Property of Edwin Josue

‘I tell people not to throw money away by renting.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

Location, location, location may be real estate babble for success, but to Manila-born broker Edwin Josue, 57, it’s guts, discipline, patience that’s helped him to get ahead in the high-end property market.

Edwin is a licensed associate real estate broker for Halstead Property, a topnotch property company, and an established realty professional for more than 20 years. He sells and manages homes and buildings, and is one of few Filipinos who have stayed in the business through scattered periods of boom and bust.

He began as a licensed real estate agent in the late 1980s, a recent immigrant to the U.S. He was given a cluster of 10 Manhattan buildings to sell or manage. He found his buyers, thanks to his exceptional people skills and whatever he knew of property sales working for 10 years at Danding Cojuangco’s Cocobank.

“These are Parisian buildings in the Upper 72nd and up between Second and Third avenues,” Edwin told The FilAm in an interview. “These are pre-war buildings with cement walls, high beam ceilings and wood-burning fireplaces. Mga Europeans ang bumibili because of their Parisian look.”

From a management company, Edwin moved to the French-owned Jean-Marc Levet, which was later acquired by Brown Harris Stevens in 1995 when the economy of France suffered a slump. At BHS, one of the oldest and largest property companies, Edwin hit the big leagues. Brown Harris belongs to Terra Holdings development which also owns the Halstead Property brokerage and management company. No less than Terra Holdings co-chairman William Lie Zeckendorf invited Edwin to join the company.

“I was the only Filipino at Brown Harris,” said Edwin. “I stayed with them four years; they also gave me buildings there.”

Around 1999, Edwin formed his own ERJ Realty and made $6 million in sales on his first year. After five years, he ran into an former co-worker at Brown Harris Stevens who coaxed him into coming back. He did and became an associate real estate broker at Halstead.

It is through real estate that Edwin met community and business leader Loida Nicolas Lewis, who bought an apartment from him and also referred potential clients. “Loida was very proud to see a Filipino succeed, she kept telling me to aim for the top,” he recalled. Another prominent Filipina, investment banker Joanne de Asis, as well as prominent entertainment lawyer Bob Perlstein became clients.

Affluent Filipino families sending their children to Columbia and Fordham are among Edwin’s frequent callers. Depending on how much budget the family has, he would suggest they buy a studio rather than rent, often telling the parents that by the time their child is out of college, the studio would have appreciated in value. It is not unusual for a $250K condo studio, for instance, to have doubled its original price after four years, he said. In which case, the home becomes a smart investment.

“I tell them not to throw their money away by renting,” he said.

People from Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea are among the biggest buyers of Manhattan real estate, according to Edwin. The so-called BRICK countries are experiencing a surge in their economies and have well-off citizens looking to invest overseas.

“Brazil’s economy is booming because of ethanol,” he said. “And China, the buyers usually come from wealthy families also.”

As an island, he said Manhattan property is finite with a saturation limit to be reached in a matter of years. The boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens are benefiting from the “spillover” and joining the housing bonanza.

“There’s a boom in Flushing, Long Island City and Forest Hills,” he said. “Most parts of the city are gentrifying – Harlem, Delancey on the Lower East Side, and Tribeca. Prices there are skyrocketing.”

Edwin and his partner, interior designer Jerry Sibal, have a Park Avenue address overlooking the Chrysler Building. While he is proud of the luxury home’s fabled history – it is on the same Murray Hill location where the legendary financier J.P Morgan used to live – he is equally pleased that it has its own washer and dryer. In New York, these conveniences are often just as important as the location.

With partner Jerry Sibal in their Park Avenue home


  1. RRS-S wrote:

    Mr. Josue said, “I tell them not to throw their money away by renting.” This is only half of the equation. Mr. Josue failed to tell his readers what they need to purchase a $250,000 unit. There are probably more Americans renting than buying because they don’t have the downpayment. Many Americans lost their homes because of the economy, so they are now living with their relatives or friends or are renting.

  2. Congratulations to both of you.

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