February 22nd 2012
Bonnie Chajet, Senior Vice President, Warburg Realty
When Bonnie Chajet started out in the real estate business 34 years ago, New York was a different sort of city.
“59th and Park Avenue was considered downtown! You can see how the neighborhood has changed, from Chelsea, Wall Street, Tribeca, to Harlem. All of these places are interesting and adhere to a different buyer,” the New York broker recalled.
Chajet, now a senior vice president and partner at Warburg Realty, was born and raised in New York City. She and business associate and fellow Warburg broker Ronnie Lane have one of the longest running real estate partnerships in the business.
Their friendship began before their foray into real estate. While Chajet juggled a career in communications with being a mother of two, she and Lane realized they could create a support system for each other.
“We worked together to help each other out. If one of us was in a meeting, or kids had a program, we would cover for one another.”
The first real estate firm they joined was Sylvia Edwin, LLC – then Sulzberger Rolfe – and later Albert Ashforth, which became Warburg Realty. They became partners at Warburg in 1991.
“My children were in school, my husband was in real estate at the time, and I thought this might be a good field for me. I was born in New York, had contacts, and knew it was a field I would excel in,” said Chajet.
Nearly four decades later, Chajet is a top-performing broker whose listings include a six-bedroom co-op at 1030 Fifth Avenue priced at $35 million and a four-bedroom at 760 Park for $13.77 million.
“When we started, apartments were never selling because of prices – and an apartment on Park Avenue sold for $78,000 back then,” she said.
“New York real estate has escalated beyond belief. I remember the surprise when prices went over a million. That property is now worth more than $6 million.”
Chajet explained the staggering price change as the basic principle of economics. “There’s international demand for Manhattan now. There’s more demand than supply, and that’s what fuels the market. There are more people to buy things, but limited resources.”
Even after years of experience selling luxury condos, Chajet works hard at providing homes to those who truly need them. She serves on the board for Women In Need, and organization with a mission statement to provide housing, help and hope to New York City women and their families who are homeless and disadvantaged.
“We place them in homes, try to give them skills to get out there on their own, find housing and find jobs,” she said.
“We have had a lot of success with a lot of women. We try to build esteem, take care of them, and get them on their feet. In New York, so many people are unaware of this plight, and it is a tragic thing.”
Chajet’s passion for her work has rubbed of on her daughter, Lisa, who followed her path and is also a successful broker at Warburg.
Married to her husband Clive for 46 years and with two granddaughters, Chajet said the ever-changing dynamics of the New York market – including the arrival on the scene of reality TV continues to excite her.
After appearing on an episode of the hit HGTV show Selling New York, she said she was amazed by how many people from all over the country called her afterwards.
“I love everything about the business and all of the people you meet in it. The only thing I wish for in the future is more of the same.”