Kyle Jekielek is known in the real estate business for his unusual—and effective—marketing techniques, which he developed after years as a professional poker player and songwriter. Rather than spending his days behind a desk, the results-driven agent— who is a towering six foot seven—can often be seen on the streets of Manhattan promoting his listings to passersby. “I have a custom made blazer with a giant picture of my face and website on the back [and] I like to hit the streets with giant signs with calls to action,” Jekielek says. He has also recently launched a Web series, called People and Places, to reach prospective buyers and sellers online.
We sat down with the extroverted Jekielek to discuss his spirited sales tactics, as well as his love of Pre-War buildings, the one-of-a-kind features that make his Hamilton Heights apartment home, and the non-traditional path that led him from aspiring musician to #FearlessAgent.
INHABIT: What drew you to the real estate business?
KJ: It’s very entrepreneurial, I get to meet and help interesting people, and get out of it what [I] put into it. I’ve never had a traditional career and have worked for myself since I was a young kid, so I liked that my success or failure in this industry was totally up to me.
INHABIT: How have your past professional experiences as a songwriter, poker player and DJ contributed to your success in real estate?
KJ: The music and poker industries are very tough fields with lots of competition—and everyone getting into them expects to succeed. Same thing in real estate. What I’ve learned through poker and music is that overnight success is usually 10 years in the making, so they have definitely taught me to be patient. I also learned that who you know is everything, and you have to keep learning and adjusting.
INHABIT: What drew you to the Manhattan real estate market?
KJ: I don’t think real estate anywhere else would be so much fun. Someone is always looking to sell, and someone is always looking to buy, and there’s never a dull moment. I’ve [also] been obsessed with Manhattan since I was young kid, and now that it’s been my back yard for almost 16 years, I know it as well as anyone.
INHABIT: You refer to yourself as a #FearlessAgent. How do you embody this title?
KJ: I spent a couple years in my late teens and early 20’s selling my music on the street. Every single day I went out with a bag full of CDs, and wouldn’t come home until they were gone. I sold over 10,000 CDs. I take the same approach when I promote my real estate business—I take it to the street. There’s no shortage of people walking around NYC and it gives me a chance to get directly in front of people who may be interested in buying or selling their home.
INHABIT: Is there a particular piece of advice that has helped guide you through your career?
KJ: Two things: Look to see what everyone else is doing and do the opposite. Also, always have a mentor. There’s no substitute for having people with experience, who are experts in your corner.
INHABIT: If you could offer one piece of advice to prospective home buyers in Manhattan, what would it be?
KJ: Ignore all the market reports. There are so many sub-markets and micro-markets within the Manhattan market. It’s more important to analyze data based on type of unit (co-op vs. condo vs townhouse), the neighborhood it’s in, the condition, etc
INHABIT: Finish this sentence: When I’m not working, I’m usually…
KJ: Eating vegan food and learning how to speak Hebrew.
INHABIT: When it comes to your personal taste in New York real estate, which do you prefer: Pre-War or Post-War and why?
KJ: If I have to choose, I’ll go with Pre-War. Many Pre-War buildings have so much character and unique detail that make them so interesting to me. Also, there are a lot less cookie-cutter layouts. You can’t replace the charm or detail you find in Pre-War buildings.
INHABIT: You live in Hamilton Heights. What drew you to your current apartment?
KJ: It was totally renovated, so that was a draw. I also wanted to build a recording studio in my apartment, so I turned one of the bedrooms into a studio. I had John King (owner of the famed Chung King Studios) help me design it. Also, since it’s a corner apartment, you get lots of natural light, especially in the guest room
INHABIT: How would you describe your personal interior design aesthetic?
KJ: My apartment is basically a Restoration Hardware catalogue—I love that stuff. Also, it’s the only place I could find to make a couch long enough for me so that when I lie down my feet aren’t hanging off the end.
INHABIT: Complete the following statement: My home wouldn’t be home without…
KJ: My awesome wife and my Yorkie.
Photography by Allie Leepson.