It's difficult to discuss Saratoga Springs without thinking about the Roohan family.
Their impact on the region, and commitment to the community, is evident everywhere. Whether it is placing thousands of American flags up and down Broadway, sponsoring our largest philanthropic events, or reimagining downtown, the Roohan family has helped to shape our city.
The Roohan legacy began in 1969 when the late John T. Roohan started what is now Roohan Realty. The first Roohan Realty office was established on Union Avenue, then moved to Court Street with a handful of employees.
After a few years of consistent growth, the office was moved into the historic district at 48 Union Avenue. This magnificent building had been part of old Saratoga and used as student housing by Skidmore and Verrazano College.
In 1996, with over 25 real estate agents, their office moved to 398 Broadway.
In 2002, the Roohan Realty team was still growing, and the company moved one last time to their current location at 519 Broadway – a prominent and historic downtown building that used to be the city’s community theater.
In the early 1970’s, the Roohan Realty team primarily focused on single family homes. Through growth, they progressed to specialize in residential, commercial, new construction and equine properties, serving eight counties in our region.
In 1979, John’s son, J. Thomas Roohan (“Tom”) earned his real estate license and joined the firm. More than fifty years later, Roohan Realty continues to flourish under Tom’s leadership.
Q. Let’s start with something easy and fun. What has been your favorite, or most memorable selling experience?
Tom: Helping my 3 children buy their homes in Saratoga Springs.
Kate: My most memorable selling experience was the first listing I had that I sold when I was 18 years old (Summer 1983).
Dan: I would say the purchase of 63 Putnam Street (in 2022). I had previously worked with a buyer-client on this property and after he walked away, I got to work with Dad on purchasing the building himself. A lot goes into a big transaction like that, and we had an Environmental component which was exciting to assist with.
Q. Roohan Realty has become synonymous with the community in Saratoga Springs. How important is it to you to maintain that image and commitment?
Tom: I will always over-commit to the Saratoga Community – it is critical for business to support the many civic and charitable organizations we are so fortunate to have.
Kate: Very important, I love volunteering to hand out the 5,000 flags on Broadway for the city’s Flag Day celebration. It’s a tradition started by my father to honor our country.
Dan: I think it’s the most important thing we do. We all feel so blessed to have grown up here and to live here today. Our family has a long history of pitching in and giving back to the community and we are committed to carrying on that tradition, more than that image.
Q. How has technology in real estate sales evolved over the decades, and how have those changes impacted your business?
Tom: I will continue to invest daily in technology to always improve Roohan Realty. Our lunch and learn program with Agents, held monthly, always highlights new and improved communication and technology that helps improve our customer’s experience.
Kate: The advances of technology have led to an increase in the volume of real estate transactions, and more importantly the knowledge that can be readily passed on to our clients.
Dan: Just like any business, you must constantly evolve to keep adding as much value as possible to your customers. It’s easier than ever to reach people with technology, but that makes it harder to differentiate yourself. We just take the good with the bad and continue to stay educated on new tools at our disposal.
Q. We are blessed to live and work in the Capital District, especially in Saratoga County. What do you see as the largest opportunities for business growth in our region over the next decade?
Tom: The foundation for future economic growth is how Saratoga County has been built over the past two decades. We are all now stewards of this foundation and need to feed continued economic opportunity. Empire State College and Global Foundries will drive education and training curriculums and the ability for remote work and training puts Saratoga County in an enviable position in NYS.
Kate: The largest opportunity for business growth in our region is the city of Saratoga Springs and the surrounding towns, and the commitment by our past and present community leaders to continue to grow and improve the living conditions of our community.
Dan: I think we have proven to be a destination for big employers. We have a good quality of life and a strong community that supports growth. Global Foundries is doubling down and I think we will continue to attract big names to our community.
Q. What are the most important resources buyers should be using?
Tom: Roohan Realty has over 40 experienced agents that understand your home is your most cherished possession. We treat every transaction with the understanding of the impact the transaction will have on all parties involved.
Kate: A real estate agent’s personal knowledge and experience on the various locations and inventory of available homes. Having knowledge of specific areas when assisting buyers or sellers can prove to be invaluable.
Dan: Anyone can access listings and public records. It’s important to have a relationship with an agent. Inventory is low and so you need someone to get you prepared for the right opportunity so that you can act decisively when the time is right.
Q. With a team of 40+ agents and 10 person staff, how do you maintain company morale and keep the ship heading in the right direction?
Tom: Blessed to have a great team around me – they have my back and I have the confidence in knowing that. We provide a fun and healthy environment that is full of collaboration and positive energy – the end result is our culture, which I am very proud of.
Dan: Free coffee and breakfast on Tuesdays is plenty for my morale. We have a great work environment, great people, and we like seeing each other succeed. With that foundation it’s easy to stay positive.
Q. Conversely, what do you see as weaknesses or areas of concern for our region?
Tom: We need to improve the ability to connect all government resources to the need of our community. We have a responsibility to be at the top of all state-wide financial opportunities and the perpetual task of positioning Saratoga County in the first position for state-wide investment.
Kate: The lack of inventory of homes due to people coming home after experiencing other communities and realizing how much Saratoga County has to offer.
Dan: Affordable housing, and lack of public transportation options.
Q. Was entering the family business a given for you, or did you explore other careers first?
Tom: I was in heavy construction and loved it. My Dad convinced me of the opportunity within the real estate industry and he was 100% correct.
Kate: I explored a career in the banking business first, but then talked to my sister about us both moving home. I decided to give real estate a try and I have never regretted my decision.
Dan: I think I needed to get out and see what else was out there, but Roohan Realty was always a strong option. I found a fun job in the NYC area (Astoria, Queens) after college and I worked there for 10 years. I love the city and my career was going well, but after meeting my wife and having our two daughters, Saratoga started calling to me.
Q. What was your toughest challenge in business?
Tom: Making the right decisions after doing the appropriate research. All mistakes in real estate are expensive.
Kate: Getting started at such a young age and proving to others that I could do it.
Dan: Switching industries after 10 years. It was a big transition for me as well as my wife and daughters and making sure they were happy was the top priority.
Q. How do you get past tough times, stay motivated, and keep the team focused?
Tom: Keep your head down, stay positive and look for opportunity.
Kate: My coworker Carole Tarantino had a great quote, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” That has continued to motivate me when times have gotten tough.
Dan: I’m a very even keeled person and I don’t get rattled easily. Just focus on what we can control and take care of things one step at a time.
Q. Who has been a mentor to you and how have they helped shape your style?
Tom: My parents had very different strengths and there was a lot to be learned from both.
Kate: My Mother was my mentor. She shaped my style by always doing what was right.
Dan: Dad and Aunt Kate have both been invaluable resources to me. They don’t always approach things the same way, but I love being able to solicit advice from both of them. We have a lot of great agents at Roohan Realty, and everyone is so generous with their time and advice.
Q. Let’s talk 2008 Real Estate bubble. For a short period of time a lot of people thought they were real estate geniuses, flipping houses every other week and doubling down on their investments. We all know how that ended, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. What do you have to say to the eager investor looking to flip some houses?
Tom: Flipping houses is not an easy task. It is especially challenging today with increasing interest rates. Labor challenges and supply chain issues make it very important to be very hands on. The good and bad of private equity investing in homes in Saratoga have made the prospect of flipping homes very desirable for many.
Kate: Start conservatively, and don’t get too far out in front of your capabilities. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Dan: That’s a little before my time, but I love renovation projects. I think there are still great opportunities to fix up properties to flip, or rent; however, this is not like 2008 in the sense that we aren’t seeing waves of foreclosures and property values have not dropped a bit.
Q. The stark reality of starting a new business is that 45% fail during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. For a new entrepreneur looking to start their own business, what are a few pieces of advice you can offer.
Tom: Work hard, watch the money and do not hesitate to make tough calls.
Kate: Always put the client first, and you always be there for your client. Go the extra mile for your clients.
Dan: Don't be afraid to fail, sometimes that’s an important part of the process.
Q. Books on your bedside table?
Tom: Tim Russert's Wisdom of our Fathers
Kate: I’m Not Ready for This by Todd Shimkus, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Dan: Be Iron Fit by Don Fink (Half Ironman training program)
Q. Favorite Dessert?
Tom: Family's carrot cake recipe
Kate: My Mom's scratch chocolate cake and Peanut Butter Pandemonium ice cream from Stewart's
Dan: Strawberry shortcake
Q. NY Giants, NY Jets, or the Bills?
Tom, Kate, Dan: NY Giants (of course)
Q. Saratoga Racecourse visits in 2022?
Tom: 8 times – enjoyed them all! Love watching the NYRA improvements.
Dan: 6 or 7
Q. Ballet or Orchestra?
Tom: I defer to my wife
Q. Favorite Quote
Tom: “Make every day your masterpiece.” - Coach John Wooden
Kate: “Love many, like few, always paddle your own canoe.”
Dan: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Q. If you could have lunch with anyone dead or alive (non-family member) who would it be and why?
Tom: Senator Bracket – founder of Adirondack Trust Co. and builder of McGregor Links. So critical to Saratoga County.
Kate: Lucille Ball because I thought she was hysterical.
Dan: Walt “Clyde” Frazier. He's one of the greatest Knick players of all time and the epitome of cool.