Leslie J. Garfield & Co. agent leaves real estate business for wind power job

Francis O'Shea brokered sale of Irish financier's $23 million UES townhouse
By Leigh Kamping-Carder | February 03, 2012 02:00PM

Francis O’Shea, an agent at Leslie J. Garfield & Co., has left the boutique brokerage for a sales and business development position at Wind Analytics, a start-up that develops software to assess the effectiveness of wind power sites, The Real Deal has learned.

“I guess being a real estate broker for the rest of my life just wasn’t for me,” said O’Shea, who officially left the firm in December. “There’s certainly an opportunity to make a lot of money in that business, but there [are] lot of things that the real estate brokerage industry just didn’t offer me as a career option.”

O’Shea, 28, joined the firm in early 2008 — his first foray into the real estate brokerage business, although he had worked in construction and sales after studying government at Skidmore College. In August 2011, he helped the struggling Irish investor Dennis Quinlan sell his 25-foot-wide townhouse at 20 East 64th Street for $23 million, taking over the listing from Dolly Lenz and Monique Silberman of Prudential Douglas Elliman.

He said he has been interested in sustainability issues for a long time, and has also applied to graduate school at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs to study environmental science and policy.

Still, O’Shea left just as he was starting to handle bigger deals, said Jed Garfield, owner of the firm that his father founded. The loss is especially acute, Garfield noted, because unlike the city’s mega brokerages, Leslie J. Garfield is a small firm that concentrates on high-end townhouse sales. It is now down to seven agents at its lone office at 505 Park Avenue.

Garfield said he was disappointed that O’Shea had chosen to leave when he did — when the younger broker was “no longer a cost center” and had started to generate profits for the firm — but doesn’t appear to have hard feelings. “He’s a terrific guy, he really is,” Garfield said. “I wish him the best.”

For his part, O’Shea acknowledged the guidance that the firm’s more experienced brokers provided but enthused about his new Dumbo-based employer’s interactive approach and the innovative aspect of the renewable energy industry — a contrast to the “mature business” of real estate, with its focus on working as a middle man, he said. O’Shea’s agent license expires in April 2013, according to state records.

“It’s a funny thing when you’re someplace for a while and you find out it’s not exactly what you want to do,” O’Shea said. “There’s never a perfect way to leave a place.”