The Lower East Side: Real Estate.

As a Lower East Side Resident, and real estate broker, I have observed the shift in the architectural landscape. What once used to be the Matzo Factory, is now a new condominium development. Adorning the corners of  the high foot traffic Clinton Street – an array of new boutique shops selling art, good food, and love in a cup of gourmet hot chocolate.  It makes sense that developers hedged on the steady growth of the LES. A romantic landscape , with vibrant flavor and history, where a developer could build and make a profit, while not surpassing the average 2k a foot psqf,  in surrounding neighborhoods.  As a resident, and broker, I do feel that it is positive that our community continues to dynamically move forward, while still keeping aspects of the history that has made the LES what it is. Among the fancy  new boutique shops, one can still find the little mom and pop spaces, art, music, galleries, Orchard Street. The architectural design does not take away from the skyline; featuring small walk-ups, and charming buildings. From a buyer’s standpoint, this would be the place to invest at the moment, while prices are relatively low, and the product new, in a wonderful location.  GO LES!!!!

Can government implement policy over evictions?

“In September, the Trump administration announced a national moratorium on evictions, via an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus. The four-month temporary suspension applies to any tenant who can’t make rent due to economic conditions and who presents a written declaration about their circumstances to their landlord.”

The opportunity zone; real estate brokerage…

Zillow,‌ ‌a‌ ‌well-known‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌platform‌ ‌announced‌ ‌last‌ ‌week‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌taking‌ ‌market‌ ‌share‌ ‌as‌ a ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌brokerage.‌ ‌Technically,‌ ‌this‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌news‌ ‌or‌ ‌surprising.‌ ‌Real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌brokerages‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌impacted‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌democratization‌ ‌of‌ ‌data,‌ ‌and‌ ‌customers‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌complaining‌ ‌about‌ ‌ ‌broker’s‌ ‌fees‌ ‌for‌ ‌decades.‌ ‌This‌ ‌created‌ ‌an‌ ‌“opportunity”‌ ‌for‌ ‌tech‌ ‌players‌ ‌wanting‌ ‌to‌ ‌solve‌ ‌that‌ ‌“problem”‌ ‌for‌ ‌consumers.‌ ‌This‌ ‌also‌ ‌created‌ ‌an‌ ‌opportunity‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌platform‌ ‌to‌ ‌see‌ ‌the‌ ‌long term value ‌in‌ ‌offering‌ ‌services‌ ‌to‌ ‌consumers‌ ‌and‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌professionals‌ ‌in‌ ‌exchange‌ ‌for‌ ‌their‌ ‌data in one central space.‌ ‌ ‌

I‌ ‌have‌ ‌worked‌ ‌as‌ ‌a licensed‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌professional‌ ‌in‌ ‌New‌ ‌York‌ ‌since‌ ‌2007, however,‌ ‌I‌ ‌started‌ ‌showing‌ ‌apartments‌ ‌in‌ ‌2003‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌local‌ ‌property‌ ‌owner.‌ ‌Since,‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌observed ‌the‌ ‌rise of ‌many‌ ‌startups,‌ ‌including‌ ‌companies‌ ‌like‌ ‌WeWork,‌ ‌Airbnb,‌ ‌Redfin,‌ ‌Zillow,‌ ‌and‌ ‌so‌ ‌on.‌ ‌There‌ ‌were‌ ‌issues‌ ‌with‌ ‌long‌ ‌and‌ ‌exhaustive‌ ‌leases‌ ‌in‌ ‌commercial‌ ‌and‌ ‌residential‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate,‌ ‌so‌ ‌startups‌ ‌seized this‌ ‌as an ‌opportunity‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌on‌ ‌master‌ ‌leases‌ ‌and‌ ‌offer‌ ‌flexibility to consumers.‌ ‌Property‌ ‌owners‌ ‌became aware of ‌the‌ ‌potential‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌startups‌ ‌to‌ ‌disrupt‌ ‌the‌ ‌landscapes‌ ‌and funded leading startups‌, particularly in commercial real estate. ‌One‌ ‌thing‌ ‌remains‌ ‌unchanged;‌ ‌the‌ ‌underlying‌ ‌laws‌ ‌guiding‌ ‌the‌ ‌transactional‌ ‌process‌ ‌in‌ ‌each‌ ‌locale.‌ ‌It‌ ‌begs‌ ‌the‌ ‌question‌ ‌of‌ ‌how‌ ‌much‌ ‌can‌ ‌actually‌ ‌be‌ ‌“modernized”‌ ‌or‌ ‌adjusted‌ ‌if‌ ‌the‌ ‌guiding‌ ‌laws‌ ‌remain stagnant. ‌But‌ ‌will‌ ‌they?‌ ‌If‌ ‌an‌ ‌algorithm‌ ‌is‌ ‌screening‌ ‌a‌ ‌renter‌ ‌or‌ ‌buyer,‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌algorithm‌ ‌an‌ ‌agent or a license?‌ ‌Technically not, ‌but‌ ‌a‌ ‌human‌ structured the parameters of its intellect, ‌and‌ the ‌data‌ ‌fed‌ ‌by‌ ‌a‌ ‌human-created‌ ‌that‌ ‌algorithm.‌ ‌Does‌ ‌that‌ ‌algorithm‌ ‌have‌ ‌the‌ ‌fiduciary‌ ‌responsibility‌ ‌to‌ ‌follow‌ ‌Fair‌ ‌Housing‌ ‌Laws,‌ ‌or‌ ‌be‌ ‌liable‌ ‌for‌ ‌contingencies‌ ‌affecting‌ ‌the‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌of‌ ‌real‌ ‌property?‌ ‌So‌ ‌far,‌ ‌it‌ ‌does‌ ‌not‌ ‌appear‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌so,‌ ‌because‌ ‌companies‌ ‌‌can‌ ‌program‌ ‌into‌ ‌their‌ ‌platforms‌ algorithms to target a certain audience or ‌weave‌ ‌out‌ ‌low-income‌ ‌renters‌ ‌and‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ apparently ‌ok.‌ ‌Additionally,‌ ‌if established‌ ‌platforms‌ ‌require‌ ‌a‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌license,‌ ‌and‌ ‌therefore‌ a ‌professional‌ ‌to‌ ‌manage‌ ‌the‌ ‌gaps‌ ‌within‌ ‌a‌ ‌specific‌ ‌time‌ ‌frame‌ ‌……is‌ ‌that‌ ‌professional‌ ‌still‌ ‌an‌ ‌independent‌ ‌contractor or an employee?‌ ‌ ‌Conclusively,‌ ‌then,‌ ‌while‌ ‌some‌ ‌strides‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌made ‌in‌ ‌streamlining‌ ‌the‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌transactional‌ ‌process,‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌core‌ ‌factors‌ ‌that‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌mitigated‌ ‌before‌ ‌the‌ ‌dream‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌conveyor‌ ‌belt‌ ‌without‌ ‌commissions‌ ‌and‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌professionals‌ ‌is‌ ‌here.‌ ‌ ‌Furthermore, bringing together in a seamless manner the components of a transaction, is not a piece of cake, there are many analog processes and dispersed pieces that were kept separate, in part, because of legal reasons, and to protect the consumer with bundled deals and monopolies.

Covid19‌ ‌accelerated‌ ‌the‌ ‌paradigm‌ ‌shift‌ led ‌by‌ ‌well-funded‌ ‌startups.‌ ‌This will translate into additional funding ‌and development of ‌AI; ‌buying‌ and collecting ‌data,‌ ‌and‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌high-end‌ ‌engineers‌ ‌to‌ ‌build‌ ‌a‌ ‌seamless‌ ‌platform‌ ‌to‌ ‌cut‌ ‌out‌ most of ‌the‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌professionals eventually.‌ ‌ Let machine learning make the suggestions, and sell you smart products, which will in turn emanate more data that can be monetized.

Thus,‌ ‌the taking‌ ‌of‌ ‌additional‌ ‌market‌ share‌ ‌by‌ ‌these‌ ‌well-funded,‌ ‌leading‌ ‌platforms,‌ ‌‌will‌ continue to ‌impact‌ ‌the‌ ‌viability‌ ‌for‌ ‌small‌ ‌mom-and-pop‌ ‌brokerages;‌ ‌similar‌ ‌to the way‌ ‌that‌ ‌Amazon‌ ‌took‌ ‌out‌ ‌some‌ ‌retailers.‌ ‌Historically,‌ ‌paradigm‌ ‌shifts‌ impacting major analog ‌markets‌ ‌ ‌appeared ‌cyclical, but regardless, ‌change‌ ‌is‌ ‌inevitable.‌ At a ‌macro-level,‌ ‌some‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌startups‌ ‌with‌ ‌millions‌ ‌‌and‌ ‌similar‌ ‌goals will‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌push‌ ‌forward‌ ‌to‌ ‌try to differentiate‌ ‌from‌ ‌one‌ ‌another.‌ ‌Perhaps‌ ‌their competition ‌will‌ ‌improve ‌dynamic and contextual pricing, ‌and ‌impact‌ ‌the‌ ‌laws currently ‌guiding‌ ‌the‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌transactional‌ ‌process in each location.‌ ‌Smart, green living, will continue to lead the way and real estate professionals will add value through the tools that will enhance their knowledge and performance. Depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌what‌ ‌type‌ ‌of‌ ‌asset, and ‌market ‌segment‌, ‌some‌ ‌consumers‌ will still use a traditional brokerage brand, and personal agent to price, negotiate, market, and close the transaction while navigating the myriad of marketing platforms to obtain the highest offer. You don’t see them taking over New York City, because selling a cooperative can be labor intensive, not an ideal candidate for a conveyor belt.

The‌ ‌fees‌ ‌are‌ ‌not‌ ‌going‌ ‌away in sales; someone‌ ‌has‌ ‌to‌ ‌pay‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌implementation‌ ‌of‌ ‌‌technology,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌facilitation‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌process.‌ ‌‌Real estate‌ ‌professionals,‌ ‌who are not able to sustain a long term career within the traditional setup, will likely have an opportunity to work as employees managing some of tech processes, and advising customers on every aspect of smart living. The deconstruction of traditionally closed spaces and systems, can allow for for additional inclusion of diverse voices in real estate without having to have a “sphere of influence” Rather, the Californian Ideology, should potentially carve space in their leading efforts for the voices that have been shut down from this industry for the past 100 years. Creating meaningful rules, and not just a PR stunt; embody the inclusion of all voices, representing humanity in this industry segment, which means so much for us all. The barriers of entry and success, one would think have been eroded by this democratization, but that is not always the case, there is a reason why there aren’t enough people to select for leadership roles, anyone can push a wheel in a cog.

No magic answers

We are living in uncertain times, and it is possible that it will take at least two years to begin to see change. In the context of real estate here in New York City, we were already experiencing market shifts in 2018, what the current landscape did, was in essence accelerate the shift and force us to think quicker and faster about what to do next and what the outlook will be. There are many ideas. I enjoyed reading this article, like most, it had some interesting points.

New York City’s most comprehensive guidelines to facilitate the safe and healthy reentry into commercial office buildings.

“The guidelines will arm building owners and property managers with concrete strategies based on the recommendations of governmental and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health.”

Boutique Office Space Available in SoHo.

New York City, located between Broome and Spring streets is a boutique historic building featuring approximately 100,000 sqft available for lease. The space is inclusive of the ground floor retail, and 7 floors of office space above. Each floor, is approximately 1,200 sqf, and lofty, 13-15 ft ceilings, 3 elevators. This iconic building is been meticulously upgraded and modernized, while remaining true to its architectural dynamism and movement. The spaces can be leased contiguous or separate. Contact me for additional details:


“…Owners are looking to identify technology-enabled real estate concepts that could grow their business,”

I often imagine future urban landscapes as dynamic cybernetic living organisms. Intelligent spaces will be able to combine aspects of our lives to create an all encompassing, creative, and healthy community. Every square foot will be smart and usable. Imagine. The air space as we know it, will be utilized for additional building, given that people will probably enjoy extended lives through bioengineering. Architectural shapes, design, and materials will also have to adorn the sky creatively in order to facilitate movement and community between buildings. On average, it appears that currently most people can live up to 90 to 95 years old, and that can translate to working beyond retirement years. Property management software is already impacting building occupancy, financial reporting, and to some degree, it is freeing property managers to focus more on the macro qualitative aspects that software and intra link digital systems can’t do. Coworking and coliving will begin to mirror in experience. “Proptech” will continue to lead an aggressive, and progressive shift in business models and services provided. Institutional commercial and residential real estate owners who acknowledge the inevitable shift, area already investing in tech that will give them an edge over their competitors, while also spearheading a new global market. Understanding that if they don’t forge ahead and take a risk in investing in the given emerging landscapes, that someone else will, thereby also diluting or disrupting their marketshare. Coworking and Coliving are just the roots of a mobile, digital ecosystem addressing needs in segments that include, but are not limited to: property management, security, health, natural energy, global warming, and space use. I wonder how this creative cohesion and integration of new tech and space will affect privacy. Already, while we navigate the digital spaces, most of us are leaving trails of data points that others collect and repackage in the form of algorithms. Will people yearn to disconnect from what might be inherent, and constant surveillance? Or will the advantages be great enough that people will accept constant integration into the “machine.” What will this mean for small business owners who will be disrupted because they can’t afford to invest or curate technology that will put them into the forefront of their competitors?

Lower East Side and Taco Mix on Delancey Street.

It is evident that the residential and commercial landscape is rapidly changing here in the LES (Lower East Side, NYC). It is my second day dining at Taco Mix – and I am delighted to report that the food is delicious. I foresee that in the next 10 years, this small strip, which appears currently under contract, will build its air rights and develop into a mini mall; mixed use condominium, or both? The puzzle could align given the recent burst in tech start-ups in New York. The “opportunity zone” on South Delancey Street and Broome Street, featuring brand new offices, and a collection of brand new residential sales and rentals will be able to host the continuation of this burgeoning cultural shift. Perhaps Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm, or Fifth Wall, will open offices here in the LES? Only time will tell who the prospective tenants will be, but they can always e-mail me for feedback ha ha

A tale of technocratization and the real estate “super” broker.

The empowered real estate professional of the future will be supported by artificial intelligence derived from contextual local data to guide the process and provide insights. Like any other major shift in the world, it will take time to derive meaningful algorithms. In the process, there will be a refinement in ethics given that software and hardware solutions are inherently subjective with a given goal in mind, and it is often just about making money, (not all, some) and not aiming to solve a problem. To some degree, that cycle will correct itself as people will eventually decipher between such competing voices; hopefully machine learning will produce super intelligence that is self motivating toward “mindfulness.” Just as we hope that real estate brokerages and developers  that make a career out of “opportunity zones” act beyond speech and actually purport positive change by giving back to the same community. 

  Constituents use artificial intelligence keywords to differentiate and gain market share, because technically, and literally, there are current laws governing how a real estate brokerage should be structured. This actually limits what can be done by a robot vs a licensed real estate agent depending on location. While the purported tech rhetoric has to some degree dislocated smaller brokerages and brokers, there are players that realized that in order to compete aggressively it is imperative that they go beyond speech and actually use relevant data to feed the machine and obtain aiding answers in pricing and pairing of customer and real asset. Thus, traditional closed systems that own compilations of such relevant data sets, can now crunch that data to churn it into gold, thereby enhancing the real estate agent in their brokerage into a “super agent.” This process or paradigm shift will create a division between brokerages who cannot afford to buy market intelligence or data, and scientists and engineers to build smart systems. Technocratization also created a market- place for non traditional real estate brokerage services for different classes (single family, condos, ect). Moreover, there are companies offering to streamline most of the transactional process for a fraction of the traditional cost. While I do not imagine that there is a unicorn that can streamline the buying or selling process for every asset, there are some fair artificial intelligence solutions that can be helpful, depending on the user’s goal. Human time and effort is still needed to guide the algorithms, label the data, collect data, and understand the linguistic environments where such “innovation” takes place. 

    Conclusively, I would not make my bet on having artificial intelligence dramatically replace a system and process that is local, and to some degree analog, operating through a specific legal framework changed overnight. The process of creating meaning in our society and cultures takes time, that includes the understanding of new technologies by many, the cost of such shift, and the adoption of it. The questions that we are left to ponder are related to: what is the value that is created? Who loses? people without access? Does it solve a real problem? Is it long term? Is it viable? And it will eventually become the norm? Within what framework?