A candid conversation with owner Tanya Chuck-Habib on the launch of Hudson Haven Realty
Why did you create Hudson Haven Realty?
To put my answer in context. I’ll start by telling you a little bit about myself. I left Jamaica at age 16, and went to live by myself with a sponsoring family in Switzerland. I never thought twice about strapping on skis and barreling down the slopes. Most people thought I just wouldn’t be able to do it, much less be any good at it…particularly since I had never seen snow before in my life! But I proved everyone wrong and it wasn’t long before many of those very same people had trouble keeping up with me. I suppose you could say that this is how I’ve always lived my life…I’m a natural risk-taker and driven by challenge. I could have chosen to work in real estate without creating my own brand, and work with one of the big franchises, but that would have been totally out of character for me.
But looking back on my life, I have always derived the most satisfaction out of being a little different. Developing and nurturing my own brand and my own way of doing things just seemed more natural to me. With my recent transition to living in the U.S., I really felt that this was a good time to move in a new direction, and listen to the inner voice in my head telling me to branch out.
Where do you get your love of real estate from?
Definitely from my parents.
Ever since I was a little girl, my parents drilled into me the value of investing in real estate for the long term. I grew up in Jamaica, as an only child. My parents were always on the lookout for developed or undeveloped land to invest in – it was almost a hobby for them. For as long as I can remember I loved tagging along with them as we would just drive or walk in the countryside and across city blocks on the look-out for a good deal. Well before any HGTV shows appeared on TV, my parents were always finding something to renovate in whichever home they lived in at the time, and focused on improving every nook and cranny.
My parents always made excellent choices with real estate – whether in Jamaica or in my mother’s home nation of Panama. I remember one time they bought in at the ground floor of raw land being sold for a seaside luxury development project that had a 5-year “break ground” deadline simply because they could sense its future value. As the years passed however, even they were stunned by the valuation increases they saw, and decided to sell without even designing a house. Believe it or not, that development was actually called “Buena Ventura” – “Good Fortune” in English.
You said one of your favorite addictions is spending time with the “Design Home” app on your iPhone?
Yes…guilty as charged! I guess even my choice of evening relaxation activities is a reflection of my love for all things real estate. I simply love to look for or create beautiful spaces (even virtual ones) for no other reason than it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction which is exponentially increased when I’m given the opportunity to share with others. My mother always focused on making every square inch of our home a beautiful living space, so I think I inherited from her my love of interior design and penchant for small details.
You were first trained as a lawyer, and as a licensed New York attorney you have represented commercial clients for almost a decade. Why did you transition to this totally different industry?
Being a lawyer has always been important to me – it is a part of who I am. I will always maintain my license to practice law in New York and continue to keep abreast of legal issues.
My transition to real estate is rather logical in fact. Real estate transactions are indeed a traditional practice area within law firms. And they can be quite emotionally charged, just like so many other client matters I have been involved in.
For me, the best part of the real estate industry is the thrill of zeroing in on a proper asset valuation in partnership with the client, and not just running comps and listings it for the price at which it will sell most quickly. I view every transaction as a puzzle to figure out in the clients’ best interests. I try to envision at the outset of the client relationship: What type of person would buy this particular asset… and for what amount of money… and with what required changes? I love that challenging exercise.
Perhaps what I love the most of all about real estate that I did not get to enjoy often in my law firm life is soaking in the promising landscape surrounding structures. One can always impact structures, but to make dramatic changes to land can be quite expensive and complicated. So I love to envision how the natural surroundings marry up to the structure and sometimes dominate the beauty or utility of the entire parcel.
What is your favorite type of structure and setting?
A rambling, broken down farmhouse, in a rural, wooded area. Just begging to be redone from top to bottom, while maintaining the structural integrity and feel of the locale. I absolutely love the feeling of seclusion and privacy when one can get away from it all in the outdoors. And if it’s got a water element nearby, even better.
At the same time, I do periodically enjoy urban areas. It’s such a stimulating break from suburban life that I never want to be far from it.
Why would a seller retain you?
I feel like I have the ability to treat the client’s property as my own asset.
Once I understand the clients’ economics and how they want to come out of the sale, I adopt those as my own and strive to achieve those outcomes.
In residential situations, I am always brutally honest about having to make some changes because going to market without making needed (and often relatively simple modifications) is damaging to my clients’ financial interests. Of course, not all clients will listen to well-intentioned advice, but it’s my duty to be as candid as possible.
Why would a buyer retain you?
That’s an easy question– after determining the interest of the buyer, I would then go to the market, as though I were shopping for myself.
I would actually live vicariously through their experiences – I love to live the entire experience with them.
Why are you based in Westchester County?
I based the company here because I fell in love with the area. I am simply stunned by how beautiful it is here, despite being in such close proximity to one of the great cities of the world.
Within months of landing in this beautiful region, I began training for the NYC Marathon, and my training plan included many miles during dozens of runs across Croton Point Park and around the edges of the Croton Reservoir. I can truly say that I became addicted to the breathtaking vistas, fresh air and the wildlife.
I spent the first 16 years of my life in Jamaica, 1 year in Switzerland, 9 years in Canada, 6 years in the United Kingdom, and 7 years in the Middle East, but now I can say without hesitation, that I have found a place to really call home.