Mary Prenon | December 2018

Renee Zurlo

HGAR’s 2018 Realtor of the Year

Renee Zurlo still can’t believe she was chosen as HGAR’s 2018 “Realtor of the Year.” The Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty Regional Manager for Orange County was stunned when she heard her name called. “I was shocked—I had absolutely no idea,” she admitted. “You know, you sit there every year and listen to them describe the person and everybody starts to guess who it will be. At one point I said to myself ‘who is this person whose career mirrors mine’?”

After almost 25 years as a Realtor and the past three as the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service (HGMLS) President, it’s no wonder Zurlo received the honor. The Town of Wallkill resident has also spent the last three years of her career overseeing five BHG Rand offices and 250 agents in Central Valley, Goshen, Warwick, New Windsor and Pine Bush. Prior to that, she managed the Central Valley office, where she is now based.

“Honestly, when people ask me how long I’ve been involved with MLS Boards I just tell them I’ve lost count,” she laughed. Zurlo spent many years on the board of the former Greater Hudson Valley MLS prior to the merger of the Orange County Association of Realtors with the Rockland and Westchester/Putnam associations. She has been through five MLS changes since she started in real estate, and played a major role in bringing the current Matrix system to HGMLS.

Earlier this year, HGMLS and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, Inc. (MLSLI) announced plans to merge to form the New York MLS, LLC. The new MLS will include property listings in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Kings (Brooklyn) counties, plus the Bronx and Manhattan.

Looking ahead to next year, Zurlo and the current MLS Board of Directors will stay in place until the newly merged MLS is fully operational, which she expects to happen during the first quarter of 2019.

Following the first quarter of 2019, the new MLS Board will be comprised of 10 Realtors and three industry-related professionals. Leah Caro, past president of HGAR and HGMLS, will serve as Chair of the new board with six members from the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) and four from HGAR.

“I’m feeling really excited about this because it’ll be a tremendous service to our members and their clients,” said Zurlo. “After being in this business so long I’ve seen agents paying to subscribe to five different MLSs. Now, there will be just one, and homebuyers and sellers will now have such a huge exposure for properties.”

No stranger to city life, Zurlo grew up in Yonkers and moved to Orange County with her husband Mark in 1981. It was 1994 when she first began her real estate career at Coldwell Banker in Orange County, after working as a full-time mom for 10 years. “My children were young, so I liked the flexibility of real estate, and it was a great way to get back into the workforce,” she said.

After spending 12 years there, Zurlo opened her own firm, Real Estate United, in Middletown. The business grew quickly, and in just a few years she had up to 40 agents. In 2009, however, Zurlo had the opportunity to join BHG Rand in Central Valley, and she has been there ever since, taking on her new role of Regional Manager in 2015.

In addition to her MLS board responsibilities, Zurlo also serves on HGAR’s Professional Standards Committee and is a New York State Certified Real Estate Instructor. She has been training and coaching both new and experienced agents for many years.

“As everyone probably already knows, the real estate business is time consuming so my free time is for my family,” said Zurlo. She has two grown daughters—Angela and Gina, and two grandchildren – Elisa, 9 and Ashley, 2. “I love being a grandmother. You can spoil the kids and then give them back!”

Despite living the suburban life for so long, Zurlo admits that she still misses Yonkers. “That’s where my roots are and I like going back every once in a while, and driving the streets where I grew up,” she said.

Zurlo spends most of her time now traveling between the offices she manages and working with her managers and agents. “I think sometimes there’s a fear that we’re going to be replaced by technology, but that’s not what I see,” she explained. “As long as agents are properly trained, I can’t believe that good service could ever be replaced.”

Mary Prenon
HGAR, Director of Communications