What’s your secret sauce for attracting customers?
I think for a lot of these people, they would feel comfortable if I went out with their daughter. I think I’m pretty down to earth. Most owners always expect a sales pitch, but that’s not how I go about it.
I’m always going to be analytical and transparent, and I don’t think I have an ego.
How did you celebrate your first big deal?
I gave an engagement ring to my wife. It was a $62 million sale, so it was a nice ring.
The building was 68–74 Thompson St. in SoHo. I sold it to Ralph Tawil and the Pilevsky family, owners of Phillips International, on behalf of a client in Dubai who was introduced to me by someone I had previously visited a property with.
The funny part of this story was that we struggled to reach the number the customer wanted. Phil Pilevsky pulls me aside in a vacant retail space and tells me to sit down. He then says that we will make a deal right away. I was uncomfortable. But we sat for 10 minutes and he accepted $62 million. I called the client to let him know, and Phil says if the contract isn’t signed in five days, he’s leaving. It was a 72-unit building that had caught fire. At 4 a.m. on the fifth day, I left the client attorney’s office with a signed contract, and we closed two weeks later.
Why do your customers choose you?
I think I’m one of those people where if you email or text me at 6am or midnight, I’m very responsive no matter how busy I am. I’m hyper competitive, but I don’t let my emotions dictate my actions.
I don’t get into people’s heads and I don’t shout. I think people appreciate that.
What complicated case have you worked on recently?
In 2018, I represented the Archdiocese of New York in the sale of a vacant condo at 190 Prince St. in SoHo to a wealthy overseas individual. After this sale at closing, he took me aside and told me that he wanted to buy all the neighboring buildings and asked me to represent him.
We bought a condo in 2018, 196 Prince St., then in 2019, then came across 198 Prince.
You can walk there now, and it’s a building that looks like it hasn’t been maintained for 100 years. You go online and there are over 100 violations, but I couldn’t figure out who the owner was.
I spoke to a tenant who lived there, and she told me they were living in hell without gas and had been harassed by the property manager. She helped me get contact information for estate attorneys, who were being sued by tenants over living conditions.
I found out that the property manager was planning to buy the estate building for less than the market price, which is why he was harassing these tenants. In the meantime, my client wants it too.
Eventually I got a deal where we buy it as is, with all the violations, pay the manager to go away, and relocate the current tenants to a better building.
A customer is about to walk through the door. What’s your Hail Mary move to keep the deal intact?
My decision is to let them go and take a break. At this point, everyone just needs to go get food and breathe. I will use this time to get to the heart of the matter and bring everyone together to do so.
I like to calm everyone down, talk to each side, and bring everyone together so the legal documents can be finalized.
Who is your favorite customer?
I have to say that I love non-profits and estates. The reason I like them is that we get paid when the property sells, not when we are hired to sell. The good thing is that you know that if you put the work into it, they’re going to make deals. They are not obsessed with a specific price – they will sell at any market price and we will be compensated.
Do you bid for Marty Burger or Silverstein Properties?
Absolutely not. He certainly looked at the things I sell, but the things he sells and buys are outside my expertise. It’s something I’m working towards, but I can look in the mirror and know I’m not there yet.
Do you think you will always be a broker?
I think so. I feel like I ended up in a great place. I’m one of those people who takes it one day at a time. If I start thinking too far ahead, I have to step back and focus on the present. If I put one foot in front of the other, I’ll be on the right track.
I have 5 hour energy next to my bed every day. When my alarm goes off at 6am, I swallow it and go for a 7-10 mile run. That’s what I do every day before I start. My wife doesn’t like it.