8 Things Real Estate Agents Still Have From Their First Apartments

published Dec 13, 2020
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Real estate agents are advocates for decluttering between moves. So if they own anything that can be traced back to their very first apartment, it’s safe to assume these mementos or pieces of furniture have earned their keep.

We asked real estate agents about the treasures that have continuously made moving day cuts. From thrifted furniture to reliable kitchen appliances, these are the items that real estate agents have kept from their original apartments.

A mirror plucked from the trash

Beatrice Genco, a licensed salesperson with Triplemint in New York City, says her favorite piece of decor is a mirror she found on a curb, left out with the garbage. On her way home from a dinner date, she spotted the four-foot tall, dusty mirror. Her boyfriend asked her not to pick it from the trash, but she insisted and lugged the mirror home. After cleaning it up, a beautiful cherry wood frame revealed itself.

“It’s been in three apartments with us now,” Genco says. “I know this isn’t a glamorous story, but honestly if you haven’t picked up a piece of furniture from the side of the road, are you even living in New York?”

Olympic memorabilia

After graduating college, real estate broker Radha Herring was living in Atlanta as the city was preparing to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. She has a lot of pins and collectibles from the summer games, but a handmade piece of artwork—essentially an enlarged ticket from one of the events she attended —is her favorite Olympic keepsake. “It’s very colorful and bright and looks great on any neutral wall,” says Herring, a broker with Watermark Real Estate Group in Myrtle Beach. “It reminds me of my youth and the joy and peace the Olympics has always represented.” 

A food processor 

“I still have my first Cuisinart food processor,” says Julianne Bond, a licensed associate broker at Triplemint in New York City. “It was a gift from my father and every time I use it—which is a lot!—I think of him.” While she’s replaced the bowls over the years, Bond says the food processor itself remains an amazing machine filled with memories.

A coffee table 

A $20 driftwood, glass-top coffee table that Highlyann Krasnow, partner at New York City brokerage MNS, found 18 years ago at a weekly street fair can still be found in her home. The lot where she scored the table has since been turned into a condo building. She also has a framed record of her father’s first jazz album, which he released more than two decades ago.

A French painting

During her first visit to Paris, Melissa Okabe, a real estate agent with Alta Properties in Los Angeles, bought a painting from an artist outside of the Musée d’Orsay. “This painting is significant because on that trip I fell in love with French culture, eventually moving to Paris and having an incredible life experience living abroad,” Okabe says.

The painting is of the Pont Alexandre III, the ornate bridge that crosses the River Seine. It shows the Eiffel Tower in the background and two women dressed in chic hats and coats walking along the river bank. The painting is currently hanging in Okabe’s living room—it’s one of the first things she sees when she walks through the door.

A standing desk 

“As a real estate agent, a lot of paperwork is finished at home,” says Tyler Forte, a Nashville-based real estate agent at Felix Homes. “With the pandemic shutting down our office, I’m pretty happy I decided to keep my desk when I moved.” The height is adjustable so it can be used as a traditional desk with a chair, too, he says.

A thrifted dining room set

When Kate Ziegler, a real estate agent with Arborview Realty in Boston, and Jack Romano moved into their first apartment together, Romano was working down the street from the couple’s favorite thrift shop, Boomerangs, which benefits the AIDS Action Committee. He would pop into the shop every day over lunch to browse the new furniture donations. If any of them looked promising, he’d text Ziegler photos and have pieces put on hold until they could rent a truck to get them home.

“Our dining room set was a steal: $125, a minimal design, including six chairs upholstered in a grey wool that we loved and with leaves to expand to set up to 10,” she says. The set has survived several moves over the past 12 years, and is still a table for work, play, and gathering family and friends.

Grandma’s rocking chair 

Tami Kurtz, a licensed real estate agent at Triplemint in New York City, lost nearly all of her possessions when Hurricane Sandy destroyed her home. But she was able to work with an antique restorer to save her grandmother’s rocking chair, an heirloom passed on to Kurtz when she was in high school.

“It’s a chair I retreat to for reading and phone calls,” Kurtz says. “I always feel grounded sitting there, gently rocking by my window while I think of my grandmother, whose many talents included restoring antiques. I live in a very modern condo with modern furnishings, except for this one piece of cherished history.”

What items have you carried with you since leasing your first apartment? Drop us your stories in the comments below.