Barbara Corcoran got started in real estate when she was 23 years old. Ramone Simone, who would become her first boyfriend and business partner, saw her working at a diner and recognized her potential.
“He gave me a thousand dollars to start,” Corcoran said, “or I’d probably still be at that counter.”
Together, the two built a real estate empire, until they split and divided the business in 1973.
“I thought that was the least lucky personal and financial break of my life,” Corcoran said. “But in hindsight, I would never have had the success without that break.”
Corcoran is now a real estate expert on TV, starring in ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
“Once I ascertained it wasn’t a fishing show, that became the beginning of my sincere money-making career in TV,” she said. “That was 11 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
A real love
Real estate is still Corcoran’s first career love.
“Real estate is a phenomenal business because it’s a sales position on a commission basis,” she said. “There are not many businesses where you can immediately connect those dots — you do very well, you get very well paid.”
For those interested in working in real estate, Corcoran said, “rather than working on your own, start working with someone that’s good in it. Attach yourself to superstar salesmen however you can do it. If you’re in the presence of a superstar salesman, you’re going to learn the business overnight.”
Corcoran is never short on advice when it comes to real estate and how best to invest in your property.
“A new kitchen always pays off because it’s the first buy-in of any buyer that walks into the house,” she said. “They always go to the kitchen and fall in love with or dismiss your house.”
Corcoran prioritized replacing countertops, refrigerators, flooring, “and having a fresh coat of paint makes sense in any room, you’ll always get your money back on the paint,” she said.
Not flushing away money
After the kitchen, homeowners should next attend to the bathrooms.
“It could mean something as simple as new shower curtains, new white towels, and a new toilet top, or glazing the tub,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch, but a freshening up of the bathroom is the second-best investment.”
Other improvements Corcoran suggested to improve a house’s salability included adding a deck and windows.
“Bright homes sell best and the best way to get light in a home is putting in new windows,” she said.
When preparing a house for sale, Corcoran said the first impression is vital.
“Pay attention to the first fifteen seconds that people see when they come into your house, and that’s usually the front of the house, the front door, the mailbox, and the walkway,” she said. “So if any money is spent there — including spraying a dead bush green with paint to sell a house in a hurry — is a good idea.”
As homeowners get older, they’ll likely want to stay put, yet Corcoran said moving homes can be a better option as homeowner’s age.
“With older people, the best advice is to get rid of the home and move into something that’s smaller with the space you need, low maintenance,” she said.
For young buyers, Corcoran suggested prioritizing location over the house itself.
“Most people buy the best home, but buying in the best location always proves a better investment, because you can improve it over time and you can spend money on it, and still get your money out,” she said. “The rule is, and it has never changed, buy the worst house on the best block. It always pays.”