Terry Cohen’s Mission For Positivity In Real Estate

When Terry Cohen pivoted to Hedgerow Exclusive it was a shock to the local real estate landscape. While Hedgerow operates in stealth mode with little marketing, adding Cohen legitimized the agency from a two-partner operation into a brokerage proper. After all, she has a way of doing that and it is certainly a part of her legacy. She was one of the first brokers who joined Saunders & Associates and saw it grow into one of the most talked-about and powerhouse brokerages on the East End.

It’s easy to believe that a broker at this level could be stereotyped into a jaded realtor — it’s the opposite with Cohen. After selling more than $2.5 billion in Hamptons real estate during her 20-year tenure, she is calling for positivity in the industry.

Hamptons Real Estate, Terry Cohen, Hedgerow Exclusives
Terry Cohen. Photo: Lena Yaremenko

Much like Los Angeles is the industry town of entertainment, a big part of industry in the Hamptons is real estate. The realtor grind is a big part of moving everything else on the East End, from restaurants to trade to where people hunker down during global pandemics. Yet while so many have reaped the benefits, there is an undercurrent of negativity, according to Cohen, a callousness in dealings, manipulation, and the disregarding of disclosure for the buck. She is calling for positivity and leading by example.

“We’re all talking about how to alleviate some of this really negative behavior. We’re frustrated with some of the tenor of the brokerage community — that is a problem. It’s kind of like one of the things I’d like to do in my last go-round,” Cohen said of the local industry complex. “I want to see if we can make this a better place to work.”

Cohen reminds us that they are independent contractors and at her level, they are also brands unto themselves. She sees an opening that if brokers on this level start speaking the same language, people will become allies with one another no matter the brokerage they hang their license at.

When asked how one can change the language regionally she explains that the brokers who believe that it’s time to change the tenor of negativity need to become allies. “If we all work together, we all make more money,” she said. “It’s all about trust and you hope that the good guys win.”

Cohen says that she’s not a salesperson and that she wouldn’t be comfortable hard-selling, and that she is an information person. “I give information,” she said, “so that my clients and customers make the best decisions. Having knowledge is great but sharing that knowledge with people is key. If they trust you with it and you’re giving them the tools to make the right decision — that is everything. I’m a conduit to good information and I like to think that we work collaboratively.”

There’s a saying that has stuck with Cohen and that she finds critically important since the beginning: “Be nice to the people on the way up because you’ll see the same people on the way down.”

Scouring RealTrends we see many local agents on there killing it. Working transparently and communally is what Cohen wants to see happen despite the intense competition within the Hamptons real estate market. “Sure, I always want to win,” Cohen expanded. But not if “it means selling your soul.”

At the level she was selling, she found herself calling Hedgerow founder, Gary Cooper, to learn more about the real estate climate at her inventory range. She has never cared whether the property she sold was $1million or $20+ million. “The label over $10 million is insane to me,” she explained. “I’ll start from a million to $80M — it doesn’t matter to me.”

The stealth methodology at Hedgerow is new to Cohen who integrated it into how she grew at her previous brokerage, which promoted her prolifically. “I needed more of that here so I developed a hybrid that fits nicely,” she explained. She is someone who knows what works for her and she knows how to weave the two methodologies seamlessly. “Starting from scratch and innovation doesn’t scare me at all.”

When discussing all of the new brokerages that built offices in the Hamptons, Cohen says, “Teams came out during and after the pandemic. The reason I came to Hedgerow is because I wanted to incorporate my knowledge and also to get more knowledge — to have more conversations with people. That’s all it’s about: to be a better broker. I give that to my clients so that they make the best possible decisions. That’s the bottom line and what I want.”

Cohen has an entrepreneurial spirit that involves wanting to learn and grow despite being at the top of her game. There is a bootstrap mentality that comes with growing a company that is meaningful for her. “Learning,” she said. “I need to keep learning to grow.”

The kind of proficiency she wants more of is through a synergistic spirit in the industry, which she feels is part of the Hedgerow culture. “So and so is looking over here — the knowledge could be different coming from different companies,” she illustrates to make her point. “To see that we’re all helping each other out, trying to figure out how to be there for people. To find ourselves saying, ‘Oh, wait a minute. I just talked to this person. She has something that would work, I want you guys to talk.’ There are lots of ways to help each other and that’s what we’re doing here at Hedgerow. It crosses the lines and in the end it’s about community.”

“What’s happening in the country and in the world is what’s happening in real estate. Bad behavior is being rewarded,” she explained. “Look at politics. There’s no talking and it’s all about taking sides. If there is something wrong with a situation, you have a moral obligation to call it out. I just want to start a conversation about it.”

In regards to the market, she goes back to 2017, 2018, and 2019 and how pricing prohibited sales. Cohen felt that there had been a miscommunication between how much money was being made in New York and how it was not translating to the East End for the first time ever. “The market in the city was so strong but people were waiting on the sidelines to buy here,” Cohen explained. “Until a couple of developers lowered their prices, people came and bought the houses. It was six months before the pandemic. Homes were selling again with the prices that they should have been at all along. Then Covid hit.”

She cites that the 1 to 3 percent interest rates also made it impossible to ignore East End real estate market. “Everyone thinks it was just Covid,” she said. “Before that, financing was practically free. The market escalated during the pandemic. We’re back to where developers are building, but not as many.”

Buyers are looking for new builds, according to Cohen. “Where we are seeing difficulty is in older homes and not great locations, especially for rentals. Inventory that is coming up will be homes from 2010 but not newer homes from 2019 on. If they do come on, they’ll be snapped up like that,” she said, snapping her finger. “Anything five years or newer will be at a premium price.”

Terry Cohen wants to start a movement. To find brokers at every level, especially the top tier, to come together and say enough is enough with the cynicism, and that they need to work together to bring more positivity to the Hamptons real estate market with the hopes that it might trickle to the rest of the world.

To learn more about Terry Cohen, visit terrycohenteam.com.


Ty Wenzel

Co-Publisher & Contributor

Ty Wenzel started her career as a fashion editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine and a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale’s. She was also a writer for countless publications, including having published a memoir and written features for The New York Times. She is an award-winning writer, designer, and acted previously as the Marketing Director at The Independent Newspaper. She covers real estate, architecture and interiors for James Lane Post. Wenzel is also a co-founder of the meditation app for kids, DreamyKid.

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