SPOTLIGHT ON: Julie "Pip" Klein
Mary Prenon | June 2020
Embracing Life’s Challenges Not Limited to the Young
Julie “Pip” Klein, an agent with Green Team New York Realty in Warwick, fully admits she never responds to her given name—so if you want her attention, don’t call her “Julie.” Given the nickname “Pip” at a young age, it stuck through elementary and high school, and then throughout her business careers.
“My parents started calling me that because I was the pipsqueak of the family,” she explained. “Now, no one calls me ‘Julie’ except the IRS!”
At a time when most of her friends were considering retirement, Klein earned her real estate license at the age of 60 and has been headstrong in the business ever since. Over the past nine years she has received numerous company awards, from the Captain’s Club for annual sales over $3 million to the President’s Club for yearly sales between $5 million and $10 million. She was even honored with the firm’s first “Momentum Builder Award” for her personal growth and team spirit.
“Getting into real estate was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Klein. “In the past, if anyone had told me that I’d be successful in this business at this age, I wouldn’t have believed them!”
Klein spent her early years in New Jersey, before her family moved to Warwick when she was in sixth grade. Her father, the late Ed Klein, was a well-known area publisher, owning the Warwick Advertiser, the Hudson Valley and Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals, WTBQ Radio and Warwick Cable.
Later, she graduated from Warwick Valley High School and the University of Vermont, earning a degree in communications. Her first job was with a children’s publishing firm on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. “It was really a lot of fun,” she recalled. One of their publications was “Muppet Magazine.” During the 1970s, she lived in Santa Barbara, CA, working with various newspapers in feature writing, sales and promotions. Years later, she became assistant publisher of “Aspen Magazine” in Colorado.
On one of her visits to the East Coast, she met her husband Bob at a party and eventually moved back to New York. Once in Manhattan, she ventured into sales promotions with various publications, including “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine. Her next stop was a position much closer to home—executive director of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce.
As for real estate, Klein admits it was purely by accident that she stumbled into her current career. She was working part-time for the Green Team, helping them with marketing. “Right from the get go, Geoff Green told me I had the personality for real estate,” she remembered. “He said ‘you know everyone so what have you got lose.’” She also had the task of selling her parent’s home, so she could start out with a listing. “It wasn’t a conscious decision—I guess I kind of back-peddled into it.”
For Klein, growing up in the area was a definite advantage for her in her new career. “It really helped to have all of those personal connections,” she said. Because of her background in sales and publishing, she was also very familiar with computer technology. “Working in Manhattan all those years, I had no fear of computers,” she said. “I’m actually surprised that I’m so fluent in technology because after all, I am a ‘Baby Boomer’ and a child of Woodstock.”
One of her most memorable encounters with a potential buyer happened with a New York City family looking for homes in Orange County. “While we were walking through the home, I stopped right in my tracks when I saw a painting on the wall,” she said. It was a water color painting by her late mother, that had been donated to a fundraiser. “As it turned out, they bought the property, so maybe Mom was watching over me.”
Now a resident of the Village of Florida, Klein and her family own a renovated onion barn, originally built in 1910. She and her husband purchased the 2,700-square-foot “Onion House” after living in New York City for over a decade. “We’re actually the first ones to live in it,” she said. “As it turns out, Orange County is one of the top onion-growing areas in the nation.” Klein has always harbored an affinity for historic homes, having sold properties built in 1773, 1775 and, 1760. “They sure don’t build them like they used to!”
This year, Klein joined the Association’s Members Day Work Group, which plans the annual Members Day event. As an attendee for many years, she wanted the chance to get involved behind the scenes. “It’s always a great event and I look forward to what we have in store for this fall,” she said.
In her free time, she and her husband, Bob Grawi, are musicians, and often play at various festivals around the Hudson Valley and the nation. During the 1980s, her husband developed a unique instrument called the Gravikord, a type of electric harp based on the West African Kora. Grawi also creates and sells the instruments and one is now featured at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in its musical instrument collection.
With Klein accompanying him on the flute, the couple has played in Grand Central Terminal, the Rainbow Room, various festivals, and craft fairs in the U.S., as well as abroad in England, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan and many other locations. “I’ve been playing the flute since high school. I always wanted to feel like I was a part of Jethro Tull,” she quipped.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has kept them from traveling lately, they do plan to venture out again in the future. “We have an old saying: ‘You’re never bored with the Gravikord’,” she added.
As Klein and her husband keep busy here in New York, her son Ben, 24, is busy working with Google in Mountainview, CA. “Now when I ask him anything, he just says ‘Mom, Google it’,” she laughed.
Looking back over her decision in 2011 to start a new career at 60, Klein knows it was the perfect choice. “I just love connecting people to homes,” she said. “When you find the right one and make it happen, it feels like such a victory. Another benefit is that some special clients become permanent friends.”
As for her advice for other “seniors” considering a real estate career, Klein asks why not? “I may be the poster child for AARP, but this is a great industry for any age,” she added. “It also proves that you can challenge yourself any age. It’s what keeps you young.”