The Real Deal New York

Diane Ramirez

By Lauren Elkies

President of Halstead Property since 1999. Ramirez and Clark Halstead founded the residential real estate firm in 1984, and Ramirez was a partner until 2001, when the firm was acquired by Terra Holdings, also parent company of Brown Harris Stevens. Halstead has 600 agents in 11 offices in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley.

What is your full name?
Diane Marie Ramirez. Say that one three times! It’s a tongue twister, but I love it anyway.

What is your date of birth?
February 22, 1947.

Where did you grow up?
Jackson Heights, Queens. That’s where I spent my entire life until I got married [to Samuel Ramirez, founder and CEO of the investment banking firm, Samuel A. Ramirez & Company] on May 11, 1968.

How did you and your husband meet?
In an after-work singles club, where you go after five to have a cold drink and meet guys with your best girlfriend.

Did you hit it off right away?
Actually, no. He met my girlfriend and was interested in her. He and his best friend invited us to go dancing, and he escorted me in and we spent the evening together. I must have been married 15 years when I told the story to a girlfriend. I said, ‘I think he found something very charming about me and that’s why he switched [dates].’ He heard me and said, ‘What are you talking about, charming? You were too tall to dance with Dominick.’ So, thank God I’m tall.

Where do you live?
67th and Lexington in a 100-year-old co-op.

Would you ever live in 15 Central Park West or the Plaza?
The Plaza is not me. I’d rather a more private place. But 15 Central Park West, yes.

How do you get to and from work?
I’m a subway gal. I either hop on the subway one stop or I walk it. It’s only 10 blocks.

What other real estate firms have you worked at?
Key Ventures in New York and Claude D. Reese Agency and Gardens Insurance in [Palm Beach] Florida [where Ramirez still holds a real estate license]. And, I started to open my own firm but [instead] very happily
went with Halstead Property.

What was the last real estate deal you brokered?
It was 1987, and I sold a townhouse to Calvin Klein on East 76th Street.

What was the commission check?
Oh God, I honestly can’t remember, but it was sizable. It was a multi-million dollar transaction.

How many children and grandchildren do you have?
Two children and five grandchildren, ages 9, 7, 5, 4 and 8 months.

Do you have any other homes?
We have a partnership with my son and his wife and his two children on a farm in Patterson, NY, in Putnam County. My son has a polo team, and the farm will be an active polo club by September. It also has a couple of fields, stables and an indoor riding rink.

What’s your favorite restaurant?
We tend to go for low-key local ones like Bella Blu. We’re members of the Lotos Club. We’ll go for a fabulous lobster over there.

Do you cook?
We eat dinner out seven days a week. I used to be embarrassed, but I’m not really anymore.

What do you do for breakfast?
My husband makes the coffee, and I usually just have something simple like yogurt. We literally sit down for maybe only 10 minutes, and we just talk. It’s a [way to] connect each day, and then I literally walk him to the door and say goodbye, like a little schoolboy. Maybe that’s why we’re married after 40 years.

What quality do you like best about your husband?
I would say it’s his heart.

What annoys you the most about him?
He loves to shop and I don’t. That annoys me a bit. His closet is bigger than mine.

How do you stay calm in the face of difficulty?
I think it’s just my nature. My mom was a very nervous, anxious person. She reached out to me often when she was anxious, so if she saw my brother [Ramirez is one of five siblings] fall down a flight of stairs, she would run the other way and say, your brother fell down the stairs, and I would rush [over to him].

What makes you angry?
I’m very slow to boil, but what gets me angry is when people keep at you if they don’t like the answer, and they keep restating it, trying to get the answer they wanted.

If you could change one aspect of your life, what would it be? Could I just get more time? There are a lot of little things I’d like to do — silly things like playing more golf and learning a language. My son married a Brazilian gal and the 7-year-old is fluent in Portuguese and understands Spanish really well. I sit there with her other grandmother, who speaks no English, with a 7-year-old between us who translates. I mean, it’s ridiculous. But I will learn Spanish.

If you could do your life over again, would you do anything differently?
I wouldn’t lose my dad so young. He died in 1967 when I was 19. He had colon cancer.

Is your mom still alive?
She just passed away in December, also of cancer. I thought she would live forever.

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