Our Favorite Perennials

Swinging Agents-030

Our Favorite Perennials

In a town with no shortage of realtors, everyone may not know your name, unless you are a “perennial,” one of those agents who keeps coming back year after year and keeps her bloom.





By Robin Jovanovich


COLDWELL-DSC 2076In a town with no shortage of realtors, everyone may not know your name, unless you are a “perennial,” one of those agents who keeps coming back year after year and keeps her bloom.


For longevity, look no further than Coldwell Banker’s Nancy Neuman, who manages the Rye office and has been in the business for 44 years. Neuman, co-founder of Country Properties, which she later sold to Coldwell, said, “it’s all about the power of positive thinking.” She’s proud to share that she’s the oldest manager in Westchester County. Her cohorts say one of the big reasons they’re still in the business is Nancy.


When Neuman, the mother of three, asked Mary Jane Stanton, the mother of four, to come work for her “for just one year,” Stanton was happy to oblige. Thirty-seven years later, Mary Jane says she looks forward to being the oldest realtor in Rye.H-L-DSC 2113


Like Nancy and Mary Jane, Michele Flood (41 years) and Sula Pearlman (40 years) started off as teachers. “The teaching profession is famous for going into real estate. The common thread is that teachers have patience.” All four were PTO presidents. Nancy started the Rye High School House Tour.


Sula remembers Michele, who will go down in Rye real estate annals as one of the best in the business, coming to her and saying, “Will I ever sell a home?” Michele admitted, “It took me two years.”


Gail Fishkind, their partner in residential royalty, was a part-time model and a homemaker before she went into real estate 39 years ago. “I liked the atmosphere that Nancy created and her top-down and bottom-up approach.”


Sotheby's-DSC 2132What they miss about the old pre-fax days isn’t writing out the listing descriptions by hand and then putting them, along with tiny photos, in big heavy MLS binders that they had to carry around; it’s the change in what buyers want.


“When we started out, buyers were searching for what they could afford,” said Mary Jane. “A decade or so later it was a home like the one they grew up in. Everyone wanted old and filled with character. Today, it’s a lifestyle, with everything already built in.”


What Nancy likes about today’s technology-based world is that both buyers and sellers are more aware. They’re more on top than ever.”Swinging Agents-030


None of these women is happy about the increased number of teardowns. “Too many variances are being given out and we’re condensing open space,” remarked Mary Jane. Michele added, “I wish some of these developers consulted realtors, or their wives, before tearing down many of these old homes.”


Over at Houlihan Lawrence, the longtime realtors like to think of themselves as “seasoned” pros.


Marianna Glennon, who left a job on Wall Street to go into local real estate, recalled that when she started out interest rates were between 10 and 12%. But the average home price was $200,000, not $2,000,000 back then.”




Before Barbie Haynes became a realtor, she was a “professional volunteer. My kids turned to me and said, ‘Mom go get a paying job!” She said it was a different world when she started out: “the era of messages on pink slips. We used to be the lifeline, but we’re less so because of all the online information available to buyers.”


A love of the land drew Pat Geoghegan into real estate. Her grandfather owned three dairy farms in Norwalk and from an early age she would ask where did one property end and the other begin.


It was the Day of the Call-Ins, when Diana Plunkett entered the business. “And when you had an Open House, you had a prospect. Today, the listing agent gets the lead now.” Diana started off her professional life as the owner of a jewelry business. “Real estate is better, you have more freedom.”


What’s dramatically different about home sales today? “Real estate is aspirational,” said Marianna. “Buyers want to move right in to a home that’s new and done, efficient and orderly.”


Pat says managing sellers’ expectations goes hand in hand with that. “Old homes may be beautiful and well-appointed, but they have a hard time competing with new.” Her advice to sellers of older homes is to get a Pod. Or a dumpster, suggests Diana.


For all four women, the continuing attraction is that every day and every client is different. Barbie’s spirits soar whenever a first-time buyer gives her a call. “They still lean and depend on us.”


At Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s, Maureen Kirkpatrick enjoys the interaction as much as she did when she started out 43 years ago. “I was a single mother raising three children by myself


As a single mother raising three children on her own, a job in local real estate was the right fit for Maureen Kirkpatrick 43 years ago. It still is. “I enjoy the interaction and it keeps the brain working,” she says. “Conquering technology wasn’t easy but I appreciate the speed with which transactions occur today and the jump the Internet gives to buyers. If there is a downside to change it is that more potential buyers are going to Open Houses and not coming first to a realtor, who will guide them in their decision-making about a neighborhood or a community.”


Beth Delaney inherited the real estate bug from her parents. She loves the idea that something new is around the corner, but she also understands the importance of patience in her own line of work. “I took one client out for ten years before they bought a house.” For Beth, giving clients total personal attention is what she has striven for over her 37-year career.


When Christy Murphy started out 22 years ago, many houses were referred to by name. She misses that part of the business, and even having to Scotch tape listings into pages. “It was magical, but so is being able to open a lockbox with your iPhone,” she points out.


What’s different today? “Staging is big. Buyers are very educated and they rely on you less, and sometimes they are so focused on schools that they don’t spend time looking at communities.”


Christy says her biggest sense of accomplishment comes from resolving conflicts and ending up with satisfied sellers and buyers.


It’s a brave new real estate world, and the longest-serving professionals seem to have figured out ways to navigate through every big wave.