By Jill Nagy
Karen Totino closed the doors of Green Conscience, her shop on Church Street in Saratoga Springs at the end of March to devote herself full-time to a growing real estate business.
Green Conscience was a mattress, furniture, and home products store dedicated to providing quality and education to people who seek a healthy, safe, and sustainable lifestyle.
She is a licensed real estate agent who will work out of her home and at the new Alexander Monticello Real Estate office in downtown Saratoga Springs at 511 Broadway, specializing in serving clients over the age of 50.
Totino owned and operated Green Conscience for 10 years. As she developed her real estate business, she thought she could do both but, she said, “I have discovered that I am not Superwoman. Ten years in retail is enough.”
So, she sold the last of her stock and the store furnishings.
She has been a licensed real estate agent for two years, affiliated with Monticello, “one of the fastest growing brokerages in the area,” according to Totino.
The company, headquartered in Colonie, has five agents in Saratoga County, some of whom have been with the company for two or three years, according to Alexander Monticello, the broker who owns the company.
Totino lives in Ballston Spa and most of her clientele is in Saratoga County, particularly Clifton Park, and north to Glens Falls.
“More people are downsizing,” she said of the market. She is there to help them sell their large family homes and buy something smaller and more suitable. She has also tapped into a “big network of de-clutterers and organizers.” Late in March, she presented a free workshop on downsizing at the Saratoga Visitors Center. It was sold out and she plans another one for May 23.
Monticello also entered the real estate business almost as an afterthought, he said. In 2009, when he graduated from Albany Law School, “it was a very bad year to graduate from law school.” However, once he passed the state bar exam, he was eligible for a real estate broker’s license.
“I thought of doing it on the side,” he said, “but, one thing led to another.” Today, there are 13 in his company, including two associate brokers, eight licensed agents, and two other employees. The agents are independent contractors who work exclusively for Monticello. He provides support in exchange for a portion of their sales commissions.
Monticello estimated that 40 percent of his company’s business is in Saratoga County and that volume is growing. “It’s a very healthy real estate market,” he noted.
The Saratoga Springs office is available for agents to meet clients, hold meetings and do their work. It will not be staffed.
Totino can be reached at 518-573-6846 or by email at karen@MonticelloNYS.com. Monticello’s telephone number is 518-227-0718.
By Jill Nagy