Dean Of Harlem Real Estate

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People downtown may have only recently discovered the value of uptown property, but one broker who’s fast becoming a household name in Harlem says she saw the trend a decade ago. “The first home to sell in Harlem for $500,000 was in 1995,� says Willie Kathryn Suggs, “and the first home to sell at $850,000 was in 2000.� Suggs should know—she made those sells. As founder of the company that bears her name, Suggs has been at the forefront of the major sales. The surge in Harlem property value continues; in August 2002, a home sold for $2 million and another one for $2.05 million in August last year. “This is not to say that every house in Harlem is selling for $2 million,� Suggs cautions. “This is not even to say that every home that sells for $2 million is worth that amount. The average sales price now is over $900,000.�Suggs insists that “the average middle class African American family� can still afford to buy Harlem homes. “A bank will lend you up to 90 % of a $1.2 million home depending on your credit and savings. The biggest fallacy is that Harlem is too expensive and that it's impossible to buy. That's a big fat lie.� Suggs’s company office occupies two floors of the four story row house Suggs owns in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of West Harlem. Her office is open seven days a week. Suggs is widely regarded as an expert on the Upper Manhattan real estate market. She has been interviewed and quoted by the Wall Street Journal; New York Times; New York Daily News; New York Magazine; New York Observer; New York Post; and many other U.S. and foreign publications and broadcast outlets.

Suggs takes pride in the fact that all her brokers and agents reside in Harlem or own property there—this allows her firm to quickly track trends and keep a few paces ahead of competitors. “Since they live here, they have vested interest in the success—as opposed to those that just showed up in Harlem last week,� she adds. Her company has also broadened its customer base by sponsoring Home Buyers' Fairs, free to the public, at local Harlem churches. Attendees learn about the buying process from real estate industry professionals while enjoying a buffet lunch. The company also participates in the Greater Harlem Real Estate Board Home Buyer's Fair and the Metro Expo Buyers Fairs held at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Suggs also credits her support for community events and her substantial charitable contributions as one reason why her company has developed a strong client base in Harlem. She is renowned for the annual December year-end party she throws. This year’s might be the biggest ever—her company will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in business.

Executive Bio: Willie Kathryn Suggs came to real estate after a successful career in television journalism. She was a news reporter and show producer at WITI-TV 6 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was a staff news writer, and show producer in the ABC TV network news division. She is a graduate of Columbia University with a Masters Degree in History and she holds a Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Marquette University.

Staff: Willie Kathryn Suggs—Principal Broker/owner; Principal Broker, Lovelynn Gwinn; Salesperson, Gigi Pelican; Salesperson, Lisa Silversmith,  Salesperson;  Gerard Hicks; Associate Broker, Caren Leslie; Associate Broker; Anthony Chandler, Alfred Moultrie; David Wharton,  Office Assistants.

(212) 690-7636. 412 West 145 Street New York, N.Y., 10031

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