A Conversation with Kay Ognibene…
Seated at her kitchen table, Kay Ognibene, dressed like she was ready to go back to the office, with her cellphone by her side, spoke of her 40 years in real estate.
“It started in 1974 when I was asked if I was interested in taking a '14- week' real estate course on Wednesday nights at Genesee Community College," Ognibene said.
Though Wednesday was her bowling night, she thought it sounded like interesting so she signed up.
Prior to starting a career in real estate, Kay said she worked at the telephone company for 16 years and then was a stay-at-home mom. But then she completed the real estate course and got her license. She worked while her children were at school, occasional evenings and weekends.
"I worked and I was still able to have supper on the table for my family…I trained my children not to answer the phone because she had to answer if clients called."
Kay initially worked for her brother-in-law, Tony Giordano, until he moved to Florida; then she was hired by Feary-Hyatt Realty. Of her days working with Dick Feary, she said the business was growing at the time and she remembered Dick keeping his team motivated and competitive amongst each other in a very positive manner. He taught her the term “Circulate to Percolate” -- he was referring to getting out in the community and talking to people to “percolate” or produce more connections and possible sales. After her start with Dick, she then worked with Pearl Hyatt and later Howard Cohen. And when Howard moved to Florida, she went to work at Mancuso Realty.
She spoke positively of all her colleagues and repeated how much she loved her work.
"It is a great field and you have to like what you are doing. My advice would be to work hard and listen to people. If you listen, you will give people what they want.”
Asked if it was difficult at the beginning working in a male-dominated career, and she replied “No, everyone was good to me."
Kay was the first woman on the Genesee County Board of Realtors. She says throughout her career, she kept up to date by going to seminars and taking required tests every two years.
“I went to seminars to improve myself -- I wanted to be successful."
And successful she was, with a career that spanned for four decades. One of the big changes in the industry was the use of advertising.
"When I first started, the newspaper was the main avenue to advertise," she said. "But now the use of the computer and online listings are how most people look for real estate. In addition, the secretaries used to do the computer listings, and only about eight years ago, she learned to do her own listings, use e-mail, and work with technology."
But some things don't change.
"If the price and location are right… the house will sell. Location is key."
Interviewing Kay, it's clear that she enjoys her chosen field.
"It was fun... I loved real estate. ... When I took that course, I did not know what a mortgage was. I guess I’ve come a long way.
Kay continues to be active in the community and is a member of both the Paolo Busti Organization and Batavia Businesswoman’s Group.