DONE DEALS: Village townhouse has 'em oohing and ahhing

Brokers WeeklyNovember 26, 2014

CORE agent Adie Kriegstein recently closed on the sale of a townhouse in Greenwich Village for $326,000 over the original asking price.


The home, at 17 Minetta Street, is a 2,380 s/f three-story townhouse with three bedrooms, three and a half baths, and sold for $5,676,000 on Oct. 30 after being listed for $5,350,000.


“We had a lot of interest in the property and a lot of showings,” said Kriegstein. “At the end of the day, even though it took a little longer than an apartment to sell, we went with the highest and best offer.”


The home, which was on the market for around seven weeks, includes central air, a roof terrace, and garden. It’s located on a quiet street in the Village.


“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Kriegstein. “The townhouse was meticulously renovated. It’s absolutely impeccable. We had the house staged, and everyone that came to see it just oohed and ahhed over it.”


Kriegstein repped both the buyer and seller of the home.

Real estate mogul with a creative touch

Business Day, South AfricaNovember 24, 2014

WHEN then 21-year-old Shaun Osher moved from Johannesburg to New York City as a saxophonist with a dream of playing at the city’s top jazz venues, he soon found himself unable to pay his rent. Two decades later one of the city's biggest landlords, a major player in global real estate, has bought a 50% stake in the company he ended up founding along the way.


An exuberant energy about the now 47-year-old belies the white walls and minimalist design of his company’s 17th-floor offices on Park Avenue in New York’s Flatiron district. The cushion, made of a South African flag, that lies on a couch in his office catches my eye as he greets me on a recent chilly autumn afternoon.


"Hoe gaan dit?" he asks, as we chuckle over the thrill of speaking a language very rarely heard in the Big Apple.


Osher’s story is a true rags-to-riches one. He and his two sisters were brought up by a single mother and, while he appeared in a couple of TV adverts, he had his heart set on being a musician. After saving up enough money by gigging at places such as Johannesburg’s Roxy Rhythm Bar, and with artists such as Vusi Mahlasela and Jonathan Butler, he came to the US to get his degree, arriving with less than $300 to his name. To pay for his degree in jazz performance at the New School, a private New York liberal arts university, Osher took up bar-tending. "But it meant I couldn’t play gigs so I needed something I could do during the day and still be able to play at night." (He had gigs at well-known spots such as Blue Note and Village Gate.)


Answering an ad in the local paper set him on a new career path as a rental agent. A natural affinity saw Osher quickly become one of the top brokers in the city, and after more than a decade with Douglas Elliman, he began his own company, a boutique luxury residential brokerage, which he founded with the backing of his business partner, Jack Cayre, and called it Core (Cayre Osher Real Estate).


Since 2005, Core has marketed and sold more than 30 new development projects and, according to the New York Times, generated more than $4bn in sales. It now has about 100 sales agents and two offices aside from the headquarters in Flatiron district. It has built a reputation for being edgy and bold, using social media to its full potential, and even adding a dash of celebrity by having Osher appear on the TV show Selling New York.


Osher hasn’t abandoned music entirely. He still plays the saxophone and has brought his jazz sensibility to his everyday work. "Being a jazz musician you need to learn how to improvise and know that there are boundaries," he says. "The greatest jazz musicians, from John Coltrane to Charlie Parker, know that there is a set of boundaries in the chord progression. The beauty and uniqueness of your voice is what you do within those boundaries."


Osher sees real estate in the same way. "You have zoning requirements and setbacks, and you’ve got to fit into the neighbourhood but do something unique, all within those boundaries."


Osher has made a name for himself as being ambitious and ready to pound the pavement whenever necessary. Yet those he works with say he has a way about him that is not forceful.


"What I do and the way I do it is very creative. If it wasn’t then it would be terrible," he says. "Working with developers, designers, buyers, sellers, it’s a very creative process. There’s nothing generic about it. No two homes are the same."


Core’s successes include the marketing of high-profile buildings such as One Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue and Walker Tower in Chelsea, where a penthouse fetched more than $50m, breaking a record for the most expensive sale in downtown New York.


Most importantly, the company survived the economic downturn when many others didn’t.


"I don’t look back," he says, when I ask how he managed to get through the tough times. "I’m always looking forward, and I’ve never taken no for an answer. I never let anyone tell me I could never do anything — that just makes me want to do it even more!"


He has a vision for the future that aligns with the deal Core has just signed with Related Companies. It will see Core expand beyond its boutique size and scale, opening two new offices. Related Companies is responsible for some of New York’s biggest projects, such as the Time Warner Centre and the Hudson Yards, a development that’s creating a whole new neighbourhood on the west side of the city. Core will help handle the brokerage needs of Related’s top clients.


"Right now, we’re looking at making Core not just a great real estate company or a broker company, but a great company. I want to achieve what other great companies have achieved," he smiles.


Osher lists tenacity, honesty, not taking shortcuts and overcoming whatever obstacle is in his path as attributes for his success — but also adds being South African. "I’m very proud to have been raised and born and bred there. Talk about a nation that is resilient. It’s just ingrained in us. Regardless of where you’re from, the colour of your skin, how much money you have, South African people are the most tenacious people I’ve ever met, and I’ve travelled a large part of the world," he says.


"There’s been so much adversity, but the outlook on the whole is very positive … and they have a very hard work ethic."


He travels back home when he can, about once every two years, taking his two daughters, aged 12 and seven, with him.


He’s excited by what’s to come. There has been much talk about the city becoming too expensive, driving out the kind of struggling artist he himself once was. Osher agrees it is expensive but believes that’s because it attracts the best of the best. "New York is one of those places that’s a magnet for excelling in your profession — just like London, Hong Kong, Sydney, and hopefully Joburg soon. New York is the top of that list of best cities in the world. It attracts a lot of wealth and successful people, which drives the real estate prices," he says. But there’s only so much you can sell on an island. "Everyone wants a piece of New York, but relative to other cities in the world, it’s still affordable."


Osher maintains, as the city has evolved and become much safer, that one doesn’t need a lot of money to appreciate its art, culture and architecture.


With the famous skyline outside his window, there’s one building he’s particularly drawn to. "I’d love to live in the Penthouse of the Chrysler," he chuckles.

"What a pity it’s not a residential building."

Top residential agents of the week

The Real DealNovember 21, 2014

Price: $11,000,000
Listing broker: Cathleen Carmody of the Corcoran Group
Address: 101 West 87th Street


Price: $5,676,000
Listing broker: Patrick Lilly and Adie Kriegstein of CORE
Address: 17 Minetta Street


Price: $4,900,000
Listing broker: Jill Ferrari-Rosen of Douglas Elliman
Address: 360 East 88th Street


Price: $4,500,000
Listing broker: Marion Bass of Marion Bass, Inc.
Address: 2000 Broadway


Price: $4,650,000
Listing broker: Kristina Wallison and Robert McCain of Stribling
Address: 175 Riverside Drive 

Featured Real Estate

Modern NYCNovember 21, 2014

650 Sixth Avenue, 2A: $2,895,000 2 beds // 2 baths 1,599 sq.ft*

Located in The Cammeyer at 650 Sixth Avenue, this 2-bedroom with home office is pristine. Features of this residence include high ceilings, an abundance of light and an expansive living area that overlooks a garden terrace. Beautifully decorated and spacious, the entire apartment is bright and airy. The kitchen is equipped with high-end appliances from Miele, Sub-Zero and Thermador and each of the apartment's two bathrooms are outfitted by Waterworks, Duravit and Catalano. This residence offers the opportunity to live in a true loft building in the heart of the Flatiron District. The Cammeyer's amenities include a 24-hour doorman, 3,600-square foot planted roof deck and gym.


1280 Fifth Avenue, 7C: $2,695,000 2 beds // 2 baths 1691 sq.ft*

Located on the southwest corner of One Museum Mile, this spacious 2-bedroom offers generous living space, ample storage, top-of-the-line appliances and exceptional layout and design all in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in New York City. Designed by the renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects, this rarely available luxury apartment boasts the finest views of Central Park. The residences at One Museum Mile sit atop the Museum for African Art - the newest addition to Museum Mile. Building amenities include 24-hour doorman/concierge, gym, children's playroom, teen game room, live-in super, roof deck and swimming pool. All showings, including weekends, are by appointment only.

Sam Chang in Contract to Sell Midtown Building for $17M [Updated]

Commercial ObserverNovember 17, 2014

The Sam Chang-owned East Midtown building that used to be home to a Blarney Stone Irish pub is in contract with an Israeli buyer for more than $17 million, Commercial Observer has learned.


The buyer “flew in to sign the contract” for 710 Third Avenue between East 44th and East 45th Streets, Mr. Chang of McSam Hotel Group said.


The property, which is currently occupied by a 8,125-square-foot, five-story, mixed-use building, is listed for $17.5 million with Massey Knakal Realty Services‘ Clinton B. Olsen and Ax Hayssen. The buying price was just shy of the asking price, Mr. Olshen said. The building has retail space on the ground floor and eight one-bedroom apartments on floors two through five. The now-vacant 2,020-square-foot retail portion used to be home to Blarney Stone pub and bar. Seven of the apartments are vacant and one is occupied by a rent-controlled tenant, according to the marketing materials.


On March 7, the city’s Department of Buildings approved the zoning for the site, a spokesman for the agency said. The Massey Knakal marketing materials indicate the site has been approved for a 25-story, 96-room hotel, but that’s not actually the case, according to the DOB.


Mr. Chang purchased the site in October 2012 for $6.2 million, according to property records. He estimated that the deal will close by the end of the year.


Limor Nesher with Core represented the buyer, which is planning to erect a hotel at the site, Mr. Olshen said.


Update: This story was edited to include the buyer’s broker as well as comments from the seller’s broker.

Yes, You Can Buy a Home in Manhattan For Less Than Half a Million Dollars

Apartment TherapyNovember 14, 2014

Manhattan real estate is notoriously expensive. But you don't have to be a millionaire to own a home in the city that never sleeps — just close to it. We hunted high and low and found these 12 apartments that are (relatively) bargain priced at under half a million dollars each.


The place: 188 East 75th Street, 6D
The perks: This one-bedroom has beautiful moldings, a gorgeous bathroom, and a marble kitchen — with a dishwasher. 
The price: $500,000


The place: 54 East 1st Street, 4C
The perks: This East Village one-bedroom has exposed brick walls and a recently remodeled bathroom. 
The price: $499,999


The place: 309 West 75th Street, Apt 9
The perks: This Upper West Side studio has a skylight — and a private roof deck. 
The price: $399,000


The place: 333 East 43rd Street, Apt 503
The perks: One-bedroom with park views. 
The price: $495,000


The place: 116 Perry Street, Apt J54
The perks: West Village alcove studio with a woodburning fireplace and its own washer and dryer. 
The price: $485,000


The place: 315 East 68th Street, Apt. 2N
The perks: Spacious 1-bedroom with a working fireplace and FOUR closets. 
The price: $495,000


The place: 531 East 88th Street, 4E
The perks: This upper east side studio has a full kitchen, a separate sleeping area, and its own washer and dryer. 
The price: $315,000


The place: 509 East 77th Street, 4A
The perks: One-bedroom in a doorman building. And those windows!
The price: $425,000

The Place: 634 East 14th Street, Apt, 19
The Perks: East Village studio with lots of light and a walk-in closet. 
The Price: $429,000


The place: 444 East 52nd Street, 3D
The perks: One-bedroom apartment with lots of windows, a working fireplace, and a relatively spacious (14'6 x 20'6) living room. 
The price: $499,999


The place: 44 West 96th Street, #1A
The perks: This Upper West Side one-bedroom has charming details like wainscoting, french doors, and a window seat, and is only half a block from Central Park. 
The price: $459,000


The place: 457 West57th Street, Apt. 1409
The perks: Studio in a doorman building. And you live in Manhattan!
The price: $274,999

The Ultimate Luxury: a Doorman

The Wall Street JournalNovember 12, 2014

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.


New Yorkers want doorman service at their luxury condo buildings, and they’ll pay a premium for the privilege, according to recent sales data.


The average price a square foot for apartments in doorman buildings was $2,958, roughly 65% more than in non-doorman buildings, which sold for $1,797 a square foot. CityRealty, a real-estate data site, looked at 2014 sales through the third quarter of the year in 200 luxury condo buildings in New York City—half with doorman service and half without.


“At the upper tier of luxury, I think it’s expected,” said Gabby Warshawer, director of research at CityRealty. Part of the reason for the price gap, she said, is that many of the newer luxury buildings, which offer full-service amenities, had the most sales. Residential tower 15 Central Park West topped the list, averaging $6,517 a square foot with 14 sales this year. Other pricey Manhattan doorman buildings include the Time Warner Center, One57 and Walker Tower.


Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood, dominated by large, full-service buildings, had the most sales in doorman buildings, while the trendy downtown neighborhood of Tribeca had the most sales in nondoorman buildings, according to CityRealty.


There are roughly 30,000 unionized residential building service workers in New York City, which includes doormen, porters, and other service professionals. They earn about $45,720 a year, according to Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.


Doormen do far more than open doors. Frank Vasquez, 45, has worked in the same building on West 79th Street for close to 16 years. He says he has gotten to know multiple generations of families on the job, which includes hailing taxis and watching owners’ kids while they run to the grocery. There are other hats he wears—counselor, for instance, when a neighbor gripes about the noise or somebody smoking in public areas. “I’ve gotten pretty good results,” he said.


Having a doorman is especially useful for owners who use the apartment as a pied-à-terre and need someone to keep an eye on the place, said Ginger Brokaw, an associate broker with Town Residential. And “when you have a busy life in New York, it’s invaluable,” said Ms. Brokaw.


But there are downsides. “Doormen do know everything,” said Emily Beare, an agent with CORE. That can be great for buyers who want attentive service, but a nuisance for high-profile owners. “At One57, the second time I went there, they knew my [full] name,” she said. “It made me feel very special.”


Corrections & Amplifications


A chart in earlier version of this article incorrectly identified dollar amounts as the average list price, per square foot, instead of the average sale price.

The West Wing

Luxury Listings NYCNovember 12, 2014

With more than 150 home listings over the $10 million mark, real estate south of 30th Street is hotter than ever. And that means developers are looking to put up swanky new condos anywhere and everywhere —Soho’s western frontier being no exception.


Once neglected, Hudson Square — a micro -neighborhood defined as starting at West Houston Street and going south to Canal Street, and from Sixth Avenue west to Greenwich Street — is set to see a wave of new condo development.


“Five years ago, we got our first pharmacy,” Ellen Baer, the president of Hudson Square BID, told the New York Post. “That was exciting.” But now both Related and Extell, two of the biggest developers in the city, are making major plays in Hudson Square, an area once known as the Printing District.


In June, Related broke ground on an 80/20 rental with 201 units at 261 Hudson Street. The 12-story, 168,000-square-foot project is scheduled to wrap up in 2016. And Extell has kicked off construction on a 116-unit, 22-story building at 70 Charlton Street, according to the Post. The development will include 91 market rate co-ops and another 25 affordable rentals.


And smaller condo projects are on their way, too. Coming soon is 15 Renwick, a 31-unit condo designed by ODA’s Eran Chen. The building is expected to open next year.


“The product is different fundamentally than anything on the market right now,” Shaun Osher, CEO of Core, who is marketing the building, told the Post. He added that for one thing, 15 Renwick’s units are smaller than most. Where developers “brought big units into the market because there were none — now everything is big units, and the market demands smaller units,” Osher said.


Prices at 15 Renwick reflect the smaller size: Two-bedroom units start at $2 million and rise to $10.5 million for a penthouse.


Meanwhile boutique hotels, like the 122-key Hotel Hugo and the 329-key Tommie, have helped transform the area around the Holland Tunnel into a luxury destination. And new slow-food restaurants like Dig Inn and Essen have added to the neighborhood’s attractions.


Developers in Hudson Square are cutting back on some of the amenities seen in neighborhoods like Tribeca and Greenwich Village to create better value, Bertrand Buchin, of Douglas Elliman, told the Post. This fall, Buchin is unveiling 286 Spring Street, a five-unit condo building where prices start in the low-$6 millions and are expected to rise to $11 million, according to the Post.


“At some point this area is going to have to take off,” Matthew Moinian, who developed Hotel Hugo in partnership with Fortuna Realty Group, added. —Christopher Cameron



Studio         N/A
1 bed           $3,919
2 beds         $8,737
3 beds         $15,944
> 3 beds      $17,702


Studio        $465,000
1 bed           $998,000
2 beds         $3,783,210
3 beds         N/A
>3 beds      $10,350,000

NYC's Premier Properties

Luxury Listings NYCNovember 12, 2014

Several CORE listings are featured in November's edition of New York City's Premier Properties:


Emily Beare - 111 Mercer Street, PH in SoHO

Emily Beare - 45 Walker Street, 4 in Tribeca

93 Worth Sales Office - 93 Worth Street, 1205 in Tribeca

Doug Eichman - 56 Bank Street in the West Village

Adrian Noriega - 15 Broad Street, 3810 in the Financial District

Christian Rogers - 200 East 66th Street, A1202 on the Upper East Side


Please find the featured listings in the clipped PDF below. 

Square Feet: Sun-Filled Triplex in Soho

NBC New YorkNovember 09, 2014

111 Mercer boasts huge glass walls that frame the expansive living spaces with both east and west views, but it's the seamless transitions to the terraces that really make an impression. This episode of Open House was taped at 595 West End Ave., New York. 

5 Upper East Side Luxury Residences Currently on the Market

Haute LivingNovember 07, 2014

When it comes to luxury real estate, New York City has it all—from decadent, modern co-ops, to spacious townhouses bursting with grandeur. Here are five of the ritziest residences currently on the market in Manhattan’s exclusive Upper East Side.


#1: Crème de la Crème


Drenched in creamy beige tones, and outfitted in luxe, modern furnishings, is an apartment owned by Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau.


The sumptuous three-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom co-op located at 1040 Fifth Avenue (a Rosario Candela-designed building) is currently available with a new, lower price tag of $34.5 million. The apartment originally listed for $43 million back in January, and was brought down to $38 million before being taken off the market in June. The re-listed space has a light, airy feel, and features extraordinary Central Park views, a media room and staff quarters, wood-burning fireplace, and terrace off the master bedroom.


#2: Deluxe Duplex


Another swanky suite making a second appearance on the market is an apartment spanning two floors of the Carhart Mansion on East 95th Street.


The impressive, 10,350 square-foot space has a whopping 17 rooms, including seven bedrooms, seven-and-a-half bathrooms, a library, family room, study, and exercise room. Listed at $34.9 million, this grand duplex is coated top-to-bottom with intricate, ornate details (wood carved panels, marble floors, crown molding), and additionally features 20-foot-high ceilings and three French doors.


#3: Tremendous Townhouse


Nestled in the center of Lenox Hill, on East 64th Street, is a newly-renovated, five-story townhouse for sale at $10.9 million that is certainly not short on luxury features.


Eleven-foot ceilings, a grand staircase, and large terrace overlooking a landscaped garden are only a few of this property’s fabulous facets. Additionally, there is an oak-paneled library, a master bath (spanning the width of the townhouse), and several wood-burning fireplaces with carved marble mantels.


#4: Simply Harmonious


Warner Music Group COO Robert S. Wiesenthal is currently asking for $10.5 million for his lavish East 63rd Street, five-story townhouse.


Similar to the previous property, this six bedroom, seven bathroom home has also been entirely renovated. It has a state-of-the-art kitchen, two wood-burning fireplaces and terraces, new roofing, and updated electrical and air conditioning/heating systems. The detailed and sharp-looking interior features a primarily neutral base, with pops of color throughout (such as in the carpeting).


#5: Pleasant Penthouse


For a slightly more modest price, there is a penthouse with an interesting history available at 160 East 72nd Street for $7.25 million.


Quite possibly one of its main (of many) intriguing facets is the fact this triplex penthouse used to be a squash–tennis court. It is equipped with 14-foot ceilings, light-filled rooms, an expansive terrace, multiple wood-burning fireplaces, and a solarium.

St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School will go condo following $30.7M deal

New York Daily NewsNovember 06, 2014

A former school building that is part of the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral property sold for $30.7 million, days after the Archdiocese of New York unveiled a major restructuring of its parishes.


St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Nolita will become condos.


Built in 1835, it is on Prince St., between Mott and Mulberry Sts., and is considered part of the landmarked old St. Patrick’s Cathedral complex. It originally served as an orphanage before it was converted to a school. Its former students include Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese.


The school suffered financial difficulties amid dwindling attendance and shuttered in June 2010. Since its closing, it has hosted various art exhibitions and parties.


The developers, Time Equities and Hamlin Ventures, plan to repurpose the federal-style three-story building as two luxury townhouses and seven condo lofts.


The archdiocese announced Sunday that 112 of its 368 parishes would be merged through various methods that include effectively closing 31 churches.


CORE, a real estate brokerage, is handling the condo sales.



“We expect to receive strong interest in 34 Prince St. given the historical and architectural significance of the building,” said Shaun Osher, CORE’s CEO.

Real or a Rendering?

The Wall Street JournalNovember 06, 2014

Rendering: When it’s completed next year, 15 Renwick in Manhattan’s Hudson Square neighborhood will have 31 units priced from $2 million for a two-bedroom unit to $10.5 million for a penthouse. The Brooklyn-based design and consulting firm March created the renderings in eight months, with six to eight people working on the project, says Brandon Hicks, co-founder of the firm. “Everybody does these renderings now, so we have to look at ways we can stand out,” he says. March renderers look for styling elements that make the space feel lived in. The faux taxidermy and the dog statue behind the chair convey a quirky character—but the space still looks real. “We consider it photography for a project that hasn’t been built yet,” says Mr. Hicks. The building was developed by IGI-USA, a subsidiary of Israel-based Izaki Group Investments, and designed by ODA Architects.

First Look: Nolita Church’s Conversion to Condos, Townhouses

CurbedNovember 06, 2014

For over a year, the St. Patrick's Old Cathedral compound on Prince Street in Nolita has been destined for a conversion. The church sold its orphanage/school/convent properties to a development team of Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities in December 2013. But the duo just now released the first rendering of their plans for the landmark, which includes seven loft-style condos (2,600 to 5,000 square feet, many with outdoor space) and two townhouses (9,000 to more than 10,000) designed by Marvel Architects and, eventually, brokered by CORE. It cost Time and Hamlin a greater-than-expected$30.7 million to acquire the properties, and St. Patrick's will use those monies to fund renovations. Of course, it's just one of many religious institutions saying "God, yes!" to cash from residential developers in order to pad their coffers.



The proposal has been approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Top 200 Real Estate Agents In America 2014

Real Estate ExecutiveNovember 05, 2014

Top Real Estate Agents are gaining market share and growing production just as much of their competition leaves the real estate business. 


The last five years have been turbulent in the real estate industry. Over 50% of the competition has been swept away during this time of change. For many of the nation's top producers, the consumer "flight to quality" has created a unique opportunity to grow market share. 

Top 200 Real Estate Agents In America 2014

Real Estate ExecutiveNovember 05, 2014

Top Real Estate Agents are gaining market share and growing production just as much of their competition leaves the real estate business. 


The last five years have been turbulent in the real estate industry. Over 50% of the competition has been swept away during this time of change. For many of the nation's top producers, the consumer "flight to quality" has created a unique opportunity to grow market share. 

15 Renwick Touts Pricey Condos With Steampunk Costumes

CurbedNovember 03, 2014

Event: Sales gallery launch for the condominiums at 15 Renwick Street

In the house: Developer Eldad Blaustein of IGI-USA, architect Eran Chen of ODA Architecture, the marketing and PR team, CORE brokers, targeted buyers, and friends of the above.

Menu: Plentiful finger foods both savory and sweet, a full bar, and autumn-inspired cocktails

Overheard: "I'm very kindly asking you to please put a chip in my mouth." "Everyone keeps touching me."

Observed: A lot of wigs. Mozart carrying around the tiny electric piano he stole from his two-year-old daughter.


If you're not both forward- and backward-thinking enough to want to live in a building alongside a tattooed steampunk boxer and a smartphone-toting Marie Antoinette, then you're just not zany enough to live at 15 Renwick. That's the idea behind the IF Studio-created marketing campaign for the black, glassy, and boxy new building going up on Renwick between Spring and Canal, right near the Holland Tunnel entrance. The two aforementioned characters (played by models Brett David and Clara Buchanan) came out for a Halloween-themed party to celebrate the launch of the building's sales gallery around the corner at 505 Greenwich. Note: the building's 31 condos, priced from $2M to $10.5M, are not yet officially on the market, despite a planned mid-September sales launch date and the ongoing, super-intense Victorian-themed marketing campaign.


The building, still under construction and slated for a 2015 opening, will be 11 stories tall. It will include 18 two-bedrooms ranging from $2.5 million to $3 million, six three-bedrooms ranging from $3.5 million to $4 million, three adjoining townhomes ranging from $3.995 million to $7.5 million, and four duplex penthouses ranging from $7.85 million to $10.5 million.


ODA's Eran Chen pointed out that the inset windows complete with wood trim provide extra privacy. The metal surface of the building will also change color over time. He is particularly proud of variety of units in the building and the floating piece at the top. Developer Eldad Blaustein said that all of that comes together to form something that isn't boring or average.


The evening presented the opportunity to reveal new details about the units, as well as show off new, somewhat fanciful, renderings (created by MARCH).


The two- and three-bedroom residences will range from 1,000 square feet to 1,800 square feet. The two- and three-bedroom townhomes will range from 2,100 square feet to 3,500 square feet with attached terraces starting at approximately 700 square feet. The three- and four-bedroom townhomes will range from 2,644 square feet to 3,575 square feet with attached terraces starting at approximately 700 square feet.


The lobby will feature "Bespoke Patterned Cement Tile" flooring, custom oak panel walls, and a polished stucco ceiling, plus a 24-hour-butler. The residences' flooring will be six-foot-wide custom-stained walnut plank. The kitchens will feature Sub-Zero wine coolers. The master bathrooms will feature marble floors and walls. Other amenities include a boxing gym, private parking garages, cellar storage, a zen garden, bicycle storage, a laundry room, and a roof deck.


As for the party itself, it was planned by Olivier Cheng. Attendees loved posing for photos with the characters. Many guests also loved touching the boxer, who is even more tattooed than when the campaign was launched. When they hired David and Buchanan, neither of them knew they'd also be called on to bring their characters to life at a party. Below, take a look at the model kitchen and bathrooms as well as the steampunk-clad partygoers. Plus, the colorful signage and another construction shot.

Flood of new project launches shift fortunes of marketing firms

The Real DealNovember 01, 2014

The wave of new developments hitting the market is changing more than just the skyline. It’s also shifting the fortunes of the firms that specialize in planning and selling those projects.


This month, TRD surveyed more than a dozen new development firms and compiled a ranking based on the condo and rental projects they launched since the beginning of 2013, as well as those set to come to market through the end of this year.


A few years ago, as supply withered following the downturn that put many projects on hold and tanked others altogether, new development marketers found themselves squeezed for business. Some even had to lay off staff.


But things began picking up last year.


In 2013, there were 2,384 condos launched in Manhattan — just seven units shy of the numbers from the three previous years combined, according to figures compiled by the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.


Corcoran projects 2014 will end with about 3,100 units launched in the borough. The company expects that figure to double next year, and it is one of the firms seeing the biggest gains as a result.


Yet the wide availability can be a double-edged sword: More business is enabling established firms to expand their portfolios, but it’s also luring new ones into the game. It also means more choices for buyers, making it more challenging to seal deals.


“The landscape for new development has certainly changed a bit,” Halstead Property President Stephen Kliegerman said. “There are more jobs than there were back in 2011. There are new players in the field.”


Among the firms nipping at the heels of more established players are upstart brokerage Urban Compass, which launched a new development arm this year, according to a ranking of new development marketers conducted by The Real Deal.


But with such a large amount of supply on the market, buyers have more options, and the firms are finding the environment increasingly competitive.


“For the first time in a long time, there are a lot of opportunities out there for buyers,” said Corcoran Sunshine President Kelly Kennedy Mack, adding the competition for buyers means firms have to up their game. “You have to fight a little bit harder to get the message out there.”


The leaders


The historically dominant Corcoran Group, along with its new development arm Corcoran Sunshine, came out the clear winner in the rankings, with 2,722 units across 61 projects, including banner developments such as Extell’s One Riverside Park and the Rudin Family’s Greenwich Lane.


Corcoran regained its top ranking after slipping to second place in number of units in TRD’s last ranking in 2011, when it was edged out by sister company, Citi Habitats. The boom at Corcoran Sunshine is a far cry from five years ago, when the company had to cut about 100 employees due to a lack of work.


Last year, the firm struck a huge deal with the Related Companies to market condos in the developer’s pipeline, and with projects such as Hudson Yards and the Zaha Hadid-designed 520 West 28th Street overlooking the High Line on the horizon, Corcoran is gearing up to take on the workload.


“We’re in a place now where we are hiring. We are expanding to meet the needs of our expanding portfolio,” Mack said. “Still, we’re doing so slowly, intelligently. We certainly don’t want to ever be in the place we were in 2009.”


Coming in second place behind Corcoran is Halstead Property Development Marketing, with 2,241 units at 40 projects. That’s up from the No. 6 spot in 2011.


Halstead was buoyed by large projects including the 554-unit rental Gotham West in Hell’s Kitchen and 388 Bridge Street, the Stahl Organization’s 53-story tower that is Brooklyn’s tallest residential building.


Kliegerman said the firm hired three new project managers to keep up with demand and is pumping resources into its research department.


One of the challenges in a rising market, he said, is tempering his clients’ wide eyes.


“Clients have higher expectations and usually want to raise prices,” he explained. “Managing a client’s expectations in a bull market can be very difficult.”


Douglas Elliman Development Marketing took third place, on the backs of developments such as Macklowe Properties’ 432 Park Avenue, the personal-pool equipped Soori High Line at 522 West 29th Street, and Stella Tower, the follow-up by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s Walker Tower in Chelsea.


The company has 2,121 units across 35 projects.


Standing out from the pack


“I’d say what we’re seeing now is more inventory,” said Steve Rutter, director of Stribling Marketing Associates. “Buyers have more to choose from.”


With so much more product on the market, marketers said it takes extra effort to distinguish their projects.


That effort can start in the early stages of development, like making the decision to bring a pioneering project to a neighborhood or attaching a high-profile name to a building.


In the case of 151 East 78th Street, Rutter said, the team at Stribling suggested hiring architect Peter Pennoyer, a name more associated with uptown private residences.


The move was “something to differentiate themselves from the pack,” he said.


Stribling came in ninth place with 366 units across 11 projects, including Cary Tamarkin’s concrete box at 508 West 24th Street and the 65-story sculpted glass tower designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill at 252 East 57th Street.


Corcoran Sunshine’s Mack said some of the ways a marketer can push a stalled sales effort include hosting more events and pumping bigger bucks into publicity and advertising campaigns.


“When you’re the only sort of game in town, people don’t have options,” Mack said. She added that in a more crowded market, “Sometimes you have to take a more aggressive stance in terms of promoting yourself and your message and explain what you have to offer.”


At the CetraRuddy-designed 443 Greenwich, Richard Cantor of Cantor-Pecorella, No. 14 on TRD’s list, said he turned the sales gallery into a museum showcasing the Tribeca neighborhood’s history.


“That has proved to be quite important when marketing such a high-end property,” he said. Prices in the building range from $7.5 million to $20.5 million.


Losing ground


When TRD last did its ranking three years ago, Corcoran Sunshine’s usual preeminence had been edged out by sister company Citi Habitats, which capitalized on a market favoring firms that specialized in rentals.


But Citi Habitats’ fortunes soon turned, when the head of its new development department, Cliff Finn, decamped for Douglas Elliman and took a team of leaders with him.


“We didn’t have a new development team for a year,” said Jodi Stasse, who came on as Finn’s replacement last year.


Citi Habitats tumbled to the 12th spot on the list this year with just two projects: Sheldon Solow’s 209-unit Two Sutton Place North and the 88-unit No. 3 Packard Square in Long Island City.


After Finn left, Citi Habitats partnered with Corcoran Sunshine on its remaining projects, and the two companies are still sharing resources in their research and planning departments.


Brown Harris Stevens also went through a shake-up, when senior managing director Shlomi Reuveni, head of the company’s new development marketing arm, decamped for Town Residential in April.


A spokesperson for BHS said the company was in the process of selling out the few remaining homes launched under Reuveni. In February, the company launched SR Capital’s Norman Foster-designed 551 West 21st Street, where the three-bedroom penthouse equipped with a 61-foot rooftop swimming pool is listed for $50 million. That one 44-unit project had BHS ranked 17th this year.


Reuveni’s move to Town helped that firm, founded in 2010, debut at sixth on this year’s list, with 1,590 units spread across nine projects. Town handled leasing on three large Financial District rental properties developed by DTH Capital and the late Ronny Bruckner, with another 200 units set to launch early next year at 20 Exchange Place.


Town’s condo projects include the Ismael Leyva-designed The Charles on the Upper East Side, where the three penthouses are listed as in-contract on StreetEasy for a combined $96.6 million.


Rose Associates is another company that slipped, as the benefits of the saturation of rental properties a few years ago waned. The marketing arm of the storied development family has just two projects representing 329 units, dropping to 10th this year. That’s down from fourth in TRD’s last ranking, when it had more than 1,200 units.


A spokesman for Rose said it came down to “pipeline and timing,” and pointed out the company is set to launch the 612-unit rental conversion of 70 Pine Street next year.


Fortunes rising


Earlier this year, Urban Compass launched its new development wing, and in July brought in former Extell design chief Roy Kim, who worked on buildings such as One57 and the Carlton House, to lead it.


Kim, who earlier in his career worked at Corcoran Sunshine, has built a team of seven, including new development director LaVon Napoli, who previously worked as head of residential marketing for Rose Associates.


The company started with a rental project, Naftali Group’s 245 West 25th Street, and has helped launched three condo developments so far. The four projects have a total 94 units, bringing Urban Compass in at 16th in the ranking.


“We started out with rentals because it’s an easy way to break in. About six months ago we went into sales,” Kim said. “It’s really the sign of a healthy brokerage — not just doing resales but also taking on new projects.”


Leasing guru Nancy Packes began ramping up her eponymous firm in 2009 with the termination of her non-compete clause with BHS, where she worked as head of the company’s project marketing division. Packes ranked in the middle of the 2011 list with more than 600 units and, sticking with rentals, her firm shot up to the fourth spot with 1,753 units this year.


Her projects include the Strata at Mercedes House, Invesco Real Estate’s portion of Two Trees Management’s zig-zag building in Hell’s Kitchen, and the sister building on 29th Street.


Packes said she sees a cooler market ahead and smaller apartments at lower price points, a turn she thinks provides more opportunities to boutique marketing groups.


“As prices come down,” she said, “the field opens up tremendously for other firms to participate.”


Another company making inroads is the Long Island City-based Modern Spaces, which made its name in the downturn taking over condo-turned-rental projects in Queens.


The firm, 9th in the ranking, is expanding deeper in that borough and this year launched its first project in Manhattan, the 117-unit rental School House at 371 Madison Street.


“During the last few years when everybody was doing rentals, rentals, rentals, I mentally prepared myself to be a rental company,” Modern Spaces founder, president and CEO Eric Benaim said.


And as condo developments have become more prevalent in LIC, they have made up more and more of Modern Spaces’ business, accounting for half of the company’s projects over the past two years, he added. “More and more people are getting into condos, which we’re happy about.”




All told, the top 15 firms TRD surveyed brought to market nearly 16,000 condo and rental units throughout the city during the period surveyed, from 2013 to 2014.

What they’re reading now

The Real DealNovember 01, 2014

Where do you look for inspiration and insight? This month, The Real Deal polled leaders in the industry to find out what they’re reading, how the book was recommended to them and what they’ve found most compelling about it.


Maryanne Gilmartin
President and chief executive officer, Forest City Ratner Companies


What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?


“The New York Nobody Knows,” by William B. Helmreich. About a New Yorker who walks 6,000 miles of city terrain to really try and understand New York; the author spends four years and took himself to every corner of the city. So far it is a captivating and human picture of the city’s true essence. It takes me much longer to get through fun reading these days, but this is an easy one to keep me awake past bedtime.


What spurred you to read that book?


It is a book about the life of our city, which I am passionate about. [I found it at] Rough Trade in Williamsburg, which is not only an amazing record store for LPs but a great book store for special reads.


Would you recommend it to others?


I think anyone who loves New York would find this book a treat.


Mickey Conlon
Broker, CORE


What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?


Right now I am hurtling through “New York 1900,” which, chronologically, is the second installment of Robert A. M. Stern’s masterful five-volume account of the evolution of New York City. I recently finished “New York 1880” and found myself unable to pause between volumes. It’s catnip for history buffs.


What spurred you to read that book?


The entire series has long held a place of honor on the bookshelf, but it would only make its way down occasionally to be used as a reference — usually to settle bets about the history of a particular building. It was only last year that a particular passage had so captured my imagination that I decided to begin reading the entire series. At first it seemed like a herculean feat — I mean, these books are heavy — but I quickly found myself irrevocably captivated, and a little bit more muscular. These books are trainer-approved.


Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others?


For those of us who ponder the wonders of the New York skyline, it’s easy to marvel at architectural innovations simply as feats of engineering, but there’s so much more. We take for granted the simple conveniences that the telephone and the elevator afford us, but post-Civil War New Yorkers could never have imagined how these new inventions would propagate the city’s rapid growth toward the sky. I wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone interested in architecture, the history of New York, or even sociology. The whole set contains more than 5,000 pages, which may seem daunting, but it’s worth the commitment. When devouring an entire city, it’s best to take it one bite at a time.


Bob Knakal
Chairman, Massey Knakal


What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?


“The Art of Woo.”


What spurred you to read that book?


The author is a Wharton professor (my alma mater), Richard Shell.


Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others?


It is a great book for salespeople. It looks at the art of persuasion, which is a critical skill for anyone who deals with people professionally.



Is the soaring rental market changing patterns?

The Real DealNovember 01, 2014

Pressure from New York City’s highly competitive condo arena is spilling over into the rental scene, and as a result, some long-held assumptions about the Manhattan versus Brooklyn markets are being turned on their head.


This month, The Real Deal talked to residential brokers with expertise in the Manhattan and Brooklyn rental markets to understand the impact of an influx of newcomers — would-be condo buyers priced out of the market by international buyers — on the rental market. The most troublesome result for renters: A lack of inventory is contributing to an exponential increase in prices, said Oliver Brown, a broker with CORE.


Sources report that pressure on the rental market is being released in several ways. In some cases, renters are shedding their Manhattan-centric perspective.


“Clients have become a lot more flexible in terms of where they will live. People have adapted more of a pioneering attitude. Areas that were considered ‘off-limits’ are now first-choice destinations for many people,” said Eric Hamm, senior managing director at Citi Habitats.


In another about-face, brokers report that Brooklyn is outpacing Manhattan in regards to rental prices; in some cases the Upper East Side is actually a cheaper option.


“Renters looking to Brooklyn for more space and a better deal are turning around and coming back to Manhattan. The notion of moving to Brooklyn to save money has ended, and price-shocked renters are finding better deals on the Upper West/East Side and Upper Manhattan than in many of the ‘prime’ Brooklyn neighborhoods,” Hamm said.


Brokers appear to agree that lower-priced rentals are moving fast as renters jump on deals quickly. Still, at least one broker expressed concern that rising rents may have a profound impact on the city for some people.


Lancelot Watson-Taffe, a salesperson at Bond New York, said, “I’m afraid if rents keep escalating, there will be no more affordable homes for regular people who are not so wealthy but still wish to experience the city as their home.”


Oliver Brown
Broker, CORE


What are you seeing in terms of prices for rentals in Manhattan and Brooklyn? Are you seeing the market heading up, down or sideways?


I think prices will continue to rise, especially for units located in popular neighborhoods and newer buildings. The lack of inventory throughout the market allows landlords to command higher prices.


What are you seeing in terms of inventory compared to six months ago, a year ago and two years ago?


We have much less inventory, contributing to the exponential rise in rental prices.


What differences are you seeing between the higher and lower ends of the rental markets?


Low-end rentals are immediately becoming occupied and have a short-term shelf life on the market. Proper pricing strategy is imperative in regards to the high-end rental market, as overpriced properties tend to linger.


The Real Deal and others have reported that some would-be buyers have been pushed into the rental market because sales inventory is so low. What are you seeing on that front, and how is that impacting your firm?


Managing both sales and rental transactions, I have not noticed a major influx of prospective buyers turning to the rental market.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods are you seeing emerge right now?


West Chelsea, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg continue to grow in popularity on both the sales and rental fronts.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods have been the weakest in the recent run-up?


I think the Upper East Side is experiencing a slump in rental activity. Its northern proximity and sometimes longer commute compared to other areas may be viewed as negative attributes among renters.


With the rental market so strong, are you seeing any concessions in the rental market? If so, in what types of buildings?


Owners of older buildings that are considered less desirable are paying brokers a one-month fee or offering tenants one month of rent free as a courtesy to entice potential tenants.


What are the biggest challenges to renting apartments in the current market?


Needing good credit and meeting all the qualifying factors of approval have been a hindrance for many renters, especially for young adults.


The Real Deal has reported that some renters are opting out of the soaring Brooklyn market and are looking for Manhattan rentals instead. What are you seeing on that front?


Brooklyn is certainly outpacing Manhattan in regards to rental prices. The Upper East Side is a cheaper alternative.


What are the most positive trends you’re seeing in the Manhattan/Brooklyn rental market today?


Beautiful finishes and amenities are becoming a more regular feature in new developments and recently converted properties. Landlords who spend or renovate using high-end finishes and materials see a greater return than those who don’t. The consumer is very well educated and expects a certain level of refinement.


Alex Saltalamacchia
Director of leasing,


Are you seeing would-be buyers get pushed into the rental market?


That’s absolutely the case. Many buyers have been able to use this to their advantage, signing a one-year lease and “testing” the market, which may be very new to them. The trend we have seen is about 50 percent or so of our renters are coming directly from Manhattan, wanting to be a part of the Brooklyn scene.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods are you seeing emerge right now?


Crown Heights and Prospect Heights have been on folks’ radar this year, but Prospect Lefferts is just now beginning to take off with new developments like 123 Parkside and 33 Caton Place.


Which are the most buzzworthy rental buildings coming to the market?


Two Trees’ Domino Project. Incredibly forward thinking design and development, ultimately connecting the north and south sides of Williamsburg.


Are you seeing any concessions in the rental market?


I’m seeing concessions only given during the initial lease up of a new development, to increase absorption.


What are the biggest challenges to renting apartments in the current market?


It’s always been and continues to be qualifying. Many say it’s harder to rent an apartment than it is to purchase one.


What are the most surprising trends you’re seeing in rental market today?


The increase of renters coming directly from out of state to the boroughs — excluding the tri-state area — accounts for roughly 13 to 15 percent of our business.


Lauren Weiner
Managing principal, Siderow Residential


What are you seeing in terms of prices for rentals?


In the short term, in both markets we are seeing the normal cyclical lowering of prices during the winter months. Many people are renting and waiting to buy because they simply can’t find what they’re looking for.


What are you seeing in terms of inventory?


Vacancy rates are pretty consistent with where they were two years ago. Rental inventory is slowly increasing.


What differences are you seeing between the higher and lower ends of the rental markets?


It’s a tale of two cities, with the higher-end units staying on the market longer and the more economical options moving very quickly. Most of the new construction has been extremely high-end, high-priced condominiums. With the exception of a few new buildings, there has not been any significant contribution to the number of luxury rentals in Manhattan. Given the limited inventory of high-end rentals, landlords are … willing to wait for rents that meet their expectations.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods are you seeing emerge right now?


In Brooklyn, as Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn become more expensive, developers are seeking opportunities in Bushwick, Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights. In Manhattan, the Upper East Side has suddenly become the more affordable option for lots of people. The Lower East Side and lots of Downtown neighborhoods are as hot today as they were cold 10 years ago. In addition, there are massive developments going on, like the Seward Park [Urban Renewal Area]. And Hudson Yards will change the West Side waterfront dramatically in the long run.


Which are the most buzzworthy rental buildings you are most excited about?


We are very excited about Durst’s 625 West 57th Street, which has a tetrahedron shape that allows the building to take advantage of stunning views of the Hudson. It is located in an area that was not too long ago mostly industrial, with little residential and no luxury housing. The construction of this new building, along with the new luxury buildings built along Riverside Drive, and the success of Mercedes House nearby, demonstrates real estate developers’ belief in the future of the Far West 50s-60s. Additionally, the fact that Durst chose to build rentals and not condos signals they also believe in the long-term strength of the area.


Are you seeing renters opt out of the soaring Brooklyn market and look for Manhattan rentals instead?


We have a lot of clients moving from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side.


What are the most surprising trends you’re seeing?


Our firm is doing tons of deals for foreign investors. People talk about how many people are coming from China and other places to buy here, but to see the influx and number of deals we are doing first hand is really surprising.


What are the most positive trends?


In Manhattan, 6,000 new units are planned to come on the market in 2016. In addition, the conversion of multiple rental buildings, from the Upper East Side to Battery Park and Midtown, to condos. These units will provide new sales inventory for the 1,700- to 2,400-square-foot client who has been priced out of the market or simply can’t find inventory.


Eric Hamm
Senior managing director, Citi Habitats


What are you seeing in terms of prices for rentals?


The Manhattan and Brooklyn rental market remains strong, but recently we have seen a few cracks in the facade. The good news for apartment seekers is that we will likely see further, albeit small, asking rent reductions as we head into the holiday season, as landlords scramble to fill their vacancies before Thanksgiving.


What about inventory?


There are considerably more vacant apartments on the market now than before the summer season. In comparison to a year or even two years ago, we have at least twice the amount of rental inventory available in some neighborhoods, which is giving prospective renters a lot of options in their housing search. The fourth quarter is generally a great time to be in the market for rental housing and this year, even more so.


What differences are you seeing between the higher and lower ends of the markets?


Lower-priced apartments continue to move fast. Tenants looking to save money are jumping ondeals. In contrast, we have seen a slowdown in the higher end of the market. Tenants spending over $10,000 a month are actively trying to enter the sales arena now that the market has rebounded. In some cases, landlords are responding by offering concessions of one to two months to attract these high-end renters back.


Are you seeing would-be buyers get pushed into the rental market?


The condo market is highly competitive, with international buyers driving up the prices in some cases. Buyers who get priced out are finding themselves purchasing co-ops or going back to their current landlords and renegotiating a new lease term until the market cools down. My brokers are making sure they have a “Plan B” in case their buyers get outbid and need to find a rental in the meantime.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods are emerging right now?


In Manhattan, Morningside Heights and the West 120s are seeing big price increases with the expansion of Columbia University and the constant shortage of housing in the area. In Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant is just starting to see condo pricing above $1 million and the eastern end of Bushwick is really starting to take off.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods have been the weakest?


The Upper East Side, especially east of Second Avenue, has typically offered great values for people. There is simply a lot of inventory in the neighborhood, so there always seem to be more vacancies there, especially when compared to many of the Downtown neighborhoods. Surprisingly, we have also seen vacancy rates increase in the East and West Villages. Landlords have begun to push rents in these communities to a level where people are beginning to decide they can find better values elsewhere.


Are you seeing any concessions in the rental market?


Lately we have seen an increase in concessions, with landlords offering them earlier than usual this year. Some newer developments have already increased their concessions to over a month-and-a-half broker fee and some type of free rent for the tenant.


Are you seeing renters opt out of the Brooklyn market and look for Manhattan rentals instead?


Renters looking to Brooklyn for more space and a better deal are turning around and coming back to Manhattan. The notion of moving to Brooklyn to save money has ended and price-shocked renters are finding better deals on the Upper West/East Side and Upper Manhattan than in many of the “prime” Brooklyn neighborhoods.


What are the most surprising trends you’re seeing?


Clients have become a lot more flexible in terms of where they will live. People have adapted more of a pioneering attitude. Areas that were considered “off-limits” are now first-choice destinations for many people. Overall, the New York City rental market has become less Manhattan-centric.

Lancelot Watson-Taffe
Salesperson, Bond New York

What are you seeing in terms of prices for rentals?

Manhattan and Brooklyn both witnessed extremely strong summers characterized by the typical bidding wars, multiple applications, renter hostility and even a few tears shed because a renter missed out on that “dream apartment.” As we approach the winter, prices haven’t quite decreased but there seems to be a bit more room for negotiation on asking rents. I’m seeing more of a lateral move in asking rents staying pretty consistent.


What about inventory?


Six months ago, we saw more and more inventory progressively turning over, as April marked the start of our busy season. A year ago, things were somewhat similar to current market conditions. However, this October seems to be a bit more active with renters and high demand.


What differences are you seeing between the higher and lower ends of the rental markets?


The higher end of the rental market has been pretty hot. Although the high-end rental market is for a distinct clientele, they seem to be pretty active this year snagging the apartments with the five-digit price tags. But since many people in the city are looking for more affordable rental homes, the apartments on the lower end definitely rent much faster.


Are you seeing would-be buyers get pushed into the rental market?


Many would-be buyers have moved to renting because of low sales inventory, being out-bid, and because they’re not finding what they think is worth an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods are you seeing emerge right now?


Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood are emerging neighborhoods in northern Manhattan that are hot on the map. These are great neighborhoods for the budget conscious, with great eats and phenomenal culture.


Which are the most buzzworthy rental buildings coming to the market?


The Nathaniel, located at 138 East 12th Street, came to the market this fall, one of the few luxury buildings in the East Village, which is awesome for the clientele that want to live in the East Village neighborhood without living with East Village un-renovated walk-up grunge.


Which Manhattan or Brooklyn neighborhoods have been the weakest?


I’m not sure there are any weak neighborhoods in Manhattan. There’s demand for every inch of Manhattan, if you ask me.


Are you seeing concessions in rentals?


Concessions are returning now in about 15 percent of the inventory, not because the market isn’t strong, but as a technique for landlords to keep rent rolls high even when there are fewer prospective renters. Smart landlords know it’s more effective to lose a month’s rent than to roll back prices that have taken years to get to current levels.


What are the biggest challenges to renting apartments?


The biggest challenge is getting people to understand prices are pretty firm. Paying a year upfront does not make a landlord want to drop the rent by hundreds of dollars per month.


What are the most positive trends?


The most positive trend I’m seeing in Manhattan is the fact that people are exploring and moving to different neighborhoods such as East Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, and Inwood. We’re seeing the emergence of a lot more businesses and attractions in these neighborhoods.


What are the most troubling trends?


The climbing rents are beginning to scare me. I’m afraid if rents keep escalating, there will be no more affordable homes for regular people who are not so wealthy, but who still wish to experience the city as their home.

How to Make Video Work for Your Budget

NARNovember 01, 2014

At the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans this month, three agents with three different approaches to marketing shared their particular perspectives on how to incorporate video in their businesses.


Patrick Vernon Lilly, CRS, e-PRO, leads a team selling high-end residential property in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He told the audience that the last thing in the world he’d do is one of the most popular uses of video in real estate.


“If you’re going to invest in a video, don’t do a listing tour,” Lilly said at the “Video is Worth a Million Words” session. Instead, Lilly keeps his videos at around one minute and 20 seconds, showing only a few select shots of his listings, interspersed with neighborhood shots and clips of him describing what he likes about the property and the area. “The video’s not going to work if you can’t tell a story.”


Leigh Brown of RE/MAX Executive Realty in the Charlotte, N.C., area doesn’t do listing tours either, but for a different reason.


“One of his videos is my whole commission check!” Brown joked. She told the audience her average listing price is $226,000, and spending the hundreds of dollars that Lilly does on his videos would not be cost-effective. Instead, Brown spent around $150 to create a video that helps consumers know what to expect from her and her team. “I try to draw people in with the experience they get working with me and my team. It’s a way for them to see you are a living, breathing human being.”


Raj Qsar, principal and owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group in the Orange County, Calif., area, does do video tours, and regularly goes over Lilly’s prescribed two-minute video cut-off. But he agreed with the idea of needing to tell a story. He was inspired back in 2009 by a wedding videographer who excelled at telling the story of a couple’s life together rather than just documenting an event. Qsar wanted to do the same thing to reach the hyperlocal market he serves. He called and asked the videographer to help him tell the story of his listing.


“It’s a lot of work. … That video took seven days to cut,” Qsar said. He said the video took so long to finish that they had an offer before it was even ready for prime time. But he shared the video with the sellers anyway, and got nine more listings in the area because other home owners in the area were impressed with his work. “They were floored. They sent that video to everyone in the neighborhood.”


Since that first “listing story,” he has used a full-time stager, purchased professional equipment, and hired a video crew to make listing stories a centerpiece of his marketing plan.


For the budget conscious, Brown said there are ways to market oneself without relying on professional equipment. She uses BombBomb to send video responses to online inquiries about her listings. Brown simply shoots video of herself using her smartphone, thanking prospects for contacting her and offering more information about schools and taxes in the area of the listing.


“They can find the easy stuff, but the consumer has no idea where to find information about schools and taxes,” she says. “That’s really jacked our conversion rate.”


Brown also noted that on-the-go video can help you solve problems that an e-mail or phone conversation would not be able to. She cited a weekend when she received an inquiry from a couple while she was with family at a girls’ softball game. Rather than having a conversation on her cell in a noisy environment, she put the setting to work for her, recording a video response that showed exactly what she was up to and telling the couple she would get back to them on Monday.


“They wanted to work with me. They didn’t even interview any other agents,” Brown said. “They said, ‘You got back to us quickly, but you did not interrupt your family time.’ They appreciated that.”


The panelists also shared mistakes they’ve made and how they learned the hard way to improve their processes. For example, Lilly learned early on to make adjustments to his narrative style to allow his true personality to come across.


“We started out with me writing out the copy and me reading it. That works for a lot of speakers, but with me it comes off as deadly,” he said. He asked his videographer to help him loosen up by goofing around and wearing Chewbacca wigs. “The videos are much more successful if I start out laughing, so I’m not coming across as this pretentious New Yorker.”


Qsar said one mistake he made early on was not preparing his sellers for the fact that video is not instant, especially with the longer-form videos in which he specializes. Now he sets up that expectation and will even drop a trailer before the video is fully produced to give a taste of what is to come.


Finally, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of time and money on a video that doesn’t get the expected exposure. Lilly suggested using YouTube over other video hosting platforms because it’s owned — and therefore indexed — by search powerhouse Google.


Qsar agreed, noting that practitioners should be sure to use the tagging functionality in the back end of YouTube to help Google understand what the video is about and where it was shot.


“There are specific tags and phrases you can use in YouTube [to describe the video],” he said. “Don’t be too general, because Google doesn’t like that. You keep doing that with every video, and Google is going to recognize it.”


Qsar also suggested e-mailing videos to specific marketing lists. Brown e-mails her video to agents so they feel more secure in referring clients to her team.


“They feel like it’s OK to talk to anyone on my team. I am the CEO of my team and I drive the bus, but I am surrounded by the best people on the planet,” she said. “Video helps you shape that.”


Regardless of how much to spend or what kind of video to shoot, the panel was in agreement that, if real estate pros are willing to take the time, video is worth it.


“It’s going to cost you more in the long term to not do video,” Qsar said. “Video will give you the most return of anything you invest in — if you do it right. Do it. Do it well.”