SPOTLIGHT ON: Roberta Bangs
Mary Prenon | March 2016
Committed to Giving Back To the Industry, Community
To say that Roberta Bangs is a busy woman is an understatement. In addition to her real estate career, the associate broker at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in New City is also a director serving on the HGAR Board of Directors, co-chair of the Faculty Committee, member of the Legislative Committee, serves as a NYSAR director and a member of several NYSAR committees. If that’s not enough, she also serves as president of the Nanuet Civic Association, and volunteers with People-to-People and the Hi-Tor Animal Care Center in Rockland County.
Bangs has spent more than 30 years in real estate and was also president and Education Chair of the former Rockland County Board of Realtors. “I’ve always been fascinated with real estate and I’ve never been afraid of hard work,” she said.
It was her first career in public accounting that eventually led her down the path to real estate. Her parents owned Anthony A. Lopez & Co. in Ossining, where she worked for 20 years. “At the time, I was raising two sons alone and I needed a steady paycheck,” she said.
Years later, she knew she wanted to make the career change. “I remember telling my husband Jon that I’d like to get into real estate. His answer was, ‘So why don’t you?’” With his strong encouragement, Bangs earned her real estate license in 1985 and began working with Weichert Realtors in Suffern. She later moved to Coldwell Banker, and in 1989, joined Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty where she has been ever since.
“While I was new to real estate, it came easy to me,” she said. “I started out with a lot of listings and I think my background in public accounting really helped me make connections to sellers.”
Bangs admits that real estate was a lot more difficult before technology took over. “We actually had listings on index cards, and one person had to go to the MLS to pick up the listings every day,” she said. Since there was only one photo— the exterior—working with buyers was also a more lengthy process. “The only way to see what was behind the door was to walk into all those houses,” she recalled.
There have been many funny and strange real estate stories over the years, but the one that stands out is going to a confirmed showing with a young mom and her children and having the homeowner answer the door stark naked! “The buyer just cried and ran back to her car,” she recollected.
In 1991, Bangs became a New York State real estate instructor and trainer. “I was just fascinated with real estate education and my career started to change as I got more involved in teaching,” she said. She began taking courses all over the country on different topics and soon joined the Real Estate Educators Association. In 2014, she obtained her New Jersey instructor license.
Bangs has been providing training for Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty since the early 1990s and eventually became the company’s Director of Training and Compliance. She currently teaches for the HGEDU School of Real Estate, Pace University and the Academy of Real Estate in Hawthorne, NJ.
She was also an instructor for Rockland Community College, the former Rockland County Board of Realtors and Orange County Association of Realtors, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland and Rockland County BOCES. For several years, Bangs also served on a New York State task force that re-wrote the licensing curriculum for salespersons and brokers. In addition, she has authored several approved New York State continuing education courses.
“I think agents have to be a lot more careful in the way they conduct business today,” she explained. “I specialize in risk-reduction topics. It’s so important to keep everything legal and work in the best interest of your clients.”
Bangs is currently working on the 11th edition of Dearborn Publications’ “Modern Real Estate Practice in New York,” as well as the New York State Exam Review Guide, seventh edition.
As if that’s not enough to keep her busy, she also volunteers her time with People to People, a Rockland County food pantry providing food and clothing to those who might not be eligible for government aid. “This is for people who fall through the cracks—maybe they lost their job or are at risk due to family illness,” she explained. “I really wish that something like this had been available years ago when I was a single mother working three jobs.”
An animal lover, Bangs also makes time to volunteer at the Hi-Tor Animal Care Center, Rockland’s only municipal animal shelter located in Pomona. She served as president of the shelter for six years. “I’ve always had pets,” she said. “At one point, there were five dogs, eight cats and even a couple of rabbits.” Today, she’s down to just three dogs.
Finally, she divides the rest of her time between the Nanuet Civic Association and other local community organizations. “If I’m not working or volunteering, I have my nose in a book,” she said. Of course, she also makes time for her two grown sons and five grandchildren.
Calling real estate the “most exciting and challenging career ever,” Bangs said she just can’t imagine being in any other industry. “You’re not just dealing with houses, you’re dealing with people and someone’s whole lifestyle can be affected by what you help them purchase,” she said.