Name:  Heather M. Cooper
Major at Baruch College: Political Science
Company:  Town Residential
Title:  Residential Real Estate Agent
Graduation Year(s):  BA in Political Science 1997 and Paralegal Certificate


Please briefly describe your current profession in-detail including your responsibilities and tasks.
As a residential real estate agent I work with buyers, sellers and renters, as well as both large and small landlords throughout New York City. I see my job as something akin to a matchmaker—but instead of matching two people together I seek out the perfect match between a person and a property. When I work with buyers and renters, I scour neighborhoods throughout the city to find the best residence for their needs, and when I represent buyers and landlords I help position their home or apartment to ensure it reaches maximum visibility and that they can find the right tenant or buyer. Whichever side of the deal I’m on, being a real estate agent in New York is about much more than just finding listings—once you’ve made that match there are so many details and intricacies to navigate, from negotiating the best price to drawing up contracts and handling closing costs. A large part of my job is guiding my clients through every step of the sales or purchase process. Working in New York real estate is especially exciting because no two days are ever the same. I can go from working with a million-dollar buyer one day to a $2,000 renter the next, and that’s what I love most about it. Every client presents a unique set of needs and opportunities, but at the end of the day it really comes down to making people happy by finding that perfect property match.

Please briefly describe your career path to-date, including the reasons behind job changes you made since graduating from Baruch College.
I’ve been fortunate enough to gain experience in several different industries since graduating from Baruch, and to find a professional path that ties them all together. I started off my career working as a paralegal at a few law firms in New York City, which gave me a solid understanding of legal procedures of course, but also provided me with the opportunity to build up a network of contacts and develop my communication and interpersonal skills. Most importantly, it made me realize that the thing I enjoy most is working with people. From there I pivoted to the financial services industry, working on the trading floors of many large investment banks, and also in sales and marketing roles. This experience was essential in preparing me for the fast-paced world of real estate, where decisions often have to be made at lightening speed. I’ve always seen myself as an entrepreneur, and in every professional role I’ve held, starting with those entry-level positions, I’ve focused on building long-lasting relationships and developing a skill set that would take me to the next level. Eventually, I realized that a career in real estate was where everything came together: my legal and financial expertise, my love for working with people, and my passion for exploring New York City. I’ve been working since I was 12 years old and I really gathered a lot from every single role—the lessons I learned in each one of these industries come into play every day when I’m on the job.
How did your experiences at Baruch College (e.g., academic studies, extra-curricular activities, student groups) prepare you for your career?
The most important aspect of my education at Baruch was the diversity of skills and interests I was able to explore while in school. As a political science major I took a wide variety of liberal arts classes, which allowed me to really spread my wings and dive into different subjects. Coupled with my Paralegal Certificate, I left with expertise in a particular professional field but also the confidence to branch out into other fields. Without this background I don’t think that I would have been able to pursue finance, law and real estate, and then to bring those all together in a way that utilizes all of my skills.
Today, what advice would you give to an undergraduate or graduate Baruch student interested in your field?
Talk to as many people as you can before you jump into a particular career or job, and never be afraid to explore more than one path. A lot of students see internships as a box you have to check off, but they can also be immensely valuable in giving you a glimpse into what a particular field is like, which is something you just can’t see any other way. Don’t feel you have to settle into one career or path of study from day one. In our economy today, various industries are so interconnected and experience in one field can serve you well in another. I don’t think I would have gotten where I am today if I just studied law and turned a blind eye to everything else. By keeping my options open and gaining a wide variety of experiences I found the best possible path for me. Most importantly, study what you love—if you develop an expertise in something that you’re passionate about, that will resonate with people and they will want to work with you.
What advice would you give to recent graduates hoping to buy or rent an apartment in Manhattan for the first time?
Moving to New York City can be a very overwhelming process. Many people do not know where to start or when to start looking, and for first-time buyers and renters the sheer immensity of it all can be discouraging. But once you know how to navigate the market, this is the most exciting place in the world to look for a home because there is such a diversity of options. Working with an experienced broker who understands the market and will make the effort to find that perfect match for you is something that will definitely save you time and money in the long run. Real estate is built on relationships, so it’s vital to find a broker who you connect with, who gets who you are and what you’re looking for. Finding that right broker will cut down on the time you spend looking for an apartment, ease your stress level, and allow you to focus on the important things.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to sell their apartment?
I always recommend interviewing three or four brokers in order to find the one who is the right match for you. You want to make sure you’re working with someone who gets the process and has the work ethic and know-how to market your apartment effectively. Have they sold in your building before? If not, do they have the skills to screen the right buyer and get them approved by the board? How will they work to market your apartment? Will they take professional photos, stage the apartment, and handle showings themselves? You want to find someone who is going to go above and beyond on your behalf, but you also want someone who you connect with. The right broker should be able to secure the right buyer and the highest price in the shortest amount of time, but also make sure that you’re happy and informed throughout the entire process. What are the qualities of a successful real estate agent? What type of person should pursue this career path? You have to be ready and willing to hit the ground running every day, to adapt to new situations and make big decisions on the turn of a dime. Realities are constantly changing in this business and there is never a sure thing. New York is an incredibly fast-changing and competitive real estate market—every day you wake up and it’s a little bit different from the day before, so you have to enjoy the positive energy that comes from a shifting environment. A lot of people think you can make money easily in real estate but that is not the case. You need to have an incredible work ethic and commit to being on your A-game every single day. When you work in real estate you aren’t chasing a deal—you’re working for people, and in order to succeed in this business you need to have that personal passion for finding those perfect matches and making people happy.
How can an interested person contact you?
Phone Number:  917-697-7494
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