Following the money, NY brokers seek licenses in other states

New Jersey, Florida drawing interest from city agents

As more New Yorkers escape to the suburbs or Florida, some of their brokers are going with them. (iStock)
As more New Yorkers escape to the suburbs or Florida, some of their brokers are going with them. (iStock)

Allan Zapadinsky describes himself as a “Brooklyn boy, born and raised.” Or at least he did, until he moved to New Jersey.

Even then, as a real estate agent with Keller Williams, he focused on Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit and he noticed buyers moving in the tri-state area, that also changed.

“I still love the city. Don’t get me wrong, we still do a lot of business there,” Zapadinsky said. “It’s just that some priorities have changed for me personally, and I want to be able to help the people that are also seeing their priorities change.”

Zapadinsky is one of many New York brokers who have recently decided to get licensed in another state.

A good number are simply following the money. As New Yorkers look for more space, the suburbs have seen increased demand — and not enough supply to keep prices from rising.

The median sales price of New Jersey homes in July was nearly 8 percent greater than it was a year ago, while supply was 42 percent lower, according to New Jersey Realtors’ monthly indicators report.

“New York City’s having a super weird moment for a year or two, and it seems that the tri-state area is just bidding war after bidding war,” said Rachel Kelly, an agent with Keller Williams pursuing a New Jersey license. “So I needed to probably have a second stream of revenue.”

Some had already planned to get licensed elsewhere. Daniel Blatman of Triplemint was considering opening an office in his home state of Ohio. However, after some clients lost faith in the stock market and decided to invest in New Jersey housing, he started studying up.

“I’m looking at how can I really help all of my clients create their wealth solution in the best possible way. And I saw New Jersey creating a unique opportunity to be able to help all of my clients across different price points, across different demographics,” Blatman said.

Though Blatman lives in Manhattan, he sees driving to New Jersey house showings as office time. He plans to split his week between New York and New Jersey, and make calls in the car.

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Other brokers have more distance to cover.

Florida has seen a surge in license applications — 5,936 in July, for example, up 29 percent from 4,613 in the same month last year, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Although it’s unknown what percentage are from the city, New Yorkers are in the mix.

Kobi Lahav, a senior managing director at Living NY, described growing tired of increasingly referring clients to brokers in other states.

“It made me look around and say, ‘You know what? There are a lot of opportunities,’” Lahav said. “A lot of my clients with a second home [in Florida] will probably need to sell it and buy something more serious” if they make Florida their primary residence.

Bonnie Brown, an agent with Bond, did not expect to be seeking a license in Florida. The New Yorker was in Florida planning to sell a Florida house she inherited when the pandemic hit. But after talking to agents in the area, she decided to spend her winters working in the Sunshine State.

“It seems like the stars are all telling me something,” Brown said.

But Mark Chin, the CEO of Keller Williams, warns that without the right support, agents can feel overwhelmed expanding to a new market.

“You run the risk of doing a fairly mediocre job in two places instead of a great job in one place,” Chin said.

However, he said if agents can set up the proper team, “it’s an incredibly profitable business.”

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