SPOTLIGHT ON: Beth Hargraves
Mary Prenon | October 12, 2018
A Surprising Career Choice
Beth Hargraves, a real estate sales associate with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Irvington, admits it was her own experience with buying homes that coaxed her into the business.
Years ago, while house hunting in the Rivertowns, she had the good fortune to end up with Hudson Shores agency owner Bernice Gottlieb as her Realtor. Hargraves purchased a townhome in Irvington, then worked with Gottlieb again when selling it five years later.
“Bernice kept telling me I should go into the real estate business,” recalled Hargraves. “She would always say ‘I can see you doing this.’ I actually had a friend who was working there, so I decided to just go for it.”
Hargraves joined Hudson Shores in Irvington in 2005 and her first year was actually quite a shock—in a very good way. “I still can’t believe it. My first year in real estate I did $22 million in business! I was just so plugged in to the community and got referrals from all of my friends,” she said. She also walked away with the company’s “Rookie of the Year” award.
Hargraves credits Gottlieb for helping her to succeed. “She mentored me and it was like I had someone holding my hand that first year,” she added. “Bernice is a very strong woman and I was so lucky to have worked with her.” Years later, Gottlieb merged her business with William Raveis Legends Realty. “She was the last ‘mom and pop shop’ on the block.”
In 2007, Hargraves met Robin Friedman of Houlihan Lawrence at an open house. “She came up to me and said, I don’t know who you are, but I’ve heard about you and I’d love to have you join us,” remembered Hargraves. With that invitation, Hargraves joined Houlihan Lawrence and stayed with them until joining Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s in 2015.
The firm actually opened an Irvington office for Hargraves and her team, including Maria Carlino and Bernadette Haley. Known as the “HCH Team,” the three continue to work together and are among the top 25 teams in Westchester, while vying for first place in the Rivertowns. The Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s office now has 20 agents.
Looking back over the past 13 years, Hargraves is still sometimes surprised about her career choice. “Years ago, I never thought about real estate,” she admitted. She grew up in Yonkers and right after college, she joined her father’s electrical supplies company that provided lighting for distributors and retailers. Working in sales, she covered five counties in New Jersey. “I think that’s really where I got my sales skills,” she said.
For Hargraves, it was an eye-opening experience. “At the time, it was an all-male industry so I guess it seemed a little strange when people saw a woman walking in to a business to take lighting orders,” she added. “I’d just offer to take them to lunch, let them browse through our catalogs and usually come away with orders.”
Soon, she was dealing with architects and designers, providing everything from recess and overhead lighting for commercial clients to outdoor lighting for retails stores and malls. Even the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels ended up with lighting through her father’s company. “I learned a lot on the job, and as a result, the industry did start to hire more women for sales,” she said.
Hargraves worked there until she started her own family. She married her high school sweetheart Tom, and the couple have three children, now all adults. Thomas, 28 lives in New York City, Kelly 25, is in Austin, TX and Danny, 22, lives at home and works in Manhattan.
Her foray into real estate happened while her children were growing up. “The business has changed a lot from when I first started,” said Hargraves. “Everything is online now and some people think they know the market better than you do!”
Many of her clients are younger New York City natives looking to start a family in the suburbs. “There’s a huge number of people from Brooklyn living in the Rivertowns now. The commute to the city is just about a half hour.”
About a year ago, Hargraves got involved with the Hudson Gateway Realtor Foundation. “I kept running into Bonnie Koff at all the events and of course she convinced me to get involved,” she said. “I really enjoy it. It’s wonderful to be able to give back to our local communities.”
In her spare time, Hargraves loves to play golf and cook. She and her husband recently sold their Irvington home and purchased a townhome in Dobbs Ferry. Hargraves has always loved the Rivertowns. As for real estate, her secret is being a real “people person.”
“I just love being around different types of people,” she added. “Whether they’re buying a co-op or a castle, I always treat them the same way.”