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CareerPath: Get into NYC real estate sales

Gary Malin is the president at Citi Habitats.

Gary Malin is the president at Citi Habitats. Photo Credit: COURTESY OF CITI HABITATS

If you want to be your own boss and work in an exciting industry, then being a licensed New York City real estate salesperson might be the perfect job for you. But how do you get your foot in the door? We chatted with Gary Malin, president at brokerage Citi Habitats, about what his company looks for and requires of its employment candidates. Founded in 1994, Citi Habitats has seven offices throughout Manhattan with 700 licensed agents and a corporate staff of 55.


How can people apply?

We hold open houses and information sessions about how to begin a career in real estate throughout the year. The managers actively recruit -- my recruiter goes to the real estate schools and speaks. There's a variety of different ways that we attract people to the company. There's a recruiting section on our website and you can get all the information from there.


What are the degree requirements for this position?

You need to have already secured your real estate salespersons license and then we will sponsor you.


What personality traits do you look for in a candidate?

First and foremost we want you to be outgoing [and to see] that you're in the people business and just someone who possesses a really good attitude. If you were to ask people in this industry, 'How many of you have hired people who were going be a superstar and it turned out to be the opposite?' everyone would raise their hand. The reality is it's very difficult to tell when you're interviewing people. In the end, until you put someone through the bases and they get into the business, that's when you really find out who has these abilities to really thrive in this industry. Certain people don't interview well but then they turn out to be amazing.


Would it matter to you if someone was laid off at his or her last job?

No. To me, in life it's not about if you get knocked down, it's about what you do when you get back up there after.


How important to you is someone's online presence?

I think that right now if you really look at a correlation of how much business is being generated from social media aspects, I don't think it's an important revenue generator for [sales people] at this point. We can offer people a lot of advice on a lot of topics but in the end people need to do what's genuine to themselves. So if someone's not fully engaged in the social media world we will certainly provide them with guidance. And if they want to proceed in that fashion they can, and if they don't there's plenty of other ways to generate business. [However] I think it's important to understand all the avenues there are to build your business and build your brand and build your career.


Where do new hires work?

New agents are able to request the office they would like as their home base. One of our recruiting manager's primary responsibilities is to help agents find the office for which they would be the best fit. She stresses to them that they should pick an office in a neighborhood where they have friends and contacts, if possible, or at the very least, one in an area that they are interested in or excited about.


What makes this job exciting?

First and foremost you're your own boss. You basically start your own business and your own career. It's always exciting when you start to blaze your own trail. A lot of [our sales] people have left jobs where they're an employee and they're working under someone else's time. This is really your own career; it's your own business.


Why is this particularly true in New York?

New York City is obviously a very exciting place to live. Therefore it's a very exciting place to be a real estate professional. You get to see these gorgeous apartments and neighborhoods. When you're a real estate professional, it's not like you're doing one thing. You're in the hospitality business, you're in marketing, you're in , you're in sales, you're in research, public speaking. There's so many different aspects of being a real estate professional that it makes it fun because every day is different.


What happens once you're hired?

Agents selected to become affiliated with our firm go through an extensive one-week training session where they learn the ropes of the NYC real estate industry -- how to build relationships with landlords, advertise listings, run credit checks, et cetera. Once they get out of training, training ends on a Friday, they show up to their office on a Saturday and they get acclimated with their office. Most likely on Monday the manager really starts to work with the new agents to help them really start their career. There's individual trainings in the office, there's group trainings in the office. They really start to dig in.


What is the job like?

Real estate is a customer service focused-industry. To be a successful real estate agent requires strong people skills, an ability to manage your time properly and a desire to succeed. For a real estate agent, self-motivation is everything. Agents are independent contractors who work strictly for commission. You are operating your own business and you can't wait around for clients to come to you. A career as a real estate agent can be very lucrative if you are engaged and committed. What's different about this career when compared to most others is that you control your own destiny. Nothing is stopping you but you.


Do you have any general tips for recent grads who are looking for jobs?

I think the most important thing is just to pick a career or a path that you believe you have passion for. I think that you really need to determine what it is that you want to do and really pick something that really interests you and intrigues you versus settling for something. Do your homework, do your research, understand the companies that you're going to interviews and meetings with. Like if you wanted to come in to meet us for an interview, do some research on our company. Find out how long we've been in business, come in with a list of questions -- it shows that you're engaged. No matter what, when you start a new career and a new profession you need to be a little bit humble. You don't know what you don't know and you need to listen and learn and take everything in. If you come in acting like you know everything when you don't, it doesn't send a good message either. Understand that once you work for a company there's a lot of teamwork involved. You need to be a good team member, you need to understand what's for the greater good of the whole company and how to get there.


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