If you happen to notice a property for sale on one of the bucolic roads in the Litchfield Hills, Hudson Valley, or Southern Berkshires, chances are good the listing is with Elyse Harney Real Estate. Principal Broker and co-owner, Elyse Harney Morris ’83 attributes her firm’s success to a foundation built on family values and creating an atmosphere where clients are not just transactions but extensions of an extended family. Harney Morris, her husband Scott, and her two children, Brittany and John, moved back to her hometown of Salisbury, Conn., in 2008, so she could join her mother in the independent real estate company. In the 15 years since joining the business, Harney Morris has crafted a remarkable legacy in the real estate industry.
Harney Morris is also a founding member at REALM Global, a membership platform composed of elite real estate professionals and top producers. In addition to her business, she is an active member of the local community and has a strong commitment to philanthropy. Harney Morris has long supported the Housatonic Valley Association, Dutchess Land Conservation, Columbia Land Conservation, Scenic Hudson, and Sheffield Land Conservation, underscoring her dedication to environmental stewardship. She currently serves on the Board of the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Services, Inc., helps with fundraising for Project SAGE, and co-chaired the 2023 Housatonic Valley Association Annual Auction. She also previously served on the board of Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, Conn.
Following Berkshire, Harney Morris attended Cornell University where she received a B.S. from the School of Hotel Management. Earlier in her career, she had the opportunity to live in such locations as Jackson Hole, Saint John and Saint Croix, USVI, while working for RockResorts and in Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, Aspen, and Bend, Ore. while accompanying her husband in his career. Overall, Morris is happiest being back in her hometown with her family, friends, community, and thriving business.
Read the Q & A below to hear more about Harney Morris’s real estate career and her memories of Berkshire.
What was it like being a day student in the early '80s?
My experience was shaped by the vibrant atmosphere of the school. The sense of belonging to a close-knit community and the academic rigor not only created a memorable and challenging environment but also fostered enduring friendships with boarding students. As a day student, many of my closest friends were boarders, and we enjoyed spending time off campus and sharing great meals at the White Hart Inn, where my parents were the innkeepers. Those were truly incredible times—boarders graciously shared their rooms with me, and in return, I welcomed them into my home. What makes these memories even more special is the enduring connection with these friends over the years. Keeping in touch has been a joy, and witnessing the remarkable accomplishments of each one of us has been truly amazing.
Prior to coming back to the Northwest Corner, you lived and worked in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. What motivated you to move back to your hometown of Salisbury?
After earning my degree from Cornell University and working in breathtaking locations such as Jackson Hole, Saint John, Hawaii, Martha's Vineyard, and Aspen, I made the heartfelt decision to return to Salisbury in 2008. This move was driven by a deep connection to family and a longing to be rooted in our community. I loved where I grew up—the tight-knit community and the wholesome, four-season lifestyle it offers. We wanted our two kids to have the opportunity to attend prep school as day students, exposing them to a diverse learning environment and the numerous opportunities I cherished growing up. Joining forces with my mom in her independent real estate company, Elyse Harney Real Estate, allowed us to contribute to the community while providing that educational opportunity for our children. My family owns Harney & Sons Tea Company, and this move brought us closer to this too—a delightful connection that adds a unique touch to our story!
The real estate industry in Litchfield and Berkshire Counties and the Hudson Valley had a big boom over the last few years. How were you able to pivot your business to accommodate this change?
My brokerage is licensed in three states: Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts—a crucial aspect given our location in the tri-state area. Successfully navigating the real estate industry's boom demanded strategic planning and flexibility. Leveraging my experience in sales and management, I navigated market trends, implemented innovative marketing strategies, and capitalized on the demand. Throughout, our unwavering focus remained on delivering personalized service while upholding the integrity of our family-owned business. The dedicated efforts of my team, comprising 30+ agents and brokers, give 110% to our clients, so in this last boom of COVID, referrals were a critical part of our massive success. Friends and family connected and brought through Elyse Harney Real Estate, and with their positive experience, multiple sales occurred. Service is our cornerstone, and it's worth noting that many of my agents have backgrounds in the service or hotel industry. This shared work ethic has been instrumental in our ongoing success. At Elyse Harney Real Estate, we pride ourselves not just on meeting expectations but consistently surpassing them.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in real estate?
Pursuing a career in real estate requires a combination of passion, dedication, and adaptability. Build a strong foundation through education and training; stay informed about market trends, and cultivate effective communication and negotiation skills. View challenges not as obstacles but as stepping stones for learning and growth. Above all, uphold integrity and prioritize client satisfaction. Always keep learning and increase your sphere of influence. Immerse yourself in your community, championing a cause dear to your heart—I found my passion in land conservation, and it's where I make a meaningful impact. In the final months of 2023 and the first two months of 2024, I am proud to have brokered the conservation of over 1,000 acres in Connecticut and Massachusetts. This achievement involved collaborating with seven conservation groups and two states—a significant milestone for me.
What are your fondest memories of your time under the Mountain?
Berkshire School holds a special place in my heart, standing out as one of the most beautiful schools in New England, embraced by the majestic backdrop of the Mountain. The natural beauty sets the tone of this school. Mountain Day is the best! The faculty, deans, and even the campus dogs played integral roles in fostering a warm and nurturing environment, providing me with not just an education but a place to truly grow. A big shoutout to Jim and Gretchen Balch— who became my second set of parents during my time at Berkshire. Sports and friendships naturally came together, creating bonds that were forged on the soccer pitch or basketball court. The Class of 1983 remains a tight-knit group, a testament to the enduring friendships cultivated during those formative years. My love for Berkshire School knows no bounds, as I reflect on the incredible experiences I enjoyed beneath the watchful gaze of the Mountain. It is not just a school; it's a place that shaped my journey, leaving an indelible mark on who I am today.