Heidi Burkhart, president of Dane Professional Consulting Group, asks her staff to handwrite and mail three “thank you” letters each week.
The old-school approach is the key to the trust she earns from her clients in the affordable housing sector, allowing her to skip over heavy paperwork that needlessly complicates deals and focus instead on her clients’ needs, Ms. Burkhart told The Commercial Observer.
“It’s based on a handshake,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Ms. Burkhart, 31, is a big fan of the handshake, the postal service, volunteering and rigorous athletics. She competes in triathlons and recently took up Olympic power-lifting. The interests might seem dissimilar, but they are all different ways in which she reaches out to others, achieving her goals while challenging those around her to do the same.
“It was her support that helped me,” Yadira Maya, Ms. Burkhart’s assistant of 10 years, said, recounting the time she took off to assist those affected by Hurricane Sandy and her decision to join the board at the Mercy Center community center in the Bronx. “At first, I was a little intimidated by it. But I mentioned it to [Heidi], and she pushed and encouraged me.”
The firm handshakes and perseverance helped Ms. Burkhart carve out a niche in the affordable housing sector when she was at Eastern Consolidated between 2003 and 2008, after which she launched Dane PCG, which focuses on affordable housing, consulting and philanthropic efforts associated with children and education.
“Ironically, there weren’t many brokers specializing in the field at the time,” she said. “It wasn’t easy, but I am totally happy and stoked that I started Dane. At that time, I was so young and hungry—and just very ambitious in growing that area of the business.”
Scott Jaffe of Metropolitan Realty Group, a major owner and manager of affordable housing in the city, and a former client of Ms. Burkhart, is one real estate professional who took note, offering her free office space in 2008 to assist her with her business launch.
“I enjoy helping people, and I liked her,” Mr. Jaffe said in an email, noting that he “saw potential.”