A full pane of glass fronts the Madison Avenue townhouse office of Stribling & Associates, a luxury residential real estate brokerage firm. Four ornate gold frames hang museum-style in the window and the pictures inside feature large, luxurious apartments, Manhattan’s most prestigious offerings of the moment. On this Spring day, a 17-room triplex on Fifth Avenue is being marketed for $6.75 million; another Fifth Avenue co-op, this one only six rooms, is displayed for $2.95 million. The pictures catch the attention of many pedestrians, notes Stribling president and founder, Elizabeth Stribling. "We’ve had many high ticket sales through these windows," she claims. In fact, the windows on 73rd Street and Madison have been so successful, mentions Stribling, that the two other company locations, Stribling-Wells & Gay at 340 West 23rd Street and the just-opened Stribling office at 246 West Broadway in TriBeCa, feature the same signature look. The apartments and lofts may be funkier in the downtown pictures, but the ornamental opulence of the frames remain the same.
The uptown office is definitively uptown–and upscale. The green marble floor blends into the green marble reception desk where a large vase of fresh flowers sits, along with a friendly receptionist. Looking out of the famous window from the inside, one gazes at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, an impressive building, which takes up the entire block. Caddy-corner from the Stribling office, but within visual range from the brokerage’s waiting room, is the stately Bank of New York.
"We hope that the perception of Stribling is of a quality real estate brokerage," says Stribling. "As high-end Manhattan dwellers become more affluent, they want to have top professional brokers working with them in the purchasing or selling of apartments. We make sure our clients get hands-on attention. It’s been my goal not to be the biggest in the field, but to offer the most professional advice and put the emphasis on details."
For all of her success, Elizabeth Stribling did not plan to be in real estate. An English Literature major, Stribling graduated from Vassar College in 1966 and did graduate work at Cambridge University in England in 1967. Upon her return to the States, Stribling found herself "up to here in the modern novel," and had no clear career plans. She says, "a bit of great good luck" came her way at a party in Newport, Rhode Island that summer where someone suggested she go into real estate. When she got home to New York City, where she had moved in with her parents, she "opened up the New York Times and read the real estate section–all about duplexes and penthouses." It sounded glamorous to the young Stribling, who still retains her blonde, trim looks. Stribling remembers that she "marched into real estate firms" and when she met Agnes Nolan, a partner of the former residential brokerage firm Whitbread-Nolan, Inc., Stribling was told to "start tomorrow." She says that she went home and told her mother about the job; her mother’s retort was, "It doesn’t sound like much!"