thelonious johnson feature

Talking New York City Real Estate with Thelonious “TJ” Johnson

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Thelonious “TJ” Johnson is a New York City real estate sales professional with Brown Harris Stevens. He has first-hand knowledge of the subtle intricacies and nuances that make each New York City neighborhood distinct and vibrant. Highly resourceful, he uses Brown Harris Stevens’ vast network of supportive top producing brokers and worldwide marketing exposure to his clients’ full advantage. In addition, he has teamed up with Ogden Starr, one of the most knowledgeable brokers in New York City, with over 25 years of successful real estate sales experience. Thelonious and Ogden team up to provide sellers and buyers with the most comprehensive and effective service and unparalleled results using thorough knowledge of the city’s most current market activity, well-honed negotiating skills, and an extensive client base.

Thelonious’ professional background in acting and celebrity training has brought him a loyal, high-profile clientele that has opened the doors to many of New York City’s most exclusive residences.

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TJ Johnson (Credit - Michel Nafziger)
Image (Thelonious “TJ” Johnson) Courtesy of Photographer Michel Nafziger

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Why did you become a broker?

I’ve always been obsessed with real estate and architecture. I was always fascinated by the structure of buildings and the way lofts, townhouses, and apartments were configured. During my acting, modeling, and fitness career, I would help my colleagues and clients find their perfect real estate by recommending them to my friend, real estate broker Ogden Starr, who is now my business partner. I would always help with the process and offer any knowledge I had. So one day, Ogden and I had a conversation and he said that I should get my license and we should start a team. So I went to NYU and got my license and here we are. I enjoy working with Ogden because he’s a genuine, straightforward guy, with unmatched knowledge of New York City real estate.

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2. What categories and regions have you covered? Which is the best? The worst?

We have sold in all five boroughs, specializing in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Manhattan is the easiest borough to navigate while Brooklyn has a more laid-back vibe. I really enjoy downtown, like the NoHo and SoHo areas, but every area has its own charm and each area is right for the right customer.

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3. What is your biggest sale to date?

The biggest sale would be helping to combine two huge beautiful lofts in NoHo to create a stunning duplex with over 6,000 square feet of living space. It ended up being a $22 million dollar summer pad.

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4. What is your biggest career highlight to date?

That would have to be teaming up with Ogden and being able to represent Brown Harris Stevens in real estate.

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5. What categories and regions are you covering now? Tell us about some of your listed properties?

We are currently working on three properties: two in Midtown and one in the East Village. One is a condo and two are prewar co-ops. We also have a beautiful penthouse in NoHo coming to market in May, and we have several buyers on the lookout for condos and townhouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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6. What is a typical day in your life like?

A typical day for me would be waking up, getting my cardio and workout in. Reading any news stories on real estate, keeping with current events, then heading to the office. If I’m in upstate New York it would be farm chores, working remotely, and enjoying some trail running.

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7. What advice would you give someone wanting to become a broker?

I would tell someone to make sure that real estate is something that they are passionate about, because if you are not it will never work out…and be ready to put in a lot of hard work.

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8. What was the craziest or strangest thing you’ve ever seen while showing an apartment or house?

A tenant opening the door butt naked and inviting me in. Needless to say, I had to decline.

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9. What changes do you think your industry will undergo in the next five to 10 years?

NYC has and will always be a safe place to invest in property. When real estate drops everywhere else, NYC will always perform.

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10. Who was your best client? Your worst?

The easiest sellers and buyers are the ones who have a clear vision of what they want and an idea on price per square foot in the neighborhood or building that they are interested in. A dream client is someone who knows what they want and are ready to buy today. I feel clients should be demanding because this is a big investment or sale for them and they should get what they want as long as it’s realistic.

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thelonious johndon - credit - daniel d ottavio
Image (Thelonious “TJ” Johnson) Courtesy of Photographer Daniel D’Ottavio

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11. What are some real estate trends people should know?

The trend is that Manhattan keeps on improving with innovative buildings, transportation, and luxury. Property and space will always be a safe place to invest money.

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12. What’s the best piece of real estate or celebrity gossip you can tell us?

I’ve worked with several celebrity clients who enjoy their privacy and I will always keep it that way.

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13. What are three items you always carry with you?

Business cards, phone, and a credit card.

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14. What is something people might not know about you?

Sometimes when I’m in my car by myself and the Disney channel is on the radio because my daughter was in the car, I don’t turn it off and sometimes I sing along. Only sometimes.

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15. What are three never-miss events on your calendar?

First would be snowboarding every New Year’s Day with the family to ring in the New Year. Second event would be the Oscars- because I believe “the arts” is what keeps everyone grounded. Third would have to be the Super Bowl, because it was always a big deal for us growing up in our household.

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TJ Johnson 3 (Credit - Daniel D’ Ottavio)
Image (Thelonious “TJ” Johnson) Courtesy of Photographer Daniel D’Ottavio

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16. What are your three favorite locations in New York?

1- The West Side Highway, because I love running in the morning or evening and seeing all the improvements happening. It’s mind boggling what the West Side Highway has turned into from what it used to be. 2- Would have to be Central Park. How can you not mention Central Park when you talk about favorite places in NYC? It’s such a beautiful park with so much energy. I love watching the cyclists train and runners run. I also enjoy doing my own training in the park. 3- Would be NoHo. The neighborhood just reminds me of part of my childhood, and some of my favorite restaurants are located there.

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17. What are your three favorite restaurants?

1- il Buco – with their amazing old country Italian food.

2- Omen – with their authentic Japanese selection.

3- Boqueria – with their amazing tapas selections.

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18. Is there anything else you’d like to share, discuss or promote?

A buyer or seller can always count on us at Brown Harris Stevens to take care of them in a professional and knowledgeable way.

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TJ Johnson 4 (Credit - Daniel D’ Ottavio)
Image (Thelonious “TJ” Johnson) Courtesy of Photographer Daniel D’Ottavio

PHOTO CREDITS

Lead-In Image – Photographer Daniel D’Ottavio;

Second Image – Michel Nafziger ;

Third Image –Daniel D’Ottavio; and

Fourth Image – Daniel D’Ottavio.