By Robin Jovanovich
Sometimes, the best place to have a conversation with Mary Kmetz, mother of four and associate real estate broker at Houlihan Lawrence, is when she’s in her car. “It’s quieter here than in my house,” she said with a laugh.
Real estate wasn’t her first career. In 2001, she graduated from Fordham Law School and was practicing law when her first daughter was born. “But the combination of the commute to the city, the frequent late nights, and an unsympathetic boss got me thinking about going in a different direction,” she explained.
When Joan O’Meara asked Mary to join her team at Houlihan five years ago, she jumped at the chance.
“What’s great about being part of a team is that each of us is connected to the community differently and brings a unique approach.”
Last year, her team was part of 68 transactions, a banner year. This year, her team is working even harder trying to find homes for an unprecedented number of buyers looking to move out of the city and an equal number of buyers from Rye and environs looking to upsize. “The inventory is not going to quench that thirst,” she acknowledged.
How does she juggle family and work? “For starters, a babysitter who is out of this world and has been with us for 14 years; a mother who lives in New Rochelle; sisters who live in Greenwich; and a helpful husband who is still working from home two days a week.” She added, “For a recent open house, I needed a last-minute assistant, and my 14-year-old daughter was great.”
What Mary loves about real estate is meeting new people and helping young families make one of the biggest transactions of their lives. “I am a conscientious person and very organized. Clients like that.”
Mary Kmetz keeps it all together by taking time, finding an hour every day to clear her head. She’s an avid runner who somehow finds time to run five days a week — without her cell phone.
Like Mary, Jennifer Reddington started off as a lawyer, in her case with the Department of Veteran Affairs. “Growing up in the South, there were three career lanes — doctor, lawyer, teacher — and I chose law. But I grew up in a real estate family and always felt comfortable in that world.”
When Jennifer and her husband moved to Rye and decided to have a family, she wanted a career that didn’t require traveling. “My husband works for Goldman Sachs in downtown Manhattan, and I wanted to be local,” she said.
She too is part of a team, The Georgio Reddington team at Compass. “There are six of us, all with big long-term goals. Compass encourages its agents to make their own business and it’s great to be surrounded by people who work so hard.”
The enterprising mother of two young children, ages 3 and 11 months, said the busier she gets, the more she realizes she has to let go — and outsource! “If you’re burned out, you’re no good for your kids. My son Collier is already sitting at my desk explaining he’s working, like his mother. Luckily, my in-laws live nearby, and we have great help, but I’m beginning to understand why many mothers go into real estate when their children are all in school!”
With the rental market “completely depleted” and immediate bidding wars when a new listing comes on, Jennifer spends a big part of her day calming clients down. “They want to buy a house, but do they really want to invest that much in that house? I recommend patience, and while they’re counting the days to an open house, I’m looking for off-market properties for them.”
She added, “I’m thankful to be part of a supportive team, and grateful not to have a pet just yet!”
For six years, June Hatch, a Parsons graduate, designed women’s clothes, the eponymous June Collection, which she sold in a second-floor boutique on Purchase Street.
“It was great, but then the babies got in the way, and I got into real estate, with my sisters,” she explained. The babies are now 11, 9, and 6 (twins).
June puts her design skills to good use as part of the April May June team at Compass. “I help when it comes to the interiors and do most of the marketing.”
Now that her four daughters are all in school full time, she says it’s somewhat easier balancing work and life but “a realtor can’t just say she’s showing properties on Wednesday afternoons. Realtors may have nothing going on until they are inundated, as we are now.”
When she’s needed help with the four kids, she’s leaned on the community — tot drop at the Rye Y, afterschool program at Resurrection. “Sure, I’ve had to bring one or more of them with me at the last minute and have had to impress upon them to behave while they wait in the car when I’m showing a house, but I’m glad they see their mom working and understand what that involves.”
Selling real estate if you’re a young mom may also entail locking yourself in a bathroom if you’re on an important call, June shared.
June Hatch loves her life and her husband, “a hands-on father who works locally and is on duty on weekends.” She doesn’t even mind the fact that some clients confuse her with her sister April. “We’re a sister act.”
Elizabeth Buckley Nace grew up in Rye real estate. Her mother, Fran Buckley, is a longtime and successful realtor at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s, which is the firm she joined after getting her real estate license in 2017.
She has fond memories of doing homework in the conference room at Sotheby’s, as well as in the back of the car while her mom showed a house. “I have always loved houses and I got an early and first-rate education in real estate.”
After graduating from college with a degree in early childhood education, Elizabeth was hired as a recruiter, first on the agency side, then on the retail brand side. When she decided she wasn’t going back to work in that field, because she had started a family and that family — now ages 6, 4, 2, and “new” — was growing, she realized that helping her mom would be a great segue into real estate. And it has benefited both mother and daughter because Elizabeth is on the ground when Fran is in Florida or traveling.
Elizabeth said that the secret to having a family and a career in real estate is “working when the kids are in school or asleep; having an amazing nanny 30 hours a week; and having a husband who runs his own company, has an office within walking distance of mine, and is always ready to help when he can.”
It’s also about the people you work for, she added. “The first thing Pati Holmes, our wonderful leader and manager, told me when I arrived at Sotheby’s was: “You and your mom are here to help each other. I don’t want to set you up as a team. You two will figure it out.” Elizabeth Buckley Nace hopes to have a long career in real estate, like her mom. “To that end, I’m making sure I build lasting relationships and a good reputation. Most of my clients are young families and I make sure they know they can count on me to help them make smart decisions, good investments.”