BWW Interview: Moving in/to NYC? Meet Broadway's Favorite Brokers- Bohemia Realty Group!
We're chatting with Bohemia Realty Group President Sarah Saltzberg.
Looking to make a move within or to New York City? Look no further than Bohemia Realty Group.
Bohemia Realty Group, a firm with undeniable ties to the arts, is a dynamic team of dedicated real estate professionals that focuses on residential rentals and sales in New York City, with two offices located at Harlem (2101 Eighth Avenue) and Washington Heights (3880 Broadway).
From pre-war walk-up rentals to new development condos, Bohemia Realty Group firmly believes that it's possible for all New Yorkers to have light, space, and a renovated bathroom...and not have to give up dinner in order to afford it. For additional information, visit: http://bohemiarealtygroup.com/
At the helm of the ship is Broadway veteran and Bohemia Realty Group President Sarah Saltzberg, who checked in with BroadwayWorld to update us on on the latest news on BRG, the current state of the market, and so much more!
Can you in a nutshell explain what sets Bohemia Realty Group apart from others in the industry?
Bohemia's mission is a three-pronged approach to improving quality of life for our clients, our agents/staff, and our larger community.
The vast majority of the 100+ associated agents at the firm have a background in the arts, with many still active in their artistic communities . . .solidifying Bohemia as the real estate firm for artists, by artists. Bohemia agents use their creative backgrounds to think outside the box and problem solve in an innovative way.
Bohemia represents the largest exclusive portfolio of rental properties above 96th St, though we handle transactions throughout Manhattan as well as BK, BX and Queens. Our strength is longstanding relationships with property owners and understanding neighborhoods on a block-by-block basis.
Almost all Bohemia agents live within the communities that they work, and community involvement is very important to our firm. From volunteering at Harlem Children's Zone, to donating to local school fundraisers and park improvement initiatives, to regular pet adoption events, we consider our role as a real estate firm to be a holistic approach to neighborhood development.
Buying/selling/leasing etc. in NYC is always a lot, but maybe even more confusing for people in 2020. Have you seen any trends that people should know about in how the pandemic has affected the market?
It is a renters/buyers market right now! The vacancy rate in the city is the highest it has been in over a decade, leading landlords to offer concessions and very favorable terms for tenants. Similarly, mortgage rates continue to be historically low, which make purchasing an attractive option for many - especially since there is a good amount of inventory on the market right now. Anyone planning on staying in NY for at least two years should seriously consider purchasing if they can, since their asset will almost surely appreciate. And if not, or you aren't sure if you're ready to buy right now, the deals on rentals are insanely good!
There has been a lot of talk over the past several months about NYC being dead, and some are even choosing to leave the city permanently. What do you say to people who are considering that as an option?
Some people have left the city permanently, but they may have always planned on leaving - and Covid just accelerated those plans. Others have had to leave because of financial reasons. I've heard some people say "well, the city isn't really the city right now" which I understand on some level, but remember - this is only temporary, and besides, every other place in the world is also dealing with Covid. For me, more than the theater, and nightlife, and restaurants, and museums, and all the other things that make New York, New York, it's the spirit of New Yorkers themselves that make this city great. It's the heart, energy, strength and dedication of New Yorkers that I love. When I go outside in my neighborhood, I feel that spirit. OnNovember 7, the day that Biden was announced the president- elect, EVERYONE in NY felt that community spirit.
Why do you think that artists make great agents?
Both the arts and real estate are industries that take hard work, persistence, and grit, especially in NYC. Both actors and agents get told "no" a lot, have to improvise, create their own brand, and are always hustling. Actors also typically enjoy working with people, as opposed to sitting behind a desk; the high emotional IQ that most actors have is probably the most valuable tool that they bring to their real estate business, since every transaction revolves around a lifestyle transition for the client. Having someone to help navigate that journey who is sensitive to their client's emotional needs and can pick up on subtle behavioral clues is priceless.
Given the current state of the world- many theatre artists are struggling right now. Have you noticed any increased interest in creatives who want to give real estate a shot?
Yes! We have seen an influx of actors coming to Bohemia in the past few months looking to pivot to real estate so that they can survive in the city for the next year or so. They are figuring out a way to stay even if it means learning a new skill set, which is very on brand for New York - it's that persistence and grit. If you can make it here - especially during a pandemic - you can literally make it anywhere.
What do you love the most about doing what you do?
I am a theater person at heart, and when I got into real estate 20 years ago my intention was just to raise money for the show I was working on and then get out.A few years later, The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee was on Broadway, and for the first time in my life I was making enough money as an actor to not need a survival job. But I quickly realized I loved my survival job - it fulfilled me in a totally different way. So rather than give up real estate, I expanded that career and after several years decided to open up my own firm with my partner.
My goal in opening Bohemia was to provide a community for artists to come together and utilize their skills to support themselves, while also providing top-notch customer service for clients. Paving a path for financial freedom that isn't necessarily tied to art keeps more artists in NY, enabling them to be upwardly mobile even when their artistic pursuits don't always equal financial gain. Being true to that mission, and watching the impact that it has in our communities (theatrical as well as geographical) is incredibly rewarding.
What has been the most fulfilling part of watching Bohemia Realty Group grow?
I've seen agents create shows, produce albums, and organize their own art exhibitions - while also being able to purchase their first home, open secondary businesses, and start families - based on the income they have made in real estate. And because artists are people who need people (some might say, we are the luckiest people in.... the.... world!) we have formed relationships with clients that have spanned almost two decades. Customer service is extremely important to us, and it also means we do a lot of referral business - which then feeds back to us, and keeps the organic system that we have created running and growing. Setting up the systems to let people come in and take control of their life in a new way, while providing a sense of community and support, is what gets me up every day. It is never boring. And this year, though we've faced so much opposition, I feel extremely fortunate to work with like-minded people that look for the opportunities in a challenge. How do we get past this - and how do we now improve upon what we did prior? How do we rebuild stronger? Discovering those strengths is exhilarating.
For additional information, visit: http://bohemiarealtygroup.com/
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