although I was attending Pace University, studying for a degree in international banking, I was intrigued enough to accept Hertzka’s offer. My first-ever real estate transaction — the sale of three buildings — proved his intuition was right.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

I’ll share one of my many interesting deal stories. I had a client who specifically requested to see three-bedroom apartments on the Upper East side. Her budget was up to 800,000 dollars. I did my research and showed her the apartments. I noticed she was not impressed with any of the properties. We had coffee afterwards, and as I got to know her, I realized she was moving from Europe. As we chatted and I got to know more about her lifestyle, I got insight into her dream of the perfect home and the kind of building and neighbors with whom she wanted to associate and rub shoulders. Long story made short, I ended up selling her a penthouse in what was at the time the hottest selling new development boutique condominium in Soho. The ticket price at the time was 7,000,0000 dollars. It was a record setting sale in Soho back then! Coincidentally, her neighbor was Lenny Kravitz who was exactly the type of neighbor she wanted.

Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I learned to treat every client as a person and never as a transaction. Taking the time to know my clients as people and learning what makes them tick is key. For me it’s not about the sale but the relations I create. That has been my driving force.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

In real estate, we have new projects on a daily basis. This can include observing and interpreting feedback from the customers who come to view my listings and executing solutions to address obstacles. For example, most recently I noticed that viewers coming to one of my listings were getting stuck looking at the antiques in the apartment and were missing the breathtaking views. Therefore, my current project is to strip the apartment, and have it freshly painted so the buyers will immediately be attracted to the home’s stunning views.

How do you think that will help people?

This will help buyers stay focused, not get distracted and truly see the apartment for what it is, as well as help the seller maximize his investment.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Douglas Elliman’s commitment to its brokers is unparalleled. Their technical tools have been designed to provide the consumer with the most updated data so that they make the most informed decision. As a member of the prestigious Elliman Frank Knight Global Network, a group that only top producers with an international clientele and business track record are invited to join, I am able to participate in their global conferences, and get further insight into markets and real estate trends. Douglas Elliman and Knight Frank Residential publish the Wealth Report, which reflects the global perspective on super prime property and investments, including key wealth trends and property hotspots around the world. The insight I receive from this is invaluable.

Can you share a story?

An illustration of how helpful this network is the fact that I have made many friends and referral partners as a result of my membership.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Yes, Barbara Corcoran with whom I worked for several years earlier in my career. She was always approachable, supportive, and genuinely interested in helping me to develop my business. Barbara believed in me and taught me the value of developing personal relationships, which I have made it the most important part of my career.

Can you share a story about that?

On personal level, I once asked Barbara if she could come to my daughter’s school for career day and give the students a little speech about real estate as a career. She so graciously made room in her busy schedule to come to speak to a group of school children. I was also so appreciative of that.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

The culture today continues to expect women to satisfy multiple roles and responsibilities. We are often the mother, the wife and now in many instances the educator. We are expected to do all this well, in addition to excelling at our challenging and demanding careers. It’s not do-able, and we are seeing many women leave their professional careers to address their family needs, especially now that the pandemic has exacerbated those needs.

What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

I think there could be more focusing on mentorships. Companies need to offer more town hall style discussions that allow women to express their individual challenges and allow companies to design programs that are more targeted toward elevating women’s careers and our special needs as wife, mother, caregiver and home organizer. It can be too much for one person to handle and supportive programs will assist in making the road easier. AND keep more women in the workplace.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

The perception of women being weak at negotiations is simply untrue. Women generally have excellent fact gathering skills and intuition, which makes them strong negotiators.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?

Number one — It is energizing! In NYC real estate, I get to meet people from all walks of life and from all over the world. I love the connections I make.

Number two — It’s also rewarding, especially when I match clients to their dream homes.

And last, but not least, number three — It is educational — learning what is impacting our lives, keeping ahead of trends. For example, I was recently featured in an article on new housing trends we are seeing due to the pandemic. It’s important not only to keep up with trends, but to share them with the public so that they are informed as well.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry?

Well, I can give you two ways to change the industry which I think are the most important and vital changes needed right now. The internet and the speed of information can become overwhelming. Almost anyone can put up a website, copy and paste information but it does not mean it translates to real hands-on knowledge and experience. Also, real estate companies should actively recruit from different backgrounds to address the lack of diversity in the field.

If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

First, buyers, sellers and investors should fully vet the real estate company they plan to work with and put their trust in. Make sure the company and your broker have the most up to date tools to help you make an informed and intelligent decision. I also think companies should recruit and include people from different backgrounds that will not only reflect the great city in which we live but broaden our reach and help us be more inclusive.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

Aside from your regular team meetings, set aside time to develop and build individual personal relationships. Be generous in sharing your experience and knowledge: it will be paid forward.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say?

Study your market, be an expert in the neighborhood, develop relationships with key neighborhood figures, be on top of new housing trends and if you can, get yourself a mentor. Do this, and you will climb the ladder faster. Real estate is an intensely competitive industry, and you need every tool in order to thrive long-term.

Can you please give a story or an example for each?

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

EDUCATION! We must do a much better job in providing all children with a solid well-rounded education that includes music, art, and languages. Americans tend to be monolingual, while other countries are teaching their students several languages. I speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and am conversant in Turkish. We need to think more globally about the consequences of our insular education.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.elliman.com/newyorkcity/associate/527-a-551-jcmk/cynthia-jacinta-keskinkaya

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/cynthiakeskinkayateam/

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

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