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“The most important thing to ask,” Corcoran said, “is how much will you enjoy living in this particular home? Go back and visit it at different times of the day. Get a feel for the neighborhood. Is it quiet at 9 p.m. on a Friday night, or is there a garage band practicing down the street – or a basketball game – ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom – going on directly behind the house? Check the school drop-off and pick-up point. How well-behaved are the kids – and the parents? Can you visualize yourself fitting into the neighborhood and being happy in that environment?”

Even the best house on the best street in the best area of town, she pointed out, can have loud neighbors or other annoyances you might not have known about unless you’ve made a few surprise visits at odd times of the day or night.

We asked Corcoran, whose own sales career focused on high-end properties in Manhattan, the Hamptons, and South Florida, which market segments she thinks might yield the biggest payoff as the current real estate recovery progresses.

“Almost anywhere, single family homes do better than condos or town homes,” she noted. “They lead the market into recovery and are the last ones to dip down – and high end homes tend to keep their value longer and more consistently.”

What about new construction?

“Generally, you will do well buying new construction,” she said. “But I do offer a suggestion. It may not always be true, but in most cases, buying into the last phase of a development, when there is no more land for the developer to develop, is smartest – because based on feedback from the earliest buyers, the houses that are built later will probably have the cool colors, the trendiest features, and the latest and greatest gadgets people want – which will only serve to make the house you bought earlier begin to look old and tired.”

How can agents connect most successfully with this and future generations of home buyers and sellers?

“Successful agents know there are a couple of old faithful rules that are more important today than they ever were,” Corcoran said. “Be responsive. Be mobile, but be face-to-face. Know your stuff and tell it like it is, with energy, enthusiasm, and your eye on the best outcome for the client.”

In the end, agents and consumers need to trust their instincts and their kitchen-table smarts, said the outspoken shark, who maintains that is exactly what she does when deciding which hopeful entrepreneurs she will choose to bankroll and mentor.

“I’m doing the same thing now on “Shark Tank” that I was doing all those years in real estate,” Corcoran said. “It’s always all about people. You can reinvent a house and you can reinvent a business, but those well-honed people-to-people skills are the best indicator of success.”

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