In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
After a decades-long career in publishing, Jane Katz of Coldwell Banker Warburg turned her talents and in-depth knowledge of New York City’s neighborhoods into a career in real estate. Her talents in the field come naturally: Her father was a real estate developer who transformed Rio Rancho, New Mexico, from several barren ranches into the state’s third-largest city.
Find out how Katz turned her experience in sales and marketing into a powerhouse real estate business.
How long have you been in the business?
I’ve been in the real estate business for four years. Prior to this, I had a successful career for close to three decades selling advertising space (print, digital and social) and event sponsorships to the entire gamut of categories including European and American fashion and luxury brands, watch and jewelry companies, European and American automotive companies, financial institutions, consumer product goods, spirits and tobacco, technology, communication, and entertainment companies.
My last role in publishing was as Associate Publisher of Interview Magazine, the pop-culture magazine founded by Andy Warhol. The business changed drastically, and selling print (which most of my earnings came from) was no longer a viable career. I began interviewing at other media companies, and when one recruiter pitched me on selling advertising screens on gas pumps, that was the last straw.
A girlfriend of mine who was in a family of successful brokers suggested that I take the real estate course and become an agent.
I said, “New York doesn’t need another agent, I already know a million.”
She answered, “But there’s only one you.” I thought she had a very good point. I took the course the next month, passed the exams and began working as a Realtor in April 2018.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully, saying: At an age when most of my friends are winding down from careers and kicking back, I was willing to do things like the following:
- Schlep up to the fourth floor of a dirty walk-up to work an open house for a broker who forgot to tell me that the buzzer didn’t work, which was why I got no visitors on a gorgeous Sunday of Memorial Day weekend when everyone I knew was away at the beach.
- Run a 90-minute open house at a Brooklyn apartment that had a gorgeous water view, but where the same broker as above neglected to tell me that the owner was a hoarder who had animals and hadn’t cleaned the apartment in probably 15 years. I could hardly breathe in there because it smelled so bad, but I told myself to just stay focused on the view of the water, lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty until it was over.
And now it’s paid off.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
I have learned patience, how to stay calm and not react too quickly, and fortitude. I have learned to be responsive, professional, respectful, thorough, nice and to take the high road.
How did you learn it?
I felt angry with that broker, feeling that he wasted my time with the two open houses, but I continued to be responsive and professional in spite of this. The broker then asked me to work on a listing, which led to my first buyer and first closed deal.
I experienced two different occasions with two big-name brokers being disrespectful and rude. I would never treat anyone, whether junior or senior, rich or poor, powerful or not, that way. That’s how I learned the importance of being respectful, nice and taking the high road.
What advice would you give to new agents?
Be sincere, be patient, be proactive, be smart, be classy, work hard, and don’t be lazy.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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