Sold on Real Estate

Publication: Broker Weekly
Date: Wednesday, September 3

Sold on real estate Cassian Abdul Karim'sbudding career isn't alimited time offer 

By Maggie Hawryluk 

It’s not often that those blaring, in-your-face infomercials hawking everything from OxyClean to “The Weight Loss Cure” make an impression, but for Cassian Abdul Karim, they changed her life.


“I was sleeping one night and one of those infomercials about how you can make money in real estate woke me up,” the senior agent at Urban Sanctuary, recalled. It was that moment that helped the Jamaica native abandon her marketing career and focus on an industry she had always wanted to take a part in.


And just a few years after moving to New York from Jamaica, she was primed and ready to take on the real estate world. So Karim started doing her research, reading about the industry, learning the main characters and getting a feel for the various firms.


“I wanted to be in an environment that’s not cutthroat,” she said of her requirements. “I wanted to make sure that I was with a firm that’s fair, and doesn’t charge all of these crazy fees.”


That’s how she came to the relatively young firm of Urban Sanctuary, which specializes both in commercial and residential deals from their offices in Midtown and the Financial District.


More than a year into the real estate game, Karim has already made waves. In the past month alone she commissioned more than $50,000 in rental deals for the firm, specializing mostly in the Midtown area, and she just keeps moving. “I’m a little hyped up, especially when I get going,” she said. “I try to take every other Sunday off.”


What’s even more impressive about Karim’s skyrocketing success is that she doesn’t depend on the various forms of technology that most brokers stick to like a lifeline. “I’m not with it, I need to figure it out,” she said, laughing about the fact that she is slowly but surely learning how to use her Blackberry and will soon be tackling the intimidating task of using the MacBook her company awarded her for her impressive earnings. But, probably stemming from her upbringing in the relaxed country of Jamaica, Karim is taking her success in stride.


Rather than resting on her laurels, she’s still looking to increase her business and diversify. “I always want to do better than the previous month,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to get into investments, and I haven’t started doing sales as of yet. But I believe the best thing to do is to master one skill first and then move onto the next thing.” And in the fast-paced, wild world of Manhattan real estate, there’s always a new task that needs to be completed before a deal can close.


Karim said she just closed one deal that took weeks instead of days to close, and forced her to tap her political side. “I had a client from Brazil that had to get money wired here for the apartment, but the government was withholding the money,” she said. “I had to send letters to the government explaining the market here and how it all works. It’s never a dull moment.”


And Karim’s time outside of work is also far from dull. She often spends time with her family members, who have also moved here from Jamaica, and enjoys everything the city has to offer from jazz concerts and dancing to the various restaurants — all while keeping real estate firmly in the back of her mind. “I feel that I’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg,” she said.


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  Cassian Karim   CASSIAN KARIM
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