Ira and Carol Serkes specialize in helping nice folks sell and buy wonderful homes in Berkeley, Calif. Their high touch through high-tech systems, and effective use of Kim Hughes (a virtual assistant), allows them to travel extensively and have a bountiful real estate practice.
They visited Venice, Rome, Vancouver, Guanajuato, Santa Fe, Seattle, New York, cruised to Alaska (connecting with a $1.3 million Internet buyer via VOIP), and closed over $15 million in the past year. Serkes is working on “The Unified Database Field Theory,” for which he hopes to receive the Nobel Prize in Real Estate.
Serkes will speak during Real Estate Connect in New York City, Jan. 11-13, 2006.
Here are his answers to a set of questions posed by Inman News:
Panel or session at Connect:Technology That Works
What type of home were you born in and where?
I was born in Manhattan, and grew up in the Bronx. As was common at the time, my brother and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment at 2106 Bronx Park East, Apt 3D. My mother Adele lived in that apartment for almost 50 years.
What style of home do you live in today and when did you buy it?
It’s a 1,150-square-foot Spanish Mediterranean home in Berkeley’s Thousand Oaks neighborhood.
What worries keep you awake at night?
I don’t really worry about anything at night. What keeps me awake, though, is when I self-medicate with drug of choice – chocolate-covered espresso beans from Peet’s.
Describe your dream home:
I’ve never had a dream home, though I do like to look at distinctive architecture. I can’t recall ever thinking about a dream anything; I simply like to enjoy life and keep my glass at least half full.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
To enjoy life to the fullest — one never knows. And every change order on a construction project raises the final cost a lot .
What’s the strangest thing you ever packed in a suitcase?
Probably a sports jacket. I don’t do sports jackets.
Who is your hero?
Mostly military heroes and scientists, including George C. Marshall, General of the Army, Richard Feynman, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ulysses S. Grant, Alistair Cooke (his “Letters to America” were marvelous), George Clooney, Tom McAvoy (my research advisor in college), Fiorello LaGuardia
What was your first job?
I worked for my father’s furniture store when I was 7 or 8, helping kill roaches from dining room sets we were going to have reupholstered, then helping deliver furniture.
What would your second career choice be after real estate?
I am diligently working on “The Unified Database Field Theory Of Real Estate,” for which I hope to receive the Nobel Prize in Real Estate and retire on my royalties.
Which daily newspaper do you read and which section do you read first?
San Francisco Chronicle, usually comics or business. I also read the Berkeley Daily Planet.
Where did you spend your last vacation?
Santa Fe to watch my niece’s first North American Bronze Pour.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Leading the first ever joint orientation between art, architects and engineers for The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1969. Also, seeing the book cover for the first edition of my book “How To Buy A House In California,” and negotiating a $50,000 increase in sales price for my client by simply asking, “How much flexibility is there in the price?” (That works out to $6,250 a word.)
What are your favorite technology devices or software applications?
Apple Mac PowerBook G4 and iPod, Canon Digital SLR, Adobe Acrobat Full Version, Fujitsu ScanSnap Scanner, Entourage and e-mail rules.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Soundtracks: “The English Patient,” “Blade Runner,” “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” “A Bronx Tale,” “Big Night,” “Manhattan,” “L.A. Confidential,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” “New York” (from the Ric Burns Film). Also big band music, Art Deco CD, Gregorian chants, Phillip Glass and Bob Dylan.
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