Long before he decided to embark on a career in Long Island real estate, Randy Katakofsky had his sights set on the executive suite. But just as the Wantagh native was wrapping up his undergraduate studies in finance and banking from Hofstra University, a fateful moment sent him down an altogether different path.
While working as a valet parking manager at a Long Island mall, Katakofsky helped to thwart an attempted car theft when he answered the victim’s cry for help and chased the would-be thief across several lanes of traffic to a nearby electronics outlet, eventually corralling him with the help of other bystanders until the police arrived.
“It was like a movie,” he recalled. “We went back to the scene, and the woman gives me a big hug and thanks me. It was really cool.”
That chance to help someone in distress—and sure, the sense of satisfaction that can come with it—inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“I always wanted to be a C-level executive—90 percent of my family is in business,” he said. “I still got my degree, but almost immediately after, I took the test to go into law enforcement.”
Since retiring from law enforcement in 2015, Katakofsky has found a similarly gratifying line of work in real estate. After a stint with Century 21, he joined Douglas Elliman’s Plainview office as a realtor in 2018 and became an associate broker in June 2021. But whether it’s closing a case or closing a deal, Katakofsky thrives in helping people to solve problems.
“I like to put everything together for my clients—it’s like a giant puzzle,” he explained. “I tell them that my job isn’t just about getting them the highest possible price; it’s to get them the best deal with the least amount of stress possible.”
The transition from law enforcement to real estate wasn’t without its challenges.
“You’re going from a government structure, where almost everything is written in a several-hundred-page guide, to being an independent contractor,” he said. “But Douglas Elliman has an enormous training division and hands-on management team, so you are never really alone here. There are agents everywhere that will work with you and guide you to the finish line.”
For Katakofsky, that sense of support and presence is palpable across Long Island.
“If I need to meet a client in Mattituck or The Hamptons, my business card is like my library card,” he said. “It’s my all-access pass into any DE office to do what I have to do. I like the fact that we have brick-and-mortar offices with managers that you can reach out to when you need help to solve a problem.”
As a participant in a technology task force convened by Ann Conroy, the CEO of Elliman’s Long Island Division, Katakofksy appreciates that the company provides the opportunity for “people like myself, who are technologically inclined, to discuss solutions and find ways to improve.”
It’s an ethos of camaraderie and generosity that aligns with Katakofsky’s own commitment to going above and beyond for clients and giving back to the community. When he joined Elliman, he began donating a percentage of his commission to the charities of his clients’ choosing. Among the organizations he supports himself is Pay It Forward, which distributes supply-stuffed backpacks to students in local Long Island schools.
Whether he’s chasing down a crime suspect, guiding a client through a challenging sales process or donating to a worthy cause, Katakofsky chalks it up to “selfishness.”
“I enjoy the feeling,” he said. “So, I guess it’s a win-win.”