When my business partner Jon Goodell and I launched Bohemia Realty Group in 2012, he was a recent Fordham graduate and I been creating and acting in Broadway and off-Broadway theater. We had also been working together for years as real estate agents and loved the work. As the idea of starting our own brokerage developed, Jon and I focused on neighborhoods in which we had lived above 96th Street in Manhattan—the neighborhoods that we loved and by which we were excited. Among the key components of our newly formed business plan was the creation of an innovative and, perhaps, unconventional environment, equally supportive of artistic and entrepreneurial disciplines.
Six years later, with vibrant offices in Harlem and Washington Heights, and another planned for the South Bronx next year, we have fulfilled our earliest mission. Of our 120 agents, more than 70 percent are also working actors, singers, dancers, and writers, including myself: “Gettin’ the Band Back Together,” a new musical that I helped create and write, opens at Broadway’s Belasco Theater on Monday, August 13. We even have a revolving team of agents who perform together in local cabarets. Most recently, seven of us performed at the Laurie Beechman Theater as part of Ben Cameron’s Broadway Sessions, raising funds for Broadway Cares and Equity Fights Aids.
Clearly, agents with backgrounds in the arts are attracted to Bohemia. Not surprisingly, many of our clients work in the arts, as well. Our ongoing commitment to improving the quality of life for our agents, clients, and local communities has taken on a three-pronged approach, comprising of servicing clients in efficient, friendly ways; creating a positive work environment for agents and employees; and enriching the communities in which we work.
Starting with the first mandate, Bohemia Realty Group has developed a robust marketing program, which provides marketing collateral, up-to-date data, and social marketing platforms to our agents. When we meet with clients, we come as prepared consultants, paving the way for productive results.
To further ensure clients are in good hands, Bohemia has a comprehensive training program, supported by a mentoring system for newer agents. Our agents meet weekly to discuss market trends, advertising and social media opportunities, and learn about the latest listings. Well-informed agents are best able to service clients efficiently.
To further bolster teamwork, Bohemia has created programs that encourage collegiality. Every year, we appoint two new “Ambassadors of Fun” who are charged with developing team-building adventures, such as historical walking tours, trivia contests, and game nights. We established a rewards system called B-Bucks that also fosters cooperation. Brokers who help colleagues by assisting at weekend open houses, participating in board packages, or showing someone else’s listing when needed, earn B-Bucks. Not only does this program support teamwork, our in-house “currency” may be used for everything from reimbursing business-related expenses like couriers and apartment photo sessions to paying for massages.
Taking into consideration how stressful brokerage can be, we also hire fitness trainers to provide agents with free group sessions. In spring and summer, these sessions take place in Morningside Park, an extremely popular site for working out and only a block from our Harlem office.
From the beginning, our goal was to be a positive force in the various Upper Manhattan communities we serve; participating as neighbors, rather than interlopers. Approximately 85 percent of Bohemia agents live above 96th Street in communities that have traditionally supported creative professionals. In 2016, we launched a monthly workshop program moderated by Bohemia brokers and featuring expert speakers. The workshops are free to the public and cover a wide range of relevant real estate-related topics, such as “First-time Home Buying,” “How to Design Your Rental on a Budget,” and “Credit Report and Repair.” We also host bi-annual pet-adoption events and support children’s performing arts programs in the neighborhood.
Bohemia Realty Group was started as an alternative to traditional brokerage firms. We were a group of in-between work actors, writers, and musicians who saw real estate as a complement to our careers. As we move forward, I am proud to be at the helm of an ever-growing, open environment that supports both creativity and commerce.
Principal Licensed Real Estate Broker
Bohemia Realty Group, LLC
2101 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
New York, NY 10026