By David Jo
When Alex Karalanian, a senior associate at Citi Habitats, was seven years old, he launched his first business venture — a marketing company called Ads, Etc — on his father’s computer.
“I didn’t get any calls unfortunately, but it was a sign of things to come,” said Karalanian, a tri-lingual New Yorker who speaks Romanian and French as well as English.
During high school, he worked as a door-to-door salesman and telemarketer in White Plains, New York. The son of a Romanian father and French mother, he spent summers vacationing in southern France, in an apartment overlooking the Mediterranean.
“My parents raised me in a very European culture,” said Karalanian. “They spoke to me in their native languages. They really did a good job at exposing me to a lot of different cultures.”
As a student at the University of Colorado, Karalanian founded an event marketing firm, organizing private loft parties and promoting benefits for charities like the Bowery Mission and Colorado AIDS project.
A music business major and a part-time DJ, he organized events for music producers and worked with record labels.
“I played piano, guitar, taught myself how to produce and engineer music,” he said. “When I got done with school, there were no good paying jobs available to me in the music industry. I wanted to make money and live a good life, so I got into real estate.” He started out marketing office properties, but found the pace too slow. So he switched to residential sales — and is thinking about picking up event planning on the side.
“I would consider eventually organizing events again, but would make 100 percent certain to do it in a way to complement my real estate business,” he said.
At Citi Habitats, Karalanian helps foreign investors purchase and manage properties in Manhattan, which he then rents out to American tenants.
Some of his current rental listings include a two-bedroom at 450 West 42nd Street asking $5,500 a month, and a three-bedroom in Morningside Heights listed for $3,350. Last December, he helped a French couple snap up a one-bedroom in midtown, and then rented it out for $3,200 a month.
“I feel connected to them,” Karalanian said of his international clients. “My upbringing helps me relate really well to them and I understand their culture.”