Five Types of New York City Real Estate You Should Buy Today

This post was originally featured on HuffingtonPost.com

Highly transparent and under-leveraged, the New York real estate market is one of the most stable in the world. If you are looking to make a savvy investment, now is a great time to beat rising property values — which are expected to increase by as much as 20 percent over the next three years — to secure real estate that will generate returns for years to come.

Traditionally, investors looked for opportunities in the affluent suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey, but growth in those areas has become stagnate. But today, we look to Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hudson County, which are areas that are growing rapidly thanks to new job opportunities, especially in healthcare.

Healthcare jobs are growing by five percent per year — twice as fast as finance, the region’s primary economic and population driver — and account for 84 percent of New York City’s total population growth between 2015 and 2016. The rapid growth has increased New York’s population to a record high of 8,550,405 and shows no signs of slowing.

Here are the five most promising investment opportunities in the New York real estate sector to keep up with growth and changing demographics.

1. Apartment Buildings

As high home prices continue to rise and the city’s population continues to grow, a majority of New York residents are being driven into apartment building rentals located in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Hudson County. Therefore, apartment buildings purchased at the right price today can be a very lucrative investment.

Moreover, high proportions of immigrants — 40 percent in Hudson County and Brooklyn and 50 percent in Queens — create a large spread of incomes that create all kinds of opportunities for purchasing apartment buildings that cater to different income brackets.

2. Single-family Homes to be converted into Multiple Units

Because home prices are high compared to rents, pure single-family rentals are not likely to be lucrative investments, unless you’re looking to invest in a special area or are driven by other special circumstances. However, the high home prices that are driving people into renting can be lucrative if you’re able to purchase and refashion a single-family home into one featuring multiple units.

3. Retail Stores

Recent population increases in Brooklyn, and especially in Queens, have not been matched by the availability of new stores. In addition, the Bronx is underserved by new stores. Because healthcare jobs are growing and generating lower-, middle-, and higher-tier income across the city, retail stores are a reasonably safe investment.

4. Office Buildings

The same healthcare sector growth that is creating a need for new apartment buildings and stores, is also generating the need for new office space. Although millions of square feet of new office space are already under construction in Queens and Brooklyn, there is presently no indication that demand in those boroughs will slow even as the new planned office towers take shape. In fact, the office booms in these boroughs signal a healthy long-term future for New York’s overall economy.

Office space in Manhattan may also be a good investment, as Manhattan is still the center of the New York office world. Although 20 million additional square feet of office space are being constructed in Manhattan and are expected to be available by 2021, the number of new offices is insufficient to meet the demand from a booming economy. Nevertheless, reports have not accounted for additional space that is to be provided by new World Trade Center Towers, and the future absorption rate for new office space is unclear.

5. Mortgages and Construction Loans

Rising home prices will keep equity rising, too, making mortgages a sound investment. Although there is always some risk of default, that risk is just about average right now because rising home prices are in balance with incomes.

Alternatively, but in the same vein, construction loans will also go up with only an average risk of default, making them another prudent investment. Ingo Winzer, contributor to Forbes and president of Local Market Monitor — which has followed real estate dynamics since 1989 in over 300 communities — predicts 45,000 new houses and 70,000 apartments will be constructed in Queens over the next three years. Brooklyn will only see 40,000 new homes constructed, but 110,000 new apartments. The Bronx will likely experience modest new home construction but is expected to grow by 60,000 new apartments.

The idea that New York real estate is out-of-reach for those looking for sound investments may be closer to reach than many would think. The worst thing to do when thinking of buying real estate is to wait — especially in the ever-booming New York City.

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5 Customer Service Lessons We Can Learn From Ultra-Luxury Real Estate

This post was originally featured on HuffingtonPost.com

The biggest difference between luxury and standard real estate properties is not window treatments or fancy decor ― it’s customer service. When I say ‘customer service’, the first thing a lot of people think of is “Hi, can I help you?”or getting stuck on the phone with a credit card company. Sure, that’s one way of thinking about customer service. But in ultra-luxury real estate, if you want to excel at serving the customer, it means making your client, customer, renter, or buyer feel as though they are the exclusive focus of all your efforts.

This lesson applies to any business. You have to learn to be a little clairvoyant. The best way to do that? Prep like crazy:

1. Google is your first impression.

Before Google, a handshake and ‘Hi, my name is Dan’ was how you made your first impression. Now, your search results are the virtual handshake. So, never underestimate the power of branding and marketing ― especially free branding and marketing. Your website and social media feeds will speak for you, so make sure that they are up-to-date and create a positive impression. Though this may not seem like it should fall under customer service, it absolutely does, because you won’t be getting any customers if you look bad online.

Google goes both ways. If you’re expecting a meeting with a big client or buyer, Google them and find out everything you can about them. We research our clients and takes notes of what they like to eat, drink, and do before they walk through our doors.

The more you know about who your clients are and what they value, the more you can get a feel for what type of real estate will be a perfect match. Additionally, creating a personal connection will enhance their customer service experience and create higher levels of overall satisfaction.

2. Create a niche for yourself.

I’m a huge proponent of sustainability. As one of the few developers in NYC with solar panels on my properties (which is the tallest building in NYC to have solar panels and an outdoor skating rink), I know the value of standing out.

Carving a special place in an industry will help you become more memorable and differentiate your services from the masses, making it more likely that you’ll receive clients through word of mouth, targeted online searches, and good press.

If you’re in a niche, you better know your industry better than anyone else. You should able to speak comparatively and authoritatively about whatever space you want to dominate through great customer service. You need to know what your competitors are doing before you can seek to deliver customer service even better than theirs.

3. Perks Work.

As a long-time New Yorker, I’ve definitely had my fair share of good restaurant experiences ― and horrible ones. What are some things that give me a sense that I’m being taken care of in a restaurant? Complimentary amuse bouche (bite-sized hors d’œuvre). A signature cocktail while I’m waiting for a table. Entrees that come quickly after the appetizers are cleared. Even if a dish ends up being lackluster, what the diner remembers is how the dinner made them feel. Little things like timing, charm, and effort still work, because nothing is a little thing when it comes to customer service.

When I sold the penthouse apartment of the Atelier, I made sure the buyer would have a number of luxurious perks — a $1 million yacht, keys to two Rolls Royces, courtside seats to Nets’ games, and reservations at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Daniel twice a month for a year. People like to feel like they’re being taken care of, and providing comfort and value through thoughtful perks will often do the trick.

4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Do you know how James Cameron made all that money from Titanic? People watching the movie over and over again. The movie broke record box office records because of repeat fans. There is a reason this movie from 1997 still holds the third spot of all-time worldwide box office grossing films. If there is one thing we can learn from James Cameron ― and there are many ― it is that you need to be consistent and keep your loyal customers coming back. For our repeat customers, we make sure they have excellent, attentive service, and access to complimentary concert tickets and dinner.

Too many businesses get caught up in marketing themselves to the new customer, and though they are certainly important, you can’t afford to lose the ones you’ve already won over. Getting customers in the door is the easy-ish part, keeping them is the challenge. Do it by being consistent and paying attention to every single detail, again and again and again.

5. Devil’s in the Details.

You may have noticed that the recurring theme of this article is that details are important. Customer service exists in nailing the details. Paying attention to detail takes a bit of a Type A personality, and in my experience, most people who are superior at customer service are Type A. If you need to be a little compulsive to get better at delivering detailed and personalized customer service, so be it.

Excellent customer service isn’t difficult to spot. We all know what it looks like, or rather what it feels like. We also know when it’s done badly. When I receive great customer service, I take note of what that company, restaurant, store, etc. is doing that evokes that taken-care of feeling, then replicate it. There’s no rule that says you can’t take what you’ve learned from other people and do it better. Figuring out what works as a customer helps me the most to develop plans for how to accommodate my customers when the tables are turned.