Robert Knakal

concrete thoughts

How Record-High Demand is Driving New York Real Estate

As we enter 2015 with the wind at our backs in the investment sales market, it seems like a good time to consider the supply/demand dynamics currently driving the industry.

The most important metric for the market is supply. In the 31 years I’ve been a broker in New York City, supply exceeded demand only once, in 1992. That year, the Resolution Trust Corporation dumped hundreds of distressed properties from failed banks. Back then, the few investors who had money were hard-pressed to spend it on commercial real estate. Values at the time were about 70 percent lower than they were at the top of the market in 1988. By comparison, the 38 percent drop in values from 2007 to 2010 was little more than a speed bump. Read More

concrete thoughts

Thanks REBNY!

Over the years of brokering investment sale transactions in New York City and running the recently sold Massey Knakal Realty Services, I have observed qualities that top brokers in our industry share. They have a strong passion for the business, work hard (and smart), think positively, effectively manage their time, set goals and display tremendous integrity. Another characteristic of top performing agents is their focus on networking.

While our buildings are made of bricks, mortar, glass and steel, our industry is a people business, and people generally work with people they know and like. The blocking and tackling of the brokerage business is sending out mailings and making phone calls. But there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. These meetings are the key to networking, and relationships formed in-person are the most meaningful. Read More


Bob Knakal Explains the Rise and Sale of Massey Knakal

Robert Knakal (Kristy Leibowitz) is now the chairman of New York investment sales for C&W.

I sit here writing my Concrete Thoughts column for the first time as a member of Cushman & Wakefield. My new title is chairman of New York investment sales for C&W following the sale of Massey Knakal on New Year’s Eve (I cannot say more about the sale at the present time). My friend Peter Grant at The Wall Street Journal described the transaction as “a fairy-tale ending” for the firm which Paul Massey and I started quite a while ago. I disagree. This transaction more acutely represents not an ending but a wonderful new beginning.

During the past couple of months, knowing that this transaction was likely to happen, thoughts about my life at Massey Knakal have been running through my mind with vivid clarity—particularly the early days. Massey Knakal was started on Nov. 15, 1988, and the sale closed 26 years and 46 days later. So how did we get here? Read More

concrete thoughts

Did the Door Just Open to Reforming Rent Control?

In a decision made last month, New York’s highest court has decided that tenants who reside in rent-regulated apartments are receiving a “local public assistance benefit.” Essentially, the court determined that rent subsidies are not different from social security, Medicaid, disability, welfare or unemployment benefits. So, if rent-regulated tenants are receiving rent welfare, why won’t a single politician support means testing for those who receive this public assistance benefit?

We all know that the answer to the question at the end of the last paragraph is: votes. But let’s take a closer look into the court’s decision. (And “rent welfare” isn’t a new term. I have been using it in these pages for years—because that is what it is.) Read More

concrete thoughts

Bizarro Brokerages: Businesses can teach us something

Today let’s travel to a place made famous in a Seinfeld episode: Bizarro World. In Bizarro World, there are many countries and each has a commercial real estate market. The size of the markets in each country is different and different countries implement the brokerage business in different ways with different rules.

One of the largest markets in Bizarro World is in the nation of UpSide Down (US). The commercial real estate market in US is massive and, historically, there has been one brokerage company that has essentially had a monopoly on the market. Read More

concrete thoughts

Will 2015 Be More Like 2008 or 1998?

The result of the November elections could have a lot to do with answering that question

Last week, I wrote about the potential fate of the rent regulation system in New York, which is highly dependent upon the outcome of several senate races in our state elections in November. The reaction to this column was Read More

concrete thoughts

Rent Regulation Outlook

The investment sales market for multifamily properties in New York City is at a historically strong point. There are more buyers of apartment buildings than any other type of building. More lenders are willing to make loans on these properties than any other type. Until now, New York’s rent regulation system, which dictates what rents Read More

concrete thoughts

Checking in Before the Dog Days

The good folks at Commercial Observer are nice enough to give me a writing break each August. Therefore, this will be my last column until after Labor Day. The first half of the year has been extremely eventful and the balance of the year is poised to round out what is likely to be a Read More