Growing up immersed in the world of real estate, Stephen Kliegerman was eager to begin his career at a young age. With the ink still wet on his college degree, he received his broker’s license at 21 and joined his father at Herbert H. Kliegerman Associates Inc., quickly rising to become president and owner of the company.
In 1998, he began a lucrative relationship with Clark Halstead, who bought Kliegerman’s firm. At Halstead, Kliegerman is now the President of Halstead Property Development Marketing, specializing in new residential development planning, marketing and sales.
During his professional life, he’s handled over $7 billion in sales and represented over 6,000 units across New York and New Jersey.
We sat down with Kliegerman to learn more about his impressive career, his role at Halstead and the new development market.
BuzzBuzzHome: Where did you get your start in the real estate industry? Have you always been based in New York?
Stephen Kliegerman: I started my career in real estate working for my father’s firm in Union Square, but really started long before that – having grown up with a broker/entrepreneur for a father. My entire life, my father had his own brokerage firms, early on in the Bronx and Washington D.C. and later on in Westchester and Manhattan. I guess you can say I have the business in my blood. I was licensed at 18, received my broker’s license at 21 and have always been based in New York.
BBH: When did you join Halstead? What was your path to the brokerage?
SK: In early 1998, Clark Halstead reached out to me through Michael Goldenberg to help expand Halstead’s downtown presence. Clark purchased the goodwill of my firm, Herbert H. Kliegerman Associates, which I had purchased from my father in 1989, and my team joined the Halstead family.
Initially, I was going to open a new Greenwich Village office for them, but a few days before I was to begin, Clark called me to inform me that Michael, who was managing the Soho office for Halstead, was moving to the Columbus Avenue office to take over sales management and wanted to know how I felt about managing two offices. I told him that if he had the confidence in me that I was ready for such an opportunity, I was certainly up to the challenge. I went from managing 14 brokers to 40, and later over 100 as we recruited for the new office and began to build a development division as well.
BBH: You oversee the Development Marketing division at Halstead. Tell us more about how that side of Halstead works. What does your role encompass?
SK: As President of Halstead Property Development Marketing, I am responsible for the pre-development planning, marketing and sales, and leasing of some of the city’s most high-profile and exciting new developments and conversions. I oversee a team of over 20 professionals as well as numerous on-site sales and leasing teams.
Of course, I have a very capable management team working by my side to oversee the day-to-day operations. On any given day, I can be found working with architects on unit mix and layouts, making presentations for new business, reviewing marketing initiatives and, of course, overseeing the teams that report to me and my team leaders.
BBH: Halstead Property Development Marketing just released its Q2 2015 new development report. One major finding of the report was that new development sales above $5 million were up significantly in Q2. Is this trend likely to continue?
SK: Yes, I do believe that the trend we saw in the second quarter will continue as Manhattan has emerged as the primary market for luxury residences, and more and more exciting new properties come to market.
BBH: We’re halfway through 2015. What does the second half of the year hold for the new development market? What about 2016?
SK: I think the second half of 2015 will see the continuation of a fast absorption rate of quality properties and low interest rates, and a flight to quality as New York continues to be a safe haven for foreign investment and primary residency. In 2016, we will see emerging markets such as Astoria, Long Island City and Greenpoint as more people look to purchase new condominiums.
BBH: Which neighborhoods should buyers jump on for new development in Manhattan right now? Which neighborhoods have the most upside that will be realized in the next few years?
SK: I think that Long Island City, Astoria, Greenpoint, Washington Heights, Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side are all areas that have a lot of upside potential in the near future. They all have wonderful history, culture and a demand for new housing stock.
BBH: What are some of the most exciting developments you’re working on right now? Is there anything you can give us a sneak peek on?
SK: Well, there is a lot to choose from and it’s hard to pick favorites, but I have to say that working with The Oosten team to establish a new high watermark for the South Williamsburg market has been a very special opportunity for us as we have created an expertise in helping neighborhoods establish new market exposure. In addition, working with the Piet Boon design team has been a true pleasure as well as the Xin development team. This is the first time that a residential, ground-up development has been undertaken by a China-based developer, which has been an incredible opportunity and learning experience to work with such a group.
We are also working with two great teams on different projects in which a new condominium is being built over an existing structure – one building is a post office and the other is an existing
rental building. These will both be extraordinary projects. The post office project is on 52nd Street and 8th Avenue, featuring a very unique, flexible design and all but two of our residences will have outdoor space. The other is an Upper West Side project that will launch this winter. Stay tuned!
BBH: In addition to your role at HPDM, you’re co-chair of the New Development Committee at REBNY. How did new development become your niche?
SK: Well, when I had my own firm, a friend asked me to help out an investor who was receiving bad advice on a small development in Tribeca. I helped that developer turn a money pit into a success and learned that I had a knack for new development. From there, I started to speak to more and more developers, and as I joined Halstead, we had more and more opportunities to consult developers and I built a business from there.