New York’s venerable, gay-owned Chelsea real estate agency, Neary Real Estate Bankstarted the year in a new home.
In early 2021, Gil Neary and Matthew Bank, co-owners of Bank Neary Real Estate, moved from the real estate office at 16th Street and Sixth Avenue to their new digs at the corner of 17th Street between the eighth and ninth avenue.
The agency “has roots in the neighborhood,” said Neary, 64, who opened the agency nearly 35 years ago with his former business partner who retired in 2018.
The agency entered a new era with Bank, 55, becoming Neary’s new business partner and vice president of the agency.
Bank became an agent and joined the agency in 2010 after his former business, HX, a Chelsea-based nightlife magazine, closed after 18 the same year.
Neary was the magazine’s first announcer, “A Castle for Every Queen”. It was very popular with readers, says the president of the real estate agency.
The two homosexuals had a long business relationship, respected each other and were appreciated in the neighborhood. When Bank expressed interest in becoming a real estate agent 12 years ago and later a business partner of the agency, it made sense.
“We had a good working relationship. It’s been work[ing] very well so far,” Neary said.
In 2021, the agency’s 10 agents, including Bank and Neary, rented more than 100 apartments and sold 54 properties totaling nearly $40,000,000 worth of properties, according to Bank.
The agency’s focus is Chelsea and surrounding neighborhoods, but agents work in all five New York boroughs, representing tenants and landlords, as well as buyers and sellers.
The men are excited about the new location and the new era of their agency. Unlike their previous space, this one is on the ground floor, with large windows overlooking the branch and a small patio at the entrance to the store. Bank plans to hold an official open house in the spring when the weather improves, he said.
“It’s a fresh start for us,” Bank said.
People can walk by, wave, and stop to chat with agents and check out the latest announcements.
The agency opened its doors at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s. Homophobia was very real. New York City did not have the strong anti-discrimination housing laws it has today.
Neary remembers the first days the agency opened its doors. A gay couple sat down in front of Neary. Recommendations from friends of friends led the two men to the agency. The real estate agents they had previously tried to work with had not realized that they were two homosexuals who were buying a house together.
The men told Neary they wanted to work with “people who we know we will be comfortable with and who will understand us,” he recalls. “I think people always want to be with someone they can relate to.”
Gay homebuyers Philip Gallo, 59, and Michael Isbell, 64, longtime clients of Bank Neary Real Estate, have returned time and time again for their home sales and research needs.
“We’re a gay family,” Gallo said, saying being a gay real estate agent was “clearly a factor” in their decision to work with Bank, who is also a longtime friend.
“It’s great to have someone who knows the market and knows the community we were going to live in,” he said.
White glove service
Clients told Gay City News Bank and Neary they know the neighborhood, city and governance inside out, and they praised the pair’s listening, advising and negotiating skills.
“It’s one of the most important decisions people will make” in terms of making major purchases in their lives, said Gallo, a trained compliance attorney. “The client is going to be gutted no matter what, given the importance of the decision.”
“Matthew is really calm under pressure which is also amazing,” he added.
Gallo knows. Last year he contacted Bank to help his family find their new home when they decided to move back to New York from London. Gallo declined to release information about his family for privacy reasons.
“Matthew was amazing in helping me find an apartment in Manhattan,” Gallo said of the transatlantic search, which was done over FaceTime for several months. They found a new home in Chelsea, renovated it and immediately had to leave temporarily due to a fire in the flat above theirs, he said.
The bank came to their rescue. He found a three-bedroom apartment in a building with a doorman for the family to live in for six months and helped with all the logistics and paperwork.
“Matthew was amazing,” taking on the “short-term” challenge of finding a temporary home “for me, my kids and my husband to move into,” Gallo said. He then helped them find their second home in Connecticut.
Isbell also came to Neary by word of mouth in the mid-1990s. Over the decades, the consultant bought and sold apartments in the same building as Neary, he said. Towards the end of 2019, Isbell sold her apartment and moved to Palm Springs. However, he missed New York. In August 2021, Isbell closed a new apartment in her old building with help from Neary.
“He listened to me a lot. I think [he] understood quite clearly what I was looking for. It didn’t venture very far out of my price range. He’s just really easy to work with,” Isbell said.
To find current Bank Neary Real Estate listings, visit www.bankneary.com.