Many New York sales agents have come to the business of real estate from a wide range of other professions. In a regular web feature, The Real Deal will profile brokers for whom selling properties represents a major career transition.
April Purdy came a long way, literally and figuratively, to get to New York City. The Louisiana-born blonde, 35, spent years as a flight attendant with TWA and Delta before 9/11 caused her to rethink her career choices. After a stint as a hairdresser (and another with a “horrendous” real estate brokerage) Purdy landed at Bond New York. Yesterday, she sat down with The Real Deal and dished on avoiding the Craigslist killer, how airline regs keep your pantyhose from melting to your leg and who is worse – passengers or prospective renters.
How long have you been with Bond New York?
Just over two years. I work with a partner, Amber Barrett. I used to work on the Upper East Side, and it was all men. It was awful. Then, [someone suggested] I come to Columbus Circle and I met her. We used to have a huge team … but now it’s just us. Some others didn’t cut the mustard.
Where are you from?
A small town in Louisiana, [outside] of Baton Rouge. My dad worked at a prison, a really horrible place, called Angola. Literally in the swamps; one of the worst places ever. My dad rides a horse and carries a gun. If I wouldn’t have become a flight attendant, I would never have left. People who are driven and focused… I’d never really met anyone like that.
Do you get tired of the pace here?
I get worried because I can’t be everywhere. I have kids.
Two. They are six and eight. It’s hard because I can’t work 24 hours a day… in real estate you have to learn to say “no.”
Where do you live?
In the Financial District. [At this moment a cockroach scurries across the floor of the Starbucks where this interview is being conducted and everyone save for Purdy jumps out of its way.]
[Dismissively eyeing the roach], when you have food… it just happens. We’ve had it all [at the Bond office].
What does your family think of the fact that you live here?
They hate it.
They think it’s tacky. My grandmother, who lives in Mississippi, would put it this way: “Certain people lack certain social graces.” That’s what she would say if she doesn’t like you. I didn’t want to raise my kids there. No one is open-minded, there is no diversity. I don’t want them raise sheltered and unaware — like I was.
Where did you work as a flight attendant?
Both Delta and TWA [based in Orlando].
When did you move here? Is that when you stopped working as a flight attendant?
Yes. I knew that lifestyle would never translate into a normal family unit. I had had a pilot boyfriend, and we would both be gone at least four days a week. There are all kinds of relationship issues when you travel so much. [Then] I met someone and he was like, “We should just do something crazy,” so we just moved here. And he became my husband. I only knew him for a month when we got married.
Did you like being a flight attendant?
I did, pre-9/11. Before that it was like “party, party, party.” And I was young, so it was great. You travel everywhere, men everywhere [laughs]. After 9/11 I developed this fear that was never there before. I always had this anxiety.
What did you do for a living once you moved here?
I did hair. My husband is a hairdresser. He does hair in Soho. It wasn’t something I really liked. If you don’t have a gift for it, no one can really teach you. I worked at Warren-Tricomi at The Plaza and … it was just horrible, horrendous. You have to be a shampoo girl for two years before they’ll let you touch anybody. After that abuse …
Was it the customers or your peers who were abusive?
It was the other girls.
Why real estate?
Real estate was something I’d always wanted to do, but my husband was a little scared [for my safety].
Going into strange apartments with strange men could be a problem.
I stay on the island [of Manhattan]. And I just don’t take out anyone who is a weirdo at all. And we focus in on more expensive places. I’m not gonna get the Craigslist killer.
Is there a neighborhood you focus on?
I kinda focus on [the renter]. I live Downtown, so I’ve been doing a lot there, but before that would probably be the Upper East Side. There is more inventory there. But it’s like hair. You can go to one person who can screw it up and the next person just gets it.
What’s the next step for you?
Sales, commercial. That’s where the money is. Rentals is like, “turn ’em and burn ’em.” But commercial is kind of more difficult for a woman.
What’s worse, airplane passengers or real estate clients?
I would say passengers, because they are stressed out and worried over nothing. They are nervous. And mean. I’ve had people straight up cuss me out for saying, “Put your shade up, put your seat belt on.” But you have to do it, because [airlines] are constantly sending “ghost riders,” who sit and take notes [on flight attendants’ behavior]. … They have weight requirements too. And they make you do all these exercises. They black the plane out and fill it with smoke and make you climb along the floor to find all this stuff in the dark, blindfolded. … The final test [is] a 12 step [drill] like you are going to crash. You have to take your pantyhose off so they won’t melt to your leg.
Is being an independent contractor refreshing? No one can tell you to wear lipstick, at least.
It is refreshing to make my own schedule. If I need a day off, I can take it. But there are other stresses, like, you don’t know how much money you are going to make. And clients get so scared. You have to convince them… And sometimes when you really know your inventory, at least you can say, “this is the best dump out of all of them.”
How did you choose Bond?
I worked for another company before and it was horrendous.
Ardor [New York]. They are insane. I was not making any money with them. So I just went on Bond’s website, and I liked the design and I just thought they had … a more sophisticated look.