SPOTLIGHT ON: Susan Greenfield
Mary Prenon | July 18, 2022
A Woman of the World
Years ago, Susan Greenfield pictured her career as a successful artist. Armed with a degree in art, she worked as an illustrator before discovering real estate. Fast forward to today, the former artist is now the new FIABCI World President and also a top real estate agent at Brown Harris Stevens in Manhattan.
Created in Paris, France in 1951, FIABCI is a worldwide business networking organization of real estate and related professionals including architects, developers, property and asset managers, lawyers and appraisers.
FIABCI members hail from more than 70 countries and organizations including the National Association of Realtors, Building Managers Association, Appraisal Institute, Council of Residential Specialists, Institute of Real Estate Management, Asian Real Estate Association of America and the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. HGAR is a Principal Member of FIABCI-USA.
Admitting she entered the real estate industry on a whim, Greenfield noted it was the best decision she ever made. “At the time I had two small children and I need to make some extra money,” she recalled. After taking a part-time job as a receptionist in a “mom and pop” brokerage, she quickly decided to get her real estate license when she saw how well the other agents were doing. “In the first six months, I did over $1 million in real estate sales—and that was back in 1972 when the average home price was $25,000.” As a result, Greenfield became one of the brokerage’s leading salespeople, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Greenfield began her foray into global real estate when she served as Vice President of Home Finding, a relocation firm. In 1979, she was recruited by Merrill Lynch to start their own real estate brokerage—the former Merrill Lynch Realty Company. “At that time, I was the only one in the executive suite who came out of the real estate business,” she remembered.
She spent a decade there as Vice President of International Marketing & Sales for 480 real estate offices and 10,000 real estate agents across the U.S. It was during this time that she began to hone her international real estate skills, traveling to major global markets like Paris, Amsterdam, Monte Carlo, Hong Kong and many others. In 1990, she launched her own real estate company in Manhattan and Paris.
Six years later, she merged her firm into Brown Harris Stevens, with the stipulation that she resume selling. “At that point, I didn’t want to be part of management—I just wanted to do what I do best—sell,” she said. “I’m a great salesperson.”
With her new position heading FIABCI, Greenfield will be acting as the ambassador for FIABCI around the world, attending and speaking at various events. To date, she has attended more than 18 world conferences. Her personal agenda for 2022 is to bring more young professionals into the global organization. “We need this younger generation because they have a lot to offer and I want to focus on our future,” she said.
Greenfield is already working on creating new FIABCI councils that will focus on other occupations such as architects, developers, technology experts, among others.
An active member of FIABCI for 40 years, Greenfield has held several leadership positions, including President of FIABCI-USA in 2017, as well as President of the New York Council on three separate occasions. She was also one of the founders of the CIPS designation (Certified International Property Specialist), and one of the first CIPS instructors for NAR. She has taught the course throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Her involvement with FIABCI can be traced back to the early 1980s, when she and some of Merrill Lynch’s Florida agents attended a real estate show in London. It was at this event that she learned about FIABCI and decided to get involved. “My personal love is Cannes, France—especially in the summer,” she revealed. “Of course, I love travel and meeting new people everywhere.”
She also initiated NYSAR’s Global Business Council and headed the first trade mission to Italy. While she fully admits she’s not fluent in any other languages, Greenfield said that has never stopped her from forging ahead into new places—often traveling alone. “Language should never be an obstacle,” she said. “Everyone warms to a smile.”
She holds the FIREC FIABCI designation and CRS NAR designations and in 2018, she was awarded the FIABCI Medal of Honor. This September, Greenfield will be hosting a Trade Mission to New York City for international visitors that will include panel discussions and property tours throughout the city. She is expecting more than 50 people from all over the world to attend.
“This has been such a wonderful, rewarding career,” she added. “In fact, it’s the only career that I know of where a woman who has a family can really make a great living. The secret is to always keep learning. The harder you work, the better you’ll do and you’ll definitely get all that you put into it.”