226 W 150th st.
45 W 139th St
40 Pinehurst Ave.
Photo By: Mathew Henry
It was a few years ago. I was working at Liz Lewis Casting on a Real Estate Pilot for HGTV and my job was to find and interview New York Real Estate Salespersons (Sales People?) who also had the right dynamic personalities for the Pilot as well. One of the main Real Estate Offices that kept coming to us over and over again, was Bohemia Realty Group, which specializes in Upper Manhattan Real Estate. Bohemia, like the name of the office itself, is an eclectic group of dynamic individuals who all have discovered Real Estate as a professional, or to also help fund personal artistic endeavors as a parallel career….and I always knew that Sarah Saltzberg, who is a Broadway Actress, is the Co-Founder of Bohemia Realty Group.
While I was interviewing and researching so many in the Real Estate World, I found myself very interested in the profession as well. BUT, how could I start on a journey to be a Real Estate Salesperson? I have been working in Casting for over 20 years…. And before that, I was an actress… I have a degree in Musical Theatre. What do I know about Real Estate? How much work would it take for me to change careers? Would I have to actually “quit” or “take a leave” from Casting? Am I ready to do that? Who would take me seriously?
Oh…but, random things in the universe sometimes force an idea into your head over and over again. How to become a Real Estate agent was just one of those things for me, They also make it look like so much fun on HGTV and Bravo….BUT everyone I know who has worked as a Real Estate broker has told me it’s not as exciting as it looks on TV, and I assumed that was the case, but it did not stop me from wanting to give it a shot.
The ideas were back in my head last fall. And one day, I ran into an old friend, Brian Letendre, on the Subway. Brian is a Broadway Performer/Singer/Dancer/Actor, that I had hired many times when I was the Resident Casting Director at Paper Mill Playhouse. We started a conversation and I asked him what he was doing, and he told me “Real Estate”… but I am also still performing. WHAT??? I got so interested, because he was telling me that I could still be a Casting Director and work as a Real Estate Salesperson as well. “Oh wow, I have always wanted to do that” I said, to which he replied, “You would be great, send me a message and we can have a meeting to discuss.”
And I did.
And of course, Brian was working with the premiere Upper Manhattan Realty firm, Bohemia Realty Group.
First you do have to get your real estate license which means you have to take the courses. You can take real estate classes in person, or you can do them online. I chose in person because I felt like it would be more personal, and I could feel like I was actually “back in school.” Then you actually have to pass the test. It was intimidating at first to think about studying and going back to school, but then it was so rewarding to do all of that work and really study. I was so happy when I took the test, because I knew I was going to pass.
So, I started this process in December. I took the State Exam in January, and I started with Bohemia a few weeks later. What I am discovering is that I think Real Estate is a lot like Casting.
First of all, some people may ask what do Casting Directors do? In a nutshell, producers, directors, production companies, ad agencies, and others in charge of hiring casting will call Casting Directors with a project and we will, based on our working knowledge of actors in New York (or LA or other areas), present the best options to the team, usually in an audition. In Real Estate, customers will come to us looking to either buy, sell, or rent an apartment and it is our job to find the right customers for the buyers or the right apartment or home for people looking to move. In both cases it is about listening to people and understanding exactly what they need or exactly what they can afford.
There is one very big difference. In Casting we tend to stay in Midtown, and work in a few specific studios that tend to be in the same few blocks. As Real Estate agents, we work everywhere, and at Bohemia, they have many many exclusives in Upper Manhattan. I have been walking around and I have been able to see this city with new eyes for the first time. Finding my way through the subways to see the Upper Manhattan rentals in Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood. Seeing so many beautifully renovated apartments. It’s such an incredible new adventure… and my fitbit loves me.
It is still so fascinating to me how my skills as a Casting Director may be very beneficial to me as a Real Estate broker. And yes, I am currently doing both.
Alison Franck moved to New York City over 20 years ago and has been working in the entertainment industry as a casting professional. She runs her own casting office, Franck Casting, where she has...