CLARK, NJ – After nearly a quarter-century in the business, commercial realtor Bill Caruso of Performance Realty Corp - a subsidiary of ERA Village Green Realty is getting ready to retire. Caruso spoke with TAPinto Clark recently about several career changes he’s had throughout his life and how he plans to pass along his knowledge to future generations.
Real Estate Career
Over his 24 years in real estate, Caruso has been involved in several major projects in Clark. He spent three years as a residential realtor before switching to commercial.
“I think my biggest accomplishment was senior housing – getting housing for our seniors who needed it,” Caruso said. “I worked on Woodcrest. I was very instrumental in getting Woodcrest done.”
Woodcrest at Clark is one of the township’s several affordable housing sites included in the Fair Share Housing Agreement, approved by the township in 2017. Caruso said he was involved in the sale of the Evening Realty property, another affordable site, which he said is currently undergoing an environmental cleanup. Though he was not involved in the sale of the property, Caruso said he encouraged developer Garden Homes to purchase and develop housing at the A&P site.
These and other projects over the years have led Caruso to continued success. “Last year I was very fortunate. I did almost $10 million in sales,” Caruso said, adding a nod to the future. “I’m working on other projects that haven’t come to fruition yet.”
Before Real Estate
Caruso, 85, started his real estate career at age 62, after several years in the plumbing industry and a decade as a councilman in Clark.
“The reason why I feel that I was successful in the [real estate] industry was, prior to being in real estate, I was in construction with the Plumbers’ Union in Newark. I was the President of the Union,” Caruso said. “Having the knowledge and background of construction was so beneficial to me being a success in real estate.”
Caruso was also a councilman in Clark from 1984 to 1994, created the Clark Senior Housing Corporation, and was a member of the township’s planning board.
“A lot of the things you see around town [are] because of my work, such as the senior bus, affordable housing,” the elevator in police headquarters, and daytime medical coverage, Caruso said.
Helping the Next Generation
“Before I [retire], I want to be able to pass along, to young people who want to make a comfortable living in the real estate industry, the knowledge they need to make the money,” Caruso said. “I feel we have an obligation to pass along whatever information we can to young people to help their careers.”
To accomplish this, Caruso has developed a training course for licensed realtors who are looking to get involved in the commercial real estate business. The course, Caruso said, would benefit both young people just starting out in their careers and adults who are seeking to enter the industry.
“Whether they’re an adult or if they’re a young person coming out of high school or college, we have to help them [and] steer them in the right direction so that they can have a career,” Caruso said. “I want to be able to head them in the right direction. And if they listen to me, they can make very good money, and they can be very knowledgeable.”
Caruso’s preliminary course outline, shared with TAPinto Clark, says course attendees will “receive training to handle all steps of successful commercial real estate sales transactions,” including understanding real estate listings, screening and working with buyers and sellers, managing contracts, adhering to regulations.
The course would also include several guest speakers, including a construction code official, a mortgage and bank representative, an environmental attorney, and a local government official.
What Does it Take to be a Commercial Realtor?
Caruso said it is particularly important for realtors to understand how to work with local governments.
“[Realtors] have to know where to go, who to talk to, if you wanted to get information about what the township is doing,” he said. “You’ve got to work with the town in order to get things developed. Otherwise, you’ll never get them done.”
In addition, as with other industries, Caruso said real estate has grown more reliant on technology.
“We’re living in a highly competitive world. Everything is high-tech,” he said. “If you’re not knowledgeable on how to do all that stuff, you’re not going to be able to be a competitive person in a career today.”
Above all, Caruso said how knowledgeable a realtor is about their projects can make all the difference.
“When you’re dealing with the people in my industry, commercial, you’re talking about guys who invest money like 6 or 7 million a shot. They want to know that you know the answers when they ask you a question. Because when you can’t answer that question, they get leery,” he said. “I always make sure that I’m so knowledgeable. And if they ask me a question I don’t know about, I say ‘I’ll get back to you.’”
How to Get Involved
Caruso said anyone who has an interest in commercial realty and/or his upcoming program should contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Please contact me by email if you’re interested in signing up for such a program,” Caruso said. “That would help me tremendously.”
He said further information about dates and times for the program would be determined once he knows how many people are interested. In the meantime, Caruso is looking forward to his next career change.
“I’m looking forward to this career in being able to teach,” Caruso said.