The Marlene Steiner Group is the Featured Cover Story in The Mann Report June 2008
The scene: a glorious, 22-foot-wide five-story townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A standing-room-only crowd fills the home, stopping every few feet to admire original artwork by painters Jamie Wyeth and Wolf Kahn. A key purpose of the evening: raising funds for the Young Survival Coalition, a non-profit group that deals with the special concerns of young women who have survived breast cancer.
Another scene, this past June: a glamorous window-walled apartment, located in the newly completed Veneto residence building in the East 50's and boasting views that stretch across the City. It's dusk, and as avenue lights begin to blink along the avenue below, the guests, enjoying cocktails, canapes, and each other's company as they tour the space, admire the arresting works framed and hung throughout the rooms. This art, however, is different-it consists of one-of-a-kind posters, paintings, autographed photos, ticket stubs, and other sports-related items commemorating the Golden Age of New York baseball, all assembled by GoingGoingGoneSporrs. Included is a work depicting Roger Maris' chase of Babe Ruth's single-season home-run mark in 1961. Another captures Mickey Mantle's World Series home run record.
Both evenings were designed to serve an additional purpose: to show the homes where the events took place. Both homes were on the market, both represented by the person who organized the evenings: Marlene Steiner, senior vice president of Corcoran Group Real Estate.
"When people are in a social setting, enjoying art and conversation, moving through the spaces, perhaps making new friends, they can envision how a home lives," says Steiner. "They become part of the special experience of being a New Yorker. We've sold a number of fine luxury properties this way. Sometimes we'll link the evening to a charity that the owners care about. These events have become a wonderful way to have people get to know us and our properties."
'Us' includes a team at Corcoran known as the Steiner Group, made up of Steiner and three associates: Alison Bradshaw and Cary Loring, brokers, and Bernie Furshpan, the group's marketing director, who oversees its special marketing activities as well as its website, www.marlenesteiner.com.
Formation of the group grew out of Steiner's dramatic growth as a broker. Starting in real estate at Corcoran in the early 1990's, she became an expert at determining values, appraising, and pricing. "When I first began," Steiner recalls, "I got a pack of foreclosures to handle from what was then the Long Island Savings Bank. We had to assess the properties, figure how to market them, and get the best prices for the bank. I ran ads that said, 'Bank Sez Sell!’ – And we sold! It was a fine learning experience; I felt as if I were researching real estate and writing a thesis on it! It brought me into the business in a strong way.
"Over time, as my business continued to expand," she says, "I realized that there is only so much a sole practitioner can do in one day, and that to be effective and really service my clients, I to have help. My first step was to bring in an office manager to handle the transaction side. Then we added more people to help show properties and service clients. Today, there are the four of us. We all work together to serve our clients and to create the end result. When someone phones, we can return the call immediately. Sometimes that puts them in shock!" Steiner laughs. "But that’s what we're here for. When a broker wants to show an apartment, we're there as soon as feasible. When a buyer wants to see an able apartment quickly, we make it happen."
Steiner can point to an ever-growing clientele, which includes families who have worked with her over many years. "I've serve an endless variety of their needs," she says. "Some clients came to me originally to buy a small apartment; then, over time, they sold those and bought larger ones. Some clients came to me as small investors – today they're bigger investors. We've worked with many couples who spent twenty years raising their families in the suburbs and who now want to enjoy everything that New York offers. On the other side of the coin, we have clients whose sons and daughters have grown up and who now want their own homes. What's more, many of these younger people want to explore the City's up-and-coming neighborhoods, like Williamsburg. We handle properties there, too. Through the years, people have come simply by word of mouth," Steiner sum have stellar clients. They keep coming back."
Steiner's reach extends around the world. With an international network of contacts, she is able to identify and locate the best buyers for the properties she represents, wherever these buyers may be, and to move them smoothly through the purchase cycle. “We emphasize to our clients that we are their partners, their fans, and their voice in the process, from start to finish," she said. “To help them, we not only step outside the box, we break it!"
To serve her clients, Steiner has developed a four-step system that, she comments, "Takes our marketing above and beyond what everyone else does." It encompasses evaluating a property in order to maximize its attributes, and thus to bring the highest possible price; utilizing her domestic and international network; marketing the property imaginatively; and identifying, targeting, and selling to the highest qualified pool of buyers. "The process of buying and selling is fraught with frustrations and situations that need to be handled sensitively," she says. "We try to make the process seamless for our clients. Our team is with them from start to finish."
Over the past three years, Steiner has added another dimension to her life: raising her two small children, Anderson and Grace, whom she adopted. "The adoption was an international process, a Herculean task in itself," she smiles. "With that phase finished, we've been involved with the pre-school phase. Actually, I should call it the pre-pre-school phase-screening schools, going through interviews, and then on to the admission process. Now, I'm glad to say, that part is behind me too-both children are actually starting pre-school this fall! Whew!!"
Steiner sums up, "With my team supporting me so well, I'm going full steam ahead. Our team is highly dedicated to serving our clients, to finding that extra piece of the puzzle that will attract the best buyers. We want to make sure that our clients walk away from a transaction with a great experience.
"We love what we do," Steiner says. "We have fun doing it and we try to do it with style. And," she smiles, "we happen to do it very, very well."
And it is a place where the energy and the spirit
just pops all the time. It is a welcoming city that blurs
social distinctions and is big on accomplishments and chutzpa
(read brass balls). It is a city of opportunity and beginnings.
It is a city that enables you to rewrite your history no matter
how boring and banal your existence was elsewhere. It is anything
but tranquil unless you turn off your cell phone, blackberry
and pager and enter a yoga class.
are we more insulated then other markets? First, let me explain
the different types of products and then you will see why
in any given market there is not a lot of inventory.
One type of purchase and still the most prevalent is the Co
Op purchase. Some view Co-Ops as Draconian and limiting, others
view them as the price of getting into the "Harvard of
Real of Real Estate" - a badge of merit that you were
admitted to the club. If you get in, they like you - they
really like you. http://www.marlenesteiner.com
If you want to buy a certain kind of home on Fifth Avenue,
Park Avenue, Riverside Drive, Central Park West, West End
Avenue, East End and all that is in between, then chances
are you will have a brush with the co-op inventory. When purchasing
a coop in Manhattan it is not just good enough to have the
down-payment, you have to have that and then some, in some
cases up to 2 or more times the price of the apartment in
assets left over after your down payment. There are also minimum
down payment requirements set up by the board of directors
of each individual co-op. The amount required down is typically
25%-50 percent, less typical is all cash requirements found
in certain Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue co-ops (that means
no financing allowed! You have to fork it all up front (there
are ways around it but that will be another blog altogether),
financing for 80% and more is also less usual. Thus, if the
buyer has the ability to purchase such a home, getting bank
financing will not be an issue. Seventy (70%) of the housing
stock in NYC is co-ops, which translates to a total of 121,925
co-ops. This is the total of co-ops that exist in Manhattan,
not what is for sale now.
or 1-3 family homes in Manhattan:
Then there is the townhouse or brownstone or freestanding
house product. This is a vanishing breed in NYC. It is the
last of the independents. To date, there are fewer than 20,000
brownstones all around New York, and the most prized are the
1-3 family homes. You have hit a home run if you are the owner
of a one family home in Manhattan. Thus, the question to ask
is how many of these 20,000 homes are available for sale at
any given time and are there 20,000 people in this world that
would want such a home? FYI - 3% of the housing stock is 1-3
family homes. http://www.marlenesteiner.com
Condominiums are probably one of the most popular types of
real estate that people in NY like to buy. One reason is that
the entrance process is less stringent, dare I say practically
sane relative to a co-op board admission. Here resident owners
are local and foreign. It is the darling of second home buyers
and investors too. Many a diligent investor financed their
children's college years, their retirement years and made
small fortunes on these good investments. In the last ten
years there has been an explosion of new developments, many
with high profile architects' fantastic amenity packages and
low initial real estate taxes. Developers are constantly raising
the bar and what was once a dismissive "cookie cutter
product now rivals some of the finest prewar cooperatives.
Now they offer views, lots of closets, high ceilings. The
new condominiums are focused life style and it is luxury all
the way. Currently, 19% or 33,094 apartments are condominiums.
there is the Cond-op the cond what????? Yes this is a hybrid
- a coop with condominium rules - with more flexibility of
ownership. Meaning, you can lease your home out for a profit
and you have a board that is unlikely to reject your purchasers
when you sell your home. This type of home is less restrictive
and easier and less expensive to buy into, and less expensive
to sell. Cond-ops are counted as part of the co-op package
in terms of my statistics
rest of the inventory is subsidized and or Mitchell Lama housing,
which accounts for roughly 7%. Of those figures, I venture
to say that the condo ratio has probably risen to at least
21% and 1-3 family homes might have gone down fractionally
as some might have been sold for development deals. http://www.marlenesteiner.com
So you see, as of today the inventory is roughly 8,650 give
or take a few hundred, depending on when you read this. Translated,
less than 4% of the entire Manhattan housing market is for
sale. That includes new construction some of which is slated
to a year out or more with closings taking place in 2009 and
find it interesting that people are so influenced by what
they read in the newspapers when it comes to real estate.
When someone calls a reporter with several sales to overseas
buyers the news make it seem as if the buyers from around
the globe are standing on the street corner with a sign that
says I want a piece of the rock and I will pay you any price
for it. There is no denying that there has been an infusion
of overseas buyers but that has been going on for twenty years.
mantra I hear from potential sellers as they prepare to list
with me and others, is "Well, the overseas Buyers are
buying everything in sight and they will pay the price I want
because our dollar is very weak. Are you working with Buyers
from Dubai, Russia, China, England... You get the drift. http://www.marlenesteiner.com
The question I am most asked about from potential buyers is;
"So are they bleeding yet?" "How negotiable
is the Seller?" No one wants to be perceived as the jerk
that overpaid and no one wants to be the one left holding
Both remarks are valid and both bear commenting on. Here is
my take from my walks around the city.
answer the Buyer's question, When you are looking at 4% of
the entire inventory for sale all over Manhattan - from Battery
Park to Inwood - you are talking very low inventory. People
make their homes here! They live, work, play and go to school
here. Lesson to be learned - buy often and buy well! As for
the Seller - wherever the Buyers are from, they are educated,
they read, they shop on the Internet and do their research.
They talk to the experts and their friends. They are bullish
on America and they are informed. They look at price comparisons
and negotiate. They buy. http://www.marlenesteiner.com
does the market come from? From all over. Yet there are more
local buyers then you would guess from reading the hype. It
is the seasoned broker who has the connections to get the
word out about your fabulous property. It is the pro that
will make the best match for your sale. That would be the
We are known for our organized creative and highly effective
systems to get the word out to buyers. We find buyers their
homes and investment properties. There is always an opportunity,
and we search the market until we find the right place for
you. Stay tuned for more Real Estate Wisdom. http://www.marlenesteiner.com