For Joan Billick, the more things change in real estate the more they seem to stay the same.
With over three decades of industry experience to her name, Joan has seen a lot come and go over the years, but she has seen at least one thing remain constant: to succeed in this profession integrity is your currency. It’s why, she says, in some cases she has sold the same apartment three, four or even five times over.
“They can come up with all the technology they want, and they’re all great for a particular purpose,” Joan explained of the countless apps and services that help clients gather real estate information in today’s digital age prior to meeting the broker. “But in the end, those things don’t replace the relationship, that trust you build with a client. Communication, professionalism and integrity; that’s what moves markets, not an app.”
Elliman Insider caught up with Joan to find out how lessons learned from her former career as an educator have helped her in real estate, what drives her to excel for her clients, and her advice for any new agent looking to stake their claim in real estate.
Elliman Insider: What made you choose real estate when you decided to change careers as an educator?
Joan Billick: I thought it would be an excellent choice and transition for me as I was used to constantly interacting with people, students, parents, staff, PTA groups and the School Board. The same way I had to market the school, since private schools are run as a business enterprise as well as educational institutions, I knew I could also market real estate properties and myself.
“Both careers are based on personal relationships, communication, professionalism and integrity.”
I also know that I had to transition to a career where I would be constantly interacting with people which is what I loved doing the most. Both careers are based on personal relationships, communication, professionalism and integrity.
EI: Do you remember your first sale?
JB: Most definitely! I began my career working onsite in the conversion of rental buildings on the Upper East Side. After a year and half I transitioned into resale brokerage which was very different than what we know today. There was no co-broking or sharing of listings between brokerage companies 30+ years ago. As I had worked on the conversions, I got to know many of the residents in all of the buildings and secured my very first exclusive with a unique 1 Bedroom Penthouse apartment with a 2700+ sf wrap terrace in one of the buildings.
“I have since sold the same fabulous penthouse five times over the years.”
The first person to answer my advertisement in the New York Times, my customer, was the winning buyer and I closed on my first deal within three months of being in resale brokerage. I have since sold the same fabulous penthouse five times over the years. There have been many properties that I have sold and re-sold three and four times over the years.
Over the course of my career, I have met many wonderful people and have stayed in touch with most of my customers and have maintained relationships with them, many of whom I have done 9 – 10 transactions of buying & selling over the years. It’s all about relationships and always will be.
EI: Are there any lessons you learned in your career as an educator that has helped you in real estate?
JB: Never be embarrassed or afraid to say “I don’t know but will find out the answer.” My mother and father taught me that, along with many other life lessons, as a child. As an educator and administrator, I taught that to my students and staff. Surprisingly, many adults are either too shy or afraid to admit they don’t know. We are constantly learning as we travel life’s path and we are always learning as situations are always changing.
“We are constantly learning as we travel life’s path and we are always learning as situations are always changing.”
As I am very tenacious by nature, I will always look to find out and answer any questions I may be asked by both buyers and sellers. In the end, helping buyers and sellers accomplish their goals is the most satisfying reward and I can only accomplish that if I have the right information and communicate it properly.
EI: Do you live by a personal mantra?
JB: Above and beyond anything else, integrity is most important to me. That’s all we have as individuals, no matter what career we choose, integrity and honesty are of the utmost importance.
“No matter what career we choose, integrity and honesty are of the utmost importance.”
I also believe in traditional brokerage. Technology is constantly evolving and improving which assists agents as well as consumers alike, but at the end of the day direct communication and forming and maintaining relationship is above all, most important for a successful career, whether it be real estate or any other career choice.
EI: What advice do you have for new agents?
JB: Preparation, a dedication to consistency and learning from each deal is a priority. Do your homework so that you may address your customers priorities, no matter what they may be. Remember, knowledge is power and as the expert it is imperative to manage your client’s expectations.
EI: Anything else you would like to share?
JB: Learn to listen! Diagnosing a customer’s needs, whether they are buyers or sellers, requires expertise, understanding, patience and listening skills. Buyers and sellers must also take the time to identify the agent
that they are most comfortable with and understands their specific needs, wants and expectations so that the agent that they choose can identify the best route to pursue to meet that customer’s individual goals.
Check out Joan’s current listing that recently went into contract at the Beekman Townhouse:
Two bedrooms and two bathrooms over 1,200 square feet