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Hart of New York Real Estate Company

FOCUS ON:

THIRD QUARTER REVIEW

REAL ESTATE WEEKLY, Realtors Area   

REW – Third Quarter Review – October 7, 1998

"Musical Chairs Is No Game To Tenants"

By Peter and Angela Hart

Hart of New York Real Estate Company.

In the present market, NY Brokers are continually faced with the problem of having too many tenants for too few spaces. Since the New York region is experiencing an unprecedented tightening in the office space market, Realtors are beginning to experience the feeling of the musical game we played as children, only this time the chairs are the buildings and our customers are not moving to a happy tune. Tenants find themselves with no place to sit.

Inasmuch as solid activity has been continuing to the new york real estate Downtown market as well as Midtown, we have all be scrambling for available space for our customers at a frenetic pace. Most Realtors see more tightening before any major speculative office space building construction starts in Manhattan, so this cycle is not, unfortunately, reminiscent of the early and mid-eighties. Asking rents for Midtown office spaces are still rising – and rapidly, we might add.

One broker, was recently quoted in the New York Times as saying “I find it troubling to be in a market where you can have a handshake on a deal at $40 before lunch, and then the own goes to lunch, talks to his friends or employees, and comes back and announces that the price is $45.”

If we respond to this rapid change of pricing once a handshake is given, inevitably something very negative about our industry will be conveyed to our customers. Even if Realtors are only functioning as messengers in relaying contradictory price information to a decision-maker, we are contemporaneously reflecting this same poor image of some of the people we do business with (albeit only a few) back at ourselves. By having to convey to the customer that the handshake he was given did not represent a commitment, but rather a pretense, we are portraying our industry as one which can’t be trusted – and this semblance of our profession is one no Brokers in new york real estate wish to be reduced to.

As we all respond to the pressures of satisfying customer’s  newyorkrealestate office space requirements in a market where demand outweighs supply, Brokers must find better ways of handling the space we manage and the information we send out to the brokerage community at large.

Notwithstanding the case cited above, we also have the dilemma of fluctuating price increases prior to “the handshake.” This too can be most disconcerting. Inasmuch as we all subscribe to the major listing service companies (and at Hart of New York Real Estate we update our system on a daily basis), it would be a good idea for those of us who control office space to be particularly diligent about forwarding the information to the realestatenewyork  listing service in a timely manner. In conjunction with this, we must work more aggressively to see that the senior account managers at the listing services increase the speed at which their clerks feed the information into our systems. We, and Realtors, believe it would be beneficial to all of us to begin contracting with the listing companies to update the information more frequently – given the nature of the present market, and the technology and speed in this information age available through the Internet. Once a-month in no longer enough. (The newyorkrealestate listing service companies will undoubtedly vicariously profit as the brokers benefit from the more frequently updated status reports.)

Another way we can improve the communication process to better serve our New York customers is to better communicate! While some people find it difficult to return the myriad calls they receive pertaining to  office space availabilities, we must be cognizant of the customer’s perception of our industry when it cannot only take a long time to receive necessary information about a space or building, but said information changes (usually not in the customer’s favor) shortly afterwards!! In an age of voice mail, e-mail, and any other mails yet to be discovered, perhaps the response time in receiving pertinent details can be improved.

By giving each other the same respect, professionalism and cooperation we demonstrated in the early Nineties, we will be able to maintain the sense of community which is vital to our profession in up markets a well as depressed. The brazen words “take it or leave it” will come back to haunt the one who speaks them. What goes around comes around, as those of us who have been through a few newyorkrealestate cycles can attest to.

Further in maintaining a courteous appreciation of the other professional, we ultimately show respect to the prospective tenants. In all other businesses, “the customer is always right.” It would serve us well to remember that the tenant a broker is calling you about is “a customer waiting to be serviced” – no matter what kind of market in which we are currently working.

In doing so, even the landlords will benefit. A customer who has been shuffled around from office space to  office space and loses a few prospective new york real estate sites because of broken promises will learn to distrust all landlords. However, the tenant will surely remember the owner and Realtors who treat them as a valued and respected customer, and they will wish to do business with this landlord in the future. Moreover, the tenant will remember the Brokers  who represented them in the transaction, and this distrust and/or appreciation is likely to spread to the broker as well. One who’s word was his born and handshake could be counted on will be  hired again, even in a down market. This is basic good business practice in any industry, and especially in new york real estate.

As tenants find their options continuing to shrink and their frustration increasing, it is imperative that we strive daily to extend good business practice to our customers and Brokers alike, regardless of the size of the deal. While this increase in prices will not go on forever, we must be careful to remember that as buildings through the centuries are built to last, so too should our reputations be established on strength of character and dependability. We need our customer to depend upon Realtors as professional pillars.

The game of musical chairs, like the real estate market, depends upon the law of supply and demand. Someone always ends up without a seat because there simply aren’t enough of them. There is nothing we can do about the market, which , like music, moves to certain rhythms and cycles. But we can all – Brokers, Realtors, and other professionals and landlords alike – learn to change the music, so our customers will come back for another round of fair play.

 
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