Niche Knowledge Uncovers Best NYC Properties

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
February 24, 2014 Updated: February 24, 2014

NEW YORK—New York City contains many neighborhoods and it takes skill to find the best properties for buyers in each micromarket.

Public real estate investment brokerage Massey Knakal has built its reputation on a trademarked Territory System. Massey Knakal agents specialize in specific neighborhoods, and by either investment sales or retail leasing.

Using this system, COO Neil Heilberg says, sets their agents apart from their competitors.

“We take great pride in our distinctive business model,” Heilberg said. “Our system allows our agents to provide detailed information on each block and each building in their territory, which is a tremendous benefit to our clients.”

The approach is a familiar one for brokerages serving homebuyers, as vast knowledge of the market can be as important as intimate block-by-block information to a potential homeowner thinking of schools, grocery stores, retail, and travel.

The company has mainly been an investment sales firm, placing first in sales in the city for the last 12 years. In the past 18 months, the company has grown by over a third and has goals to further expand.

“Following the same blueprint that has made our investment sales division so successful, we formed a retail leasing division and a capital services division,” Heilberg said.

International Investors

As land values soar in Manhattan, institutional investors are increasingly moving to the outer boroughs, Heilberg said. The prices and higher returns on outer borough properties aren’t the only factors, as there is a stark lack of supply in Manhattan as well.

However, international buyers have not been targeting these properties as much as Manhattan, said Brooklyn agent Michael Amirkhanian. “The target properties for these investors have been primarily industrial or some form of development,” he said.

Amirkhanian started out in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in 2007 and expanded his focus to Bushwick and Crown Heights years later. “The value combined with the neighborhood’s architecture was undeniable,” Amirkhanian said.

Zoning changes, lease rates, local community organizations, and knowing who’s buying and selling all come into play in determining the future direction of a neighborhood.

Creative Use of Industrial Space

“This city is so diverse so it’s impossible to fully understand the details of every neighborhood,” Amirkhanian said.

In recent years, retail rents have shot up due to the influx of residents in the neighborhood, which has direct subway access to and from the already established downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods. As Amirkhanian predicted, warehouse owners and operators also began to take advantage of pricing in selling space to creative users increasingly making use of industrial space.

“Seven years ago when I came to the area, there were primarily local owners trading with one another, with a few small, active private equity groups who were a little ahead of the curve,” he said. Now, large shops are actively exploring the area.

Properties in the area aren’t large and only 15 percent of the inventory is over 10,000 square feet. This is one of the reasons well-known brands and chains hadn’t bought in the neighborhoods sooner. However, many have now recognized the neighborhoods’ culture and are happy to blend in with boutique-sized shops rather than large street corner locations.