Marianne Schaefer in Building Operations on July 19, 2018
This article is part of our occasional series, “The Previous Lives of Property Managers.”
Jeffrey Weber grew up in Little Neck, Queens, where his father was a police officer and his mother was an assistant principal. From an early age he knew he wanted to work in real estate, but he figured accounting would always be a skill he could fall back on. So the kid from Queens earned a degree in accounting from S.U.N.Y. Albany and a master’s at Adelphi University.
In his early 20s, Weber found himself working in the accounting department at Helmsley Enterprises, where he discovered that all sectors of the real estate world were not created equal. “I learned that their accounting department was really an expense department,” Weber recalls. “It was their brokerage and management side that were the income departments. In accounting, if you left at 4:59 you were stealing a minute from the corporation – but brokers could take off Wednesdays to go golfing, and Fridays were half a day so they could go out to the Hamptons. So the expense department was not where I wanted to be.”
After Weber found a job that united his passions for real estate and accounting – treasurer of his co-op in Tarrytown – he decided to quit accounting and become a real-estate agent with Century 21. “I thought I could earn a lot of money selling real estate,” he says with a chuckle. He failed to earn a dime. “After four months my wife, Evan, told me it was time to get a real job again. We were thinking of a family, and it was obviously not the right job for me.” Weber went back to accounting, this time as a controller for East Island Management, doing budgets for co-ops, condos, and rentals.
Weber became a property manager almost by serendipity. His boss was thinking of retiring and didn’t feel like going all the way up to Connecticut, where the firm managed two buildings. Weber stepped in and promptly had an epiphany: “By managing those two buildings, I became half controller and half property manager. I enjoyed the management end of it a whole lot more than accounting.”
Now Weber’s path became clear. He worked four years for Wallack Management as a property manager, and by 1986 he was ready to strike out on his own. By then Weber and Evan, who was working as a speech pathologist, had two children. “We were a little frightened because when you start your own company you’re taking a risk,” Weber says. “I started with only two buildings, but it was my own. I worked six and a half days a week. At least in management” – unlike at Century 21 – “you are guaranteed a check at the first of the month. Those two buildings led to another two, and those led to another six, and so forth.”
Today with partner, Moses Farhat, Weber-Farhat Realty Management handles 60 buildings. Weber’s family has also grown up – the four kids are now adults – and for the past seven years he has enjoyed the constant companionship of his springer spaniel, Bonnie. “I take Bonnie with me wherever I go,” he says. “She comes with me to work and is my receptionist. She greets everybody at the door and is a very friendly, happy-go-lucky dog.”
Weber has no regrets about his career detours. “My accounting experience helps me to run my business,” he says. “I can help co-ops and condos with their budgets, their financials, and the financing. I know how to talk to accountants, and I know what the tax laws are.”
Weber, now 65, cannot imagine retiring. “Why would I want to?” he asks. “When you retire, you do what you think would be fun. I enjoy dealing with people, I enjoy solving problems. Going to work every day is not a chore, so I can just as well keep working.”
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