Executive of the Month: Michael Ferrara, managing principal at Brax Rlty., attributes success to experiences, social media

October 15, 2019 - Front Section
Ferrara on a site visit for one of his clients


Ferrara with his wife and daughter


New York, NY The New York Real Estate Journal (NYREJ) sat down with Michael Ferrara, this month’s “Executive of the Month,” for a question and answer session. Ferrara is the managing principal of Brax Realty. 

NYREJ: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ferrara: I was born in Brooklyn, but moved out to Woodbury, Long Island when I was three years old. I graduated from Indiana University in 2008 and I own Brax Realty–we specialize in brokering investment real estate in New York and I have been in the real estate business for 11 years. 

NYREJ: What led you to your current profession? 

Ferrara: I needed to get a summer internship and a family friend of mine owned roughly 900 units on Long Island. I was intrigued on what it took to be a landlord and learn about the real estate business so I reached out to him to see if he would hire me and if I could tag along and be his intern for a summer. 

NYREJ: Did he hire you?

Ferrara: {laughs} Yes, he did. I spent one summer there working in his office helping out with administrative work, managing any apartment renovations that were going on at the time and showed apartments to prospective tenants among other things. He also brought me along on site visits of his portfolio and tours of potential acquisitions. 

NYREJ: What did you learn from this initial experience?

Ferrara: I learned that I really did like real estate, and needed to get more experience in the field. My father and brother are both accountants and that route just wasn’t for me. The following summer, I decided that I wanted to get exposure to the commercial brokerage side of the business and landed an internship at a full-service commercial brokerage firm on Long Island. 

NYREJ: What did you do for them?

Ferrara: I spent the following two summers there when I was home from college. One summer I spent in the industrial sales and leasing side of the business and the other summer I spent working in the investment sales division focusing on office buildings, apartment buildings and shopping centers. It was great experience and enabled me to get a taste of all different asset classes at a young age. 

NYREJ: You graduated college in 2008–what was your first job out of college?

Ferrara: Yes, I graduated in 2008–really the worst market. The company that I had interned with the previous two summers offered me a full-time position upon graduating so I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity there for me when I came back to New York.

NYREJ: What was it like graduating college and getting thrown into one of the worst real estate markets?

Ferrara: It was really tough. As you could imagine there were very few investors buying properties at that time, banks weren’t lending and it was very doom and gloom. Transaction volume was very low and I remember my senior broker had me cold calling banks for REOs to try and drum up opportunities to work on. Looking back, I looked at it as a positive–the market was so slow that the senior brokers had a lot of time to answer my questions and teach me the fundamentals of the business. Had the market been hot, they might not have had the time to pay much attention to me. So, although I didn’t make much money that first year, the education I received was worth more than the dollar. It also taught me the reality of this business and its cyclical nature. Being able to get through the first few years in that market helped mold me into the broker I am today. 

NYREJ: How has the industry changed since you first started out? 

Ferrara: Without a doubt the first thing that comes to mind is the use of social media now (specifically LinkedIn and Instagram to name two platforms). A quick story: Back in 2014, I had connected with a real estate investor on LinkedIn and soon after we connected, we coordinated to grab coffee and meet in person. I had a deal at 10 Greene St. I was trying to sell at the time and I pitched him the opportunity on the spot. Long story short, I ended up selling it to him for $14.5 million. 

NYREJ: Wow. So, you can say that social media has made a direct impact for you professionally?

Ferrara: Absolutely, we joke about how we should have done a LinkedIn commercial on how their platform was the first step in making the deal happen!

NYREJ: What advice can you offer to someone who is interested in a career in your industry? 

Ferrara: Be ready to work! This business is very competitive and a rollercoaster ride that will tear you down physically and mentally. I have a piece of artwork in my office that has the words “failure” all over the canvas but in the middle of all the failure it says, “It only takes 1 yes for Success.” It’s so true–each “no” brings you closer to a yes and you need to keep fighting and getting up because there is always light at the end of a tunnel. 

NYREJ: Do you ever truly unplug from work?

Ferrara: These days with the iPhone and other programs and apps, I have everything I need to conduct business in my pocket so even if I am not in the office, I am always accessible and do always have my phone in my hand–I am definitely what you would call a “zero-inbox” guy. I do make sure that when I get home from work, I spend time with my wife and my daughter, Isabella, who is a little over two years old now. Even the worst, most stressful days seem to go away the second I come home and see her smile and run to me–it really puts life into perspective. 

NYREJ: Who or what do you attribute to your success? 

Ferrara: Without a doubt my upbringing and family values. My parents instilled in me from day one to always be respectful and honest. Relationships and your word are worth more than anything else and I believe just being myself has helped me form the strong connections I have with my clients and the people that know me.

NYREJ: Any binge-worthy shows you would recommend?

Ferrara: “Fauda” on Netflix

NYREJ: One thing people may not know about you?

Ferrara: I used to D.J. in high school and college.



Add Comment

More from the New York Real Estate Journal