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10 Questions With 'Million Dollar Listing' Agent Katherine Salyi

Known as the "Mommy Broker" among the New York real estate set, Katherine Salyi not only balances a career as part of Bravo TV's "Million Dollar Listing New York" team, she also navigates the Big Apple with her husband and 2-1/2-year-old daughter Julianna in tow.

Salyi admits that the juggle is "a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work and very time consuming, so it gets tricky."

Which makes sense to us. After all, Salyi and "Million Dollar Listing New York" star Ryan Serhant lead Nest Seekers International, the most successful real estate team in New York state, according to Real Trends' annual real estate rankings, with $375 million in sales in the last year alone.

We caught up with the busy mom and New York native, who champions time management as well as job flexibility, and reveals her real-estate tips and advice for young women who are just starting their careers.

Tell us how you got into real estate and landed such a great position at Nest Seekers International.

I started in real estate right out of college, which was 15 years ago, and it was just a natural progression to get my real estate license, which was in 2012. I started at a small firm downtown (New York City), and I got my first sale listing, and that's where I met Ryan Serhant, and he recruited me over to his team.

"Million Dollar Listing New York" hadn't started yet, and he was just building a team and saw something in me that he liked, which he still talks about today. Just the motivation and the research that I put into things, the way that I followed up with him. I accepted the opportunity, and here I am.

I know your job is very high pressure. How do you make sure your work stress doesn't invade your life as a mom?

It's not easy, that's for sure. I think everybody has a little bit of overlap, but I really tend to make my daughter Julianna my first priority, so I really need to be conscious of being stressed. If I'm working at home and I have a problem or a situation that is a little more intense, I have to make sure to take a deep breath when I'm finished with it and refocus to being home with my family.

Many new parents are looking to buy a house right now. In some parts of the country, housing prices are through the proverbial roof. What's your advice for new parents who want to get into the real-estate market?

My suggestion is to do it if you can. If you have enough money for a down payment, it's a great investment, and it's really a way to build a foundation for your future. It's a great thing that real estate prices are still going up, and if you can take advantage of that, it's a smart idea.

You have to take control of your time because you're your own boss, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing.

What's your take on the idea of working moms being able to have it all?

I guess it depends on your definition of having it all. I love my job because it is quite flexible, and I have the benefit of making my own schedule. But in order to capitalize on that, I really need to have good time management skills and be able to prioritize—I think that's one of the biggest struggles working moms have.

Real estate is a great industry for moms, because you can have that flexibility. So "having it all," to me, is just being able to get my daughter from daycare if she's sick and stay home with her and make my schedule change around that circumstance, or being able to pick her up from daycare and take two hours off and make her dinner and spend some time with her and then work after bedtime. I like that I have that flexibility, and I make it work to my advantage, just by managing my time throughout the rest of the day.

What's your advice for moms who want to get into real estate as a career?

I would encourage it because it really is a great job for moms and for people in general who have families. You can make your own schedule and have it work to your advantage. Again, I do think you have to be good at prioritizing—you have to take control of your time because you're your own boss, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing.

When you're looking for a property for yourself, what are your real estate "must-haves" for you and your family?

I did just buy a home almost three years ago, so I have been through it just recently. And I was just having my daughter. For me and for a lot of expecting parents that I work with, it's important to have a washer/dryer, which sounds like it's not a luxury, but in New York City it really is. And also the building itself is a big factor in New York City, so the accessibility in and out with the stroller—where are you going to put the stroller once you get home, things like that, are probably overlooked outside of the city in the suburbs.

But also for me, we wanted something with a lot of light and that was in a neighborhood that was conducive to having a child, so we live close to a couple of parks and our neighborhood is becoming more family-friendly every day, and that's really great.

What's your favorite part of being on the "Million Dollar Listing" team?

It changes every day, and so it definitely keeps the job interesting. And the ability to work with different types of buyers. I have the luxury that I can work with buyers and renters in a very wide price range, and so I think the sheer amount of interest we get from the TV show—we get a lot of clients and buyers contacting us—and it's just really great to have that flexibility and exposure that I wouldn't have if I wasn't part of the team.

What's your biggest challenge as a luxury real estate agent?

I think the challenge as a working mom is it's time-consuming. There are things that come up last minute that you need to be available for and if I have a buyer that wants to see one of my listings and it happens to be dinner time, I need to rearrange my schedule to make that happen. For me, I'm really grateful to have the luxury that my husband Josh is usually home in the evening as well so we can balance out who's home with our daughter after hours.

What do you do on your days off around New York?

Days off are tricky, right? You never have an actual day off in real estate. We live in West Chelsea, and it's really nice that there are a lot of art galleries, and they're all free, which is amazing. We can just walk around a few blocks from our apartment and see art for free. It's an easy thing to do to get outside. We love to go shopping together. We live near the meatpacking district, and the High Line park is a block away from our house. And right now Julianna is really into riding her scooter, so it's a very easy after-dinner activity to just jump on the scooter and go on the High Line for a quick walk. And it's great for fresh air and people watching and scenery, so it's fun.

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Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

I'd like to still be a real estate agent, and I'd like to still be a mom. I'm very comfortable and happy with having one child, so that's the plan for now. I really like living in New York City, so I hope that not much has changed in five years, except that my business has grown.

What advice would you give to your 2012 self, before you met Ryan Serhant?

When I met Ryan, he asked me a lot of questions about my background being in real estate and the contacts that I've had. And one thing that I did not have at the time was a personal contact list. After I met with Ryan, and he emphasized the importance of that, I have been really diligent since then of keeping a personal contact list of friends, family, clients, people that I meet just casually and just building that network. And I never really was given that advice early on in my career, which is a shame because for 10 years prior, I could have been building this network.

I really appreciated that advice, and I like to tell new agents the same thing or even a lot of young women that I meet. They are constantly asking me about advice for their business or just in general, and that's one of the first things I tell them because it's really invaluable to have that accessible to you. And I think as a young person starting a career, that's probably the last thing they think about.

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Images via Tate Tullier

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