February 22, 2024

19 Real Estate Pros Share Their Lesson Learned Moments

As you may know, here at Inman, we love to celebrate hard-working real estate pros — those boots-on-the-ground agents, who’re pounding pavement, having real estate conversations, and finding buyers, sellers and deals-to-be-had.

We also love to learn how they got where they are, the wins they’ve celebrated and the tough lessons they’ve learned along the way. That’s why, since 2018, Inman’s Christy Murdock has been sniffing out those real estate pros across the nation to ask them what they know now in a recurring column called Lesson Learned.

This year had its fair share of lessons to learn as the market became more challenging. Along the way, these 19 real estate pros shared their personal career takeaways and advice for other agents in the field facing similar challenges.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Josh Stein moved to Miami Beach in 2000. Since then, he has developed his high-flying real estate career without ever losing sight of his passions and interests.

Stein is a former powerboat racer and winner of the 2001 APBA Offshore World Championship in One Design. He has been featured on the National Geographic TV Series Years of Living Dangerously alongside comedian Jack Black, discussing how climate change affects the Miami real estate market.

Stein markets luxury properties to international buyers and is the co-founder of one of Miami’s leading real estate marketing and tech firms. Find out how this luxury agent developed his high-flying real estate career without ever losing sight of his passions and interests. Read more.


As the founder of The Katzen Team at Douglas Elliman, one of the top-ranked teams nationwide, Frances Katzen combines exceptional knowledge of the New York City real estate market with a global perspective that allows her to better serve her international clients. Born in South Africa and raised in Sydney Australia, she maintains a network of contacts in the U.S., Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

Find out how this powerhouse team leader built a business that has earned the loyalty of financiers, celebrities, real estate investors, developers and a who’s who of the city’s artistic and cultural life. Read more.


Find out why Buchbinder believes in the power of a relationship-based business, and learn what he’d be doing if he wasn’t selling real estate. Read more.


Daniel Ekerold

A former member of the British Royal Marines, Daniel Ekerold prides himself on his tenacious work ethic and relationship-building ability. Ekerold works with builders, real estate attorneys and industry leaders, offering full relocation and concierge-level real estate services. Recent notable deals include a record-breaking sale at The Bristol and for a residence in Coconut Grove.

Find out what lessons he’s learned along the way, what training has been most impactful in his career, and what advice he’d pass on to agents who are just starting out in the industry. Read more.


Central Florida agent Anne-Marie Wurzel brings her background in advertising and copywriting to bear on the practice of real estate, including marketing experience from more than 300 properties and management of her agency’s largest client, a national REIT. She launched her own business nearly two decades ago and is still growing strong.

When asked what three things best describe her, she said: “I am a relentless advocate for my family, my daughter and my clients. I love Jesus. I am an avid tennis player and very competitive.” Read more.


A native New Yorker and founding agent at Compass Providence, Kira Greene has traveled an eclectic path to the real estate industry. Before real estate, she worked in New York City in the ’90s for one of the first interactive marketing and web development companies in “Silicon Alley,” helping to produce the first Broadway musical website for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

She moved to Providence in 1998, and loves its arts, culture and restaurant scene. She started an online marketing division at an ad agency while at the same time, she and her husband began investing in multi-family homes and renovating single-family homes. She caught the real estate bug and went full-time in 2012. Find out what she’s learned along the way and the wisdom she’d share with agents today. Read more.


As a top-ranked, award-winning real estate professional specializing in Manhattan real estate, Mississippi native Noble Black brings a hyper-personalized approach to the practice of real estate. His law degree from UVA and years of work as an attorney on Wall Street have given him a unique 360-degree perspective on the legal and financial implications of even the most complex transactions, which keeps him interested and challenged even after nearly two decades in the industry.

Although Black is serious about the exceptional client service he provides, that doesn’t mean he’s an extrovert. “While real estate is a very social industry, I’m actually incredibly shy,” he said. Find out how he puts his knowledge and experience to work and what he’s learned in his years in the business. Read more.


Top-producing luxury agent Samantha Curry has sold everything from showstopping penthouses to opulent waterfront estates, including a 2021 record-breaking sale in Highland Beach for $30.25 million. Learn how this Palm Beach, Florida, top producer turned her childhood interest in real estate into $1 billion-plus in luxury sales, and find out what advice she’d give to any aspiring real estate agent. Read more.


In honor of Luxury Month, Troy Palmquist sat down with one of the leading luxury agents in Austin, Texas, at one of the city’s pinnacle properties, The Legacy of Lake Austin. Bridget Ramey of Sotheby’s International Real Estate has sold more than half a billion in inventory since 2020, making her one of the most productive agents in her market and among the top 100 in her company globally. Bonus: Watch the video interview for the full conversation. Read more.


New York City associate broker Burt F. Savitsky is an award-winning real estate professional specializing in condominiums and co-ops. Despite being a 30-plus year resident of the city’s Upper East Side, he’s also a die-hard Boston sports fan. Savitsky is a lover of classic sports cars, and when asked what goal he hasn’t accomplished yet, he says that he’d love to try stand-up comedy.

Find out how this real estate standout helps clients navigate the complexities of the co-op board approval process while leaning into his own inimitable style to stay connected. Read more.


NYC associate broker Reba Miller knows New York like the back of her hand. “My car is my office,” she says. “I always think I would be a great Uber driver.”

Instead, she has built a distinguished real estate business through “nonstop” work and dedication. Among her motivators? “I am a fierce competitor,” she says. “I don’t mind losing; I just always want to give it my best. I can’t sleep at night if I don’t.”

Learn how New York City’s Miller learned that your next big deal can come from anywhere — even lunch. Read more.


Gerard C. Splendore

You probably know Gerard Splendore from his column for Inman where he talks about everything from elevators to early 20th-century home styles. However, it’s not his encyclopedic knowledge of residential architecture that sets him apart. It’s his dedication to problem-solving and his ability to see the humor (and even “ludicrousness”) in real estate that allows him to provide world-class service and attention to his New York City clients.

Find out how this New York City broker provides exceptional client service while maintaining his sunny disposition. Read more.


NYC real estate agent Patrick Clark draws on his decade of experience in finance to inform the guidance he provides to clients throughout their transactions. A lifelong learner, Clark focuses on staying current on the latest trends and best practices in real estate so that he can provide his clients with the most up-to-date information and advice. Discover how his unique background, hands-on approach, and the strong connections he cultivates with clients and colleagues help him to succeed in the fast-paced world of Manhattan real estate. Read more.


After starting out in the fashion industry, Aimee Fink combined her understanding of the luxury market with her knowledge of New York City’s neighborhoods to launch a career in high-end real estate. Her eye for all things luxury combined with her expertise in closing deals affords her clients a decisive leg-up whether they’re looking to buy or sell.

Passionate about giving back to the community, Fink donates part of her commission from each real estate deal to a charity of her clients’ choice and volunteers at NYU Hospital, where she puts her aesthetic sensibility to work making jewelry with children. Find out how she got into real estate and why she’s so focused on making a difference.

Find out how this veteran of the fashion industry turned her knowledge of high-end retail to the business of luxury real estate. Read more.


Before beginning her real estate career, Diana Sutherlin spent more than 20 years as the president of Image Impact, Inc. and Creative Touch Media, giving her unique expertise in sales training, body language interpretation, communication styles, and objection handling is highly valuable in real estate. This unique background allows her to provide hands-on, full-service design, sales and marketing expertise that sets her apart from other agents.

Sutherlin has been the top-selling agent for new construction and waterfront properties for over 14 years, with projects including 77 Hudson, Gull’s Cove, Trump Plaza and more. She has received numerous awards, including Platinum level awards for 13 years and four consecutive Triple Platinum Awards. Sutherlin’s record-breaking sales include the highest-priced waterfront condo in New Jersey’s history. Learn how this Jersey City pro puts her background in acting and marketing to work to improve client relationships. Read more.


As co-head of New Development for Compass Development Marketing Group in New York, Dan Parker works alongside the brightest minds in New York real estate, offering unparalleled expertise and guidance to his developer clients. He has lived in Brooklyn since 2001, first in Carroll Gardens, then in Brooklyn Heights and now in Williamsburg.

Like many New Yorkers, Parker says he “walks everywhere” and is “constantly stopping to look up at buildings. It drives my husband nuts and often makes us late to wherever we’re heading.” Find out how he brings a lifelong love of design to his work with the city’s biggest developers. Read more.


Ranking among Warburg’s top brokers, and currently ranked as the No. 2 producer companywide, Annie Cion Gruenberger enjoys an exceptional professional reputation in her New York City market. Many of her clients are repeat or referral clients, often spanning several generations.

Described by one client as “hard-working, patient and no-nonsense,” Gruenberger splits her time between Manhattan and Boca Raton. Learn how she lives out the lifelong commitment to client service she learned from her father and her top advice for other agents. Read more.


Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, Camila Lincowski moved to Las Vegas in 2015, building her client book “from the ground up.” With clients ranging from professional athletes to performers on the Las Vegas strip, she’s a 24/7 agent. Along with her husband, a top Las Vegas lender, she prides herself on giving “undivided attention” to her clients from start to finish. Find out how she brings her winning personality to her work and why her mom says she’s “the best Realtor.”

Find out how Las Vegas Realtor Camila Lincowski brings her winning personality to her work and why her mom says she’s “the best Realtor.” Read more.


A former sports journalist and magazine editor, and current podcast host, Val Burmester brings a wealth of experience and entrepreneurial spirit to her work as an award-winning broker with Sotheby’s International Realty. As a Top 1 Percent real estate professional from 2007 through 2023, she attributes her success, in part, to her talent as a connector.

“I am a huge connector. I love to connect with people. I spend most of my day connecting to people and connecting people to each other. I’m usually starting some networking group, a golf group or bringing friends and family together to share amazing wine and food.”

Find out how Seattle real estate broker Burmester started her business by making exceptional connections from Day 1. Read more.


Do you want to be featured on an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here.