SPOTLIGHT ON: John Olivero
Mary Prenon | September 2017
A Burning Passion for Real Estate
John Olivero really loves Goshen. Some 27 years ago, the former Staten Island firefighter got in his car and started driving north in search of an affordable home in a nice, quiet community. He got off at the Goshen exit and has been there ever since!
Today, the broker/owner of Griffith Olivero Realtors still lives and works in Goshen and has never regretted his spontaneous journey to Orange County in 1990. “On a fireman’s salary, there was nothing I could afford in Staten Island, but when I saw Goshen, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” he recalled. “I didn’t know anyone there, but it actually reminded me of Staten Island when I was younger—it had some beautiful older homes, a great downtown and was very picturesque. The people were a lot more patient too!”
Growing up on Staten Island, Olivero gave little thought to an eventual career in real estate. After high school, he served in the U.S. Army and later landed a job with the local fire department. He also launched a window cleaning business on the side.
After purchasing his first home in Goshen in 1990, he began to think about real estate after someone suggested he’d do well in that field. “At first, I was hesitant. I never thought of myself as someone who could sell anything to anyone,” he admitted. However, his own experience buying his first home helped change his mind. “I didn’t have resources like the Internet available to me and I really could have used someone to educate me about the whole process.”
Olivero decided to jump head-first into the business after meeting the owner of Wallkill Valley Realty, a small agency in the area. “He was a former firefighter, so I took that as an omen,” he said. “I never looked at myself as a salesperson, but as someone who was helping other people.”
His first year in real estate didn’t come without challenges, though. “It took me over a year in the business before I was able to close on my first transaction, but I stuck with it and I realized I loved it,” he said. “You can’t survive long in real estate without a passion for it. It’s not easy, but it’s very rewarding.”
In 1992, Olivero earned his broker’s license and joined RE/MAX Mid-County Realty. He worked with them for two years before branching out on his own with Exclusive Buyers Realty, the first and only agency at the time working exclusively with homebuyers. “I guess it was a little unusual, but I just love helping people find a home—especially their first home,” he added.
Olivero even hosted his own radio show, “Home Buyers Radio,” on WALL Radio in Middletown from 1995 to 1996.
Years later, he opened John Olivero Realtors, which continues to serve the Orange County area. Two years ago, Olivero merged operations with Griffith Realtors to become Griffith Olivero Realtors. Griffith Realtors owners Thomas and Mary-Gray Griffith founded their company in 1965 and established its Goshen office in 1968. Olivero said it was a simple merger that has produced great results.
“I met Mary Gray while driving around on a house tour. We both saw the benefit of merging and together we pack a pretty good punch,” he quipped. The combined office has 10 agents and Olivero affectionately describes Mary Gray as “the boss of all bosses.”
Olivero is also an active member of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and is enjoying his first year as a member of the HGAR Board of Directors. “It’s been very interesting and fulfilling,” he said. “You never get to see the inner workings of the association until you’re a part of it.”
In his free time, Olivero likes to go fishing—locally and in the Adirondacks—and spend time with his family. His two sons are now 18 and 20. “I’m also a big fan of food, so I like cooking and going out to eat,” he noted.
Even though he owns the business, Olivero still works directly with homebuyers. “That’s the thing that I love the most. I wouldn’t be happy with my life if I wasn’t active,” he added.
After all of the prospective homebuyers he’s worked with over the years, Olivero also admits he could write a book about all of the strange and funny things that have happened to him. One of the most memorable was about 23 years ago, ironically while working with a firefighter who was purchasing a home. “We were doing the final walk through and he was up in the attic,” he recalled. “All of a sudden, I heard a loud crash and I came running into a bedroom and saw feet dangling from the ceiling!” Apparently the attic floorboards had been loose.
He recalled his client was more embarrassed than hurt. “He made me promise that I wouldn’t tell anyone about it for at least a year,” he said.
Olivero’s advice for anyone seeking a career in real estate is very realistic. “Your free time might not be as free as you think, and you have to love the business in order to survive.”