Diane M. Ramirez is Chief Executive Officer of Halstead Property and she is well-known for her passion and devotion to the residential real estate industry. She is a 35-year veteran who started her career in Palm Beach, Florida where she worked as an agent for a number of years before returning to her hometown - New York City - and embarking on a successful and exciting career.
Together with Clark Halstead, she helped found Halstead Property in the Fall of 1984. Their vision for the company was a high-end firm that utilized advanced technology combined with old fashioned elegance that covered all segments of the market and was located in the communities that they serviced. Due to their vision, Halstead Property became the first big firm to utilize storefront offices in Manhattan as well as the first to be on the West Side and in Downtown.
How did you get into the real estate industry?
My two children started full-time school and I had already bought & sold a number of homes and I thought that real estate was very exciting. I took a class, enrolled and that was the beginning of a love for life.
Tell us about Halstead. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
The industry – back in the 80s was very mom & pop type of environment – there was no forward thinking, no technology, not a very innovative industry – Clark & I wanted to change that and we wanted to introduce technology and marketing to this industry. And so started Halstead.
What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Halstead's success?
Over the course of 30 years, there have been a lot! In the last few years, I am thrilled with our relationship with LeadingRE for their professional relationship and incredible global reach. Leading RE is full of like-minded, privately owned firms around the world. Another partnership we have implemented in the last few years is Mayfair, a leading organization in London. Other partnerships that are extremely beneficial to our firm are StreetEasy, Zillow, Trulia, The New York Times and Zumper. We knew that while our website is and was fantastic, you need to be everywhere that your buyers are looking.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
You have to be in the forefront of technology to really reach the buyers and excite your sellers to list with your firm. Some of the trends that I am seeing are creating new technology experiences. For example, we have launched touch screens in our offices that are hugely popular, optimized our site for mobile and made it as user-friendly as possible – and we were one of the first to embrace video which has been a favorite way for customers to experience an apartment.
Be in the Moment and by that, I mean to give 100% of my focus to the person that I am with at that time – whether that be work or family.
We never wanted to be the biggest – we always strive to be the best.
Your greatest success as CEO of Halstead? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
My greatest success is to have grown our firm to the size that it is today and to maintain the company culture that we started out with – one that is a family and one that cares.
My most recent difficult moment was the recession and it came so quickly and so hard in New York City. We overcame it by evaluating what was vital to our needs as a firm but most importantly, empowering our agents to put one foot in front of the other and to power through.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur/broker?
Never lose your passion.
How do you motivate your employees?
I personally try to motivate by setting an example and that is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Tough question. It would be a chocolate milkshake and crispy French fries – but not to be eaten together.
What literature is on your bed stand?
There is everything from a great business book to fiction from the New York Times best sellers list.
Role model - business and personal?
My business and personal role model is my husband, Sam Ramirez.
Real Estate. I never stop losing my passion for it.
Most interesting headline you've read this week?
Consumer confidence and what’s happening with it currently.
What's next for Halstead?
Strategic growth, taking intelligent risks and creating innovative technology for our agents as well as our buyers and sellers.
Under her leadership, Mrs. Ramirez has strategically grown the firm from its original goal of three storefront offices in some of the most important communities in Manhattan to its current size of more than 2 dozen offices with 1,000 agents throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Riverdale, the Hamptons, Hudson Valley, Hoboken, New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut. A recent growth area was in Hamptons where Halstead has two offices in both East Hampton and Southampton.
Mrs. Ramirez was appointed by the Governor to the Department of State Real Estate Board in 2010 and is still an active member. She is also an active member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), where she serves on the Board of Governors, their Executive Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the Residential Division which she co-chaired for four years, as well as the Board of NY1Residential.com. She is a member of the Residential Brokerage Division, Interfirm Forum, which she co-chaired for two years. She is currently a committee member on Admissions and has served on the Ethics Committee and Education Committee (in which she also served as co-chair for two years). In addition, she is an accredited continuing education teacher for the State. Mrs. Ramirez is also a member of the Real Estate Brokerage Managers Council - the professional organization of business management, which serves real estate brokerage owners and managers, and in 1996, she earned the industry-recognized CRB designation.
In 2007 at the REBNY annual Gala, Mrs. Ramirez was presented with the 'Henry Forster Award.' Instituted in 1990, this prestigious award is presented annually to a real estate professional with an outstanding record of achievement and conduct both within the industry and the community.
Mrs. Ramirez is involved in philanthropy both in and out of the real estate community. In January 2009, she was recognized for her community service when she was presented with the Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award from REBNY. In addition, she has been presented with the New York Moves 'Power Women' honor, the Mann 'Real Estate Firm of the Year' Award and the OTTY 'Eastsider of the Year' Award, both of which acknowledge outstanding involvement in the community. Mrs. Ramirez was also honored by the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter with the Celine Marcus Community Service Award. She and her husband, Sam Ramirez, are long-standing supporters of the Valerie Fund in New Jersey (an organization which helps children with cancer), and were honored at their annual Thanksgiving Gala in 2006 for their outstanding involvement and dedication to the charity.
Mrs. Ramirez resides in Manhattan with her husband, Sam Ramirez, who is the founder and CEO of the investment banking firm, Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Inc. Their son, his wife and their three children also dwell in Manhattan; and, their daughter resides in Connecticut with her husband and two children.