Jeffrey Gural, Chairman Newmark Knight Frank; Ralph Herzka, President and CEO, Meridian Capital Group, LLC; Steven Witkoff, Founder & CEO, Witkoff Group;Anthony Malkin, CEO, Malkin Properties; Isaac Zion, Co-CIO, SL Green Realty Corp; Mark Landis, Partner, Phillips Nizer LLP
The YJP (Young Jewish Professionals) Real Estate Investment Summit 2011 brought together a five-star panel moderated by Marc Landis, partner at Phillips Nizer LLP with panelists: Ralph Herzka, CEO, Meridian Capital; Jeffrey Gural, Chairman, Newmark Knight Frank; Anthony Malkin, CEO, Malkin Holdings; Steven Witkoff, Founder and CEO, Witkoff Group and Isaac Zion, Co-CIO ,SL Green Realty Corp. The panel answered questions about recent deals, current trends and gave advice on some of the best practices for a young broker making their way in the business.
In ‘Jeopardy Lightning Round’ style Landis asked each of the panelists, “buying or selling”.
Malkin – “Financing”, Witkin -“Both”, Zion – “Both”, Gural “Neither”, Herzka -” Financing”
What do you read to keep informed?
Herzka – “The Real Deal”
Gural – “Commercial Observer, Crains”
Zion – “I would try to talk to the people on this panel”
Witkin – ” I read everything but I agree try talking to everybody you can”
Malkin – ” I’m an english major so I think if you don’t enjoy your life and round out your knowledge you’ll be boring so I think you also read the economist to have a better view of what is going on and “The Angle of Repose” by Wallace Stegner so you know what this business is about.
Landis to Malkin
What did you learn in the process of your recent retrofitting and green initiative at The Empire State Building?
I think we learned that in the end it’s not about the greening but about money and about returns. If you put a green waterfall in your lobby it’s not going to change the world but if you can provide a greater than 40% reduction in the use of energy and save your tenants money by being efficient that makes a difference.
Where do you see the biggest source of opportunity?
There are a lot of assets which are extremely well located but under utilized. The challenge is how do you access those assets at a reasonable price. What we did at the Empire State Building is what we have always been doing. Taking existing assets and trying to position them so that they will be desirable to the tenants, brokers and the people who walk through the door.
Single finest opportunity is to buy construction for those who can figure out how to build today because of the cheap costs.
Real estate is really a pretty easy business. There are two things you need to know. Don’t put too much debt in a building and try to live as long as you can because the value will go and and if you made mistakes and live long enough you out live the mistake – where people screw up is they can’t outlive the downturn. I remember one building after I bought I thought I was so stupid but now 20 years later I look like a genius. “Never Sell”
What should the young real estate professional do today to be the next superstar?
All the panelists agreed. It’s tough out there. Stay focused, keep on track. As young people what you have is time. Use it to turn over every single stone!
Adam Goldberg, The Related Companies; Jonathan Stern, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Meridian Capital
Mark Landis, Partner, Phillips Nizer LLP; Greg Corbin, Director, Besen & Associates