NOW TEN YEARS AFTER OPENING A FIRST OFFICE, THIS BROKER HAS GROWN HER REAL ESTATE BUSINESS TO THREE LOCATIONS AND 60 AGENTS, YET SHE STILL OPERATES “LIKE A SMALL, MOM AND POP AGENCY”
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
Lana Walsh Falcicchio, the proprietor of real estate agency, Boutique Realty, confessed that, in younger years, she had little interest in that field of business. The Loyola College graduate had plans to put her degree in finance to work in other areas, when a friend of her father’s approached her about getting a real estate license. She initially shrugged off the idea, but he was persistent.
“I was working for my dad’s car business at the time,” explained Falcicchio. “A friend of his kept pestering me to get a license. I wasn’t interested at all, but finally told him, ‘If you pay for it, I’ll get it!’”
He agreed, and Falcicchio kept up her end of the bargain. After passing the state licensing exam, she called her sponsor to inform him. He then invited her to learn about a project his construction company was working on in Hoboken, and she left that meeting with a job.
“I didn’t even know I was going on an interview, but it felt right,” she said with a smile.
As a sales associate, Falcicchio gained firsthand experience with onsite construction and started making connections with other realtors in the area. After two years with the small company (which, during her tenure, was purchased by Toll Brothers, a Fortune 500 luxury home builder based out of Pennsylvania), she began to crave a change of professional scenery. In 2005, she joined a small, female owned brokerage firm selling new construction while simultaneously pursuing an MBA. It was during this time that her future vocational direction would become even more clear.
“There were five girls in the office, and I was the youngest one by far,” she said. “During my four years there, I organically took over the office. The owner was settling down, and I was happy to learn that part of the business. It was natural to me; I come from a family of entrepreneurs.”
When the owner retired and the office closed, Falcicchio felt the natural next step was to transition into opening a brokerage of her own. With six years’ experience in the bag, she felt she had the training, the professional relationships, and the drive. The one thing she didn’t possess that the country didn’t possess at the time was a strong housing sector.
“It was 2009, and the market was in a frenzy, but I saw that as an opportunity,” she said. “Even if it was scary, I thought I could take my time and learn what I hadn’t already learned. Maybe I didn’t know any better. I was young, and I didn’t have anything to lose [laughs].”
She wasted no time. Despite the recession, Falcicchio was able to successfully open a first office that same year in her childhood hometown of Jersey City. She began with a tiny team that included two former co workers from her previous agency. She crafted a business model that weathered the housing market crisis, and in 2011, Boutique Realty opened a second location in Hoboken. After another four years, the Red Bank extension opened its doors.
Though her brokerage is now 60 agents strong, spread out over three offices, Falcicchio still runs the business, she explained, with the same personalized commitment that she had on day one. Her expertise extends beyond the standard market and sell, too including offering developers services like strategic marketing and design consulting.
“We’re non franchised,” she said. “We still have that mom and pop feeling of a big extended family. Normally, you have a project and once it’s completed, you hire an agent, she puts up a sign, and sells it. We like to get involved from day one. We treat a project like it’s our baby. Because we see what people like and what’s out there, we’ll work with a developer’s architect to advise them on floor plans and design, for example. We can tell them that people like an open kitchen, or a washer and dryer in this location. We don’t just market our firm and the agent, we also try to market the developer and the actual project.”
And for the buyers, the 16 year industry veteran and her agents work one on one and extensively to ease shopping anxiety. In fact, helping them decide and find the perfect home is one of the most rewarding aspects of her professional life, Falcicchio explained.
“As a business owner, when I get people who tell me what a great experience they’ve had through one of our agents, that’s the ultimate compliment,” she said. “On the personal side, when I’m selling someone something and they are just getting married, buying their first home, or moving into a new home because they just had a baby, I actually get to be a part of these big life moments. A lot of clients become friends. You just feel special getting to be a part of their lives in this way.”
As the industry continues to shift and evolve, so does Falcicchio’s business. Over the past two years, she has begun to focus on more commercial properties, a new target for the 10 year old agency.
“Up until two years ago, we were 95% residential,” she explained, “but in the last couple of years we’ve been doing more and more commercial. We do industrial, vacant land, development sites, retail rentals, etc. It’s a new and different thing for me, and I’ve become fascinated by it.”
215 Newark Avenue, Jersey City / 201.433.5500
537 Garden Street, Hoboken / 201.533.0050
16 W Front Street, Red Bank / 732.933.1900