January 3, 2014

The Moms Of Real Estate: Part 3


In the third installment of our “Parents & Real Estate” series we chat with two NYC moms-and real estate veterans-about what “home” means to them.

By Eric Messinger


Over the course of the last few months, we have introduced you to eight local mothers, who also happen to be super stars in the big bad world of NYC real estate. We asked them about their personal and professional lives—touching on everything from their career milestones to their fave spots in the city to unwind with family. Readers valued their unique perspectives—which were shaped as much by their roles as parents as their sense of work savvy. Read on for our latest installment, which features a pair of moms who, once again, graciously share their tips and tales.

Katie McConnaughey with her husband and her daughter, Willa; photo by Khaki Bedford Photography

Katie McConnaughey with her husband and her daughter, Willa; photo by Khaki Bedford Photography

Katie McConnaughey, Vice President, Account Services at RODE Advertising

Describe your main professional responsibilities.
I work with my clients on brand development, product positioning, media planning, and executing marketing strategies. I manage the design process for logos, brochures, websites, leasing displays, ads, and all marketing materials, ensuring all is delivered on time, in budget, and looking gorgeous.

What do you love most about your job? What are its biggest challenges?
I love a lot of things about my job. I guess one of the things I like most is the pace. I know people that spend their days trying to look busy in front of their bosses. I certainly don’t have that problem, and would never want it. The days at RODE whiz by, and I’m usually left feeling smug about the amount of work I did.

Tell us about a project you consider one of your career highlights.
Crystal Point Condos in Jersey City, a 42-story waterfront condominium, was the first building that I worked on start to finish (from naming and branding the community, all the way through to sell out). It ended on a high note, with our team winning the 2010 [National Association of Home Builders] award for “Community of the Year.”

What neighborhood and in what kind of housing do you live?
I live in Sunnyside Queens! Queens gets a bad wrap. But we—my husband and I—feel like we got in on the neighborhood early. We still feel like it’s one of Queens’ best kept secrets. We live in an 1100-square-foot 2-bedroom apartment. It is in one of the typical 6-story brick buildings.

What do you like most about your neighborhood? What do you like least?
The things I like most are: It’s 15 minutes to Grand Central Station on the 7 train. There are really great grocery stores—the freshest produce at great prices. There is a park across the street with an awesome rainbow sprinkler for hot days—I can see it out my window. There are a bunch of really nice tree lined streets—making for nice walks. But we need more daycare options, especially for children under 2 years.

What do you like most about your home? What do you like least?
Well, I live in an old building. Sometimes I like that (for the character aspect), but sometimes I don’t (because the elevator breaks down and there are 5 million coats of paint on the walls).

Tell us about your family and about some of the neighborhood places and activities you like to share with them.
We have one sweet, great-sleeping 16-month-old baby girl. Her name is Willa Babic—no middle name—Eastern Europeans don’t have a middle name. Willa’s father is from the former Yugoslavia. On the days I don’t have to commute into the city, we have coffee, fresh baked empanadas, and cheese breads at Mira Cali—an amazing authentic Colombian bakery just a few blocks from my apartment.

What advice would you give to families who are debating whether to raise city kids or move to the burbs?  
Let me first say that the ‘burbs and city both have their benefits. For us, we prefer to raise our child in the city. It is easy to confuse what is better for the child, with what’s easier for the parents. It is true that accomplishing simple tasks is often harder, more expensive, and more time-consuming in the city, but to the kid it doesn’t really matter. Those difficulties are offset by the exposure to diverse arts, languages, food, museums, programs, and activities.

 

Christine Miller Martin with her daughter, Phoebe.

Christine Miller Martin with her daughter, Phoebe.

Christine Miller Martin, Real Estate Broker and New York Residential Specialist at Warburg Realty

What do you love most about your job? What are its biggest challenges?
First, I love the people I work with at Warburg. I really look forward to coming to work each day. Second, I love working with my clients. I am acutely aware that I am advising an individual, couple, or family on their single largest investment, and I take that responsibility very seriously. Finally, I love that I work for myself. Of course, the flip side to being an independent contractor is something surprisingly few people realize about brokers: we make no salary and there are no benefits.

Do you have any personal rules or priorities to help you balance work and home life?
Like most working women, I don’t balance, I juggle. My life’s priority is the health, happiness and welfare of my 12-year-old daughter, Phoebe. She is my inspiration and motivation for everything I do. I have been very blessed to have recently gotten engaged to a wonderful man, so we are in the midst of creating our very own “Modern Family”—made all the more fitting as he’s Colombian [like one of the show’s characters, Gloria]! While I occasionally have to be out in the evening for an event, most nights we have a dinner at the dining room table with grace led by Phoebe.

What neighborhood and in what kind of housing do you live?
Until very recently, my daughter and I lived in a small, intimate pre-war co-op building on the Upper East Side off Park Avenue. Sadly, it wasn’t big enough for the three of us. Our new home is very different and is located in a luxury condominium on East 57th Street. It is larger, minimalist, with wonderful light and spectacular views of the Plaza, the Sherry Netherland, and Central Park.

What are some of the neighborhood places and activities you like to share with your daughter?
Now that we’re spending more time in Midtown, Serafina, Philippe, Park Avenue Café, and Bottega del Vino are our new “hangout” places.

What do you like most about your neighborhood?
I have to tell you that I have found Midtown East to be a pleasant surprise. Selfishly it is a just a few blocks from my office and to my new three-bedroom exclusive at the Ritz Tower making showings a breeze, but it is also close to many of the restaurants and institutions that I frequent. The Madison and 5th Avenue buses have proven very convenient for my daughter’s commute to school. There’s a Whole Foods a few blocks away and just as many Duane Reades and Starbucks as our old stomping grounds. We’re still close to the Park, which is key.

What advice do you have for families thinking of moving out of the city?
This one hits home, as about a decade ago I tried living in Westchester and it lasted about nine months! It’s really a question of lifestyle. For those who still seem gung-ho on the idea, I suggest the following: One, stay with a friend, relative, or bed & breakfast in the area and do the commute. Consider renting for a year first to make sure you like suburban living. Two, wait until your children are school-age before you move so you can quickly assimilate into the community. Three, have you considered Brooklyn?

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