Basic Info

Name:
Aleksandra Scepanovic
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Real Estate
Personal Career Headline:
Co-founder, Ideal Properties Group

My Native AdVert

Career Snapshot:

Managing Director, Ideal Properties Group, a privately-owned, independent real estate firm with 5 offices specializing in premier Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods. From war reporter in Serbia to student at FIT to entrepreneur, Aleksandra has a unique story to tell.

Ideal was founded in 2007 by Aleksandra and her partner Erik Serras, who identified a need to build a technologically innovative infrastructure for sales and rentals in key Brooklyn neighborhoods.  It is a full-service firm, offering pre-development marketing and branding as well as residential, commercial, office and retail services.

Earlier in her career, Aleksandra worked as an editor and media analyst in her home country of Serbia. Her firsthand experience of reporting from the war zones of the Balkans robbed of their beauty, and the country’s horizons riddled with broken “Swiss cheese-like” buildings, left her not only longing for peace, but also with a belief in architecture as a symbol of perseverance and the human need to rebuild and move on.

She came to New York with a strong desire to design and create, which led her to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology. The program awakened her inner eye for detail, and invigorated her passion for architecture and interiors. She incorporates this experience into the real estate industry, and continuously utilizes her project management skills and designer’s eye to take her business to the next level.

Native AdMission Statement (AKA Personal Brand Pitch):

I am a co-founder of Ideal Properties Group, a leading real estate brokerage that focuses on premier New York City neighborhoods. As an individual, I thrive in environments that call for informed decisionmaking with a high tolerance for risk. I excel in the dueling roles of a modern-day leader of a decade-old business and a mom of a magnificent seven-year-old child. When we set out to bootstrap Ideal, we knew that Brooklyn would soon became the next most sought-after market so we focused on building a technologically-innovative firm that focuses on friendliness, transparency and service.

My Native AdVice

How did you get into the industry?:

I am a journalist with investigative skills who has, upon moving to New York City, added interior design training to her repertoire of skills. It was in the hotbed of good looks, the Big Apple, that I discovered my passion for interiors... which has lead me to real estate. I aligned my nascent brand of a real estate professional with a boutique brokerage firm in Manhattan and got my start in the industry.

Emerging industry trends?:

Real estate is a breeding ground of emerging trends. For example, in New York City, we are starting to see people looking for contemporary homes that are not extremely large. As of late, it would seem that New Yorkers would rather have the latest amenities – from smart home features to charging stations for electric cars – than mega-mansions and condos.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

The real estate brokerage industry has been besieged by tech giants who appear to be better equipped to market and bring the product to the ultimate user – property buyer. In New York City, the frontlines have been set and demarcation lines drawn around the immediacy of user experience – and ultimately exclusion of brokers from the making of the real estate deal. And still, buyers and sellers rely on the broker to cut down the time involved in the sales process and to weed out the time vortex that are cold leads. Brokers still help the negotiations along, brokers still identify the best opportunities, brokers still refer the best brigades of professionals for any job along the sales timeline. Even with the tech at its best (with many tech resources turning into passing fads), no sale… and very few rentals… take place without the city’s busy (and often overworked) contingent of brokers.

And while some brokers go their own proprietary marketing way, others await friendlier waters within the existing or budding new tech to assist them in marketing their hard-earned exclusive contracts with NYC’s property owners.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

Brooklyn is what inspired the formation of Ideal Properties Group. Brooklyn, and the changing nature of the borough’s rental market. Having grown and matured in Brooklyn, Ideal has taken hold in other city’s boroughs, perfecting the craft of analyzing the market intelligence to benefit its many customers.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

Ideal is slated to continue its growth in Brooklyn and Manhattan, remaining one of the very few mid-size independent real estate brokerages in the city. As the consolidation chips away at small and mid-size competitors, the boutique quality of service is sure to continue finding followers and business among the clientele used to personal care and a precise, individualized focus to their needs. After all, not everyone wants their coffee served by a Starbucks, their fast food plated up by a McDonald’s, or their real estate holdings sold and bought by a megacorporation.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

Our clients are the reason for our existence. From the moment we engage, we are friendly and transparent and do our best to procure a seamless real estate experience. We pride ourselves in hiring talent who truly believe in the importance of our open and collaborative approach. We also try to walk our clients through the real estate process – which can be, to say the least, tiring, trying and difficult – with patience and confidence that we will always have their best interest in mind.

How do you motivate others?:

We lead by example. Erik Serras, my partner, and I work extremely hard and love to see the idea of getting places out of nowhere spread as a contagion. We regularly meet with our teams and hold a notion dear to our hearts that by being exposed daily to our passion and perseverance, our associates, colleagues and friends will be motivated to achieve nothing less than success.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

Arm yourself with patience and perseverance. New York City is a very difficult market, with a lot of competition… and good results will sometimes come at the cost of losing time for yourself and your loved ones. For those looking to get into real estate, I think it’s important to be very determined to succeed and not be deterred by challenges along the way. Failures and challenges can help create the most pivotal moments in your career.

Be passionate about real estate if you are looking to join the industry. Don’t become a real estate agent because you’ve seen it done on TV! If you watch reality shows, you also know that homes don’t get remodeled in a weekend. They just don’t. No matter what they say.

My Native AdVantage

What do you do best?:

I am extremely good at comfortably wearing a variety of hats – sometimes even a handful at a time. I am not only the co-founder of the company but also its managing director, its on-and-off interior designer, creative manager, marketing and PR director. I hop into the HR schedules, weave in and out of database trainings or user interface conceptualization meetings. Did I mention that at all times… I’m also a mom? I think I can pay a supreme amount of attention to detail while seeing the context. I also think that I can often turn on and off a combination of focus and scatter-brain-iness that comes with the territory of a multi-hat wearer.

Biggest Success?:

Being a mother to a kind, talented daughter and a worse half to a caring, strong and dedicated partner.

Most Challenging Moment?:

When we launched Ideal, the real estate market was collapsing in the wake and aftermath of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. While this was a challenging time – where confidence in the market was low and our money was tight – we focused on our belief in Brooklyn and with our enthusiasm, we were able to build a successful firm.

Motto?:

I have two! First, my late grandfather, an economist by vocation, and a serial polyglot by conviction said to me: “You’ll never understand another person if you can’t speak their language. Learn the language.” This has always resonated with me.

And the second is from a book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu: “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

Favorite People/Role Models?:

My favorite people are my partner Erik and our daughter.

My role model is my father, who passed away when I was very young. I continue to have a profound respect for decisions he’s made, and for the ways he approached challenges. Whenever I am facing an issue, rather than acting immediately, I tend to first try to see the big picture. Then, I evaluate, re-evaluate, re-re-evaluate, and test-fit the choice I am planning on making. I am always trying to “look at things from above” in order to imagine which one my father would find the most appealing.

Favorite Places/Destinations?:

The Hudson Valley.

Favorite Products/Objects?:

I love my Swinging Sticks kinetic energy sculpture. Mesmerizing. Thought provoking. Plus just plain fun.

Current Passions?:

I am passionate about something I learned about recently. There is a great need for isolettes at a Serbian neonatal facility where there are prematurely-born babies without them and the facility cannot afford them. I am working with a friend to put together a framework through which we could have some sent to those who need the incubators most.

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Its speed, its people, its beauty (both natural and manmade).

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Mushroom egg white omelette, cream-top plain yogurt. Chez moi.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Helping my household wake up and start moving.

10:00 AM Having my first coffee.

12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal? Any variety of salad topped with avocado and/or grilled chicken and/or beets, apples, blue cheese, dried cranberries.

7:00 PM – Helping with the homework!

11:00 PM Starting to fully wake up, about to sit in front of the desktop or iPad, after having processed the thoughts of the day and needing to come up with what’s next.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)? Water/seltzer… 6-9 bottles. I have ditched a nasty soda habit a few years back.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Our weekend getaway… a historic Dutch stone home at the foot of a private mountain.

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