Lesson Learned: Stay off the real estate rollercoaster

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Find out what NYC associate broker Bill Kowalczuk has learned during his years in the business and what he’d be doing if he weren’t in real estate.

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After 26 years in the real estate business, New York City associate broker Bill Kowalczuk has plenty of knowledge to share with clients as they make key decisions. However, when he’s not working, his focus is most often on fitness as a way to wind down after a day of deal-making.

“I’m an avid gym rat,” said Kowalczuk. “The gym gives me a chance to unwind and focus on something other than work. I am [also] a road cyclist. Riding for 10 or 20 miles helps me to de-stress after a long day.”

Find out what Kowalczuk has learned during his years in the business and what he’d be doing if he weren’t in real estate.

Name: Bill Kowalczuk

Title: Licensed associate real estate broker

Experience: 26 years

Location: New York City

Brokerage name: Coldwell Banker Warburg

Sales volume: More than $500 million

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?

Early in my career, I learned that this business can be an emotional rollercoaster. You must keep emotions in check and focus on making the deal happen. It is never over until both sides have signed and a check is in the bank.

Whether you like or dislike the buyers, sellers, or agents is completely irrelevant. The number one priority is to do what needs to be done to make sure the deal happens.

Early on in my career, I was always excited to get a deal in progress, only to have it die for one reason or another. My emotions would ride high and then crash. An experienced colleague told me to control my emotions until I closed on a deal because anything could happen.

Once I was in that frame of mind, it was always easier to manage disappointments with my buyer or seller. 

What’s the best advice you ever got from a mentor or colleague?

Keep showing that listing. It does not matter whether you have an accepted offer or a contract out for signatures. You keep showing that listing to potential buyers and present all offers until everything is all signed and solid.

It’s a rookie mistake to assume an accepted offer or a contract out for signature ensures the deal will happen. 

What would you tell a new agent before they start out in the business?

I would tell a new agent to forget everything you have ever seen on a real estate TV show.  Reality is much more sobering. You don’t automatically start off with million-dollar listings, and it’s rare, if at all, that you work with someone for a day and they make an offer on something.

The TV shows make everything look way easier — selling an apartment with little to no work.   

Make sure that you can comfortably pay your monthly bills for at least seven to eight months so that you can focus on your work and get that deal-making ball rolling along. You never know when a deal is going to happen, even when you have an accepted offer.

Having a good sum in the bank when you start is a way of not having to think about how bills are going to be paid when you are two to three months in and nothing is happening. It’s important for your clients to always sense a feeling of calmness. 

What do clients need to know before they begin a real estate transaction?

Besides getting preapproved for a mortgage and getting all your paperwork together to make an offer when the time comes, I think closing costs may be the biggest unkept secret in real estate. I always talk with clients about what it will cost to close a deal before we look at listings. Nine times out of ten, the mortgage tax on condominiums and houses will be a surprise.

If you could do anything other than real estate, what would it be?

I would be painting, drawing and creating in an enclave with other artists, like Ciudad Colón in Costa Rica or Provincetown on Cape Cod. These places appeal to me because they are on the water (which I love) and have a lot of natural beauty

I have always wanted to be free to create whatever I wanted without the typical day-to-day grind. 

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Email Christy Murdock

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