Most young children don’t clamor to snatch up the daily paper. If they do, it’s typically in anticipation of reading their favorite comic strip, or perhaps taking in the sports page.
Seven-year-old Julia Boland had different intentions when the Hartford Courant was dropped at her front door in Connecticut.
“The front page of the home section always had floor plans for houses and I loved looking at the floor plan,” said Boland, now an agent with Corcoran and a 15-year industry vet.
“We had this beach property that my dad wanted to develop and I always used to imagine what kind of house it would be and what floor plan it would have.”
The early curiosity laid the seeds for a successful career in real estate, but they would not sprout right away.
“Although it wasn’t in the plan, I clearly had the bug,” Boland said of her passion for the business.
“A big part of what I do is work with developers,” continued Boland, who now spends a lot of her time consulting with those who are looking to create a property that will be tailored as closely as possible to what residents are searching for.
“We will sit down and we will work with the architects. As they are laying out the units we’ll weigh in. Obviously I’m not a designer, I’m not an architect, but I can tell them what the market wants and help them tweak it to make it the best project it can possibly be.
“They rely on me for the fact that I am in the market on a daily basis,” she said.
Though she is a now a trusted and sought-after source for some of real estates biggest residential players, as well as a leading agent at Corcoran, her road to real estate took several long detours after her fantasy floor plan days concluding in her childhood.
Boland graduated from Boston University as a political science major before continuing her education in Paris. From there, her love of newspapers seeped back into her life and she took on the task of reporting on the international petrochemical markets.
“It gave me the opportunity to travel around Europe,” said Boland. “It gave me sensitivities to cultures and how business is done in other countries.
“Ultimately, does that help me selling real estate in New York City? Yes.”
After spending time living in Hong Kong as well, Boland traveled back to the states and began a career in fashion.
Though the path was promising at first, downsizing left her searching for a new calling. She found it in real estate.
“I was recruited by a gal that worked at Brown Harris Stevens. And she said ’You’re going to be really good at this.’ I didn’t necessarily understand why (at the time).”
The reason soon became clear to Boland.
“Real estate, at the end of the day, is really about people and relationships, far more than it is about property,” said Boland.
“You’ve got to understand people, build your relationships. What is the buyer looking for that they haven’t told you? Really understand what the seller truly wants.
“If you’re not good with people, you’re never going to thrive.”
Boland, who started her real estate career working in Lower Manhattan, is now thriving in areas like Harlem.
“I’ve been living and working in Northern Manhattan for over ten years. And part of what built that neighborhood is your dual income families.”
Boland said that these families, with respectable to strong incomes, saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a mid-renaissance upper Manhattan instead of spending $3 million or more on a condo in one of the higher priced neighborhoods.
“Where are they going to go without leaving the city?” Boland asked, saying that many of Manhattan’s middle class want to maintain their residence in New York without breaking the bank or heading to the boroughs. “They’ve gone up to Northern Manhattan.”
Much like what the market has seen in the now trendy neighborhoods of the tertiary boroughs, areas such as Harlem have seen a surge in popularity as New Yorkers continue to buy low and perhaps sell high in the future.
That surge is thanks in large part to brokers like Boland who ventured north herself in 2004 and invested in a property as the tide was beginning to turn in favor of neighborhoods such as Harlem.
As the northern areas of the main borough become the latest satellite neighborhoods to see property values rise, one would think that perhaps owning a home in New York area may be becoming a thing of the past for those who are unable or unwilling to spend several million dollars on a standard dwelling.
“There’s a ton of liquidity in the global markets and what you’re seeing is that Manhattan real estate represents a safe haven for many investors around the globe,” said Boland when asked if Manhattan would soon mainly hold property that was owned by foreigners, “I think that trend will continue.”
However, the broker stressed that while foreign money may continue to be invested in condos and other properties, there is still plenty of reason to believe that Manhattan and the surrounding areas will continue to be open to domestic owners.
“I’d be very upset to see Manhattan become a Dubai, but I don’t see that happening,” she said before praising Mayor de Blasio and the steps that he’s taken to grow the city’s arsenal of affordable housing.
Boland herself has contributed to the domestic side of the aisle purchasing residential property yet again and has acquired her second property in Harlem.
“I know Northern Manhattan inside out and backward,” said Boland who is in love with the culture, the nightlife and the atmosphere of the neighborhood.
“Now it’s a destination neighborhood,” she said after discussing how its days as a “value play” are fading into the past. “My friends live in Harlem, they love Harlem.”