Power Broker

Each One Teach One: Massey Knakal Broker James Nelson

The negotiations paved the way for both the now-sold-out condos at The Abingdon and the VillageCare Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 214 West Houston Street, which opened in October 2010.

“His expertise and skills made all the difference in making this transaction happen,” said Emma DeVito, president and CEO of VillageCare. “His ability to stay on top of issues that arose was a tremendous asset in moving the sale of our historical building forward.”

Ironically, Mr. Nelson, a triathlete and father of three young children, had less of a postgraduation game plan than did the students he hosted at The Abingdon. The English major thought maybe he would move out West and become a screenwriter, but he happened to sneak a last-minute résumé in with Mr. Massey at that late-’90s career fair.

“It was certainly luck,” he told this reporter last year. “Fortunately, Massey Knakal did not require a cover letter back then. I had a résumé, I submitted it, and the rest is history.”

Mr. Nelson has been involved the sale of more than 260 properties and loans with an aggregate value of over $1.9 billion during his career at Massey Knakal.

A notable recent chunk was the sale of a portfolio made up of 11 multifamily walk-up apartment buildings in Greenwich Village, Murray Hill and the Upper East Side for $73 million.

“To be able to pick up 300 units at once was a very rare sale,” he said. “We were looking to close it by the end of 2012—and in short order.”

Another deal arranged as the capital gains tax deadline loomed was Mr. Nelson’s sale of the the Tristar Portfolio, a five-building portfolio of mixed-use assets in Greenwich Village, Soho and the Lower East Side made up of 100 residential and 14 retail units, which netted just under $50 million.

A number of adjustments and surprises enlivened the sales process, with Mr. Nelson’s team grappling between selling the buildings together or separately, and ultimately selling them to a joint venture between RWN Real Estate Partners, Dalan Management and Standard Property Company.

Mr. Nelson called the fourth quarter of 2012 “like nothing I’ve ever seen in my career … fast and furious.” Massey Knakal posted 100 closings in December alone, and Mr. Nelson personally closed eight sales in the last two weeks of December.

“The challenge now really is the lack of product that’s out there,” he said, noting that inventory levels in November and December, around 550 listings, have dipped to roughly 425. “And we still have the same amount of buyers out there—even more.”

But, he added, “The saving grace is that all those owners who sold last year to cash out weren’t reinvesting the proceeds. But now that the capital gains have gone up dramatically, I do believe we’re going to see a lot more 1031 exchanges. That could have a multiplier effect.”

Matt Nickerson, a member of Mr. Nelson’s team, which also includes Douglas Shafer, Mitchell Levine, Caroline Hannigan and Matthew Bowman, joined Massey Knakal just over two years ago. He said he conducted nearly 90 tours with clients before the sale of the TriStar Portfolio.

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