Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing
By PHYLLIS FURMAN
DAILY NEWS BUSINESS WRITER
Ellen Wagman got the real estate bug after putting her Park Ave. home on the market. Laurie Karpowich gave up a lucrative career in technology sales to join Corcoran following her apartment search. Amanda Guillett's brokers at Manhattan Apartments told her she had the right personality to join their firm.
Yesterday they were clients, today they're pros looking to score deals.
The ranks of civilians-turned-brokers is on the rise, part of a larger trend that has seen thousands of New Yorkers entering the real estate business in recent years.
Richard Levine, president of the New York Real Estate Institute, which preps students for the New York State-required real estate exam, estimates that 15% of his 100-person classes are people who were recently personally involved in a real estate search or sale.
At Corcoran, at least two of the 15 new recruits per month trained by director of education Mary Jo McNally fit that bill, McNally said.
"The trend will continue because the perception of the profession is changing," said Stephen Kliegerman, executive director, development marketing for Halstead Property. "Ten years ago real estate salesmen were like car salesman. Now everyone is talking about real estate. It's made it a sexy profession."
Buyers, sellers and renters get a first-hand view of the game and some are easily lured by the big dollars changing hands and the opportunity to peer into strangers' homes. Once they get the bug, it's not hard to go pro.
They must take a course of more than 40 hours, costing between $200 and $300. Then they are required to take the state real estate exam and find a brokerage firm that will sponsor them. "It's not rocket science," Kliegerman said.
It was the process of scouting out apartments for her own family that got Wagman, a former jewelry designer, interested in pursuing a real estate license.
"I saw how I loved looking," said Wagman, now a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman. "It's very creative in its own right. You see something and visualize how you can change it." She just sold a two-bedroom apartment at 685 Park Ave. for $1.225 million.
Guillett, an actress, said she had a bad experience with real estate brokers two years ago when searching for a Manhattan rental. "I couldn't stand them," she recalls.
Her view changed after hooking up with two brokers from Manhattan Apartments. "I was impressed with the way they handled my case," she said.
So impressed, she said, that she heeded their advice when they told her she had the right stuff to lease apartments professionally. Since joining Manhattan Apartments in May, Guillett, has handled five rental deals, while continuing to look for acting jobs.
Apartment-seekers and sellers could have an advantage over their peers, having gone through the process. But the timing for these newly minted pros isn't great.
The city is experiencing a real estate broker glut, with 28,315 brokers now employed in Manhattan, 4,000 more than two years ago, according the New York Department of State. New brokers continue to flood in, even as prices have cooled after years of double-digit increases.
On the rental side, newly minted agents are facing the tightest market in the history of the city, which means less inventory to show renters.
Being a buyer did not fully prepare Corcoran's Karpowich for the tough realities of the business.
She got turned on to real estate while searching for her dream apartment in Greenwich Village three years ago. Her broker, Mark Schoenfeld, helped her secure an interview at Corcoran.
A former vice president of sales for SunGard who sold technology to Wall Street firms, Karpowich earned as much as $1 million in 2001. But since becoming a broker last year, she has sold three apartments and rented out seven. That earned her just $35,000.
"I just had a board turndown. It's sickening," Karpowich said. "This is a very difficult business."
Is she ready to quit? "I can't make that decision yet," she said. "I like the whole dynamic. I like trying to match up customers with their needs."
Sunday, July 02, 2006