From Cab Driver to Top Broker: An American Success Story


Amjad Pervez and his children.

Amjad Pervez arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport one day in 1998 with $250 to his name. “Fifty dollars of which I spent on the cab ride from JFK,” said Pervez, now a team lead at Compass Real Estate.

At 28 years old, Pervez had left his family and friends in Pakistan and moved to New York City in search of work and opportunity. Like so many New Yorkers who have managed to carve out a life for themselves despite a lack of family wealth or professional connections, Pervez’s story is characterized by humility, persistence, and optimism. With the help of a distant cousin, Pervez first began living in Brooklyn in a “cab drivers’ apartment” in which residents took shifts sleeping while the others were out driving cabs around the city. Through the encouragement of other Pakistani ex-pat community members, Pervez soon enrolled in computer courses, attending school in between the 14-hour taxi driving shifts he continued to work to be able to pay his bills and send money to his family.

In the midst of a routine shift, Pervez began a conversation with a rider who worked on Wall Street at a financial services publication and encouraged Pervez to come work for him designing the company’s website and web-streaming platforms. That serendipitous conversation put Pervez on track to gradually build his career expertise in sales, website design, and streaming services. Pervez continued to work on Wall Street for five years before changing direction and applying his knowledge of sales to the real estate industry.

His proverbial moment of baptism by fire came during his first real estate role at City Pads, a small Gramercy-based firm. “It was July. It was very hot, and I was running around with all of these college graduates who were looking for rentals right out of school,” he recalled. “I had two months of expenses left in my savings account and I had to support my family as well.”

After an exhausting first month on the job, Pervez had not closed a single deal. “I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me’ but I told myself I had to give the job at least three months. The next month, I did so many deals that I was the top producer in my office.”

Since then, Pervez has built an impressive career in real estate sales as well as a life on the Upper West Side. “My life revolves around the Upper West Side,” he said. “My kids are here, I work here, and I live here,” he said. Outside of work, Pervez devotes his time to his son and daughter. All three of them enjoy visiting local bookstores, biking along the West Side Highway to Battery Park City, and grabbing dessert at Big Gay Ice Cream on West 85th and Columbus.

Previously, Pervez spent time at Douglas Elliman and Nest Seekers International before moving to Compass in 2019. For those toying with the idea of buying an apartment, Pervez offers some food for thought. “My advice to clients is to focus on what will make you happy and where you will be comfortable. Everyone has different needs,” he said. Knowing that the processes of buying or selling a home in New York City can become incredibly stressful, Pervez has honed an ability to understand his client’s priorities and to offer himself as a resource when they are ready to take the next step.

“I think people appreciate that I don’t pressure them to rush into making a big decision. Who am I to tell them that they’re ready right now?”, he said. “My clients have always been very loyal to me and have referred me to others. I listen, I try to understand where they are coming from, and I enjoy working with all kinds of people.”

Pervez’s patience and introspective nature are also reflected in his hobbies which include a love of reading and drawing. He rediscovered his artistic talent years ago when a former girlfriend recommended that he de-stress after a particularly hectic work day by reminding him of his boyhood passion for drawing. Since then, Pervez has built an impressive portfolio of painstakingly-detailed portraits made in pencil.

One of Pervez’s drawings.

Asked what has drawn him to the real estate industry, Pervez emphasized his relationships with clients, some of whom have even become close friends. “I’ve always enjoyed working in real estate because I find New York’s architecture so interesting and diverse,” he noted. “And the best part of this job is that I get to meet people from different backgrounds, countries, and cultures. I’ve made so many good friends and connections through real estate. In fact, one of my best friends – my squash buddy – was previously a client who came to see an apartment I had listed. We started talking about squash and began playing together and now we’re very good friends.”

Amjad Pervez.

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