Louise Phillips Forbes proves that women can have it all. With career sales exceeding $3.2 billion in the residential real estate market over the past 30 years, this happily married mother of two is paving the way as a symbol for female empowerment. Married after 40 and having her sons at 42 and 44, there is no stopping this modern woman.
Forbes grew up in the South to a family of modest means but strong ties to the community. Her grandfather was a minister and her mother’s family founded Vanderbilt Medical School, carrying an old Nashville name with very deep roots. Everywhere young Forbes went she went smiling, a true Southern charmer. When she moved from Tennessee to New York City in 1987, with only $800 in her pocket, she immediately felt a sense of place, and took to the heartbeat pulsing throughout the energetic streets.
“I managed to navigate the intimacy of what Nashville was for me growing up and make New York City a very small town. Fostering relationships from my grocery store to my doorman, or brokers I’ve done business with for 30 years, it’s part of how I’m wired,” said Forbes.
Originally, her career aspiration was to be a professional dancer, a decision that proved to be both challenging and humbling. Suddenly she was a small fish in rather big pond, simultaneously bartending, waiting tables, and modeling with countless auditions. In a moment of serendipity, while working at Brother Jimmy’s restaurant, an agent recommended she go into real estate. In that moment, her life changed.
Her first year in the industry was under the Solarz Realty moniker, only making $8400 that year working in a small office with three ring binders and no fax machine. Now considered a power broker in Manhattan, Forbes has proved that the sky’s the limit when you set your sights high. She is a winner of Halstead Real Estate’s esteemed Broker-of-the-Year award multiple times, and leads the firm’s number one sales team, focusing on luxury residential sales and in-development projects.
In an industry that is based on numbers, from budgets to commissions, Forbes stands out as an educator rather than a saleswoman. “I quickly came to learn that it’s a business of people. I’m relationship driven. My husband says I even care about the bad relationships,” she said.
In contrast to New York City’s focus on the bigger, better deal, from her Southern upbringing, she never discussed money or possessions. “They weren’t transactions. They were opportunities and privileges to be a part of somebody’s intimate, important decisions. Passion came very quickly and success was one day at a time, one deal at a time. I’m always learning something new. When I stop learning, I stop living.” Even when business is lost, Forbes asks clients what she could have done differently, seeing each day as another opportunity to grow.
Forbes has an innate curiosity and interest in the community, and she enjoys giving back. Forbes said she enjoys being a mentor and guiding others through tough times. She is a guest lecturer for Real Estate Board of New York and an active board member for the non-profit Change For Kids, which is said to provide “cultural arts programs for inner-city elementary schools, enriching children’s educational experience and path to success.” Forbes become involved with the organization in the 1990s. It’s a family philanthropic affair. Her husband, Christopher Forbes, served as chairman for five years and their children participate by raising money for the literary program.
“The importance of giving back, and for me to make the city a small town, is that I needed to be invested in my community. Aligning myself with empowering women, or trying to make a difference to people who have less, is my obligation and I feel blessed. I think that as a mother it is the best way for me to teach my children the importance of giving back and to acknowledge the abundance of what we have,” said Forbes.
Much of this mindset was imparted from her mother, Leila Douglas Phillips, who passed away when Forbes was only 23. Leila was a connector and emphasized great value in others. “She advised me to follow my dreams. Don’t get a job. Do something you love and then it’s not work,” her mother told her.
When Forbes isn’t working, she can be seen SoulCycling with master instructor, Stacey Griffith or hitting the waves in Ditch Plains, Montauk with her kids and relaxing at her Montauk property.
Taking her professionalism to the East End, Forbes rents out her property on Butter Lane in Bridgehampton and is listing a friend’s property at 31 Ocean View in Southampton.
Contact Forbes at Halstead’s Park Avenue office at 212-381-3329 or email LPhillips@halstead.com.