Skip to content

Barbara Corcoran: The Shark Tank Real Estate Mogul

Full Name Barbara Ann Corcoran
Birthday March 10, 1949 (age 74)
Born Edgewater, New Jersey, U.S.
Net Worth $100 million
Height 5‘ 3" (1.6 m)
Relationship Single
Social Facebook

Barbara Corcoran is a prominent American entrepreneur, investor, author, and TV personality best known for founding New York City‘s largest residential real estate brokerage – The Corcoran Group. She parlayed the company‘s $6 billion+ in career sales into lucrative business deals and reality TV fame as an investor "Shark" on ABC‘s Shark Tank.

Corcoran‘s rise from small-town New Jersey girl to self-made Manhattan real estate queen makes her an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs. Her straight-talking style and perceptive business instincts have also made Corcoran a fan favorite on Shark Tank. But how did Barbara Corcoran get her start and become the no-nonsense real estate mogul beloved by millions today?

Humble Beginnings in New Jersey

Born in 1949 as the second-youngest of 10 children, Corcoran spent her early years in Edgewater, New Jersey before her family relocated to nearby Fort Lee. Her father, Flo, held jobs as a printing estimator and salesman. Growing up in a crowded household taught Corcoran how to speak up and stand out from the pack. As she recalls, "When you couldn’t get seconds at the dinner table, you had to learn to assert yourself.”

After high school, Corcoran studied education at St. Thomas Aquinas College, partly to spite her high school boyfriend who didn’t think she was college material. She graduated in 1971 and briefly worked as a teacher before shifting to real estate. She got her start working as a receptionist and then broker for a firm in the hot New York City market of the 1970s.

Founding The Corcoran Group at Age 23

In 1973, the resourceful 23-year-old Corcoran decided to branch out on her own as an independent broker. With just $1,000 in savings, she rented a tiny 375-square-foot office on Manhattan‘s Second Avenue and founded The Corcoran Group.

Corcoran implemented gutsy tactics to build up her client base, including cold-calling thousands of strangers and mass-faxing weekly property listings well before the MLS. She also offered brokers flexible commission rates up to 90% to lure talent away from competitors.

As Corcoran remarks, "I couldn’t afford top agents, so I had to make top agents." Her hands-on approach and dynamic personality attracted ambitious go-getters eager to thrive in the high-energy Corcoran culture.

Rapid Growth Through the 1980s

By 1981, The Corcoran Group had 130 agents and around $88 million in annual sales. Corcoran expanded her empire into the luxury Hamptons market in 1985, pioneered franchising for regional offices in 1986, and beat the old boys club by becoming NYC‘s first female commercial real estate broker in 1988.

By 1997, The Corcoran Group hit a huge milestone: $5 billion in career sales since inception. Corcoran achieved this through acquisitions of prominent firms like Brown Harris Stevens and aggressive recruiting. She also tapped into the rebounding NYC market following the 1989 stock market crash.

Making Headlines with Major Sale to NRT

After almost 30 years of growing The Corcoran Group into a real estate behemoth with over $6 billion in sales, Corcoran made national headlines in 2001 by selling the company to NRT Incorporated for a reported $66 million.

She stayed on as president for a time before launching her second act as a business author, motivational speaker and angel investor. Corcoran was already fielding numerous speaking requests and offers to do her own TV show.

Her thought-provoking 2005 book If You Don‘t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails offered frank wisdom on navigating business and life as a woman.

Investing Shark on ABC‘s Hit Show

In 2011, Corcoran achieved household name fame appearing as an original investor "Shark" on ABC‘s new business reality show Shark Tank.

Corcoran quickly became known as the "Queen of New York Real Estate" among fellow Sharks like Mark Cuban. Some of her most lucrative deals have included real estate companies like New York City‘s CitiKitchen and Melissa‘s Southern Home Cookin‘ in Georgia.

Off camera, Corcoran mentors her Shark Tank entrepreneurs and continues investing in startups. She also keeps busy with speaking engagements and her popular podcast Business Unusual.

Philanthropy and Interests

Corcoran actively supports charitable foundations like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the New Jersey Fund for Women and Girls. She also donates her time as a board member for organizations like the New York City Ballet.

In her personal time, Corcoran enjoys tennis, dancing, reading historical fiction, and spending time with her dogs. She has two children adopted from birth with her ex-boyfriend.

Though Corcoran has never remarried after her college relationship ended, she still believes in true love. As Corcoran says, “I consider myself a hopeless romantic — and I won’t stop until I find it!”

Final Thoughts on the Queen of New York Real Estate

Now in her 70s, Barbara Corcoran has built an empire by following her own advice: "My best successes came from failures." She champions resilient entrepreneurship, calculated risk-taking, and leveraging weaknesses into strengths.

While Corcoran expects high performance, she also believes in uplifting those around you. On Shark Tank and off, Corcoran maintains her warm personal approach to business: "The smartest thing I ever did was make my business like a big family."

After following Corcoran‘s career over the decades, I believe her inspirational rags-to-riches story and supportive insights explain why Barbara Corcoran remains a beloved top shark. She is living proof that with boldness and hard work, anyone can achieve their wildest dreams.