How long have you been in real estate?
A long time! I graduated college with a degree in economics, and right after graduation I went straight into real estate.
What influenced that decision?
My mother’s been in the business for almost forty years, so it just felt natural. I had first-hand experience, and once I graduated I realized it was something I wanted to do. So, I went into Century 21 and I was in that office for 21 years – then I went independent, and I’ve been doing quite well.
Do you think that it’s a family business?
Absolutely. My mother was in real estate. I’m in real estate. My brothers are in real estate. What I’m most thankful for is that my daughter Christina is part of my real estate team, Amorelli Realty, along with Lauren Cornea.
What about real estate draws your family and team in?
We’re people people and it’s a people business. If you like to deal with people and help people, it’s great for you. We have a nice family feel in our office. Also, it’s honestly rewarding to get people in the house of their dreams. They come to you with this vision, or this want, and you’re able to bring it to life for them.
You’ve been in the Astoria real estate market for so long – how have you seen it change?
When I first started, Astoria was a really small mom and pop shop town. It went from that to this happening city venue where everyone wants to be. It went from one and two family houses sprinkled with a few buildings, to an area with lots of high end condo buildings.
Do you have any memorable homes that you sold?
One of the most memorable was that my team and I recently sold the Steinway Mansion. It was built in 1851, and has been in the same family for three generations – so it was really an honor to be a part of something so big.
Other than that, the people and stories are more memorable. Once, I was helping a woman sell her house. She was probably in her 80’s, and I visited her home. When I looked on the TV, she had this tin picture of a soldier – and when I asked who it was, she told me it was her grandfather, who had fought in the civil war. There are so many things to learn, and so many fascinating stories for people to tell.
You’re also involved in QSAC (Quality Services for the Autistic Community); can you tell us about that?
I’m a proud father of two sons and two daughters – and one of my sons is autistic. At three, he started getting services from QSAC. He really inspired me to get involved with the community, and to find a way to make a difference. I started getting involved, and 15 years ago they invited me to the board – I’m now the Vice President of the organization.
What does QSAC do?
They provide amazing services for those with autism. Some of the things they offer are one on one training, daily living skills, and computer skills.
You also do a special fundraiser each year – can you tell us about that?
I do! I shave my mustache. Here’s how it all started – I had a mustache for 35 years, and one day it occurred to me that people shave their heads for cancer, and it got me thinking! I wondered if anyone would pay me for shaving my mustache – and it turns out they would! In the first year, we asked Astoria Federal Savings Bank for $1,000 – and they donated. In just three years, we raised $55,000. This year was the fourth, and each year it’s held at the Redken Saloon.
Paul Halvatzis, Associate Broker