Open House Agenda: 3 Apartments to See This Weekend

DNA InfoJanuary 09, 2015

A new year usually brings resolutions. For some, that means selling their home; for others, it’s finding a new one.


In that spirit, we’ve selected three newly listed apartments — all renovated two-bedroom apartments for less than $1 million — with their first open houses set for Sunday.


100 Hamilton Place, Apt. 6F, Hamilton Heights/Washington Heights
2 Bedrooms/1 Bath
Approximately 830 square feet
Maintenance: $750 per month
Open House: Sunday, Jan. 11, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Lowdown: The sellers renovated this airy space with 9-foot ceilings when they purchased it about 10 years ago, updating the kitchen and bath, adding French doors between the living room and main bedroom, and refinishing the floors, said Edgar Marquez of Corcoran.


"The oversized windows are amazing, and it gets great light throughout the day,” Marquez said.


A room designated as an office/den on the floor plan — which could potentially be used as a third bedroom — was used by the sellers as a large walk-in closet since there's limited storage in the unit, Marquez explained.


There's a catch to the apartment's low price tag: It's an income-restricted unit. A single buyer cannot earn more than $95,906 a year, two people can't earn more than $123,338, and the cap is $136,950 for up to four.


When selling in the future, there's a 20 percent "flip tax" on the profit from the original purchase price.


The apartment is part of a pet-friendly, three-building HDFC co-op, which received a new elevator in December, Marquez said.


Location: Alexander Hamilton first developed the area; the playground at the corner is named for him. Nearby Convent Avenue has a rich architectural and jazz history. City College is a couple blocks south, with Columbia developing a new campus nearby.


It’s four blocks to the 1 train at either 137th or 145th streets and Broadway; the A, B, C and D are at 145th and Saint Nicholas Avenue.


Why put it on your open house calendar? “It’s a wonderful apartment and perfect for a new family, couple or a [first-time] buyer as it’s a great long-term investment,” Marquez said.


106 Suffolk St., Apt. 5B, Lower East Side
2 Bedroom/1 Bath
Approximately 800 square feet
Maintenance: $420 per month
Open House: Sunday, Jan. 11, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Lowdown: What makes this fifth-floor walk-up stand out from other top-floor pre-war units is the 8-by-6-foot skylight the sellers installed during a gut renovation of the apartment after they purchased it in 2007, said Julia Hoagland of Urban Compass.


“It completely transformed the apartment,” noted Hoagland, who was the broker for it seven years ago as well. “And they loved the incredible eastern light. There’s the wall of windows, and this building is a little higher than the buildings to the east.”


They were able to break through the roof because the common roof deck for the building is not over their apartment.


In addition, the sellers added a translucent panel between the living room and bedroom to bring light into the latter; pickled the floors, “which is like a bleach”; and added energy-efficient A/C units. A separate hot water boiler for the unit is in a closet just outside the entrance, “so you pay only for what you use and you won’t ever run out of hot water in your shower.” 


The co-op does not have an underlying mortgage, which keeps the maintenance “ridiculously low.”


Location: The new $1.1 billion Essex Crossing development is going up down the block at Delancey and Essex. It will be home to the Essex Market and include a park as well as a 14-screen Regal Cinemas multiplex. The F, J, M and Z Essex Street-Delancey station is at the corner.


Why put it on your open house calendar? “It’s a really good opportunity to get a functional two-bedroom for under $1 million in one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York City,” Hoagland said.


395 South Second St., Apt. 6, Williamsburg
2 Bedrooms/2 Baths
Approximately 950 square feet
Common Charges: $422 per month
Real Estate Taxes: $25 per month (abated until 2031)
Open House: Sunday, Jan. 11, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Lowdown: This two-bedroom penthouse duplex gets tons of light through its double-height windows and has three private outdoor spaces — a small balcony off the living area, a terrace accessed through the lower-level bedroom and a roof deck.


"The living area is so dramatic you almost don’t need a TV, which a lot of New Yorkers are shying away from in the living room," Todd Lewin, of CORE, said.


With two bedrooms on separate floors, he said, "it’s like two separate living areas." The terrace off the bedroom is large enough for entertaining, he added.


“All the other floors have two units, but this apartment is the entire sixth floor," said co-broker Blu Kokin, noting that the current owners, who purchased the unit in 2011, painted and "did some very minimal cosmetic upgrades."


Location: The building sits "right between the north and south sides and East Williamsburg, so it’s very central but in an area still unfamiliar," said Lewin, who lives in the neighborhood and has seen the area's "dynamic changes."


A “dramatic” new glass building housing a hotel is rising nearby on Metropolitan Avenue, which will “change the character” of the area, Lewin added.


Several subway stations are about four blocks away: Hewes Street for the J, M and Z; Broadway or Metropolitan for the G; and Lorimer for the L.


Why put it on your open house calendar? “It’s an aesthetically really pleasing two-bedroom two-bath condo in Williamsburg for under $1 million,” Lewin said.

Tim Crowley to head new development at CORE

The Real DealJanuary 08, 2015

CORE has appointed Tim Crowley as its director of new development.


Crowley, who previously worked at Flank where he oversaw marketing and brokerage services for multiple projects, will be working together with CORE founder and chief executive officer Shaun Osher.


Related Companies bought a 50 percent stake in the boutique brokerage roughly three months ago. In 2013, Related announced a partnership with Corcoran Sunshine to market roughly $5 billion worth of the developer’s projects, and has maintained that their acquisition of CORE will not affect the deal with Corcoran Sunshine.


Crowley will oversee roughly $10 billion in new development as well as new business development opportunities, according to the firm’s announcement.


“In this large new development industry it is rare to find someone with Tim’s hands-on experience, extensive knowledge and creativity,” Osher said in a statement. “His resume of projects is very closely aligned with both our vision and brand.”


At Flank, Crowley worked on multiple projects, including the Abingdon, 224 Mulberry Street and other luxury conversions.

Year of the Condo in New York City

The New York TimesJanuary 02, 2015

At least twice as many new condominium units are scheduled to hit the Manhattan market this year as in 2014, the most since 2007. That means more choice for buyers and some welcome competition among developers.


The influx comes after a five-year shortage, when new condo buildings practically had the market to themselves, allowing developers to push prices ever higher. The oncoming wave of new development in 2015, some real estate watchers predict, will temper that price growth and slow the pace of sales, providing some relief to Manhattan buyers.


“Whenever you have a strong market in a competitive environment, the ultimate winner is the consumer,” said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of the brokerage firm CORE in Manhattan, which is working on nine new projects for 2015, a total of 608 units. “I think the buyer will be the beneficiary from a robust development market. To compete, people will have to build better product.”


Over all, at least 6,500 new condo units are expected to open for sales below 96th Street across more than 100 buildings in 2015, as opposed to about 2,500 units in 59 buildings last year, according to the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, which tracks new development. Inventory will be the highest it has been since 2007, when 8,052 new units were listed.


“From one-of-a-kind boutique buildings to soaring luxury towers, an incredible variety of new development will enter the marketplace,” said Kelly Kennedy Mack, the president of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. All across the city, she said, “we are seeing more new residences than we have in years.


A roster of highly anticipated towers in and around the West 57th Street corridor, known as Billionaire’s Row, are in the beginning stages of construction, with plans to open sales in the coming year.


“All eyes are going to be on this prime Midtown market,” Ms. Kennedy Mack said.


Among them is 111 West 57th Street, at approximately 1,400 feet tall, a condo tower and conversion of the landmark Steinway building by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, the same team that developed Walker Tower, which broke a downtown record last year with the sale of a $50.9 million penthouse.


Also commanding attention: the Jean Nouvel-designed 53W53, a tower near the Museum of Modern Art measuring roughly 1,050 feet tall, undertaken by Hines, Goldman Sachs and the Pontiac Land Group of Singapore; and Vornado Realty Trust’s 950-foot building at 220 Central Park South, designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects with interiors by the Office of Thierry W. Despont. On the Upper East Side, 520 Park Avenue, a 54-story limestone-clad condominium, developed by Zeckendorf Development with Park Sixty and Global Holdings, has already grabbed headlines for its 31 residences, ranging in price from $16.2 million for the least expensive full-floor apartment to $130 million for the triplex penthouse.


A rendering of 520 Park Avenue, where apartments will range from $16.2 million for the least expensive full-floor apartment to $130 million for the triplex penthouse.


With so many fancy new condo towers coming to market in the same year, there are concerns of an impending glut. Real estate watchers are mindful of the slowdown in sales at One57, the Midtown tower by Extell Development that sparked the superluxury condo boom.


“At what point does the market start to say, ‘that’s enough,’ ” said Stuart Siegel, president of Engel & Völkers NYC. “I think we need to be asking that question.”


Still, most brokers and new-development marketers say demand for trophy apartments isn’t waning. “We are of the mind-set that the market will continue to be very strong and deep for these high-end properties, as it is being fueled not just by domestic but by an international market as well,” said Susan M. de França, the president of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. “New York City is still rivaling London as the top city” in which high-net-worth individuals are seeking to invest their capital.


What’s happening, they say, is that some high-end clients are holding off on buying in anticipation of the oncoming spate of opulent pads.


“Most projects are taking a bit longer to sign on the dotted line,” said Steven Rutter, the director of Stribling Marketing, which is handling at least 14 new developments with plans to open sales in 2015. “Buyers don’t feel the same sense of urgency. They want to see what else is out there. They want to make sure they’ve done their homework.” In 2015, he added, “things are going to sell, they will just take longer.”


Ms. Kennedy Mack of Corcoran Sunshine says that apartments at the very top make up less than 10 percent of new development in 2015, with about 500 “ultraluxury” units priced at $5,000 a square foot or more expected to come to market.


“There is a misperception that the market is swinging drastically toward the high end,” she said. “We’re seeing a relatively steady pricing mix from year to year, which is really supported by robust buyer demand at all levels.”


Half of the new units will be in the so-called middle luxury segment, with prices between $1,700 and $2,300 a square foot. Two-bedrooms in that price range were selling for about $2.5 million in the third quarter of 2014, based on contracts signed. Half of new condos, or about 3,300 units, will be priced between $1,700 and $2,300 a square foot, up from 1,100 last year, according to Corcoran Sunshine, as developers home in on a sweet spot in the market that had been underserved.


The number of units coming to market at the so-called “entry level,” defined by prices at less than $1,700 a square foot, is also expected to rise. More than 800 units in this category are expected to enter the market in 2015, up from 306 in 2014. One-bedrooms in this segment were selling for an average of $1.19 million in the third quarter of 2014, based on contracts signed. The overall market share in this category is forecast to remain steady, with entry-level units making up just 13 percent of the new-development pie.


Soaring land costs have made it difficult for developers to turn a profit at these prices, said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. So, unless they are working from a lower cost basis to begin with, as might be the case with land purchased several years ago, most developers are not building for the entry-level buyer.


As a result, Mr. Miller said, “we are continuing to build a lot of product that is higher than what is desperately needed, because the math doesn’t work out otherwise.”


Ground-up construction will continue to dominate the landscape in 2015, making up 59 percent of new development. But conversions could produce some interesting reinventions. The original home of the New York Life Insurance Company, a full-block Renaissance-style 1899 building designed by McKim, Mead & White, is to be turned into 140 high-end apartments called 108 Leonard Street. Sales are planned to begin late this year.


The 31-story Verizon building at 140 West Street, across from One World Trade Center, is getting a residential overhaul by Magnum Real Estate Group and the CIM Group, with condos scheduled to enter the market in the first quarter of this year. Prices will range from $1.4 million for one-bedrooms to $15 million for five-bedrooms. The 1927 building will use the address 100 Barclay Street and maintain its lavish exterior, decorated with carvings of vines, flowers and birds, as well as receive a reimagined lobby by the architect Alexandra Champalimaud.


To stand out, developers are focusing on architecture, interior design and craftsmanship. “Everybody is designing to a very high level,” said Stephen G. Kliegerman, the president of Terra Development Marketing, “which I think is much different than what we saw pre-2008, where developers were kind of building to what they believed their marketplace was, instead of building to attract new buyers to their marketplace.” Terra Development Marketing advises Halstead Property and Brown Harris Stevens.


Architects making a New York debut this year include Tadao Ando, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect behind 152 Elizabeth Street, a boutique condominium developed by the New York firm Sumaida and Khurana. The building will incorporate Mr. Ando’s signature poured concrete, galvanized steel and voluminous glass, and house just seven two- to five-bedroom apartments with half-floor residences starting at $5.9 million and full-floor apartments beginning at $15 million.


Along the High Line in West Chelsea, Zaha Hadid has drawn attention for her sinuous 37-unit condominium at 520 West 28th Street. The developer is the Related Companies. The first New York building by the Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld is going up at 527 West 27th. The block-through development by Centaur Properties and Greyscale Development Group will be made up of two buildings with 36 one- to four-bedroom apartments.


And 515 Highline, a 12-unit condo with a wavy facade facing the park at 515 West 29th Street, is the second project in New York by Soo K. Chan, an architect and developer from Singapore. The condo, developed by the Bauhouse Group, will open sales this month with prices from $5 million to $25 million. The project comes on the heels of Mr. Chan’s other New York project, Soori High Line, a 31-unit condo with more than a dozen private pools, across the street at 522 West 29th. The developer was Siras Oriel Development.


“There will definitely be an increased level of construction quality,” said Roy Kim, who heads new development at Urban Compass. Buyers, he said, will not just have more choices, “but really well-designed quality projects to choose from. The ante has been upped.”

Manhattan’s new condo inventory to hit 7-year high in 2015

The Real DealJanuary 02, 2015

More than 6,500 new condominium units below 96th Street in Manhattan are slated to hit the market this year – more than double the amount of new inventory last year, according to Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group data.


Inventory for new apartments – in about 100 buildings — is on pace to rise to a seven-year high, the New York Times reported. In 2007, 8,052 new units were listed for sale. Many of the new units will be concentrated along Billionaire’s Row, near or on West 57th Street. About 2,500 units in 59 buildings hit the market in 2014.


High-profile projects include JDS and Property Markets Group’s 111 West 57th Street; Hines, the Pontiac Land Group of Singapore and Goldman Sachs’ 53W53; and Zeckendorf Development’s 520 Park. CORE is handling sales for nine new projects for 2015.


“Whenever you have a strong market in a competitive environment, the ultimate winner is the consumer,” CORE’s Shaun Osher told the New York Times. “I think the buyer will be the beneficiary from a robust development market. To compete, people will have to build better product.” 

What They're Reading Now

The Real DealJanuary 02, 2015

Where do you look for insight and inspiration? To find out, The Real Deal asks leaders in the industry what they’re reading.


Diane Ramirez 
CEO, Halstead Property


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


Over the summer, I read “Leadership Isn’t for Cowards,” by Mike Staver.


What spurred you to read that book?


The book is very relevant for day-to-day management, which is absolutely crucial for anyone in business.


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


The book was informative and full of sound, practical advice. It was engaging and interesting, and throughout reading it, I would make notes as to what would help me or one of my directors handle specific situations at work.


Gary Malin 
President, Citi Habitats


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


I just finished reading “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins. It’s a management classic. The book explains what differentiates great companies from the rest of the pack, and outlines how average companies can morph into great ones. I first read it many years ago, back when I was on a “business books” kick, but I just picked it up again.


What spurred you to read that book?

I always tell our agents that this is the time of year to take stock of their careers, take note of their successes and failures, and make a concrete plan for the coming year. So I decided to do the same, and this book helps bring me back to the fundamental principles that guide our business. Our company continues to go through changes to elevate it to the next level. For us, standing still is never an option and we are never complacent in our approach.


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


One of the key ideas in the book is that it’s important to focus on the “who,” then the “what.” You have the get all the right people on the bus before you decide where you want to go. In addition, your employees have to understand — and believe in — your company’s mission. If everyone on board believes in the same concept, you will get to your goal a lot faster. I think Citi Habitats’ greatest asset is its people, and this book reinforced the notion to me that with the right people, anything is possible.


I would definitely recommend this book, as it has made a big impact on my management style. It’s helpful to leaders of companies that are in growth mode — or anyone who strives for greatness.


Tom Postilio 
Founding member, Core


What are you reading right now?


I’m currently enjoying “Stanford White’s New York,” by David Garrard Lowe. Unlike many of the books written about this Gilded Age luminary, Lowe’s account of White places more emphasis on the man and his immeasurable talent than on the scandalous details of his sensational murder on the rooftop of his iconic Madison Square Garden.


What spurred you to read that book?


My partner, Mickey Conlon, is a Stanford White scholar, and while I have always had a great admiration for White’s work here in the city, I thought it was time to dig a little deeper. Through an unusual series of coincidences, we have a long list of personal and professional connections to White and his work that stretches all the way from The Players on Gramercy Park, of which we’re members, out to the hamlet of Saint James on Long Island, where White’s country estate, Box Hill, still remains in the family. Mickey grew up in Saint James, and we’re now building a house down the street from Box Hill. It’s inevitable that Stanny’s hand will be evident in the design.


Has anything you read in it stuck with you?


White’s ability to dazzle the eye and sprit through design amazes me, as does the recklessness that allowed too many of his masterpieces to be destroyed in pursuit of mediocrity.

NYC's Premier Properties

Luxury Listings NYCJanuary 01, 2015

Emily Beare's 157 West 57th Street, 44B is featured in Luxury Listings' NYC's Premier Properties. 

The Raw and The Cooked

Luxury Listings NYCJanuary 01, 2015

473 Broome Street #2B


For those who really want to create a bespoke living space, this mostly raw 2,400-square-foot loft in Soho is on the market for $4.89 million. A high-end kitchen has been installed, but the rest of the renovation is up to the buyer’s tastes. The co-op features Corinthian columns and a rooftop terrace. Michael Rubin and Shaun Osher of Core are listing the property. 


Boutique condos are NYC’s sexiest way to live

New York PostDecember 31, 2014

With heads turned up to the sky, giant luxury developments — like One57 and 432 Park Ave. — continue to capture the eyes of onlookers as they reshape the city skyline.


But a look down closer to street level also shows plenty of activity afoot in the upscale arena: A proliferation of smaller residential condo buildings now cropping up around Manhattan, which offer buyers many of the ritzy touches as their sky-scraping counterparts — but in limited supply.


Examples include the nearly complete six-unit Seven East Village, located at 277 E. Seventh St., with prices from around $1.2 million to $2.15 million. Nest Seekers’ Ryan Serhant will also bring a dozen new upscale developments with less than 10 units each to market in the next 18 months, including the five-unit 227 E. 67th St. and 242 Fifth Ave., which will have four condos.


The Thomas Juul-Hansen-designed, 15-unit Sixty East Eighty Sixth is slated for completion at the end of 2015. There’s also the seven-unit 155 E. 79th St., where a five-bedroom duplex asks $15.6 million; construction should finish this summer.


Largely under 20 units, these luxe “boutique” projects offer buyers more intimate residences while developers benefit from less-risky investments.


It’s generally easier to secure financing for smaller buildings, brokers say, and builders can still score a profit by pricing units in the millions of dollars — necessary given the exorbitant prices for land these days.


As a consequence, the growing presence of these developments has created a new standard for luxury property: Condo buildings that are more personal and intimate than those of their monolithic counterparts.


“Developing boutique, luxury condominiums is akin to building custom, single-family homes,” says Beth Fisher, senior managing director at Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, which is handling sales at 60 E. 86th St. and 155 E. 79th St. “You can really address the tastes … and quality levels that buyers covet, but often cannot find.”


Appraiser Jonathan Miller says the rise of boutique developments fits into a larger construction trend. “We’re already seeing a lot of development on small lot sizes,” he says, citing immensely tall towers like One57 and 432 Park Ave. But he notes that it also applies to smaller projects happening in areas where zoning doesn’t permit such heights.


But smaller buildings can face a challenge in marketing, Miller notes. They’re generally lower-slung and don’t have high-rise views that help taller towers drive value.


Meanwhile, greater attention must be devoted to residential amenities in smaller structures to support the initial land cost. “You have to create this unique identifier because at some point a Sub-Zero is still a Sub-Zero,” Miller says.


Given the right amenities and the right marketing, the result is a standout property that trades on its exclusivity.


“What is luxury when it’s mass-produced?” posits Urban Compass president Leonard Steinberg. He and partner Hervé Senequier are marketing the eight-unit, 560 W. 24th St. condominium, which will deliver apartments this spring.


Units here, which range from $6.95 million to $18 million, boast custom details throughout made with craftsmanship that Steinberg says is hard to replicate on a larger scale. “It’s like a custom piece of jewelry, a car that’s a limited-edition … something that is of limited supply will always add value,” he adds.


Other under-construction condos also offer buyers high-end touches, including the 16-unit 27 Wooster St. (seven units are being held by the sponsor), with Juul-Hansen-designed interiors, and the nine-unit 17 E. 12th St., which will feature electronic kitchen cabinetry that opens by touch.


But what makes these two buildings truly stand out is their on-site parking: At 17 E. 12th St., there will be one space for each unit that will be included in the price of the apartment.


There are four parking spots available for purchase at 27 Wooster; their prices are not available.


Not all of these boutique projects are ground-up developments; even when converted from existing structures, the features at these condos still shine.


Minskoff Equities’ eight-story 37 E. 12th St. condo conversion, where prices currently reach $17.75 million, will give way to one duplex penthouse, one triplex and four apartments, whose touches include marble reclaimed from the original façade of the Museum of Modern Art.


The eight-unit Sorgente Group-developed Giglio on White, at 60 White St., where prices on the market currently range from $4.58 million to $9.26 million, has an emphasis on local materials and green friendliness.


Marble slabs come from Vermont and the building has “passive house” windows for energy efficiency.


The seven-unit conversion at 22 Central Park South, which was redeveloped by the Elad Group, boasts Central Park views along with extreme privacy. Here, the elevator goes directly from the lobby to a buyer’s residence; it will not stop to take other calls in-between. “You can go up and down without anyone seeing you other than the doorman,” says Samantha Sax, an executive vice president at Elad.


There will also be a quiet feel at 34 Prince St., a conversion being co-developed by Time Equities and Hamlin Ventures. The completion date and pricing for the seven units and two townhouses are not yet available, but buyers will have access to a private courtyard here. “It will really feel like your own and not shared with the world,” says Aaron Medeiros, director of acquisitions at Time Equities, of the green space.


Kevin Martins da Silva, co-owner and partner of boutique bank Three Ocean Partners, closed on a $3.25 million buy at the six-unit 230 E. 63rd St. as an investment property.


The heated floors, built-in speakers and cabinetry are all top-of-the-line, he adds, which make for great perks. “In a bigger building, when you have 200-plus units, you’re not going to have that much attention to detail,” Martins da Silva says.

The Real Deal‘s hottest stories of 2014

The Real DealDecember 30, 2014

As the year winds down to a close, The Real Deal looks back on the big deals, attention-grabbing broker moves and record numbers that made 2014 one for the books.


TRD‘s profile on real estate scion Jared Kushner was the most popular story on in 2014. The in-depth narrative chronicles the young CEO’s unexpected rise to the top of his family’s company and his appetite for megadeals, including the $375 million buy of the “Dumbo Heights” complex in Downtown Brooklyn.


Gary Barnett is no stranger to controversy — and he doesn’t shy away from it either. The Extell chief has been especially vocal about defending the city’s so-called “poor-door,” but he’s also battled — and sometimes bested — many of the city’s biggest developers. The developer’s 40 Riverside Boulevard project, for instance, will have two entrances: One for the condominium buyers, whose residences will face the Hudson River, and another for tenants, who will live in affordable rental units.


Unlike other big-name developers, the Witkoff Group almost always teams up, not just with equity partners, but with other industry figures who bring specialized expertise to the table. “Savvy strategist” Steven Witkoff has worked with the likes of Horward Lorber, Fisher Brothers, the Macklowe Group, and Ian Schrager, to name a few.


Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is just beginning his New York City tear, with four projects underway in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The starchitect opened his NYC office in September 2010 with just two employees — a number he says has grown to about 100 in only four years.


Among Ingels’ projects in the Big Apple is the pyramid-shaped, 709-unit residential, rental and retail building at West 57th Street he designed for the Durst Organization. The building, which will be one of Manhattan’s largest rental properties, topped out at 43 stories in October.


Michael Shvo, who parted ways with Douglas Elliman to start the Shvo Group in 2004, burst back onto the development scene in May 2013 after a “semi-retirement” during the recession. Right now, Shvo’s developing condos at 100 Varick Street in Soho and 125 Greenwich Street in the Financial District.


It was a big year for some of New York City’s top brokers, too. Fredrik Eklund — who shot to stardom on “Million Dollar Listing New York” — and partner John Gomes took the No. 1 spot on The Real Deal‘s annual broker ranking.


The pair logged $535.5 million in listings in 2014 (compared to $92.2 million in 2013) and later claimed that they closed more deals this year than anyone in Douglas Elliman’s history.


A strong luxury market in 2014 buoyed Manhattan’s largest brokerages. Firms like Douglas Elliman, the Corcoran Group, Brown Harris Stevens and Sotheby’s International Realty saw the total dollar volume of their Manhattan listings jump year-over-year, according to TRD‘s annual brokerage ranking.


“The luxury market is an extremely important market to be fluent in for any broker, especially now, since there are more high-net-worth individuals living in New York than ever before,” said Wendy Maitland, president of sales at brokerage Town Residential. “It’s not something that happens because you can get a certification or a degree in it. It happens with experience.”


TRD also surveyed brokers across the Big Apple to identify the best amenities at brokerages both big and small. Firms use technology, high commission splits and marketing/advertising support to attract top-notch talent, the survey showed. Platinum Properties even treated its agents to a trip to Dubai.


For commercial brokers, office facilities, training/support and high commission splits are key … but skydiving expeditions (CPEX) and whitewater rafting trips (Eastern Consolidated) aren’t too shabby, either.


On the acquisitions front, the big news was Cushman & Wakefield’s move to buy Massey Knakal for a cool $100 million. Massey Knakal CEO Paul Massey will oversee sales brokerage operations for New York City. Robert Knakal will also fill a key role at Cushman, which aims to ramp up its portfolio of small and mid-sized buildings.


The residential brokerage world saw its fair share of drama in 2014, however. Town Residential top guns Joseph Sitt and Andrew Heiberger found themselves at the center of an ugly — and public — legal battle when Sitt refused to renew Heiberger’s CEO contract on the grounds that he had failed to meet any of the financial targets the two had agreed upon. They eventually reconciled, and Heiberger took back the reins of CEO on Oct. 1, 2014.


Neil Binder, co-founder of the Bellmarc Group, was sued by his business partners for allegedly using company funds as his “personal piggy bank.” Amid the shakeup, more than 25 agents flocked to firms like Halstead and City Connections Realty.


Binder ultimately reached a settlement with Larry Friedman and Anthony DeGrotta, who resigned and joined Keller Williams NYC. The accusations, Binder said, “will always haunt me as a personal blemish on my 35 years of pursuing the highest standards in the business.” Coldwell Banker later terminated its franchise agreement with the embattled firm.


The year also saw some attention-grabbing moves from some of the city’s top brokers. After a decade-plus tenure at Douglas Elliman, Leonard Steinberg announced he and partner Herve Senequier were joining startup brokerage Urban Compass.


“I knew that when I joined a company like this that the real estate world would take note,” Steinberg said. “I’ve had calls like, ‘Oh my God, Leonard! What the hell are you doing?’ And then they say: ‘You know what? I think it’s brilliant.’ That’s 90 percent of the calls; 10 percent of the people still think I’m completely insane.”


Kyle Blackmon, an elite luxury broker and the holder of the distinction of New York City’s priciest closed sale, also jumped to Urban Compass from Brown Harris Stevens in November.


His departure is Brown Harris Stevens’ highest-profile exit of the decade. An internal BHS memo that made the rounds said that the value of Blackmon’s equity “will be dependent on the success of Urban Compass’ founders implementing their vision of selling their company for substantially more than many industry experts believe is possible – especially considering their recent switch to a traditional brokerage model.”


Urban Compass upped its brokerage game with some major pickups in 2014. Besides Steinberg and Blackmon, the techy brokerage hired Jay Glazer, who was Warburg’s top broker in 2013, and Eugene Litvak, whose team was Citi Habitats’ team of the year for overall production and rentals for 2013.


Such high-profile acquisitions, paired with nearly $500 million in listings and a $360 million valuation, had the industry wondering: Is Urban Compass really the future?


What is clear is that 2014 was the year of the real estate tech startup. A report first published by TRD found that investors funneled $743.7M globally into commercial real estate startups between the second quarter of 2012 and the second quarter of 2014. Some of this cash is coming from the early backers of big-name startups like Uber, Instagram and Buzzfeed.


Joshua Kushner, whose Thrive Capital invested in Uber and Instagram, is an investor in at least four industry startups: Hightower, 42Floors, Honest Buildings and Urban Compass.


While some venture capital firms are pouring money into real estate’s tech firms, others have their eyes set on another cash-rich company: WeWork.


The shared office and coworking space provider raised $335 million in its latest funding round. WeWork’s $5 billion valuation puts it in the same league as one of Silicon Valley’s greatest successes, Pinterest, and values it at $1.5 billion more than Trulia.


The milestone capped off a year of benchmarks for New York City real estate.


New York City’s co-op record was broken three times in 2014. Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris bought Edgar Bronfman’s 960 Fifth Avenue penthouse for a record $70 million in June, which was soon upset by Israel Englander’s purchase of the official residence of the French ambassador to the United States for $71.3 million.


New York Jets owner Woody Johnson ultimately pulled the most money for his 834th Fifth Avenue co-op, which he sold to billionaire Leonard Blavatnik $80 million — $5 million over the asking price — in October. (Click here for The Real Deal‘s list of co-op records that have been set since 2005.)


In June, a trio of contiguous condos at the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park City assumed the title as New York City’s priciest listing. The combined 15,434-square-foot unit was listed with Nest Seekers agent and “Million Dollar Listing” star Ryan Serhant for $118.5 million.


That record won’t last long, however. A few months later, the Zeckendorfs announced they would ask $130 million for 520 Park’s penthouse triplex.


Some of the city’s top brokers weighed in on whether that price tag was a bridge too far. “It is an iconic old-world building and it’s not even built yet,” said CORE Group’s Emily Beare.


As some of the city’s listings reached new heights, so did some of its buildings. 432 Park Avenue officially became the Western Hemisphere’s tallest residential building when it topped out at 1,396 feet in October.


One World Trade Center officially went back to work in November. The first wave of Condé Nast employees moved into the $3.8 billion office tower, filling five of the building’s 104 floors.


So, what’s in store for 2015? You’ll have to check out TRD’s last issue from 2014 to find out.

Top residential agents of the week

The Real DealDecember 26, 2014

Price: $26,050,000
Listing brokers: Leighton Candler and Caroline Holl of the Corcoran Group
Address: 157 East 70th Street


Price: $8,865,000
Listing broker: Karen Adler of the Corcoran Group
Address: 300 Central Park West


Price: $6,150,000
Listing broker: Noble Black of the Corcoran Group
Address: 4 East 88th Street


Price: $6,150,000
Listing broker: Noble Black of the Corcoran Group
Address: 4 East 88th Street


Price: $5,900,000
Listing brokers: Noble Black and Erik Ternon of the Corcoran Group
Address: 340 West 57th Street


Price: $5,350,000
Listing brokers: Shaun Osher and Tony Sargent of CORE
Address: 30 Bond Street 

Open House Agenda: 3 Apartments to See This Weekend

DNAinfo: Open House InsiderDecember 19, 2014

While buyers can certainly get more for their money with apartments and houses in the outer boroughs — though that’s no longer the case in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods — there remain great deals to be had in Manhattan. Here are three that caught our eye this week with open houses on Sunday.


752 W. 178th St., Apt. 5A, Washington Heights/Hudson Heights
4 Bedrooms/1 Bath
Approximately 1,400 square feet
Maintenance: $1,140 per month
Open House: Sunday, Dec. 21, 1:30-2:30 p.m.


Lowdown: Few buyers are looking for a four-bedroom apartment, but for those who are, this large Hudson Heights unit can seem like an incredible steal, especially with 1,400 square feet, 9-foot ceilings and a formal dining room with original wainscotting.


“Units like this are rare,” said Joe Tuttle of Cooper & Cooper Real Estate. “The comment most people make is ‘I had no idea that you could find an apartment this size in New York City.’”


The sellers have lived there about a decade, and they’ve retiled the bathroom and updated the appliances, adding a dishwasher and washer and dryer. “It could use a little TLC, which is why it’s priced the way it’s priced,” Tuttle said.


The unit sits on the top floor of a five-story walk-up and gets a “ton of light” with three exposures and views of the Hudson River, New Jersey Palisades and the George Washington Bridge (GWB). Tuttle had a few contractors view the space and buyers looking to renovate have multiple options for adding a second bathroom and combining rooms.


The co-op is no frills, which keeps the maintenance low. There’s a live-in super and an “easy board; the approval process for purchasers is much easier and more streamlined than most other co-ops,” Tuttle said. The temporary $292 assessment is to defray the costs of winter heating oil.


Location: The building sits at the corner of Fort Washington Avenue, with the ramp for the GWB and I-95 across the street. There’s also easy access to the Henry Hudson Parkway. Fort Washington Park, with the Little Red Lighthouse and several types of sports courts, is a couple blocks west. The Columbia Presbyterian campus is four blocks south. The nearby GWB Bus Terminal is undergoing a major renovation; it will include new retailers and restaurants when it reopens next summer.


There’s an entrance to the 175th Street A train station around the corner from the building at 177th Street. The 1 train is at 181st and Saint Nicholas Avenue.


Why put it on your open house calendar? It’s an enormous space, yet “it’s in the price range for a lot of first-time home buyers, and you have the opportunity to customize it and realize your vision,” Tuttle said. “It’s also rare to have such an easy co-op board.”


310 Riverside Dr., Apt. 1419-1420, Upper West Side
1 Bedroom/1.5 Baths
Approximately 659 square feet
Maintenance: $903 per month
Open House: Sunday, Dec. 21, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Lowdown: Two combined studios account for this one-bedroom having a bathroom and powder room, as well as two entrances from the hallway — the second of which goes through the large walk-in closet in the bedroom. “It’s a funny thing to see, but kind of neat,” said Paul Johansen of CORE.


The half bath and second entrance make the unit ideal for guest privacy as well as if an owner ever wanted to have a roommate. The seller, an actress from Ireland, has kept the unit well maintained, Johansen said, adding that “it’s quiet, gets good light, and the views from the living room and bedroom are gorgeous.”


It could also easily be renovated by enlarging the kitchen and expanding the living room into an el-shape, Johansen noted.


The Art Deco building, known as the Master Apartments, has an interesting history. It was completed in 1929 for a Russian philosopher who used it as his personal museum, and it’s the first apartment building in the city to have corner windows.


The co-op features a revolving art display in the lobby, Johansen noted. Currently on view are photos of 1970s graffiti art owned by a tenant. “Every month you have new artwork displayed. It’s a sign that the building is run well, that the tenants really care. It brings a sense of life and personality.”


Location: Riverside Park is steps away; Columbia University’s main campus is a few blocks north. The cross street is 103rd, so the 1 train is only two blocks east at Broadway; walk south to 96th Street for the 2 and 3 express trains. There’s the M96 crosstown bus, and the M104 along Broadway, which used to go along 42nd Street, and riders are petitioning to have that section of the route restored.


Why put it on your open house calendar? “This is an apartment for anyone who has a desire for the old world charm of the Upper West Side,” Johansen said. “And a well-proportioned one-bedroom with the amount of sunlight and those corner windows is a characteristic you don’t see very often.”


407 W. 40th St., PHA, Theater District/Hell's Kitchen
2 Bedrooms/2 Baths
Approximately 1,000 square feet
Maintenance: $840 per month
Open House: Sunday, Dec. 21, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Lowdown: The sellers, who have lived in this Midtown West duplex for about a decade, added a second bathroom upstairs, and updated the kitchen and downstairs bath, said Donald Kemper of Douglas Elliman. They also recently added decking to the private terrace and roof deck.


The unit also comes with a gas-burning fireplace and “at least 10-foot ceilings,” and gets “excellent sunlight” from south-facing windows.


“The key is the second bath, which really adds value to the property, plus the great amount of private outdoor space makes it unique,” Kemper said. “It’s tough to find.”


Another benefit is that the co-op paid off the underlying mortgage about 18 months ago and has since lowered the maintenance twice (it used to be $1,200), Kemper noted, adding “at the same time they’ve been able to build up cash reserves, put on a new roof and renovate the hallways.”


Location: The walk-up building is on a unique block between Ninth and 10th avenues where it’s adjacent to the ramp for the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority overpass, Kemper said. There’s also a women’s shelter and a church that provides a soup kitchen and community services for those in need.


“There are some things that can be challenges to some people,” but the right buyer will be someone who connects with the community aspect and doesn’t mind the density of the location. “They will see the value,” he noted, adding that offers are made about every 10 days by buyers trying to leverage those location aspects, "but the price already takes them into account."


In addition to the nearby Port Authority, access to the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 and Shuttle trains is at Eighth Avenue.


Why put it on your open house calendar? If you’re fine with the location, it’s an “unparalleled” amount of outdoor space for Manhattan at that price and with a low maintenance, Kemper said. “It also has warmth and charm with details such as the fireplace, high ceilings, exposed brick, and it’s bright and sunny. That’s tough to find.”

Top real estate M&A deals that will impact NYC next year

The Real DealDecember 18, 2014

Cushman & Wakefield’s acquisition of the local brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services for a reported $100 million looks set to be the biggest shakeup in the local market this year. But it’s but by no means the only one.


The slew of mergers and acquisitions, including the sales of brokerage firms Studley and Cassidy Turley and listing sites Trulia and, flow from ready access to capital and the growth of the real estate market, insiders said.


The industry’s strength means firms have funds at the ready, and banks and private equity shops are willing to throw cash at buyers who want a piece of the action.


“Everyone is doing better,” said Joel Herskowitz, COO of the brokerage Lee & Associates NYC. “The buyers have more dollars to access, and there are more investors willing to put up money. And from the sellers’ perspective, what better time to sell anything than in a strong market?”


Why do these deals happen? Sometimes it’s because an owner wants to cash out, and other times it wants to expand its reach. Others have a goal of creating a bigger firm that can be monetized.


“Occasionally a firm will make a purchase to create a larger entity just for the sake of ultimately turning it around to sell the entity that was the buyer,” either through a public offering or an outright sale, Herskowitz said.


Cushman’s purchase of Massey Knakal, the Midtown-based firm with revenues of about $80 million and 200 employees led by Paul Massey and Robert Knakal, will have the largest impact on the local market. It will significantly expand the number of Cushman brokers in the city and reconfigure its business operations here.


The sale of Studley to the London-based Savills for $260 million will have less of an impact on New York, because Savills did not have as prominent a stake in the local market as Studley, led by Mitchell Steir.


In addition, TPG Capital, a private equity firm, acquired the brokerage DTZ for $1.1 billion, and has plans to purchase Cassidy Turley later this year. Both those firms have only a mid-sized presence in Manhattan, although the local Cassidy Turley office, led by Peter Hennessy, has roots stretching back several decades.


Another big national deal likely to have a small local impact was BGC Partners, the parent firm of Midtown-based Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, buying the investment brokerage network Apartment Realty Advisors for $110 million.


On the residential front, the most significant transaction was developer the Related Companies buying a 50 percent stake in the residential brokerage CORE, led by Shaun Osher.


The landscape of listings sites also saw major changes this year. Zillow purchased Trulia for $3.5 billion, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation purchased Move Inc., which owns and, for $950 million. Earlier this year the commercial-focused listing database CoStar Group bought the listing site in April for $585 million. 

Tom and Mickey’s Holiday Spectacular at The Players Club

Haute LivingDecember 16, 2014

Housed in a Gothic Revival-style mansion facing Gramercy Park, The Players Clubs interior appears much like a life-sized game of Clue: plush red carpets, dark wood paneling, and fireplaces. Thanks to the vibrancy of its members who have included Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra, the Club retains a remarkably dynamic spirit.


Current members Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon hosted a glamorous Holiday Spectacular on December 11. The Manhattan real estate wizards who have amassed over $1 billion in residential sales as brokers with CORE have also had careers as Broadway producers and jazz singers. They sing, they dance, and they look dashing in matching tuxedos.


Several Players were in attendance. Partygoers included a stately Richard White, a dazzling Susan Lucci, and a dapper David Hyde Pierce. There was a sparkling Christmas tree and an elegant dining room spread. The drinks flowed and the company was animated. Legendary designer Mario Buatta sat at my table and performed a series of tricks that consisted of a fake mustache and a plastic cockroach that appeared in his martini glass.



The highlight of the evening was the welcome by Tom and Mickey. Considering the beautiful set performed by the John Pizzarelli Quartet, that’s saying something. They sang cabaret tunes in tandem, gave a witty speech and appeared altogether charismatic and urbane. It reminded us that perhaps the grandeur of days bygone—the American Song Book and the Classic Cinema—is not just a relic of the past. 

On the Market in New York City

The New York TimesDecember 12, 2014

In Clinton Hill, a three-bedroom one-bath condo with a study and a dining room in an eight-unit pet-friendly prewar building.


In Greenwich Village, a two-bedroom one-bath with a fireplace in the Windsor Arms, a prewar doorman building with a central laundry.


In Midtown, a studio with a washer/dryer in the Windsor Park, a pet-friendly full-service prewar building:


"Midtown Condo $850,000 - MANHATTAN 100 West 58th Street, #8A

 A studio with a washer/dryer in the Windsor Park, a pet-friendly full-service prewar building. Tom Postilio (212) 726-0783, Mickey Conlon (212) 612-9623, CORE"

How New York wants to attract "hipsters" in Manhattan

Le FigaroDecember 10, 2014

The construction of a large complex called 15 Renwick intended for "rich hipsters" a stir in New York. Location: Hudson Square neighborhood whose activity has been increasing since 2009.

Make Hudson Square - Manhattan neighborhood that is a triangle between Tribeca, SoHo and the West Village - a residential area for ". * Rich hipsters" These are the words of Dan Oelsner, vice president of the company IGA-USA, responsible for conducting the project construction 15 Renwick, currently a lot of talk in New York (and social networks). Originally this project, the architect Ismael Leyva and Harry Jeremias, real estate professional prominent in New York.

The identity of this complex neo-Victorian decor or Victorian-industrial: the literary movement steampunk - which can be translated into French by retro-futurism - in which the action takes place primarily in industrial settings nineteenth century. For example, the Space Mountain attraction from Disneyland Paris recreated an atmosphere that can amount to several levels steampunk style.

Yet this Hudson Square neighborhood is not the most practical of Manhattan to live; it was even one of the last to have escaped the gentrification. It was not until the 2000s that people have chosen to settle there, says the New York Post Ellen Baer, responsible for the economic development of this area. "It is only 5 years since we had our first pharmacy!" She insists. Today, start-ups and other innovative companies has multiplied: since 2009, is about 40,000 advertisers, communicators, designers or journalists who asked to pack their bags.

The question is whether this project will type in the eye of the target. "The sale began only a month ago and returns are already impressive," says Dan Oelsner his side.

* A hipster can be likened to a person living in the fashionable districts of large cities, and frequent trendy places there. 


A Record on 36th Street: Far West Pad Gets Nearly $4M Amid Hudson Yards Optimism

New York ObserverDecember 08, 2014

During the last blackout, Mary Lee says, she and some of the other owners of her co-op building at 360 West 36th Street went up to the rooftop. David Byrne, who owned an apartment there at the time, brought his guitar and led the group in song into the wee hours. Ms. Lee, a jewelry designer now in her 70s, bought the co-op with her husband—who passed away recently—some 18 years ago. “The people we bought from were a very interesting couple,” she recalled when we spoke by phone. “One of them had been a manager at Newsweek magazine—the bureau chief in South Vietnam during the war. There were a lot of creative people in the building then. It was a building of independent spirits.”


Alas, she allowed, the area “is certainly no longer the Wild West.” The building has become more expensive, catering to “more business type people” and shifting closer to a white-glove atmosphere. It was in part this change, we presume, that allowed Ms. Lee to sell her 3,794 penthouse for $3.937 million, a record for the neighborhood, according to CORE’s Elizabeth Kee, who shared the listing with her colleague, Michael Rubin.


“Of course,” Ms. Kee said, “when Hudson Yards is built, we might see neighborhood prices go up pretty quickly. This apartment is off the beaten path, but soon to be at the heart of everything.”


That remains to be seen. For now, 36th Street and 9th Avenue, where the building stands, remains a less than prime intersection. But as Ms. Kee noted, Ms. Lee’s co-op offers the opportunity to create quite a spread. There’s a private, planted rooftop terrace of 1,500 square feet, plus another, smaller one off the entry level. Currently configured as a four bedroom, with formal living and dining rooms, several home offices and ceilings more than 10 feet high, it could easily—with its palatial space—be aligned with most any fancy. Ms. Kee considered that the buyer, whom she declined to name, would embark upon a multi-million dollar renovation; she regretted only that the co-op board felt averse to property flippers, several of whom had previously expressed interest.

“When we moved here, we had two dogs and when we took them out for their midnight run, we were dealing mostly with hookers and trannys,” Ms. Lee remembered, laughing. “But in an interesting way, that made it a neighborhood. They looked out for you. They brought treats for the dogs. The views are still nice, but they’re not what they were, with the construction on Tenth Avenue.” Ms. Lee will be moving to a smaller place uptown, at 86th Street.


“You can hang your own art in the hallways here, which they don’t let you do in most buildings,” she continued. “You can have whatever front door you want, which is different than in most buildings. There are still four or five of the original co-op tenants here. You hear murmurings from them about gentrification, and not in a good way. Once you move away from something, you can’t go back and create what was.”

Here are the biggest broker jumps of 2014: PHOTOS

The Real DealDecember 05, 2014

Brokers aren’t the kind of people who sit still. Whether they’re showing properties, meeting with developers or “networking” at a boozy industry event, brokers are constantly on the go. And that often means switching companies.


While it’s true that the employment pool is a naturally fluid one — as independent contractors, brokers aren’t tied to their jobs the way W2-employees are — there are times when it seems like one could make a tidy sum printing up new business cards.


Under certain conditions, one firm can be the hot place to work, drawing in top talent from competitors across the city. Other circumstances can make a brokerage seem more like a sinking ship.


The startup, tech-centric Urban Compass, for example, made the push into the sales side of the business late last year, and since poached talent like Douglas Elliman star-broker Leonard Steinberg and Brown Harris Stevens’ Kyle Blackmon.


Other attention-grabbing moves included longtime Elliman pro Avi Voda, who left the company after 18 years to co-found his own firm, Voda Bauer Real Estate.


Voda, like other leaders of newly started firms in the city, has been knee-deep in recruiting efforts, bringing his firm to nearly 40 strong since launching in April.


He said he’s hiring brokers who are looking for a place where they can grow. “It’s my job to help them and show them how to get to the next level,” he said.


Elliman itself has been recruiting heavily, particularly from rival Town Residential which started bleeding brokers amid a power struggle earlier this year between co-founders Andrew Heiberger and Joseph Sitt.


“They’re trying to get the rainmakers,” Voda said of Elliman’s recruiting efforts. “They’re trying to get the top talent.”


Heiberger said the “Town in turmoil” narrative was a convenient tool used by his competitors, but discredited the idea it was the reason brokers decided to leave.


“While it is no secret that there was a six-week dispute between the principals of Town, the handful of agents that chose to leave did not cite that as a reason,” he claimed in an email. Heiberger and Sitt eventually buried the hatchet, and Town is back in expansion mode.


And then there’s the case of Corcoran which, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, has lost a number of high-profile brokers over the past several months.

Great Real Estate Marketing Plays from 2014

PlacesterDecember 03, 2014

We’ve seen many top-notch real estate marketing tactics executed to perfection throughout 2014 — by everyone from beginner agents to seasoned vets and big-time brokerages.


Below are some of the most outstanding real estate marketers of the year who’ve mastered the art of blogging, website optimization, or other marketing activities. Take a peek at those who caught our eye this year and study what made their real estate marketing stand out. You’ll find plenty of inspiration for your real estate marketing ideas.


(Note: This list certainly doesn’t include every great blog, infographic, and other real estate marketing collateral published this year, so please share any marketing tactics you found inspirational, educational, and entertaining in the comments at the end of the article.)


Premier Local Real Estate Market Blogs


Local search engine optimization (SEO) is the answer to the age-old question, “How do I attract buyers and sellers in my local market?” Optimize your site with long-tail keywords related to your area (e.g. “single-family detached homes for sale in [market name here]”) and you’ll generate qualified leads from search engines. The trick is you have to regularly produce keyword-rich, relevant content to attract those prospects. Learn how these agents use their real estate blogs to get buyers and sellers in their areas to flock to their sites.


Scottsdale Real Estate


Some agents shudder at the thought of blogging because they think each post has to be lengthy to be effective. Wrong. Just look at Scottsdale Real Estate’s posts, which range from promotional (for its listings) to informative (to relay local events and home tips). What’s more, the firm is smart to own a niche with its real estate blog: It offers helpful tips for events, like Thanksgiving, for which it produced several educational posts to ensure its audience enjoys the holiday and avoids stresses. It may not all be real estate–related, but this content can still resonate with your leads.


Sam DeBord, Seattle Homes Group


Another great real estate blogging tactic is providing the key local market information your audience needs to make informed decisions. “Should we move to this neighborhood or that one? What area of the city has the best schools? What about restaurants and retail?” Most home buyers want to know these things before narrowing down their search, and Seattle Realtor Sam DeBord clearly recognizes this. His blog is a must-read resource for Seattle-area buyers, and because of this, he establishes himself as a go-to real estate professional for the area.


Living Room Realty


What better way to thank your clients for working with you than to showcase them on your real estate blog? That’s exactly what the Living Room Realty team out of Portland, Oregon, does. In fact, the firm goes the extra mile to paint a vivid portrait of their clients’ lives in their new homes. Showing you’re invested in the well-being of buyers and sellers is the perfect way to get your clients to spread the word about your business and give your real estate website visitors a glimpse of what it’s like to work with you.

Smith & Associates Real Estate


Words aren’t always enough to explain things. Sometimes, images are needed to support your message, which is what Florida-based Smith & Associates does with its real estate blog (and to great effect). For instance, posts highlighting specific properties, neighborhoods, communities, cities, and amenities typically come with great imagery like maps of an area and photos in and around listings — anything to paint the picture of just what it’s like to live in the markets the firm serves.


A Couple of the Best Agency Blogs


On the other side of the real estate blogging coin are agencies and brokerages who can dedicate major resources to developing outstanding content marketing. These companies capture their audience’s attention with an array of distinct post types.


Core NYC


Humanizing yourself on your real estate website can do wonders for your brand. Just take a look at Core NYC’s blog, which shows off everyone who works there — from the executives to the administrative staff. Showing off your agency’s camaraderie and pride can go a long way in making your team relatable and, thus, more appealing to prospective clients. An overlooked factor in sellers’ selection of agents is personality, so show yours off on your blog from time to time.


The firm also does a great job exhibiting the top neighborhoods, events, and amenities in its primary market (NYC, if you haven’t guessed already), as evidenced by its video- and image-heavy posts showing what it’s like to live in the Big Apple and how the real estate market there is shaping up.


The Agency


Niche content creation is yet another real estate blogging strategy you can employ. Whether it’s writing about a local community theater production, covering a city festival from the streets, or talking about your experience working in your real estate market, you’ve got no end to the types of content you can develop. The Agency does a splendid job at mixing up its posts. It has interviewed sommeliers, highlighted historical residences, and even listed the top farmers markets in its surrounding area — meaning its content appeals to a wide range of folks.


A Comprehensive (and Impressive) Blog Post Series


If you really want to take your real estate blogging to another level without having to continually come up with new and interesting ideas, just go with one idea and break it down piece by piece. This tactic allows you to dive deep into one subject over time. Take a look at this prime example of a real estate agent who expertly educates her audience with in-depth content generated from a single concept: how to sell your home.


“Steps to Selling Your Home” by Shay Hata


Be useful to your audience: Chicago-based Realtor Shay Hata understands this, as she put together a lengthy (and informative) series of blog posts to guide her site visitors on what they need to know about selling a home. Offering guidance in this format can bring people back to your site on a regular basis … as long as your information is useful and detailed.


Great Examples of Long-Form Content


Playing the long game, so to speak, with your real estate content marketing has its benefits. Writing long-form content — think ebooks, reports, whitepapers, and guides — can establish you as an all-knowing, reliable resource for home buyers and sellers. All you need is patience and time dedicated to creating content over the course of weeks or months to develop informative long-form content your audience will love. Here are some of the top examples of longer real estate content from 2014.


Washington Fine Properties


The luxury housing market demands sophisticated marketing efforts. Washington Fine Properties ensures its real estate marketing is in full force thanks to a bevy of digital and print magazines detailing its properties, the local market, and luxury home stats and trends.


Marques Strickland


You don’t need to be a big-time real estate firm to produce long-form content. For example, look at this ebook, titled “The 12 Month Plan to Buying Your First Home”, from Connecticut-based Realtor Marques Strickland. Many home buyers need guidance through the buying process. Share-worthy guides like this — which covers buying tasks like securing a down payment and saving for closing costs — can keep home searchers coming back to your site to consume content consistently.


Intriguing and Attractive Infographics


Blog posts, ebooks, reports, and other written content are great, but they are far from your only marketing options on your real estate website. More visual-based content, like infographics, offers not only a nice change of pace from written articles, but also a way to secure a loyal site following.


Different people prefer different types of content, so cover your bases and produce the occasional graphic that details local market stats, tips on buying or selling, mortgage information, or anything else you think would interest your leads.


Here’s what three realty firms created this year that are perfect examples of what you can develop for your real estate content marketing.


Jensen and Company Realtors


While you can’t go wrong telling home buyers what they should do during the buying search, it also doesn’t hurt to share some don’ts about the process. Jensen and Company’s infographic below details eight can’t-do scenarios to help prevent prospective homeowners from wasting time or money.


Select Group Real Estate


Compiling industry statistics is a popular concept for many real estate infographics, and Select Group fashioned an eye-pleasing and educational graphic here that shows the importance of hiring an agent: a little something for the FSBO crowd who may not be convinced they need a professional to help them offload their properties.


Shorewest Realtors


A visual representation showing the step-by-step process homebuyers will go through during their search for residences gives them an easy way to understand everything involved. Shorewest Realtors did a phenomenal job of making an attractive, explanatory infographic buyers can comprehend (and a little self-promotion here and there is fine, too).


Unit Realty Group


Infographics don’t always need flashy graphics. Simply including pertinent info in a clear and easy-to-follow manner can do the trick, as it did in this graphic from Boston-based Unit Realty Group.


Video Marketing Done the Right Way


Another growing and effective form of visual real estate marketing is video: ones showing listings, happy clients, agents talking about local market conditions, or giving a tour of their neighborhood. All of these offer the perfect showcase material for your real estate website. If you need some examples of agents and firms doing video marketing right (and that includes hiring the right help), take a look below to see what some of the top real estate pros shot in 2014.


The Boutique Real Estate Group


Going above and beyond to showcase one property in a two-minute, Hollywood-esque short film may not be in everyone’s budget, but since California-based Boutique Real Estate Group has the wherewithal to create stunning videos, it’s decided to take advantage of the medium. If there’s one firm you can (and should) learn about video marketing from, its Boutique Real Estate Group.


Sotheby’s International Realty


Consistency is a major factor that helps agents and firms build audiences online — and this includes consistency with video publication. Sotheby’s uploads multiple listing videos and other recordings to its YouTube channel weekly, meaning its audience will find something new on the channel with every visit.


Nest Realty


Providing a mix of video types also helps bolster your real estate video marketing, as evidenced by Nest Realty’s YouTube channel, which features testimonials from clients, interviews with local market entrepreneurs, listing tours, and much more.


If you’re looking for more inspiration for your real estate video marketing, check out this Academy post featuring eight of the top listing videos from 2014.


Website Social Proof Implemented to Perfection


Developing content for your real estate website doesn’t simply mean writing blog posts, in-depth reports, and landing page copy. It also means allowing your client base to do the talking for you. Reviews and testimonials should exist across your site to act as social proof: promotional content that shows you’re a great real estate agent who has a history of delighted clients with lots of nice things to say about you. These agents use social proof to show they’re the ones to hire in their respective real estate markets.


Brendon DeSimone


Getting featured in national publications is no small thing. Brendon DeSimone is clearly proud (as he should be) of being mentioned by and contributing thoughts to news outlets nationwide, and shows off these news hits front and center on his real estate website. On top of that, he also makes sure visitors get a glimpse of his other accomplishments and accolades, like his book on real estate.


Danielle Lazier


Testimonials featuring flattering client commentary, awards won in the real estate industry, links to relevant sites featuring background information and career history: All of these are displayed on Danielle Lazier’s homepage — one every agent should consider emulating with their own real estate website.


Agents with Expert SlideShare Presentations


Your real estate website needs content to thrive, but there are other sites where it’s optimal to publish content, too — for instance, SlideShare. The presentation platform hosts reports, ebooks, infographics, and slideshows from just about every industry. Real estate agents all over use the service to share their creative works and spread awareness of their companies. See how this firm used SlideShare in 2014 to enhance its real estate marketing efforts.


Paris911 RE/MAX of Valencia


As we’ve mentioned on the Academy before, inbound marketing is the “long game,” meaning you plant seeds online and, over time, your brand will sprout and appear atop search engine results pages (SERPs). Create lots of engaging content, like Paris911 does on SlideShare, and you’ll get many clicks. This firm is constantly churning out great SlideShare after great SlideShare. Here’s one the agency created regarding home loan errors to avoid:


Two of the Top Industry Podcasts and Webinars


Podcasts and webinars have taken off in recent years, including among the real estate community. Many agents host weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly webinars with their real estate leads to inform them on market trends and teach them the ins and outs of buying and selling, while others conduct webinars to answer their audience’s questions and educate them on niche topics, like securing a mortgage. Below are some of the top real estate webinars and podcasts of 2014 that can inspire your own.


Kelly Mitchell, Agent Caffeine


Aside from running her own brokerage in Hawaii, Kelly Mitchell also runs the popular Agent Caffeine podcast, which serves as a soundboard for real estate industry commentary and provides invaluable advice to fellow agents and brokers everywhere. Common topics covered include how to modernize your business and the keys to developing solid real estate marketing strategies. Though the podcast isn’t consumer-facing, it positions Mitchell as a go-to resource for other real estate professionals and helps her grow her network.


Pat Hiban, Hiban Digital


Author, entrepreneur, and top-selling real estate agent are just a few ways to describe Pat Hiban, who runs his own podcast series that features major players in the real estate industry and provides insight to fellow pros. Hiban produced dozens of podcasts during 2014, many of which feature top-performing industry members. Agents who want to glean real estate and wealth-building tips and tricks from an experienced and successful industry vet would be wise to tune in to Hiban’s informative podcasts.


Captivating Real Estate Email Marketing Campaigns


Finally, we come to email marketing for real estate. Sending newsletters, digests, and other email messaging to your audience can pay huge dividends. Take these agents’ email campaigns, for example. They have a knack for creating effective email strategies to get leads coming back to their real estate websites and social media accounts to learn more — meaning they’re nurturing them through the sales funnel. Check out some examples of their email marketing below to see how to truly engage leads.


Marguerite Giguere


When you brand yourself as “The Skydiving Agent,” it’s likely you’re someone who takes chances — and that includes with real estate marketing. Such is the case with Tacoma, Washington–based Realtor Marguerite Giguere, whose email campaigns are lively and full of her outgoing personality (as shown by the Photoshopped pic of her and her gingerbread friend). The seasonal digest email below is the perfect example of what makes her email marketing so appealing.


Melissa Zavala


Big, bold images with short, to-the-point blog post descriptions: That’s the perfect recipe for a digest email, and broker Melissa Zavala executes it to perfection with her real estate email marketing. Of course, it helps to have a real estate website as comprehensive as hers is, but promoting it in this fashion surely helps improve many site metrics.

This New Steampunk Condo Development Is Proof That New York Is Over

Business InsiderDecember 03, 2014

This is the top for New York City. It's all downhill from here.


A new condo building is going up in Manhattan's Hudson Square neighborhood — the triangle on the river between Tribeca, SoHo, and the West Village that has until recently been mostly commercial and industrial buildings.


15 Renwick isn't just any building: it's a steampunk-themed luxury development. Steampunk-themed. Luxury. Development. 


What is steampunk? It's mostly a literary and artistic genre. Think Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd, but much less murderous, riding atop a floating, steam-powered sidecar.


American novelist Caitlin Kittredge described it as "sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans," according to the steampunk movement's official website. An overly optimistic nostalgia for an earlier time ... where have we heard that before? 


Condos are priced between $2 million and $7.5 million (with hefty maintenance fees, natch). The building's amenities include the regular: parking, roof deck, laundry. But there are also on-brand steampunk touches: a "high design boxing gym," a zen garden, and a 24-hour butler (listed as a feature in the lobby, so presumably more like a doorman in a puffy shirt?). 


There's never been a clearer sign that 21st-century New York is nothing but an amusement park for the world's wealthy and their children. It has ceased to be a real place for the rest of us.


The building's website is filled with model-like characters who appear to have just stepped off the set of Hollywood films, as if actually living in this building is also just a fantasy. Given the number of foreigners buying condos in New York at the moment, that it would be totally sold, but no one would actually live in this building is not all that far fetched.


The developer joked to DNAinfo's Danielle Tcholakian that it was a building for "rich hipsters." Here's how the building is described on its website.


Let's talk about the fact that there are characters in an apartment building. Not staff, but characters. Not residents, but characters. Living in this building is all about not living a real life. 


It is questionable that living in New York City these days bears any resemblance to reality. 

New Steampunk-Themed Luxury Condo Building Unfortunately Does Not Come With a Guillotine

New York MagazineDecember 03, 2014

A new steampunk-themed luxury condo building is opening across from the New York Magazine offices, and oh, what a building it is! Just browse through 15 Renwick's website for some insight into what bajillionaire hipsters can expect from a boutique developer's take on the 18th century.


The 11-story building, which is slated to finish construction by the end of 2015, will come with a variety of modern amenities, including a roof deck, bike storage, and washer/dryers, because people in Victorian times definitely had those. Even though it's a totally new building built using totally new materials that will house people who were born in the 1980s instead of the 1780s, 15 Renwick is refusing to sacrifice authenticity. The building will also come with a 24-hour "butler" and an old-timey boxing gym.


Unfortunately for those of us forced to constantly gaze upon this monstrosity, 15 Renwick will not come with a residential guillotine.

Ten Tips: East Side Address

LonnyDecember 03, 2014

When your job involves showing multimillion-dollar listings in some of the most desirable buildings in New York, you’re bound to be a bit particular about the details of your own abode. Such was the case for Emily Beare, a broker at luxury real estate group CORE, who more than a decade ago moved with her husband, Brian, into a prewar building in the East Side enclave Sutton Place—in her words, “one of Manhattan’s best-kept secrets.” Two years ago, when the couple relocated to an eighth-floor unit in the same building, it seemed like the optimal time for a decorating refresh. 


Enter interior designer Robert Passal, a friend and frequent collaborator of Emily’s. Already familiar with her sensibility (expressed in her studied collection of American oil paintings) and love of entertaining, Passal proved to be a valuable design ally who wasn’t afraid to challenge his clients. The denlike study, for example, was his answer to Brian’s desire for a man cave. “He wanted a room where he could enjoy a football game as well as work,” Passal explains, and thanks to elements such as a deep-seated sectional and a campaign desk, the mood is both sophisticated and cocooning. Below, 10 lessons from this twist on a traditional space.


1. Hit Refresh If the layout or architecture of your new home is similar to that of your previous one, it might seem natural to arrange your furniture in the same way. But “avoid getting stuck in a design rut,” advises Passal. “Challenge yourself to rethink how your belongings are being shown off.” The designer suggests collecting items in one central room and strategizing from there, rather than automatically moving pieces to a specific area. In this apartment, a Biedermeier secretary and drop-leaf table were reinterpreted as nightstands.


2. Welcome the Dark Side “Clients are often initially reluctant when I suggest moody tones for their walls, thinking that really means drab,” says Passal. In the study, the designer’s use of Well-Bred Brown by Sherwin-Williams creates a warm, enveloping atmosphere with dramatic impact.


3. Go for Mass Appeal When it comes to displaying art and decorative pieces, more is sometimes more. Passal displayed Emily’s collection of similarly hued flea-market paintings along one wall in the den, and stationed ceramic urns and dog figurines atop a kitchen pantry.


4. Be Smart with Your Hardware Put aside your picture hangers and consider alternative solutions for displaying art. “Hang frames using a track system with steel cables or acrylic rods,” suggests Passal. “This allows the freedom for your collection to grow and evolve without the commitment of putting holes in your walls.” In the den, the seemingly random way works are hung brings a casual sensibility to more traditional pieces.


5. Designate an Escape The goal for the master bedroom was a sanctuary-like setting where Emily could retreat after long days of meetings and appointments. Passal chose a soothing palette of pale creams, grays, and blues, accented with a citron-hued bed designed specifically for the space. The guest bedroom, on the other hand, lets pattern take center stage.


6. Bring on the Broadloom “One challenge [we had] was in selecting flooring options for the master bedroom,” Passal says. “Emily was a bit averse to the idea of wall-to-wall carpet. Knowing that she loves a great luxury hotel, I showed her photos of beautiful hotel suites, all of which were fully carpeted. Once she had the visuals, little convincing was needed.”


7. Mix Your Seating “Emily was clear that she wanted to host meals and entertain guests on a regular basis,” says the designer. For gatherings around the Christian Liaigre dining table, Passal created an eight-foot tufted banquette, which allows for comfortable seating for 10 when flanked with the Gustavian dining chairs.


 8. Consider Mobility The Beares’ living room, while quite large, is long and narrow. Passal’s solution was to use smaller furniture that can be positioned in various arrangements throughout the space. Chairs, tables, and even the settee can easily be shifted to suit the occasion. The atmosphere is one of refined comfort—or, as Emily describes it, “I feel so happy surrounded by my beautiful things.”


9. Layer the Light Install fixtures at multiple levels—overhead and on walls, tables, and floors—and distribute them throughout the room to ensure that it is evenly lit. “Dimmer switches are an absolute must. They allow you to play with the dispersion of light,” says Passal.


10. Perform a Balancing Act Mix an antiques collection with newer pieces, or play traditional shapes off more modern ones. “I find that the contrast between old and new, precious and utilitarian, enhances each individual object,” Passal says. “Emily and Brian have some great American art and Continental antiques, which we countered with cleaner furnishings and contemporary art to give the space a more youthful feel.”

Developers Stepping Up With Unprecedented Originality

Huffington PostDecember 03, 2014

Just when ultra-luxury amenities seem to have reached their peak, developers strive a bit higher.


Developers of the new ultra-luxury condominiums cater to buyers who not only want the newest amenities, but also want what others before them don't have. This direction that new developments are going in encourages developers to think outside the box in terms of building amenities, apartment features, and marketing.


As a result of recent trends, the most coveted building amenity seems to be having a parking space. An article published by The Real Deal subsidiary, Luxury Listings NYC, explained the just how valued onsite parking is through the price tags placed on the coveted amenity. Accordingly, parking spaces in new developments can range from $500,000 at 12 East 13th Street to $1 million at 42 Crosby Street. Granted, these spaces have amenities of their own, including electric charging stations, automated parking, and high-end finishes and lighting.


Perhaps the most original feature of newly developed condos is the expansion of the traditional use of floor-to-ceiling windows. The bathrooms of many new mega-towers are located along these exterior "walls" in order to have the best view of the city from even the most private of rooms. The ability to even comfortably have an exposed bathroom is exclusive to these luxury apartments on the highest floors, making their mere presence a marker of status.


The extravagance does not stop with the buildings. In order to show buyers exactly what they're paying for, developers have been spending large sums on highly detailed miniature models of the under-construction towers. For example, the model completed for the Cast Iron House conversion includes a detailed façade that is detachable in order to view the building interiors and individual units. Some models even include the high-end finishes inside the units, such as wood floors, moldings, and replicated Miele ovens.



Developers have always needed to wow their buyers, but now they need to take it a step further.

Steampunk-Themed Luxury Project Aims to Draw 'Rich Hipsters' to Hudson Sq.

DNA InfoDecember 02, 2014

HUDSON SQUARE — A self-styled steampunk-themed luxury development under construction in Hudson Square that is hoping to attract "rich hipsters" is as tall as it's going to get.


Over the past few weeks, the 15 Renwick project topped out at 11 stories, and it is on schedule to be done by the end of 2015, said Dan Oelsner, vice president of development at the company behind project, IGI-USA.


“Hudson Square is evolving as a very special, boutique neighborhood, and 15 Renwick reflects the same,” said Oelsner, who joked recently that the building would have no trouble drawing in residents from a neighborhood "full of rich hipsters."


“The sales gallery has only been open for a month and the response has been terrific.”


Renderings and ads for the building feature fantastical 18th- and 19th-century-themed characters and settings, playing off of the neighborhood's industrial history and into an aesthetic that the developers are pitching as "steampunk." The development's website features images of old-fashioned cars, stone bridges, tall sailing ships and characters in elaborate Victorian costumes and headpieces.


The facade of the building will feature framed windows that tilt and turn out to open, mixed with copper panels treated to give them an aged, industrial look. The lobby will have a floor tiled with bespoke patterned cement and a polished stucco ceiling, and the bedrooms of the 31 residences will include herringbone-patterned flooring.


The amenities, too, will be in keeping with the 19th-century luxury ideal, with a 24-hour "butler" and an old-time boxing gym. The building will also offer modern amenities like a laundry room, bike storage and a roof deck.


Listing prices for the units range from a little more than $2 million for a third-floor two-bedroom apartment to more than $7 million for one of the building's four duplex penthouses with attached private terraces.


At a party celebrating the opening of the sales office a few weeks ago, Oelsner dismissed the notion that linking the development to a fashion trend would be limiting. He said the steampunk features would appeal to workers in the media, technology and fashion companies based in Hudson Square, who would understand the idea behind the design.


“This area is full of rich hipsters,” Oelsner joked. "If you get it, you're our kind of buyer."

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