Dirt Digs In: Frances Katzen

Frances Katzen Questionnaire

New York City real estate broker Frances Katzen at Douglas Elliman runs a 10-person team of luxury agents that has closed $2.5 billion in total sales and sold more than $250 million annually since 2010. Her team also produces the Katzen Report, a monthly newsletter that covers trends and data in New York City real estate.

Describe the most beautiful room you’ve ever been in. The dining room at Le Train Bleu located in Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.  Built in 1901, it offers some of the most beautiful and authentic details from that time period.  Really makes you feel like you’ve been taken back in time to a different era.

What is your favorite architectural style? Early 1800s to early 1900s – a true time of scale and proportion that amplified a regal way of living both in Europe and other cities such as New York.  The works of Emory Roth and Rosario Candela came in the back end of this period, and captures some of my favorite buildings in New York City.

What is your idea of the perfect view? Anything with expanse, whether it be looking over the Caldera in Greece or the hilltops of Napa Valley.

Where would you most like to live? The countryside of Italy or France, or back around a harbor such as San Francisco or Sydney again.

As a child, which room of the house did you spend the most time in? The living room/playroom. I would dance to the soundtrack of “Flashdance” and wear really shiny leg warmers!

What is the one thing you can’t live without? Aside from my children?  I hate to admit it, but my phone!

What qualities do you appreciate in your friends? Their honesty and their humor.

What is your greatest fear? Regret.

Does social media give people false expectations of life? Yes. It’s a slippery slope to fully recognize its presentation, which is more of a marketing tool, versus a “true” real raw life moment captured. I feel like it can be incredibly powerful in its reach, but corrosive in our ability to stay fully present in real time. That presence is starting to atrophy.

Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to your dinner party? Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen), the author of “Out of Africa,” Jane Goodall, a prominent scientist best known for her study and protection of primates in their natural habitats, and Suzanne Farrell, a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and George Balanchine’s muse.

What aspect of your personality has created the most problems for you in life? Perfectionism.

Who is your favorite architect? Emery Roth.

Which song always makes you cry? “After All That We’ve Been Through” by Chicago.

What’s the proper course of action when everything around you is falling apart? Identify what’s not working and why, stay calm, and just deal with it.  I think it’s important to turn down the volume of the drama and get on with it.

When did you first fall in love? When I was 19 years old.

When was the last time you surprised yourself? When the pandemic hit. I was in quarantine with two children under the age of seven, and an age difference of five-and-a-half years. Trying to homeschool, keep my business running, chasing an 18-month-old, cooking, and cleaning without any help! By the end I had it down and loved it.

What is the most challenging thing about aging? Not realizing how great we had it in our 20s!!

What was desperately important to you when you were young that no longer seems quite so pressing? Pleasing everyone. Now, I just stay true to what rings true for me irrespective of how it may “look.”

Which movie can you watch over and over again? “The Bridges of Madison County.”

What is your definition of luxury? An experience that can never be replicated again.

What is your greatest extravagance? Owning more than one home.

What’s the most widely held misconception about money? That it means freedom.

What is your idea of fun? Camping with my family somewhere remote or travelling with them overseas.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My children, husband, and my love of performing as a ballet dancer.

When and where were you happiest? Right now.

How would you like to die? In my sleep, knowing my children are sorted without putting them through much sadness.

Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to play the piano.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising children who feel good in their skin and can experience joy.

What’s your idea of an important achievement? Something that inspires change, makes a difference, or inspires someone to do the same.

What is your most treasured possession? My relationships.

Who are your heroes? All the people who lost their lives fighting for change in one way or another, and did it for no other reason than that they believed it was right. Truly incredible.

What is your greatest regret? Not fully appreciating what others have shared with me until after the fact.

What’s the most significant historical event that’s occurred over the course of your life? What I am living through now. The pandemic and the need for social equality . . . how the world handles things right now can have lasting implications.

What’s important to you today? My relationships — having real connections with people on topics that matter.


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