Editor’s Letter - Let’s Get Real

Did I ever tell you I was a real-estate agent at some point? Yep, it was back in 1988 when I decided to study and get my license. While publishing and journalism had always been my first love ever since I was in elementary school, getting fired from a very brief position as manuscript editor at The Annals of Internal Medicine in Philly made me think I should take another direction in life.

I don’t know what they were thinking when they offered, or what I was thinking when I accepted, that position, which was clearly meant to be filled by someone with actual medical experience. I mean, my mom was a nurse, but I’m pretty sure her knowledge didn’t rub off on me.

So, yes, I “worked,” if you can call it that, as an agent for Fox & Lazo for a whopping two months. I sold nary a listing; nor did I ever really want to. Turns out, selling is not for me (how do you all do it?). At that point, by some miracle, a publishing firm contacted me, asked me to come in for an interview, I got the job and thankfully, was back to my first love – working with the written word.

There are those who are cut out for a career in real estate, though.According to Real Estate Weekly, the number of new and renewed real-estate licenses in New York State alone has increased 15.2% in the past year for brokers and 4.8% for sales agents. Plus, sales volume and strengthening market confidence are drawing even more professionals – many with college degrees or above – to real estate as a career.

With this renewed confidence in real estate as a career and the housing market in general, we put our spotlight on the real-estate market this issue. In “Hot Properties,” our writer explores the various segments of this industry, some which you may not have thought of. Valerie Hayman-Sklar, president of The Apartment Boutique powered by Corporate Specialties (asi/169040), grew up in the property-management business. Now she sells products and programs to those firms. In her opinion, too much of the wider real-estate business flies under the radars of promo products agencies. “A lot of people see it strictly as the home-sales agencies, where there’s demand for four-color cards and calendars and pens but not much else in terms of big potential,” she says. “But there’s actually more possibility here; I know firsthand that there are many needs in the other segments of this industry too.”

Off-campus student housing, for instance is where she finds tremendous opportunity. My son Andrew is only one of tons of college kids who will be renting off campus next semester. I call it “Little Grandma’s Shore House,” because that’s what his house looks like. His landlady is an older woman named Martha and she’s only one of many landlords in his college town looking to attract college-aged renters to their humble abodes. When he lived on campus too, student services provided all kinds of promo products, including a drawstring laundry bag imprinted with instructions for washing clothes. I’ve been making him do his own laundry since he was 10, so he didn’t really need those, but I’m sure it came in handy for many other co-eds.

Traditional property-management and rental-related clients rely heavily on promotional products too. They use all types of items (some high end, some less expensive) to attract new tenants, keep existing tenants content and maintain employee loyalty. Delve into our market focus this issue. You'll find great tips and ideas for finding a home within this niche.