New York and brokerage are two passions Barbara Dansker could never quite let go of. As a college student, the Bayside, Queens-native transferred from CW Post to Miami University only to return to New York a year later. Florida just wasn’t the right place for her. She completed her degree in business and marketing at CW Post and has lived in New York City ever since.
In contrast, Dansker’s relationship with real estate — she calls it her “first love” — was more on-and-off.
She worked as a retail leasing broker for about five years after college. “I always loved the thrill of the deal,” she recalled. “I liked the vibe working in Manhattan and enjoyed meeting and speaking to different people.”
When Dansker had two daughters, her professional passion suffered. “I tried to do it part-time, but it was too difficult,” she said. She quit the trade but stayed in touch with her real-estate contacts — a decision that would pay off years later.
When she got a divorce and suddenly had to support herself and her daughters, becoming a broker once again was first on her mind. “But at that time, I didn’t want to be away from my children all those hours,” she said.
Instead, she founded The Craft Studio on the Upper East Side, a company that held private children’s birthday parties. “I had always been around children and saw different parties, and I just thought it could be done better,” said Dansker. “This was a place where my children could go after school, and help with the business, for example by picking out the toys we would sell.”
Dansker hired a number of students from Marymount College for her shop, and eventually sold the business to one of them. “I was fortunate enough after 13 successful years to have a saleable business,ˮ she said. “I retired for about six months, but missed business and the interaction with people.”
By then, Dansker had remarried. Her new husband, Lowell Dansker, worked in real estate — he is the chairman of Intervest National Bank — and made a sensible proposition: Why not become a broker again?
In 2009, Dansker joined Marcus & Millichap. It was the height of the housing crisis, so she specialized in a very timely product: defaulted mortgages. “I came back into the real estate business at a time when the real estate market and the general economy were in a terrible state. There was a market for selling debt and I immediately went after the troubled debt resale market aggressively,” she said, adding that she sold millions of dollars of troubled debt.
Dansker didn’t find the switch back to real estate brokerage very difficult. “It came naturally to me,” she said. “I’ve always been in sales. If anything, my experience in starting my own business helped me.” Some of her new clients as a broker had been her clients at The Craft Studio.
Dansker has since specialized in mixed-use and multifamily properties in downtown Manhattan. She said she loves the vibe, the architecture and the people there.
Her drive and her passion for the neighborhood made for an astonishing rise. “When I first started, I was working as a member of a team. I wanted to go off on my own and do my own deals. I knew I was capable of doing that,” she said.
“Now I have my own team, I am a mentor to three other people and I am looking to expand the business even further.”
In 2012, Dansker sold a development site on West 28th Street and two mixed-use buildings on Bleecker Street in the West Village, while continuing to sell troubled debt. She recently sold an office building at 123 Lafayette Street with more than 16,000 s/f for $10.85 million. Dansker’s collection of prizes is another indicator of her success. In 2010, she won Marcus & Millichap’s Manhattan Office Rookie of the Year Award, followed by the Manhattan Office Shooting Star Award in 2011, the Sales Achievement Award in 2011 and 2012, and the National Achievement Award in 2012.
One of her less noticed successes is that she managed to pass on her passion for real estate to her youngest daughter. The 23-year-old — she also has a 26-year-old daughter, as well as a 26-year-old stepdaughter and a 29-year-old stepson from her second husband — works as a real estate analyst for TD Bank. “She has the real-estate bug,” Dansker said.