SPOTLIGHT ON: Mark Seiden
Mary Prenon | April 11, 2019
Mother Knew Best
When Mark Seiden graduated from college, his mother—long-time real estate broker Lois Seiden—told him he’d be “a natural for real estate.” His response: “I’m just not interested.”
Today, the broker/owner of the Mark Seiden Real Estate Team in Briarcliff Manor can’t believe he actually said that. As one of the most successful brokers in the area, Seiden admits he had to learn the hard way that real estate really was his calling.
Armed with a degree from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Seiden began his career in food service management, working with hospitals and corporations. By the time he was 30, he was the district manager. “This is something I had wanted for so long, but you know what they say—be careful what you wish for because you may get it,” he said.
As the manager for several locations all over Westchester, Manhattan, and Long Island, Seiden was now spending most of his days in the car. “Then, when I got to my destinations, I’d have to listen to complaints and solve problems all day long,” he added. “This was my dream job, but I never hated a job so much in my life!”
Finally, Seiden decided to listen to his mother, got his real estate license and just “tried it out” back in 1993. Enticed by the idea of working with people in happy situations, he leapt full-time into his new profession. “Some people thought I was crazy—I gave up a job with a free car, free parking in Manhattan, health care and paid vacations. Now I was working on pure commissions, and my wife Amy was pregnant. Plus, mom wouldn’t even give me a stipend!”
Just one year later, he was the company’s number one agent. “I did a lot of marketing in the food service industry, but at the time I found most real estate agents weren’t doing a lot of marketing,” he said. In fact, Seiden was the first agent in Westchester to put his photo on a business card. As a result, the Realtor Association started to get a lot of phone calls. “Other agents complained, saying it was an Ethics violation.”
Fortunately, Seiden was cleared. “I didn’t invent that. I’d go to conventions and just copy what Realtors in other parts of the country were doing.” Seiden was also the first to put his photo on the sign rider atop of a “For Sale” sign. “Once again Richard Haggerty’s phone lit up,” he quipped. (Prior to being appointed HGAR CEO Haggerty was at one time the association’s Professional Standards Administrator handling ethics hearings.) “I guess that’s how Richard and I got to know each other so quickly!”
Seiden also took the lead in doing virtual home tours, now standard on many real estate listings. In addition, he was one of the first to embrace real estate teams. It was in the late 1990s when he met a Chicago broker, who introduced him to the idea. In fact, in 1997, when his mother was ready to retire and wanted Seiden to take over the business, he said, “No.” He noted, “I didn’t want to own the office and have all of that overhead, plus I found I could make more money being part of a team.”
The business was later sold to Coldwell Banker and Seiden worked with them until 2003. When he left, he was their Top Producer in Westchester. The following year, he opened the Mark Seiden Real Estate Team, keeping the team model, instead of a traditional brokerage.
He started off in a small second floor office in Briarcliff Manor, then moved to Ossining a year later. In 2009, Seiden moved back to Briarcliff with a storefront location on Pleasantville Road. Five years ago, he celebrated a milestone—the sale of his 1,500th home!
Today, he works with six agents, eight administrative assistants and two virtual assistants. “I’m still involved in every transaction,” he explained. “You don’t have to do things the traditional way. As long as you follow agency law, you can think outside the box.”
This is also Seiden’s first year serving on the HGAR Board of Directors. “It’s a great experience and I really enjoy being part of this and meeting people from all over the Hudson Valley,” he said.
An Ossining resident, Seiden is a member of the Ossining and Briarcliff Manor Chambers of Commerce, Briarcliff Manor Rotary Club, former president of the Ossining Library Foundation, Ossining Village Fair participant, Briarcliff Manor Halloween store painting participant and supporter of many local charities and non-profits in the area.
His wife, Amy, is his director of marketing and he admits she’s the “lowest paid employee on staff.” “Actually, she tells people she gets paid with hugs, kisses… and lots of jewelry!” he joked. The Seidens have three children – Ben, 25, Lindsay, 23, and Rachel, 19.
In their spare time, the Seidens like to travel, enjoy wine tastings, and plan events for their clients and the communities they serve. This past year, they held a Thanksgiving pie giveaway for clients, while asking for canned goods for the Ossining Food Pantry. They’ve also held movie nights during the year, and at last month’s event, collected more than 200 cans of food for the Ossining Food Pantry.
In June, they’re planning a wine tasting evening for clients at The Briarcliff Manor. For this event, they’re asking people to bring in items for Lifting Up Westchester’s Brighter Futures Summer Camp. They can use many items like towels, suntan lotion, arts and crafts supplies and canned/box goods.
In September, Ossining’s Ryder Park will be the scene of a community carnival. Clients will be admitted free, and the public will pay a nominal fee. “We’re going to be featuring kiddie rides, a petting zoo, food, music and a dunk tank,” added Seiden. “I’ll be sitting in the dunk tank, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Richard Haggerty was the first one in line!”