It is lovely to share local expert advice here on BKLS. I love sharing where to eat, shop, visit or stay. But I especially like getting to know the people that make up our communities and the stories behind the businesses where we eat, shop, visit, etc., within our community. And I would like you to know the stories of those people and the companies that make New York City [NYC] what it is today. Without the culture, diversity, inclusiveness, and dedication to community, there would be no NYC. In Brooklyn specifically, there is a richness of culture and community, unlike any other place. Still, the people, their contributions, and their stories make this beautiful place so homely to many of us. Victoria Alexander is one of those people—she values her borough and community so much that she created Realty Collective.
It is time to get local today, and we are conversing with Victoria Alexander. Read on as she tells us how she got started on her Real Estate journey and how she leads her Brokerage, Realty Collective, with equality, education, and transparency values.
Victoria gets local every day as she prepares her clients/customers with the knowledge necessary to make the best decisions in their Real Estate transactions. Or as she supports and helps local artists gain visibility or her charity and community endeavors.
Victoria Alexander and Realty Collective
BKLS: Victoria, tell me a bit about you and Realty Collective.
V. A.: Hi, I’m Victoria Alexander, Owner of Realty Collective and Licensed Real Estate Broker. I became involved in Real Estate because it meant I could design a career that combined all my interests. As well as activism and my deep love of Brooklyn—the pillars of my life. Realty Collective is an expression of that and is dedicated to demystifying Brooklyn real estate and uplifting our local communities. We’ve prioritized empathy and advocacy over back-door deals and irresponsible development for almost two decades. And doing what we can to give as much back to Brooklyn as we get.
BKLS: Can you tell me the vision you envisaged for your Brokerage when you started?
V. A.: When I founded Realty Collective 17 years ago, the goal was to serve. And bring together people who share our ethos of caring about the world. And doing what we could to make it a better place, maybe have my own big Brokerage. But, back then, people didn’t buy into that so much, so I kept my team nimble and small and made intentional choices to be a positive force in my world, specifically my local community.
The world is a different place now post-COVID. And we are starting to see a stronger dedication to contributing positively to our planet, our communities, and each other. Something I’m very happy to see. There is a heightened loyalty to small businesses and people leading with their values, where building strong relationships is a top priority.
So all of this has evolved to a place where my team and I support artists, creatives, creators, visionaries, community builders, and other like-minded people to change the world—something I am very proud of and that my twenty-something self wanted all those years ago.
BKLS: You saw the state of the Real Estate Industry when you first started, greedy developers, un-knowledgeable and unscrupulous agents—what did you want to do differently, and have you achieved it?
V. A.: I wanted to pay more attention to the local mom-and-pop landlords, shop owners, and Real Estate stakeholders that need the most advocacy. Most of these groups are taken advantage of due to knowledge barriers. So I do everything I can to break down that barrier and provide free educational resources on all sides of a transaction. Whether or not someone decides to work with me, I will give them my best possible advice and resources. This is a standard that exists with the whole team. And I’m very proud that we noticeably run our business transparently.
BKLS: I love the charity and community work you have done in the past. Are you still involved in such contributions, and if so, what are you doing for your Brooklyn communities these days?
V. A.: We put our ethos in action in a myriad of ways, like supporting local non-profits like Cora Dance, RHAP, and 24 Hour Plays; uplifting local artists in our Compére Collective gallery space, or contributing to the local arts ourselves; or even giving Brooklyn woman-owned businesses a free space to promote their work on our blog.
I served on Community Board 6 for eight years and resigned last year to help organize the Red Hook Business Alliance, which provides support to local Red Hook businesses. We’re planning a 10th Sandy anniversary remembrance event, hosting a RHBA Holiday Market, which uplifts local creators and makers, and hosting other mixers and events throughout the year.
BKLS: Tell me about Give Space—Compére Collective
V. A.: Compère Collective’s mission is to nurture and host diverse artistic practice and thoughtful dialogue, understanding that art should be used as a catalyst for critical thinking. Realty Collective offers free space on Van Brunt Street to artists and makers to display and exhibit their work and provide event support and promotion.
We place great significance and value on the human interaction and connection that art makes possible. And see our role not just to provide space but also to help establish connections between people, art, and ideas.
Similarly, we value the integrity of the artistic process and the link that personal expression has to the broader understanding and respect of social contexts. The exhibition space is intimate and capable of showcasing a rich variety of media, including all the traditional formats, from painting and performance to facilitated discussion and dance. We relish the freedom this space provides for artists, collaborators, and curators—to reinvent what “gallery” can mean artistically, conceptually, and as a force within the community.
BKLS: The Real Estate Industry has changed tremendously over the last few years. Yet not so much in terms of unequal and discriminatory practices. What are you as a Broker/Owner doing to ensure you and your team contribute to bettering those practices?
VA: Over the past 17 years, we have explicitly chosen not to pursue relationships with individuals and businesses participating in unequal and unethical practices. Or anyone that vocalizes any mention of discriminatory perspectives. Instead, everyone we work with has values that align with ours and aims to contribute positively to Brooklyn housing.
We also educate our mom-and-pop landlord clients on affordable housing and voucher programs like Section 8, encouraging them to adopt an open-minded approach to choosing tenants, and normalize these programs.
Lastly, we do not contribute to informational gatekeeping. As I mentioned, I will give my expertise and resources to anyone—not just share them with clients with substantial earning potential. For example, I host a free Buying Into Brooklyn workshop monthly and a Selling in Brooklyn workshop once every three months. We also include a mortgage professional and real estate attorney, so anyone can ask questions and learn about the buying and selling process—no secrets.
BKLS: There has been a decline in the sale of homes over the past few months—do you think this is a trend we will continue to see?
V. A.: The decline we’re seeing is because of the rising interest rates imposed by the Federal government. This shift is just the market correcting itself from the house-buying frenzy post-COVID when rates were exceptional and historically low. In real Estate, everything is an ebb and flow, a yin and yang, and we’re experiencing an ebb right now.
Especially in NYC, this leveling out is expected and is a momentary slowdown. However, the housing market in NYC is stable, and aside from the crash of 2008, have been impenetrable prices [even during COVID prices held]. So whatever is happening now might not be the case next month or next year.
BKLS: What will we see happening in the Real Estate Market in NYC in the coming month?
V. A.: The truth is demand for housing in NYC is always there. People will always want to live here, whether that happens in droves or little by little. Of course, because of the interest rates, sales will even out for the time being—but buyers are still always trying to get out of the rental market and into a place of their own.
No matter the interest rate, buying is always a better investment than renting [as long as you have the resources]. Unfortunately, purchasing can indeed become inaccessible for people. But for those who have those means, it’s better to buy even at these interest rates and get out of the rental scenario. You’re either paying your mortgage or someone else’s—it’s better to pay for your own and build that equity.
BKLS: The Real Estate Industry is still an old boys club in many ways—do you see women impacting the industry in the near future as they have in other sectors?
V. A.: According to the National Association of Realtors, sixty-two percent of all members are female. This means you’re more likely to run into a female Real Estate agent than a male one. The issue is, though, that men are more visible in executive roles and owning brokerages.
But that’s not news. Many of these brokerages receive VC funding which historically does not invest as much in women-owned companies versus male-owned. And viewing through a cultural lens, women are more likely the homemakers. They have to juggle motherhood, among other duties, something that men are not really expected to do—COVID only exacerbated this issue.
So there is a lot of work to do on all these levels, but I am hopeful that women will continue to disrupt these norms. This is because so many more resources are now available to women to help them grow into power, something I hope to continue to see developing.
I want to thank Victoria Alexander and Realty Collection for sharing a bit of her story and giving us some insights into the Real Estate Market in NYC.
Real Estate was my first love; for over two decades, I was a Broker/Owner in an industry I loved dearly—but sadly decided early last year that I no longer wanted to work in an industry where I felt like I was constantly fighting for something. So it was lovely hearing what Victoria had to say. And how much she values her community and those who choose to work with her. We need more companies like hers that are open-minded enough to educate clients on Affordable housing and other programs in place to help New Yorkers. I am humbled at the vision on which Victoria built Realty Collective and how she continues to choose to give back as much as she has gotten from her beloved Brooklyn. It is lovely to see a woman-owned Brokerage choosing to lead with intentional values every day.
Visit Realty Collective’s website and Instagram today to learn more about this local business. I hope you will see the value in companies like Realty Collective and continue to support local Businesses like this one and the ones in your community.