“My mind doesn’t stop thinking,” the 29-year-old model and real estate entrepreneur Jodie Fanelli said last month, driving in her Porsche SUV to Bensonhurst. “I could wake up in the middle of the night and I come up with crazy things that I’m, like, I have to write it down right away, and I want to try and pursue it.”
“The first business we were ever in together,” her identical twin, Diane, said, “we sold candy at recess.”
“We were 10 years old,” Jodie said.
It was raining, and the sisters were both wearing cream-colored jackets over gray Victoria’s Secret turtleneck dresses, with big brown boots and reddish-brown nail polish on their long hands. “Airheads, we used to have the really big ones, and then those big jawbreakers, that you would suck on forever? Now, thinking back on that, that’s the most germ-infected candy ever,” Diane said. “Especially when you’re in school, and you’re touching everything and you take it out. We would come home with like $100 a day.”
They were on their way to talk with a Brooklyn real estate broker about their new Web site, Tri-State Property Exchange, which they imagine will be a matchmaker for people who want to sell in New Jersey before buying in New York, and vice versa. Connecticut is included, too.
“Say goodbye to brokers,” Crain’s wrote in a flattering item announcing the site.
Jodie got the idea when she and her husband—Salvatore Strazzullo, a lawyer the Post called “a cross between a bulldog and Chihuahua” back when he was working on the Oscar De La Hoya drag-photos lawsuit—were trying to sell their $2.3 million house in Colts Neck, N.J. “It was beautiful, but we hated it,” she explained. “I just said to myself, ‘I wish I could try to connect with a family out in Manhattan.’ And it just turned out that I never found a site I could use.”
It started raining really hard. “It’s not an actual exchange because you’re not going to just hand over the keys. It might be for different amounts, so there’s obviously going to have to be money exchanged,” Diane said. “We’re trying to connect the people.”
WEIRD TIMES CREATE WEIRD NEW ideas. And there’s something about New York City real estate right now that the entrepreneurial imagination apparently finds very appealing: Last month, emails to The Observer promoted a $27-per-person continental breakfast and seminar with National Association of Realtors ex-president Dick Gaylord; an online vacation-home-rental marketplace; and The Pre-Foreclosure Real Estate Handbook, which teaches a formula for making money from foreclosed realty.