SPOTLIGHT ON: Teresa Belmore
Mary Prenon | March 2019
South Bronx Girl Overcomes Obstacles to Succeed in Real Estate and Life
Teresa Belmore of Keller Williams NY Realty in White Plains is definitely not your average Realtor. In addition to selling and listing homes, the Riverdale resident is an ordained minister, a Black Belt in Karate, and a Spanish/Caribbean cooking aficionado.
The daughter of a Cuban father and Trinidadian mother, Belmore has become quite accomplished in preparing Spanish and Caribbean cuisine. “Food is love to me,” she quipped.
About seven years ago, she also became an ordained minister and now practices at St. Margaret of Cortona and Riverdale as well as Riverside Church in Harlem. “I’ve always felt like I’m an old soul, and I just answered my calling,” she revealed. “I really love it and I feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives.”
Belmore works with youth groups and victims of domestic violence. She herself is a survivor of domestic abuse, as well as a stroke and epileptic seizures caused by a serious accident many years ago. “My turmoil has become my testimony,” she said. “Someone said this to me years ago and I have just passed it on. I’m one of the fortunate ones.”
For Belmore, part of that fulfillment is working in real estate—especially with first-time home buyers. “They treat me like their mom, and I’m patient and understanding with them. I get them to the right lender, inspector, attorney and whatever else they need,” she said. “I like to make a complete package for them to put them on the right path to home ownership.”
It was actually many years ago that Belmore got involved with real estate in Manhattan, dealing with co-ops and condos. After earning her license in 1984, she started out part-time while working full time as a Director of Communications & Investor Relations for Philips Van Heusen (now known as PVH), an apparel company.
“It sounds very exciting but I was working with men’s apparel so it wasn’t quite my style,” she explained. “But they did have some great sample sales so I’d always be coming home with bags full of clothes. My family and friends would always wonder what they’d be getting for Christmas each year!”
Belmore actually started working there as a “floater” in high school. Later, she graduated from Bernard Baruch College with a degree in corporate communications, and moved up the company ranks. That one-time summer job ultimately turned into a 25-year career. “That’s not too bad for a girl from the South Bronx,” she quipped.
When she began dabbling in real estate, she was able to buy her first co-op apartment for just $14,000. The building was converting from rentals to co-ops, so Belmore eventually bought two more apartments and converted her living space to a three-bedroom apartment.
While working with PVH, Belmore liked the supplemental income that real estate provided. Many years later when she retired from her corporate position, she decided to get back into the game full time. “I had let my license expire. So, I had to take the test again, but it was all good,” she recalled.
About six years ago she stared working with BHG Rand in White Plains, then left for Houlihan Lawrence in Yonkers and for the past year, she’s worked with Keller Williams NY Realty in White Plains. “It’s a completely different world than it was many years ago,” said Belmore. “During the ‘go-go 80s’ it was all about a handshake and piece of paper and you were good to go.”
Belmore also experienced a lot of “sticker shock” with co-op and condo prices—especially in Manhattan. “Years ago, you could get a nice apartment for $150,000 to $200,000, but today you can’t even buy a closet for that amount,” she said.
Technology has also made a huge difference in the way people search for homes. “While it can be overwhelming, it certainly does make it a lot easier. No more of those big old listings books to go through,” she added.
Belmore concentrates her business in lower Westchester and Yonkers. In her experience, many millennials are actually looking for homes, as opposed to condos and co-ops. She’s also found multi-family units gaining more popularity among younger people, as they like having tenants to help pay the mortgage.
This is also Belmore’s first year as an HGAR Board of Director member. “I’m learning a lot and meeting so many people,” she said. In addition, she’s a member of almost every HGAR committee—RPAC, Fair Housing, Global Business Council, Recognition, and Professional Standards. She credits former HGAR President Dorothy Botsoe with coaxing her to get involved.
Her daughter is now 30 and is attending graduate school. In her free time, Belmore loves to travel and goes to Cuba once a year to visit family and friends. One of her favorite places to visit in the U.S. is Santa Barbara, CA. “I’m definitely a West Coast girl and I love the warm weather,” she said. “Sometimes I even think about retiring there.”
When she’s not traveling, listing selling, ministering or doing Karate, Belmore still has time for books and old movies. “I love reading and one of my favorite film stars is Lana Turner. Plus, I just love ‘Madame X’ and ‘The Imitation of Life’,” she added.
For Belmore, though, her life is anything but an imitation. “The journey has been long and winding, but I’m alive and have a rich, fulfilling and rewarding life.”