SPOTLIGHT ON: Realtor of the Year Barry Kramer
Mary Prenon | December 2017
Barry Kramer, one of the two principal brokers of Westchester Choice Realty Inc. in Scarsdale, has the distinction of being both the HGAR 2017 Realtor of the Year and the 2018 HGAR President.
“I didn’t’ think I could be a Realtor of the Year and president at the same time, so I was really surprised,” admitted Kramer. “So many people work so hard and are so deserving of this award. I am truly honored.”
Next month, Kramer will take the reins of the organization from 2017 HGAR President Dorothy Botsoe. “Dorothy did such a wonderful job listening to what our members want and reaching out with her ‘Teas with the President’,” he said. “I want to continue to implement some of the great ideas that she heard in her outreach.”
As the 2017 RPAC Co-Chair, Kramer’s goal is to continue to educate the membership about how RPAC supports real estate agents and homeowners. “Being RPAC chair is one of the most challenging committee appointments because it’s such a big commitment, and we want people to understand why it’s so important in protecting our interests,” he said. Ironically, Botsoe will be taking over as RPAC Committee Chair in 2018, so the two are actually switching roles.
Another one of Kramer’s initiatives is to make sure agents know all that the HGAR membership has to offer. “It’s so much more than just the MLS, and that’s what I want to get across to people,” he added.
Kramer will enter the HGAR presidency 21 years after becoming a Realtor. He and his business partner and husband, John Crittenden, established Westchester Choice Realty in 2008 and in 2016 opened their second office in Hartsdale. Today, the residential real estate brokerage firm has 20 agents focusing on lower Westchester, with an emphasis along the Metro-North Harlem line.
Over the years, Westchester Choice Realty has also earned the reputation as being “Westchester’s co-op specialist.” “I think co-ops are a still a great opportunity for first-time home buyers and empty nesters looking to stay in Westchester County,” he added. His passion for co-ops is apparent from his continued initiatives for co-op transparency measures. “Right now co-op boards don’t have to give a reason for rejecting a buyer, so I think this is one of the most important issues on the table.”
Kramer also lives in a co-op and has his office in the same building. He joined his co-op board in 1985, became president of that board in 1990 and has remained in that position ever since. He is also a member of the Garth Road Co-op Council, a neighborhood association representing 11 co-op buildings on Garth Road.
If that’s not enough, you can also find Kramer teaching about co-ops and condos for HGAR’s real estate licensing classes.
Surprisingly, he didn’t begin his career in the real estate industry. As a student at the University of Connecticut, Kramer was the first student to graduate with a dual major in dramatic arts and business administration. His first job was actually managing the popular Melody Tent entertainment center in Hyannis, Cape Cod. In between summer stints there, he was also the assistant manager of the North Shore Theater in Beverly, MA.
A few years later, Kramer found himself back in New York at a brand new theater management job at the Robert Lewis Acting Company in New Rochelle. “I was so excited about this, but just six months after I started working there, it closed!” he said.
Fortunately, his business background helped to quickly land him another job—this time in the telecommunications industry. For the next 16 years, Kramer worked in a management position with Consolidated Communication, a Yonkers-based firm that bought and sold reconditioned telephone equipment.
It was Kramer’s love of bicycling, however, that led him to his next career as the owner of Choice Travel in Scarsdale. He has bicycled all over the world, including many solo trips. “I’ve always loved to travel and I’ve always loved to ride my bike, so what better way to see the world than on a bicycle,” he said.
In 1992, he met his husband, John, and coerced him to go on biking adventures. “And he’s still here today,” quipped Kramer. “All of my friends said it wouldn’t last, but we’ve been together for 25 years.” In fact, they were the first gay couple in Eastchester to apply for a marriage license. “This was really important to us because Eastchester was the town that had previously rescinded domestic partner benefits,” he noted. Kramer today remains a strong advocate of LGBT equality issues.
When Internet sites began cutting into the travel business, Kramer switched gears and set his sights on real estate, earning his license in 1997. Almost from the beginning, he became involved with the Association, as well as NYSAR, chairing its Fair Housing and Cultural Diversity Committee and Co-op Working Group.
Kramer also serves on the Board of Directors for Westchester Residential Opportunities and was one of the original advocates for the Westchester County Human Rights Commission.
In his spare time, he still loves to travel and ride his bicycle, although he admits these days he’s not pedaling as much as he did in the past. “Sometimes, you just have to leave the bike at home!” he said.