Penny Crone Brokers a Second Act

Waiting around outside of a new 36-story glass condo in midtown, real estate broker Penny Crone, 61, was smoking a Newport 100. Her open house for a $2,550,000 apartment in the building, her only current New York listing, had started an hour earlier, but no one was around except her 22-year-old associate Travis Forney and this reporter.

They talked about a deal they did on the Upper West Side. “Penny had called the broker and kind of gave her some lip,” he said.

“Gave her some lip?” she snapped, with the same gravelly throated, eye-widening yelp that made her a semi-iconic local TV news reporter for Fox 5, which let her go in late 2005. “I ripped her a new one.”

“O.K., she ripped her a new one, all right? Let me finish the story,” Mr. Forney said. “She got on there and pretty much cursed her out, saying, ‘You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. …’”

Ms. Crone stopped him. “I didn’t curse her out.”

“Basically,” Mr. Forney said.

“I didn’t curse her out.”

“Basically.”

“I did not curse her out.”

Mr. Forney paused. “She put the screws on her,” he said.

“That’s better.”

“So,” his story went, “I get an e-mail back from her saying, ‘I don’t know who this Penny Crone is, but you’re doing your career a disservice by associating yourself with her. … I don’t want to speak to Penny Crone, I don’t want to be anywhere near her. And if you want to succeed in this business you should stay as far away from her as possible.’ End quote. How funny is that?”

Mr. Forney can’t leave because, firstly, he’s her son—her only child, actually—and also because he lives in his parent’s condo, across the hall from the $2,550,000 listing, and lastly because he just left the University of Rhode Island to join her as a real estate broker. He would have been a senior this fall. “I did my college thing,” he explained. “I partied a little too much, you know, did the whole college experience.”

That day, dressed up for the open house in his blue shirt with a white collar and white cuffs, short hair gelled up just like his mother’s, Mr. Forney looked like a fraternity president on a date; Ms. Crone was wearing a seersucker skirt, a jean jacket with a diamond brooch—“and,” she pointed out, “a very sexy bra so my boobs show.”

She’s all right with her son’s decision to leave school. “Yeah,” she said. “He’s done a million dollars in deals in three months.” Besides, she didn’t graduate from college, either.

EVEN THOUGH MS. CRONE has been a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman since only last year, she first dabbled in New York real estate back during the Reagan administration, after returning from two years of TV and radio work in Houston. But WNYW/Channel 5 hired her before she could finish her first deal.

Penny Crone Brokers a Second Act