While many residential brokers in New York City form teams to tackle the real estate market, Douglas Elliman broker Jessica Levine is proud to go it alone.
“Being a selling agent and independent and not having people assist me makes a difference,” said Levine. “When you hire me, you get me; when you hire a team you often get people who don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s something I use as a strength talking to sellers. I’m busy, but not at a level that’s unbearable or unmanageable. I’m good at juggling things.”
Levine has spent the past ten years working in re-sale and new development, including handling the first resale at the Toy Building, deals at Tribeca condo 60 White, supertall 56 Leonard, 50 West, Flatiron’s 10 Madison Square West, and The Greenwich Lane.
Working hard has always come natural to Levine, a Westchester native who majored in finance management, minored in English, and studied dance for fun at SUNY Albany. She was always interested in real estate, but when she graduated from college in 2006, her family discouraged her from going into the industry.
She worked at a small firm in Westchester managing print consulting jobs with clients such as the New York Lottery, but realized real estate was really where her heart was.
“I’ve wanted to do this since the day I was born,” said Levine. She would often drive around looking at homes with her family when she was younger, where they would often go into open houses and look around, even though they weren’t in the market for a new home.
“I always found it interested me, and being my own boss; I always thrived on working on my own, whether it was babysitting or working at a golf course as a beer cart girl,” said Levine. “It was always my own thing and up to me how hard I work.”
So she left her full-time job to dive headfirst into real estate, which she quickly realized, was not a walk in the park. She had left a job with a salary and benefits, and her new position did not guarantee either.
“In 2007 it was a different market, it was easier to get a buyer,” she said. “Streeteasy wasn’t used as much.”
Levine began as a buyer’s broker, and landed four sales before doing one rental. She learned as she went, and was able to glean necessary legal information from attorneys she worked with.
Many of her first deals were at new construction condo buildings, and then eventually her buyers became sellers, and gave her referrals, and her business began to take shape.
“I worked seven days a week to build my brand,” she said. “I was young and had a lot of energy. I didn’t get a lot of sleep.”
Now, a decade into her career, Levine said her work-life balance is “wonderful.” She lives in Flatiron and focuses her business on Flatiron and surrounding neighborhoods like Gramercy Park, the West Village, Tribeca, and Chelsea. “It’s just an area I love and believe in and I have to believe in it,” she said.
Many of her current clients are buyers from Asia, and referrals from former clients. She noted that volume is not up as significantly as it had been in the past, but that Asian buyers are “very much” in the market.
“Buyer sentiment has changed a bit this past year, I don’t think anyone thinks it’s “buy now be price out forever,”” said Levine. She sees the market as a “tale of 10 markets.”
“The days of people buying just to buy and hold something here – it’s changing where buyers don’t feel like they need to buy, but are still active,” she said. “It’s a tale of ten markets – some are “not buys,” some are soft – I don’t think it’s going to change unless rates jump to 10 percent.
Long term, Levine sees herself getting into development and working with a developer on projects.
“I work in it so much I feel like I have a good gage on the finance side of it,” she said. “I also pride myself on not having an assistant, but I have a short-term goal of having an assistant, because it would free up some time for me.”
Levine’s business philosophy is based in honesty, communication, and putting the client first.
“For me a lot of clients become friends. They don’t feel like it’s a stiff relationship, they feel natural and comfortable for me. I’ve gone to weddings of clients and I’m going to some this year,” she said.
“A quote I like is “No one likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy,”” she said. “I think people trust me and I’ve even had sellers say I told a friend about you, and they said the one thing they said about Jessica is that she is honest and ethical.”