Jessica Richer’s career path included administrative positions in the senior housing industry, state government lobbying and commercial real estate development. She couldn’t have predicted that route when she started college as a speech pathology and audiology major, but she wound up exactly where she wants to be.

How do you characterize the commercial real estate market today? I feel our area is somewhat insulated from what’s happening in some other metros. The fact we have tech [jobs] helps us a lot. I’m finding there’s a lot of deals out there. I keep hearing about the gloom and doom of what’s going to happen. Do I think things are going to change in the next two or three quarters? Yes, I do, but I don’t think the impact is going to be as significant in our area.

What kind of deals are you doing? One of the unique things about being in this area is you don’t have to have one niche. I like to mix it up. Last year, most of my deals were either multifamily, land or warehouses. One was a big office building that never hit the market, and retail leases. I’ve got a couple of very big deals in the pipeline that will be sales.

Has the increase in interest rates impacted your deal flow? It hasn’t right now. I think it may towards the end of the year because some of the deals I’m working on now are not contingent on financing. They’re actually cash deals. However, I think when people go to make decisions by the end of the year that will definitely influence people’s decision-making. On the other hand, I’m working with investors. There are people with money who want to invest. They want to buy buildings. They want things that are leased. They’re willing to consider anything. The things I’m showing them are warehouses fully leased, strip malls that are fully leased. They’ll consider anything as long the money makes sense.

What’s the weakest part of the commercial market today? We have a ton of office space that’s empty. That’s always been a problem for us. Look at downtown Albany. We have millions of square feet that are empty. From what I’ve seen, retail has been going strong. Warehouses are pretty strong. I can’t find warehouses. I need to find them for clients. They want to buy.

You’re a woman in a field still dominated by men. Did you ever feel that was a stumbling block or additional challenge to being successful? I definitely feel when I started a long time ago there were very few women and it was a challenge. But what I’ve been able to do, which has led to my success, is I’ve gotten involved. I’m a past president of [Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Brokers Inc.] I’m on the [New York State Commercial Association of Realtors] board of governors. I’ve basically paid my dues. People know who I am. I’m proud of the relationships that I have and the reputation that I have. People respect me. They know if I put something on the market, I’ve done my homework. The information is going to be there. The questions are going to be answered and it makes sense. The thing is, I love doing commercial real estate.

Why? It’s just so interesting and stimulating. Every deal is different. Every finance aspect is different. It’s not just me. It’s the CPA, the attorney, the inspector. You’ve got to have a good group of resources to bring to your client, and I love working with the little guys, too. A lot of people don’t want to work with startups. A good example is Cider Belly [Doughnuts]. I was working with them for two years before we found a location for them in downtown Albany. That was a great location for them for a long time. Then they wanted something else. We found [a building on] Fuller Road. When you’re in business as long as I am, you establish these relationships and over time you develop a game plan.

What are the essentials to being an effective, successful commercial real estate broker? You need to continually educate yourself. I probably do 20 to 30 continuing ed units a year. You have to do your homework. You have to know when you meet with clients what their needs are and how to help them, and when you’ve put a listing on the market you have to make sure you’ve done your homework. You have to know the zoning, what the municipality wants, what’s permitted. So if you have people calling you about things, you have to be able to answer their questions. Integrity – you have to be a person of your word. Make sure that people understand you respect them. You want their business, you value their business and you are going to work hard on their behalf.

How often have you recently turned on the TV and seen your husband, Alan, talking about the history of the potato chip and how it was first popularized in Saratoga Springs? Apparently he was on the History Channel for a thing they did about peanut butter and they had a clip of him in there. He didn’t even know it. Somebody called him and said, “Alan, you’re on the TV.”

Do you like potato chips? Oh yeah, definitely. It’s kind of fun being married to someone like that. We were in Safety Harbor, Florida, walking down the street during a festival. Some guy looks at him and says, “Hey, I’ve seen you on TV.” You just never know.

This interview, originally posted by the Albany Business Review, has been edited and condensed.