Volunteer spotlight: Real estate event informs and provides forum for networking
By Steve Seepersaud
(Pictured above Rory Clark '05, Peter Berti '76, Jim Gricar and Paul Turovsky '73)
To be successful in any profession, one has to stay current with his or her field's latest developments as well as build and sustain a vibrant network. That was the spirit behind a recent networking event sponsored by the Alumni Association's Metro New York Chapter.
More than 100 Binghamton University alumni attended "The Future of Real Estate," a networking event for real estate professionals held Nov. 13, at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan. A panel discussion including two alumni covered salient topics in the New York market, such as bidding wars in the residential sector, the proposed rezoning of Midtown East and the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project.
Rory Clark '05, co-leader of the Metro New York Chapter and associate broker for Halstead Property, LLC, organized the event and served as moderator. When he stepped forward last year to be involved with the chapter's development, he felt strongly that alumni should be offered industry-specific networking and informational opportunities.
"This was the first event of its kind for Binghamton alumni to come together in an educational format to hear what a panel of industry leaders have to say, and it sold out," Clark says. "It was an honor to moderate such a qualified panel. Real estate was a natural industry to start with. Being in Manhattan, and the center of the real estate world, everyone always wants to talk about the next hot area. The goal is to continue to bring alumni in related fields together for business and social networking."
Paul Turovsky '73, principal for True North Management Group; Peter Berti '76, senior director for Cushman Wakefield; and Jim Gricar, president of Halstead Property, LLC, were the panelists, sharing their perspectives both in general and in response to questions that were submitted in advance. The Metro New York Chapter and Michael Kandrach of Wells Fargo co-sponsored the event.
Berti said he entered the real estate field in the 1970s in an economic climate similar to the present day. Over the course of his career, the one constant has been change.
"I was told early on that brokers are never surprised," Berti says. "I've seen the successful development of Times Square...The area is second only to Disney World as a destination for tourists. I've seen a Lower West Side inventory that people wrote off as unusable become some of the most expensive residential conversions and office destinations in current times. Change is a part of business and the way we adapt to change predicates our success."
Despite the tremendous increase in pricing — particularly residential spaces in Manhattan — Gricar says he doesn't believe the New York market is heading toward a crash.
"I try to be a voice of sobriety in the residential real estate market, and there aren't a lot of us frankly," Gricar says. "I don't think we are in a real estate bubble. But, I do worry when the echo chamber in the residential market is just filled with the billionaires."
Turovsky echoed Gricar's sentiments that New York is composed of many micro-markets and the level of activity in midtown is not indicative of what investors will encounter across town.
"Manhattan is unique and it doesn't tell us the same story that the surrounding suburban areas do," Turovsky says. "In White Plains where I have an office, it's a whole different world. Leasing goes up, and leasing goes down. They just can't get off that treadmill. Tenants pre-paying rent doesn't exist in that world."
The Metro New York Chapter and attorney Alexander Lycoyannis '98 will sponsor a real estate networking breakfast in January in Manhattan. Details will be posted to the Alumni Association website in a few weeks.
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