Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Dating and Renting in NYC: a Tale of Moxy

Location: New York City

Mileage: 4,338 (plus multiple miles traversing the city on foot, cab, subway, and carriage)

Music: Gramercy Tavern special (calamari and carrot salad, trout with fava)

Music: “Good Fortune” by PJ Harvey

The urban frenzy and harshness of New York is for the thick skinned and steel clad.  Until I arrived here, I had only been met with soft open arms, motivational quotes, and encouragement to keep listening, writing, and transforming.  I felt as if I were living inside my own self-help book.  In New York, however, I was met with skeptical smirks and rejection replies.  My inbox became filled with “No’s” from female artists, traders, and marketers I had hoped to speak with.  Even the NYPD denied me an interview, my promises to buy donuts futile.  I became discouraged, daunted, and for the first time in a month started to question my own path and the purpose of all these stories.  To gain motivation to keep going I felt I needed inspiration on two things that were harder to do in NYC than write a book; navigate the dating scene and find an apartment.

Thus I entered the Bond New York Properties Real Estate office and asked to speak with a female broker.

Kira, a raven haired woman with intimidating python heels, introduced herself and promised to give me the insights and inspiration I so craved.

“Well, I can see why you want to interview women in New York-we all have nine lives,” she said with a smile.  In her 29 years, Kira had worked in television production, bridal wear, couture fashion, and now real estate.

A career of a New York Real Estate Broker requires unparalleled speed, agility and “moxy.”  Like the dating scene, the real estate market is not for the soft hearted.  Kira tells me that the two challenging endeavors have three main features in common:

  • Each is highly competitive, one must be aggressive to get what one wants
  • Everyone is always trying to trade up, commitment to the ‘first one’ doesn’t last as one’s status in life changes
  • In each “unit” there are flaws, perfection does not exist.  However only the wise know that it is those flaws that give the unmistakable character you’ll fall in love with

Although mastering dating is still a work in process, Kira is a natural in the real estate market.

“I’m a hustler.  I work quick.  I am your 4th quarter quarterback,” Kira said.  “Someone can come needing a place to live in 24 hours with no social security number and I’ll get it for them!”

With a consistent short supply of units, the Manhattan rental market is one of the toughest in the world.  With keys to coveted apartments across town, Kira feels like brokers are like “the best looking girl in school lining up prom dates.” Since the market is competitive, many landlords put huge demands on aspiring renters.  “If you don’t have certain things like proven income, credit, in state residence, some landlords will charge you huge fees,” she said.  Kira told me the story of one girl who was a graduate student from California.

“She was out of state and had no income.  She called me in tears because she wasn’t going to be able to get a place unless she paid a $25,000 upfront.”  Kira felt poorly for the girl, rushed around to find a vacancy, and refused to charge her the astronomical fees.

Kira says that many renter’s needs, such as breakups, drive an urgency and meaning to her job that is hard to find elsewhere.  “There was a girl that had just broken up with her boyfriend and was crying in my office,” said Kira.  “I needed to get her out and move her right away.”

While Kira likes helping women in need, sshe finds most men challenging, especially those that work in finance and are used to negotiating deals. She calls the Wall Street men ‘The Brooks Brothers Blue Shirts.”

“They are used to winning,” Kira said.

In addition, they are used to working in fast paced male dominated spaces, where politically correct negotiations with woman are rare.

“Basically they either try to screw me or screw me over,” she said shaking her head.

Of course the ‘Blue Shirts’ do not know they are dealing with a tough girl that will play hardball.  Kira credits her mother for giving her such a tenacious sprit.

Kira’s mother is a strong entrepreneurial hippy that was a major influence on her life.  “She had a fruit and nut company when she was 21,” Kira recalls. “Then a woodstove business. Next a bridal line.” In addition to running the bridal line, Kira’s mom is an Astrologer.  “When I was growing up I always wanted a normal name like Stephanie and a normal mother that made pies.  I also wanted the traditional Jewish mom that would tell me what to do.  But mine never did, she just asked me what I wanted to do.”

“But now I have that moxy,” said Kira. “I wouldn’t have had this if my mother would not have taught me to think for myself.”

Kira’s moxy was tested when her fiancé broke off their engagement a few years ago.  Kira describes her ex-fiancée as someone who was “good on paper” and a great “box to check” but became controlling with a terrible temper once they lived together.  ‘We lived in a studio…oh when the doors would slam!” Kira recalls.  “He wanted me to change everything about myself.” He even wanted Kira to delete her past, magically alternating parts of her history he found uncouth and perhaps with a bit too much ‘moxy.’

I asked Kira how the relationship ended. “He made a list of all the things I shouldn’t do…and naturally I did every one of them.”  When they decided to break off their engagement, Kira knew that the pressure to change her core identity was over.   However, even though the end was for the best, the breakup was hard for Kira to process.  “I am loyal to a fault and when I commit to someone, I commit 100%, whether it’s finding them an apartment or marrying them. Plus when you are in love you want to fight for the relationship.”  Kira went to her mother for advice. Her mother, true to her nature, simply told Kira to listen to herself, understand her own boundaries and move forward.  And Kira did, resolving to find men that loved her for who she was. Not that it’s easy in exhausting Manhattan.  However, Kira isn’t the type of woman to sit around and wait for love to knock on her door.  She views living as a big grand adventure, and is planning out her next life phase after brokering is done.  “I am learning to ride a motorcycle…..oh and I am am working more on my charcoal drawings.”  Kira was very inspired by William Kentridge’s Spring exhibit at the MoMA and feels art will continually be important in her life.  She mentions that Van Gough didn’t become a painter until his 29th year, an example of how our true artistic selves sometimes do not reveal themselves until we are adults.  Kira is about to turn 30 and looking to do the “next right thing” by listening to the signs and listening to herself.

“My theme for my 30th is this quote—“We need to let go of the life we planned so that we can live the life that has been waiting for us.”

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“Dating and Renting in NYC: a Tale of Moxy”

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