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A Second Career in...

A Second Career in Real Estate

When Lorna Mann finished renovating her Brooklyn brownstone many years ago, her mother commented, “I never would have thought it could look this way.”

Mann responded, “It always looked this way in my mind’s eye.”

Mann, a longtime high school teacher who also did a stint in the Peace Corps, has always been interested in real estate, whether visiting homes or designing dream houses in her head. “To me, where you live is really important,” Mann says, noting that a fireplace is a must for her. “Other people talk about comfort food. For me, it is about ambience.”

She lived in her beloved brownstone for nearly twenty years, leaving after a divorce. She and her second husband moved to Long Island in 1990. Though the houses there were different, she thought they were “big and beautiful.” Her love affair with real estate continued.

Her passion for teaching school, however, was waning. After twenty-five years in the New York City public schools, she called it quits in the spring of 2004. Part of the reason: she looked at younger teachers, who lacked her experience and knowledge, but still had the spark, the enthusiasm. “I thought I knew more and was a better teacher, but they had something I didn’t,” she says.

Turns out, retirement didn’t suit her either. The problem, she says, is all leisure activities cost money. She didn’t want to sit at home; she wanted to go to the theater, go shopping, and travel. She needed more income.

A year after leaving the classroom, she had her real estate license. She admits it isn’t easy to get started selling real estate. Luckily, she doesn’t depend on the money to pay the bills, just to provide extras.

However, she has enjoyed getting to know her neighborhood better and learning about sales, something that makes her feel connected to her late father, who was a businessman.

One recent highlight was when she found a buyer his perfect house. It cost more than $3 million, so Mann’s one percent commission was hefty.

“It was a good feeling,” she says.

In general, since she started her new job, she has been “energized and enthusiastic,” she says. She can’t help but think of the young teachers back at school. Like them, she feels passionate. She figures she will work in real estate fifteen years.

“I think reinventing yourself is very good,” she says. “I love learning. This is a whole new learning process.”