By Robin Jovanovich
How did a nice girl from New Rochelle end up as one of the top residential real estate agents in Rye?
We asked Joan O’Meara and she gave us a ready answer: an undergraduate degree in marketing, direct marketing experience at big advertising agencies in New York City, and commuter fatigue.
“After I had my second child, I decided to get my real estate license and came up with a five-year business plan,” she said in an interview this week.
Happily, her plan worked. Twenty-two years and counting, O’Meara now has her own team at Houlihan Lawrence. Since 2005, she’s been one of the top five agents in Rye, and was ranked No. 1 in town five out of six years from 2011 to 2016. In a typical year, she does 40 to 50 transactions.
She has fond memories of filling out all the listing information and putting it in binders — and getting a babysitter so she could go the office and do the paperwork. But the mother of four — two out of college, one in, and one going this fall — has had no difficulty moving into the modern real estate world. “With technology we now have the mindset of Millennials — whom we raised — and everything is instant.”
One tool O’Meara took out of her idea drawer is a list of questions sellers should ask when they’re choosing an agent. The top one, says O’Meara, should be: What is your sale price to list price ratio in the past ten years? “It’s amazing how many sellers don’t go further than list price and commission fee discussions.” (Her ratio, by the way, is 97% for the past decade.)
O’Meara will always go the extra mile for clients. Just ask her children who were in the back seat for many a mile. “Luckily, my kids seem to like the business I’m in and my clients have all been appreciative of my attentiveness and guidance, just not in the design area. For that there are experts!”
When she and her husband Tom, whom she met in college, moved to Rye 25 years ago, it was to an apartment on Wappanocca Avenue. Their first house was on Florence Avenue, and they held on to it as a rental property after moving to Hix Park, which came in handy when has come in handy for all the college tuition bills.
What’s also come in handy is having a close-knit family. Tom, a retired New York City firefighter who did residential real estate appraisals in the Bronx as a side job, now works alongside Joan. As does her sister, Katie Irwin, also a mother of four, and a friend and neighbor, Mary Kmetz.
Would she have done anything differently? “Not necessarily. It’s been fun meeting people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I got to see my kids growing up, and I didn’t have to get back on the train.”
Joan O’Meara, far right, with her team: husband Tom, sister Katie Irwin and friend and neighbor Mary Kmetz, far left