The beginning is the most important part of the work, Plato said. The sentiment holds true whether starting a business, a home improvement project or a real estate deal. What happens at the start lays the foundation upon which everything else is built, often setting the tone for how the future will play out. Lessons are learned, indelible memories made. Perhaps that is why another philosopher so memorably stated that you never forget your first time.
Nicholas Colombos and Angela Dooley certainly know a thing or two about firsts. As the founding agents for Compass on Long Island, the duo has pioneered not only a real estate business but the building of a real estate team, a sterling reputation and a base of knowledge that is second to none. Colombos and Dooley have countless memories when they back on their start together, but when it comes to the initial deals they landed as individuals, the recollections are equally unforgettable.
“The first real estate transaction was the sale of my neighbor’s home!” Dooley recalls. “It was a bittersweet event, as I was extremely happy to have sold my first home—setting a sales record in my area—but on the other hand I was extremely sad that I was losing one of my best friends, as they were moving out of town.”
Such an intertwining of the personal and professional is very much at the heart of how both Dooley and Colombos approach things.
“My very first deal in real estate was a rental on Allen Street off of Canal in NYC,” Colombos recounts. “I was working as a new agent with Sopher Real Estate and received a cold call from the front desk to show this dilapidated prewar rental building to a prospective renter. I think the manager had nobody else to give the call to.
“We arrive at the building only to find a drunk super in the main lobby with the keys to the walk-up apartment,” he continues. “We walk up seven flights in the afternoon July heat, enter the two-bedroom railroad apartment with tub and toilet in the kitchen, and find two mice chasing each other from one side of the apartment to the other. I was shocked and jumped on the kitchen counter while the prospective buyers stood there motionless.”
Naturally, the story can’t end there.
“I remember feeling that this deal was not going to happen,” he says, “but was surprised they still wanted the apartment and signed a lease.