A Day In The Life of a Principal Real Estate Broker
Principal Broker, Realty Collective
Victoria owns and operates a small, community-minded, real estate firm that helps small landlords, property owners, buyers and renters in Brooklyn navigate the emotional and financial journey of the NYC real estate world.
Victoria woke up bright and early to her Sonos music alarm, a much more enjoyable wake-up call than your standard alarm clock sound. Victoria b-lined to the kitchen and brewed coffee for her husband and herself. She fed the dogs and hung out for a bit. For this morning hang-out session, Victoria read the news, checked social media and responded to emails.
Next, she got dressed for the gym and did personal hygiene tasks like putting in contacts, taking vitamins, brushing teeth etc. Victoria left for the gym around 7:00 AM on her scooter. She exercised for an hour and went back home to shower, get dressed and do her hair and makeup.
By 8:55 AM, she was on her scooter headed to the Red Hook office. R.C. has two offices, one in Red Hook, Brooklyn and the other in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. She’s owned three scooters over nine years. Given the parking situation in Brooklyn, riding energy-efficient scooters has been a dream, Victoria said.
Victoria walked into the Red Hook office and immediately started prepping the space for an event R.C. & Denham Wolf was hosting. Not only is the Red Hook location an office for R.C., but it also serves as a community space for Brooklyn residents to throw events, free of charge.
This morning, there was an art show thrown on by an art curator Victoria met at The Wing, Flo Ngala. The subject of her photos were children participating in an ice-skating program in Harlem—the photographer participated in this program when she was younger.
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My first solo exhibition is FIVE days away!!!! Also UPDATE: if you do not have a confirmed RSVP please make arrangements to attend from the 14th onward, we’ve exceeded capacity for the 13th ❤️ and cannot admit without a confirmation. Please tell your cool art friends, limited prints will be for sale with a portion of proceeds going to @figureskatinginharlem!! Swipe for me hitting the same pose at the same rink 18 years ago lol.
To coordinate these events, Victoria partnered with Residency Unlimited, “a non-profit art organization that supports the creation, presentation and dissemination of contemporary art through its unique residency program and year-round public programs.” R.U. helped Victoria by putting boundaries in place for people to use the space like rules, logistics and contracts.
While the art show was going on, Victoria set up the projector and snack table for the Reality Collective/Denham Wolf event that started at 9:30 AM.
The partnership with D.W. showcases how R.C. practices what they preach, only working with companies that share the same loyalty to local communities.
“I don’t work with developers because they see housing as a business and housing is a human right, in my opinion.”
According to their “About” page, “Denham Wolf Real Estate Services provides expertise in transactions, development, and project management,” empowering non-profit clients to, “take a thoughtful, mission-first approach to real estate, thereby creating stronger and more sustainable organizations.”
The event commenced with an introduction from Victoria and D.W. took over with the presentation. The premise of the event was to teach non-profits how to navigate taking on a commercial real estate property. D.W. brought educational material and provided food. Victoria invited non-profits in the area and in her network to attend, as well as offering space for the event itself. Beyond her own non-profit contacts, Victoria’s guest-list preparation involved scouring the Internet to find other Brooklyn non-profits organizations outside of her network to beef up attendance and share the knowledge with anyone who would benefit from it. Once she had her list, she sent out personalized emails to each company to extend the invite. She also used Facebook advertising and had an Eventbrite page that saw some success. “It was a great turnout with a mix of people who learned about the event online and because they knew me personally,” Victoria said.
Victoria ran out of the event and showed the 385 Van Brunt property to two developers. Generally, with showings, she’s either showing properties on behalf of the seller/owner to small developers who want to invest and renovate the property, renters who need an apartment for a fixed amount of time, or soon-to-be homeowners looking for a place to make a home in Brooklyn. As a broker, Victoria’s working with the seller to complete the sale or facilitate the lease of their property with the achievement of the seller’s goals as the top priority. To get that done, she has to work with buyers too. That’s why she calls herself a “matchmaker.” When working with the seller, Victoria’s responsible for:
- Listing homes for sale.
- Advising & prep the home seller for listing and showings.
- Overseeing showings.
- Reporting any results or feedback from showings to sellers.
- Coordinating paperwork and logistics for offers from buyers.
- Presenting offer applications and paperwork from buyers to the sellers.
- Assisting with offer negotiations for a purchase or lease contract with the sellers.
Victoria on this day with this property is on step 3, and the buyers were with developers looking to purchase the property. At showings, no matter who she’s meeting, if the weather’s cooperating, she’s standing outside the property before anyone shows up. It’s important to be on time and insight so the buyers/renters can find you. So that’s where she was at the time on this day. Once the people interested show up, she always sets expectations for the interested party with information on the property. Victoria said, “an important part of this job, whether you’re showing a rental or a sale is prepping people ahead of time so it makes it easier for them to swallow whatever they see without being in shock.” The example she gave was if a property has a room with bright purple walls, instead of blind sighting the potential buyer or renter, you let them know before they see the purple wall that it exists. In that instance, Victoria said she would say to them, “make sure to look past the purple walls. It’s going to be painted. Don’t let that deter you.” Victoria also added, “people have emotional responses [to unfavorable property details] and that can stick in their head and make them hate something because it wasn’t addressed.”
“If you address it ahead of time, you can overcome it because they’ve been prepped.”
Victoria said setting expectations allows them to envision the space differently before they come into the room. 385 Van Brunt is a three-family building and was being sold locally by the long-time property owners who had a death in the family and wanted to liquidate the asset. Two of the floors were tenant occupied and the top floor was empty. So for the showing, Victoria had to make arrangements by telling the tenants that she would be entering their spaces at this time. https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Z0k76Alun/ “Some work has been done,” Victoria said, “but cosmetically, the building needs to be updated tremendously.” “And on top of that,” Victoria added, “it has to be with someone who has experience in [buying & renovating] because it’s a much bigger undertaking than buying an apartment and putting in a kitchen or a bath.”
“Understanding who the buyer is for a property is a big part of real estate, making sure you’re marketing and advertising to your target market based on the product.”
If after a showing, if someone wants to move forward, Victoria supplies a “how to apply,” document where she lays out the next steps they need to take in a straightforward format. The information included is about the timeline of the sale, finances needed to close and buyer paperwork needed for the seller to review and make a decision. She follows this procedure not only to keep herself organized but to put the buyer at ease. They’ll have all the expectations in one place to refer to.
“My job is to help people reach their goals.”
Victoria finished the showing, shook hands and drove back to the Red Hook office follow-up on the event.
Victoria arrived at the office and helped clean up and break down the office from the event. After that, she followed up with the co-hosts from Denham Wolf about the event. D.W. was impressed with the turnout and felt aligned with R.C. It was their first event together, so the consensus was positive and Victoria hopes they will most likely work together again. Post-event, Victoria followed up with the attendees, sent resources and educational videos from social media.
Victoria dropped off left-over food at local non-profit Cora Dance, an organization that provides dance classes and activities to anyone that might have any limitations to attend. At R.C., community service is at the core of their values. If there’s an opportunity to donate time or resources to local nonprofits, R.C. always takes it. On R.C.’s “About” page, it says the company was founded on, “a mission of enriching the communities in which we work and live.” Victoria said her personal and professional connection to the community demands her to set the bar for others to follow suit. “[Community service] is a virtue lost on many and I’m hoping to instill that value in other people,” Victoria pointed out. The company doubles down on those good values by donating 10% of its profits to local nonprofits. R.C., displayed earlier in Victoria’s day, also partners with nonprofit and like-minded organizations on events. It’s important for Victoria to give back to the community that’s given her and her company the opportunity to thrive. She didn’t adapt this world view on accident. Her master’s degree from Pratt Institute in Historic Preservation and Planning taught her, “communities should make decisions for themselves based on they want.” In order for this ideology to take place, participation and engagement are needed and Victoria believes no good deed is left unnoticed—community service causes a ripple effect that ideally becomes an unspoken community code of conduct. Back to the day, Cora was delighted to take the food from the event and got it almost instantly since the dance arts nonprofit is conveniently located across the street.
Victoria interviewed a content strategist to discuss ideas she had about content creation for R.C. The goal is to create content that represents the good work R.C. does and the values they live both with a real estate lens and community-engagement lens. She also wants her content to showcase the passions of those in the community that R.C. has been a part of. With all these ideas to consider, it’s been hard for Victoria to narrowly define and concisely communicate everything R.C. has done and stands for in a way that does the work justice. “I started this company 15 years ago on a set of values that were hard to define at that time,” Victoria said, and she wants accurately convey those values in action via R.C.’s content. It’s not only to boost eyeballs to R.C. as a company, but to encourage good deeds and celebrate the people and their passions that make the community unique. When asked about those core values that make up R.C., Victoria defined those values in a spit-balling fashion like so: R.C. is about helping people make decisions that last and result in personal and financial wins for clients and communal wins in general. R.C. realizes these decisions aren’t easy to make and they don’t pretend it isn’t confusing to navigate. They give people the information they need to make an independent, informed decision because they truly care about making it work.
“I want to leave people better than I found them.”
Since Victoria is busy running the business, she wanted to hire someone who understands the work R.C. does in the industry and community they’re in. Victoria wants blog posts and social media content highlighting the passions of the communities they serve while also flexing their industry knowledge. It was a bit of a challenge for Victoria to find the right person to understand this and carry it out.
Victoria drove to The Wing’s Williamsburg co-working space location. She decided to leave when she did so that, once she got there, she could get some work done before her 4:00 PM meeting. Would you want to drive to one place to go back to where you came from just to get back in the car to go back to that same place an hour later? No one wants to be in a car that long! Since Victoria’s out and about all over the city, she has memberships to both The Wing and WeWork so she always has a desk, coffee, WiFi and printers handy—she is known for working out of her car too if need be. Not everyone has the opportunity to have multiple co-working space memberships. Victoria only has her WeWork membership because it’s a perk offered through her Amex business credit card, so why not?! But, the Wing is a place she went out of her way to sign up for because she loves the community The Wing offers. She constantly impressed by the amazing work that goes on in the co-working space and is honored to be apart of it.
Victoria had a call with CrossPeak Solutions, a company she hired to build a custom CRM (Customer Relationship Management). She was using REthink, a CRM app for her instance on force.com. Victoria said, because of the rental market and sales market in Brooklyn, she found the tools offered through her old CRM weren’t conducive to what her needs are.
“Because people are so essential to my business model, I need a system to enable to stay in touch with them, so that I’m not letting anyone fall through the cracks.”
After using the CRM app for 5 years, Victoria made the commitment to make a change because she realized she needed a better way to track her relationships, even if it comes with a hefty price tag. In order to keep those relationships meaningful and intact, there’s some serious organization and processes that need to be put into place according to her workflow. Victoria explained, “when I close with somebody, I’d set up or trigger a bunch of systems so that I’m reminded to call them. I’m reminded to email them. I’m reminded to send them an anniversary card… follow up and ask for feedback about their experience.” All in the name of improving the service she provides to the community she serves.
“Making people the priority is important to me.”
Victoria candidly said she wishes she knew how and the importance of putting systems in place from Day 1, but as she put it, “I didn’t go to business school; I went to art school! I didn’t know!” On this call, she got updates and gave feedback to the architects/developers on progress being made on this project.
Victoria had a call with a new agent on the on-boarding steps. The new agent was en route to a showing and called Victoria for answers on specific questions on the timeline of a sale and what paperwork was needed. Victoria said this communication is important because nothing can fall through the cracks—there’s too much at stake to fumble anything. Speaking of a team member, the team as a whole at R.C. all come from a creative trade. People who traditionally pursue real estate typically study business, finance, or something similar. And as a result, she believes their main motives are driven by numbers first, people second. Victoria wanted people on the team that are in tune with both the right and left sides of their brains, to bring a perspective and a personality to the table that’s relatable and compassionate who happens to have industry expertise.
Victoria spoke to her father on the phone for 5 minutes. The role her family plays in her business is vital. Her parents loaned her the money to start the business in the first place, so they’ve truly been all-in since the beginning. Victoria said her husband helps as much as he can—he even got licensed to do so!
Victoria worked through this hour on this day to complete some admin tasks. She responded to emails, checked in with her virtual assistants about tasks and scheduled showings for that weekend. Yep. That’s a usual occurrence for Victoria to work on the weekend. To make up for that overtime, she tries to take one day off during the following week. If things are crazy busy, then she’ll try to take a half-day to indulge in some self-care. R.C. had a lot of properties on the market at this point in the year and on this day, that still stood. When that happens, open houses are often scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays when potential buyers and renters typically have the day off. The tasks the virtual assistants are responsible for are CRM data entries, property-listing data entries on the site, updating listings, things like that. The sites R.C. publish their listings through real estate syndication sites. In other words, Victoria can upload one listing on her site and through Nestio, it can be pushed out to multiple sites like Street Easy, New York Times and more. More bang for her buck!
Victoria met with her previous business coach to check-in and catch up at The Wing. Victoria spoke fondly of the time she had with her business coach—it helped keep her “focused and driven.” Especially when you run your own business, it’s hard to not get bogged down by day-to-day tasks and easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. A third party, like a business coach, can look at how you’re spending your day and give you tips to stay on track with the things that matter and delegate or drop the tasks that don’t. And that helpful exercise was exactly what made Victoria realize the value of her time and how her time should be spent.
Typically, 5:00 PM signals to a person that it’s time to shut the computer down, pack up, and head home, especially on a Friday. Not Victoria! On this day, she spent two hours catching up emails and tasks before the weekend since she was out and about on this day and away from her inbox and to-do list.
Victoria ended the workday and drove her scooter home from Dumbo to Red Hook.
After she got home, she got ready for dinner and went right back out to meet friends for dinner at Mission Chinese in Bushwick. In terms of Victoria’s work-life balance, Victoria recognized that the balance might not exist at certain points in the year. There’s a cycle in real estate where everyone’s buying/renting or virtually no one is buying/renting. “Sometimes I have to run like crazy and other times I have to tend to the things I want to accomplish for myself, ” Victoria pointed out.
“I don’t feel burnout when I’m working on the things I’m passionate and excited about.”
The things she spends her free time on could arguably be categorized as work, like nonprofit events or meeting with people that could be clients one day. Therefore, it’s rare that Victoria turns herself completely off. Victoria said, “meeting new and interesting people is part of my job!”
Victoria went to a show to see a friend, J. Phlip, DJ in Bushwick.
Victoria drove home back to Red Hook and went to bed. Remember, this is a Friday night, so it’s not often that you’ll see Victoria out this late on a week night.
Victoria walked her dogs, washed her face, took a magnesium supplement, brushed her teeth, put on facial creams and listened to music to fall asleep.
Victoria studied Art History, Criticism and Conservation in undergrad and was torn between pursuing art or real estate as a career. After learning how judgemental the art world can be, she decided to pursue real estate. Ironically, Victoria realized also there are aspects of the traditional real estate industry that wasn’t her cup of tea either. By now, you know her values and what she stands for and she didn’t see much of that carried out on a consistent basis, if ever, where she was at. That lack of compassion she saw in the industry and her yearning for something better inspired her to start her own brokerage firm. That way, she could serve them in a way she felt good about and her clients saw genuine results from.
What is your advice to those who aspire to be like you?
If you want to start your own business, Victoria says to be open to getting better at the things that don’t come naturally to you and seek out the help you need from others more experienced. There needs to be a healthy balance between risk-taking and indulging in instant gratification and being practical and calculated—a concept that took Victoria longer to realize than she hoped.
Victoria said, starting out, “I knew how real estate worked—I didn’t know how to run a business on the back end.” She knew to work in real estate meant you’re your own boss in terms of showings and deals, but you’re also your own boss in terms of marketing, accounting, and management. In hindsight, she wishes she realized how multi-faceted her job is and in turn, took steps to learn more about those facets earlier on.
“I learned a lot of things by making mistakes.”
That’s why she belongs to many networking groups and real estate organizations to meet other industry practitioners, develop relationships and workshop ideas on how to improve her business. She says it’s important to surround yourself with people who can help you grow.
If you do your job to the best of your ability, what value do you bring to the world?
If you had to define Victoria’s job in one word, Victoria said it would be “matchmaker.” She prides herself on knowing the network she’s obtained, nurtured and cross-pollinated with results in something bigger than herself and her business. Friendships are made. Dreams are shared. Communities are enriched and if she’s working to the best of her ability, all of these things are accomplished.
“A positive relationship will have ripple effects.”
Of course, the work she does personally and professionally to support her community and clients’ real estate goals are big ways she contributes to the world. However, Victoria said the small things like relationship building and kindness are “the things we have the most control over and that we can really change,” to ignite momentum of positivity and good deeds. That’s how she lives her life and runs her business.
Which job do you want to experience next?
Jobs like Victoria‘s
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