Presented By: Meridian Capital Group
Closing Through COVID: Perspectives from Meridian’s Amit Doshi and Shallini Mehra
With nearly 50 years of combined experience in New York City multifamily sales, Meridian’s Amit Doshi and Shallini Mehra have weathered many market cycles, including the downturns following 9/11 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers. But those downturns were nothing like the one-two-three punch of the multifamily rent regulations enacted in June 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic, and its domino effect on our nation’s health, safety and economy.
The combination is daunting, yet Amit and Shallini have been able to consistently close deals throughout 2020, and remain optimistic about the future. They shared insights about how they are negotiating deals, finding opportunities, and maintaining positive attitudes amidst challenging conditions.
Amit and Shallini are a restless duo, and returned to their offices as quickly as possible in order to collaborate and advise clients in the most coordinated and thoughtful way possible given the circumstances. Despite the dramatic changes the world was undergoing, their fundamental approach remained the same: Stay connected with clients, whether they’re buying, selling or refinancing.
The two continued to offer advisory services, valuations, and conducted property inspections in accordance with the new norms: masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing.
“Our clients saw that we were well-attuned to the new market environment and available to advise them,” Shallini said. “In short, we were ready to transact.” She added that demand has been high, given that many asset classes have undergone significant devaluation with the recent change in rent laws and market turmoil.
Buyers and lenders are focusing even more on the details, said Amit.
“It used to be that buying in New York City was all about the future of the asset, not the past,” he said. “But because of the new rent laws and sense of uncertainty, every deal involves far more documentation and due diligence. Buyers and lenders want to see up-to-the-moment performance information, historical financials, and tenant ledgers.”
Consequently, transactions are taking longer, and the team spends a great deal of time mediating among all the players—lenders, attorneys, buyers, third party consultants and sellers. Patience, perseverance, and persistence, Amit concludes, are essential.
Recognizing the silver linings
While many owners are seeking to sell, lower pricing and higher capitalization rates are attracting a new set of buyers to Manhattan. The team recently negotiated three prime New York City elevator buildings—at 525 East 88th Street, 118 East 93rd Street, and a prestigious property on the Upper West Side that is closing soon—wherein buyers who previously focused solely on the outer boroughs had shifted their attention to prime Manhattan.
The team is also seeing owners who have traditionally concentrated on other regions gravitate toward New York City for the first time, and vice versa.
“Low cap rates would previously dissuade owners from considering the Big Apple,” Shallini said. “Now they see it as a source of strong returns, and extremely attractive financing rates are adding a strong level of comfort and feasibility. The smart, patient money is looking at the negative variables and factoring in returns for a year from now.”
Shallini likened real estate to a game of musical chairs. “Owners who are trying out different strategies—whether in New York City or elsewhere—are still in the game.”
Three divisions, one relationship
Amit and Shallini’s experience and deal-making skills have been complemented by the young talent they have recruited. Jonathan Shainberg, who has been a member of the team for a few years, joined the duo with a Wall Street background, strong analytical skills, and a keen eye for deals that make sense. The team also recently welcomed Chirag Doshi, who previously worked in Meridian’s mortgage brokerage division. Chirag is able to provide immediate capital markets insights and offer clients a more complete perspective.
Team Doshi also values its collaboration with their colleagues in Meridian’s other divisions, mortgage brokerage and retail leasing. This collaboration became especially beneficial during the pandemic, when clients wanted to avoid as much travel and as many in-person meetings as possible.
“With the retail industry facing immense challenges with no preparation, working with our stellar retail leasing team has been a huge benefit in serving our clients,” Amit said. “We are able to collaborate and launch deals quickly and efficiently.. Historically low interest rates are the key driver in this market, and the mortgage brokerage team at Meridian adds tremendous value in getting deals closed.”
“We realize this is a disorienting time for our clients,” Shallini said. “But we also emphasize to them that the present disruption is temporary. The flight to the suburbs will reverse as the city simply has too much to offer for residents to permanently stay away. The city is slowly reopening, and we can expect a new stimulus package in the upcoming weeks. We are hopeful that these developments, along with the push for a COVID vaccine, will lead to a recovery in the not-too-distant future.”
“New York City has always been a coveted prize market among national and international owners,” he said.“We are all in, as we believe in the city and especially its multifamily market. Through COVID and after COVID, we will continue to help our clients achieve their real estate goals.”
Senior Executive Managing Director Amit Doshi can be reached at 212-468-5959 or email@example.com. Managing Director Shallini Mehra can be reached at 212-468-5958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.