Every Mann’s Real Estate Shares 20 Years of Industry Wisdom
by Charlie Finnerty
Alan Mann has been in Queens real estate for two decades, focusing on the neighborhoods he has known since growing up in Elmhurst. As a true expert in Queens real estate, he knows just about every home in the area and now shares his experience and knowledge in his weekly “Every Mann’s Real Estate” video series where he does bite-sized deep dives into the industry.
“I literally knew just about every brick in Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Briarwood before from the outside, now I know them all from the inside,” Mann said. “You do 300, 400 transactions and you’ve probably sold a lot of the houses in these areas, but more importantly, I’ve probably sold three or four co-ops in every building.”
Like many New Yorkers, Mann said one of the things he loves the most about his Forest Hills neighborhood is access to transportation.
“I’m probably the only realtor that doesn’t own a home. I’ve been living in a rent-stabilized apartment for the last 40 years,” Mann said. “What I’ve always loved about Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens is that we don’t get in the car every day. I don’t think I physically could live somewhere where I had to get in a car to get a quart of milk.”
Mann has lived two lives, his first as a traveling shoe sales representative for 20 years and now with the same amount of time spent in real estate. Neither line of work offers a steady scheduled paycheck, meaning he has always been reliant on his ability to secure a commission to pay the bills. His wife has a rare disability and has been unable to work for some time.
“In the businesses I’ve been in, being a rep on the road or being a realtor, if you don’t realize that you need to live beneath your means, you’re stupid,” Mann said. “Sometimes you don’t get a paycheck for three months, it’s a scary thing.”
After exiting the shoe sales business, he spent months applying for jobs before coming across a pamphlet advertising adult-education real estate classes.
“There was a pamphlet downstairs in my building. Debbie, my wife, brought it up,” Mann said. “She said, ‘Look, they give a real estate course two nights a week at Forest Hills High. Why don’t you go over and maybe you’ll get into it? At least he’ll get you out of the house.’”
Mann recalls his teacher telling the class that it would not be a fast-track course to get their license as easily as possible, but rather a place to properly learn the real estate business.
“I became that guy. Remember that guy or girl in high school you hated? They sat in the front of the class and said ‘Oh! Oh! Oh!’ at every question? I became that guy in the class, there was something about it,” Mann said.
Mann and Debbie continued to scour newspaper job listings while he prepared for his license exam and came across a listing at a real estate agency looking for new hires. Mann called the number on the listing and when the manager picked up the phone, talked with her for about half an hour about the business before telling her that he had not been licensed yet.
“She went quiet. I said, ‘Are you there?’ and she said, ‘Well yeah but Alan I’m not even supposed to talk to you until you have your license, but there’s this very strange thing.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ and she told me, ‘I’ve been in the business 30 years and you’re the best prepared person I’ve ever spoken to.’”
The manager told Mann she was confident he would pass the test with a perfect score. He called her back once he was licensed and was hired the next day.
“When you work for a mom and pop realtor, the things you don’t get that you would get at a big company is the training,” Mann said. “I learned real estate all by myself. You’re bringing all your own signs to open houses, everything you do is very much your own self.”
Today, Mann works at national industry powerhouse Douglas Elliman where he is still devoted to suburban residential sales in the same Queens neighborhoods he has always known and loved.
“I always knew I’d never be the top agent here,” Elliman said. “In the Hamptons the houses are all $10 million, in the city the co-ops are all $4 million, while I’m dealing with studios that are $100,000.”
Mann said the unique relationship of a hyper-local real estate agent keeps him connected to the communities he serves while he looks forward to closing the last few years of his career.
“The business is really a crapshoot but, at the same time, it’s very rewarding,” Mann said. “You don’t realize the benefits of finding somebody a home. How that binds you with them forever.”