How A Long-Time Blue-Chip Real Estate Brokerage Thrives In Today’s Market

Real Estate

Here’s how Warburg Realty the blue-chip New York residential brokerage continues to thrive in today’s competitive luxury market.  As large national firms poach top agents with attractive commission splits and signing bonus’, Warburg’s stable of 140 agents remain beyond loyal.

Warburg’s Chief Executive Officer Frederick Warburg Peters a Yale grad began selling New York real estate in the eighties for Albert B. Ashworth which was founded in 1896. In 1991, Peters a Sales Director acquired Ashworth. He renamed the firm Warburg Realty and has not looked back. Peters confides he’s old school which for Warburg is all about integrity and relationships. “I’ve placed an enormous focus on integrity and doing the right thing.  I feel like the brokerage industry doesn’t have a great reputation.”

Listen to Bonnie Chajet a top producer at Warburg for 33 years. “I started selling co-ops in buildings on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Central Park West when people didn’t want to go below 59th,” Chajet laughs. “I think what you are looking for in a company long-term is support. From the top down I’ve always received that at Warburg. Fred has an open-door policy for everyone.”

Peters uses his deep knowledge of New York real estate to help his agents. “I was looking for a certain apartment for a client and there was nothing on market at the time,” Chajet recalls. “I went to Fred and said if you hear of anything let me know. Sure, enough Fred called me three years later and said, ‘I think I have the right apartment; it sounds just what you’re looking for,” Chajet adds. Turns out it was perfect for her client and Chajet closed the deal. Chajet’s daughter, Lisa Chajet came to Warburg in 2003 and is one of the company’s top producers. To Chajet and other agents, Warburg has always been a family business with all agents as family members.  Quite a change as more and more of the human touchpoints are being zapped from the brokerage business. Peters confirms Bonnie’s feelings. “This is my other family. That’s the way I’ve always run the brokerage.”

Today, Warburg’s sterling reputation remains its calling card. A key reason why Warburg has lasted as a successful independent brokerage through the ups and downs of many markets.  Top agents stay for decades. Today there are 10 agents with over 30 years, 12 agents with 20 years and 22 Warburg agents have over 10 years there.

“For me the primary thing responsible for our very high retention rate has been our culture more than anything else,” Peters explains. It’s clear that culture was carefully crafted by Peters decades ago.

“I have always gone out of my way to make myself extremely available to all the agents. My door is always open and I’m always emailing my agents to check on deals and see if I can be of help,” Peters said.

Claire Groome at Warburg since 2005 moved to Warburg a few years after starting her career at another New York brokerage. “Fred has been my mentor since I first started here. He has taken me as he does with all of us under his wing. His hands-on leadership is how I’ve really learned a lot about the business.” Groome ranks as one of Warburg’s top ten producing agents.

Staying at the top of the technology game, Peters gives credit to his daughter, Clelia Warburg Peters, president of Warburg. “When it comes to technology, I would say I tried to be both embracing and then I’m also skeptical. When my daughter joined the company, she really took over that role which worked perfectly. “I embrace technology because the world changes and you have to change with it. Then I’m also skeptical because some new ideas sound cool but aren’t always a meaningful advance to how my agents do business.”

Peters’ goal for his agents is the same today as it was in 1991. “I was really focused on trying to make sure our agents were best trained so when people started getting information from the internet on properties, we were already considered in the trusted advisor role. We knew we would have to add value in a way that didn’t relate to, I know the address and you don’t.”

The “old school” way to close a deal Peters continues to press upon his agents. “I tell them, you can’t negotiate via text.  But some people are inclined to want to. You just don’t want to lose the tone of voice when you negotiate and that happens in a text.

Good advice that is timeless like Warburg Realty.

Fred Peters


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