Real estate broker Francine Hamill says she was born to serve the people of Broad Channel, and after a series of setbacks, including most recently Hurricane Sandy, she is ready to continue her work.
After the storm struck last October, Hamill was completely wiped out. When she returned to her office at 814 Cross Bay Blvd., there was a car lodged against the storefront window. She had put all the office equipment on higher ground, but the office was submerged nonetheless. All the contents of her business were destroyed with the exception of one wooden cross that Hamill, a devout Christian, had placed in the window the preceding day. The cross was intact, and she felt it was significant of her faith.
“It was symbolic of the future work I was meant to do,” she said.
Hamill, an Ozone Park native, is no stranger to triumphing over tragedy.
She began her career working at a Manhattan property management firm. There, she learned the various aspects of the business including sales, leasing, landlord-tenant responsibilities and stabilization. It was then that Hamill became groomed for the real estate industry. At 20, she obtained her real estate license and continued to work as a sales agent and property manager for five years. She then worked in Long Beach as an on-site property and real estate business manager.
But after two years, the building was sold and she was laid off. She had also just had a baby and lost a member of her immediate family. Hamill’s life was clearly at a crossroads.
In the aftermath of those life-altering events, Hamill was selling a family property and came in contact with an influential person in the business, who helped her get a position in a large company. There, she worked for two years, where she was tutored, prepped and primed to run her own business.
With more knowledge and confidence, Hamill moved to another franchise where she met a broker who offered support to open her own office. She came to Broad Channel to show a home to a customer, and noticed an abundance of property for sale. Instinctively, Hamill realized the potential for opportunity and went for it.
She moved into the existing Ruffle Bar location for about two years, bought out her partner and moved across the street to open a solo office. Hamill was able to network in the area and gained the trust of the people in the neighborhood. In 1999, she set up her Cross Bay Boulevard office and received the Prestigious 1999 Centurion Producer Award of Queens. Eventually her office grew big enough to occupy two storefronts. She was there for 12 years.
In 2006, she became a born-again Christian and joined a Bible-based church. She decided to branch out with her own label in a newly named agency, Channel Team Realty. At a pivotal point in her life, she had a revelation that she was put in this business in this particular place, to help the people of Broad Channel. Formerly, she was driven by money and ambition, but not anymore.
“I perform by principles first, and profits second,” she said.
Broad Channel is the hub of her marketplace, but she also covers Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and the Rockaways, and receives referrals.
She continues her hard work through her faith to serve the community. She has become more spiritual and believes God had a plan to guide her along a more purposeful path.
In 2010 when the recession hit, she was forced to downsize and reduced her office to one storefront and had to minimize her staff to lower her overhead expenses. Nevertheless, she persevered through the downturn.
Like so many other people who suffered losses, the damage to her business from Sandy was overwhelmingly devastating. She looked at it optimistically, but had to regroup and figure out what to do next.
Miraculously, a previously owned property she had sold at 910 Cross Bay Blvd. became available for her to lease by the owner. She jumped at the opportunity to lease it as her new office only a little over a block away. Every item in her office was donated by various businesses, and she set up shop once again. Hamill’s office will officially reopen in the new space on June 8.
“This is exactly God’s plan for what he meant for me to do,” she said of her work.