How Aleksandra Scepanovic Went from War Zone Reporting to Working in Luxury Real Estate

Aleksandra Scepanovic Interview

It is always interesting to get to know the people behind some of NYC's most coveted listings. Take it from Aleksandra Scepanovic, the managing director of Ideal Properties Group who was once a war reporter during the Balkan Wars, and later found a passion for real estate when she moved to New York City. We spoke to her about her life journey, real estate, and some of Ideal Properties Group's hottest listings.

What is the difference between an independent real estate firm and a commercial firm?

An independent real estate firm is its own entity and not part of a larger conglomerate or corporation. It is independently owned and operated.

What makes Ideal Properties Group different? What kind of properties do you offer?

Ideal Properties Group is different in several ways. We are a real estate firm that is extremely focused on transparency and collaboration. The company’s co-founder, Erik Serras, actually commutes between all five of our offices to hold team meetings with our agents and staff, every week.

We believe in sharing ideas and information with our agents and this, in turn, fosters a collaborative environment. I personally designed our office spaces, and each one uniquely has an open atmosphere, often with glass-enclosed key offices and congregation spaces, ensuring that management and company meetings and training sessions are easily accessible to everyone.

Additionally, we emphasize training and have created an internal training program dubbed “Roadmap to Success,” which all of our new agents must complete. The program loosely resembles a college class and has a textbook and accompanying video series. It is a practical guide with best practices on how to become a productive and successful real estate agent. We offer properties in Brooklyn and Manhattan for people looking to buy across asset classes.

This includes prices as low as a $2,500 rental apartment to starter homes priced at $300,000 and upwards of $7M-$8M homes and investment properties. Aside from rental properties, we also market and represent commercial retail and office spaces.

You have quite the background living in a war zone. How did you transition into real estate?

I was born in former Yugoslavia and was a war reporter during the Balkan Wars. These were difficult times, professionally but also personally… and the work, as well as a state of continual crisis left me aching for peace. As the war finally left the Balkans, I sought physical and emotional refuge from the war theater and in 1999 I moved to New York City.

I ended up pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in interior design. I had always had a soft spot for architecture and design, and New York City fanned the passion even further. After graduation, I was hired to design interior spaces of a new 12-story development in Brooklyn… and soon thereafter, I transitioned to a real estate agency position at a boutique real estate firm in Manhattan.

It was there that I met my partner Erik, and some two years later, we decided to branch off and start our own firm in Brooklyn – in April 2007. The borough was not yet seen as Manhattan’s competitor but we saw signals of impending change. We proceeded to build a technologically-innovative firm out of the spare bedroom of our townhouse apartment. Today, we have five offices, four in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, and over 250 agents and support staff.

What are some of your most luxurious offerings?

We have currently a number of luxurious offerings, including:

29 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn Heights is for sale for $6,695,000. Masterfully restored and impressive in proportions, this single-family home in New York City’s oldest historic district – Brooklyn Heights – spreads its landmark beauty across six stories.

657 Degraw Street in Park Slope is on sale for $2,995,000. This is a beautiful, three-family Neo-Grec brownstone with a newly-renovated interior.

210 West 136th in Harlem is for sale for $2,900,000. This is a spectacularly renovated two-family townhouse, featuring a luxuriously appointed owner's triplex over a garden duplex rental.

 Anything else to add?

The real estate market has seen so many changes in the past 12 years since we launched Ideal Properties Group. If the past is any indication of times to come, I can’t wait to bear witness to all the changes that are in store for the next 12 years in the dynamic world of New York City’s real estate.