Mary Prenon | January 2016
Veteran Realtor Creates ‘Havoc-on-Hudson’
Bernice Gottlieb has seen many things in her more than 30-year real estate career, but it was the shocking murder of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter that prompted her to pen her first novel, “Havoc-on-Hudson.” The William Raveis Legends broker calls her book “a cautionary tale.”
“The book is fiction, but the dangers are real,” said Gottlieb, 85, who peppers the thriller with safety advice for real estate professionals. “What happened to that woman and others in our industry is just horrible, and it really got to me.”
Gottlieb began work on the book about two years ago, after attending the Hudson Valley Writer’s Workshop in Sleepy Hollow. While she has already authored two true life stories —“Take My Children” and “The Dove in the Tea Room”—this book is her first fictional novel. “I thought about writing an instructional safety book for Realtors, but I knew something with a riveting story would get much more attention,” she said.
“Havoc-on-Hudson” is set in the fictitious Westchester town of “Hudson Hills,” which Gottlieb admits is based on the county’s Rivertowns. The main character, Maggie Mitty, is a prominent Hudson Hills Realtor who helps the local police track down a killer targeting real estate agents. After working with an editor, the book was published in November.
“I tried to make it very intriguing, while also including a lot of sound safety advice like having new clients meet you at your office, getting all of their information, making a copy of their license, and using the buddy system for open houses,” she explained. If you’re meeting a new client at a train station, Gottlieb recommends bringing them to your office first to get their information.
“Some Realtors may feel like they’re annoying the client by requiring all of this paperwork up front, but it’s a different world out there today and you have to be cautious,” she added.
It was 1985 when Gottlieb got her real estate license and began working with Ye Village Realty in Dobbs Ferry. After just nine years, she opened her own agency in Irvington, Hudson Shores Realty, at the age of 64. After running the business for almost 20 years, she merged the company with William Ravies Legends about two years ago. “I love this business,” she said, and still makes time to list and sell to her referrals over the years.
In addition to being a new fiction author, Gottlieb is also well-known for her extraordinary efforts in helping local families with international adoptions. Her first book, “Take My Children,” is a heartwarming story of the challenges and triumphs of uniting orphaned children in Korea and Vietnam with American families. Even more amazing was the fact that a number of these children were adopted from a Korean leprosy camp.
It was her desire to help a friend with an adoption that led her down that path. As a young mother herself back in 1967, Gottlieb began researching overseas adoptions, and found herself in Korea in 1969. While her friend never did adopt, Gottlieb came home with an 18-month old baby girl name Chung Young-ah, whom she named Susannah.
Now 49, Susannah is a professor at Northwestern University and chair of the Literature Department. Both of her sons are in their 50s. Peter is a pilot and engineer, and Richard is a partner in a law firm. She also has six grandchildren who keep her busy.
While she hasn’t yet planned a sequel to “Havoc-on-Hudson,” Gottlieb is definitely thinking about it. “A lot of people are saying they’d like to see a continuation of the main character, Maggie Mitty,” she revealed. “The character is part of my own experiences, but also embodies the personality of many strong women I’ve met in this business.”
Gottlieb’s advice for those starting out in the real estate business is to approach it with a lot of devotion. “Yes, it is more dangerous now, but you do have the opportunity to meet some wonderful people,” she said. “It’s a business where you can start out in your 60s and be successful—just don’t forget to be careful as well!”
“Havoc-on-Hudson” is available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.