Since beginning his real estate career as a rental agent at Citi Habitats, Andrew Barrocas has come a long way. Measuring that progress in dollar signs gives you a good idea of just how far.
He’s gone on to sell $5 billion worth of real estate, and currently looks after over $1 billion worth of property as CEO of MNS, the boutique New York City real estate firm he founded back in 2006. With MNS, Barrocas handles everything from marketing new lux developments in Brooklyn to listing thousands of rentals units across the city.
We sat down with Barrocas to find out how he got to where he is and what he expects to see unfold in the New York real estate market over the coming months and into 2016.
BuzzBuzzHome: Tell us about your background in real estate. Where did you get your start in the industry?
Andrew Barrocas: I started as a rental agent at Citi Habitats. After one year as an agent, I then went into management for three years and opened up a small office in Manhattan.
BBH: What motivated you to found MNS? What did you think you could bring to the table that other existing brokerages couldn’t?
AB: I worked at Citi Habitats until it was sold off. During my time there I successfully opened up a few offices for them and felt that I could do it on my own. I wanted to change certain aspects that they were doing, that I felt I could do better.
BBH: Briefly, how would you characterize 2015 in New York real estate?
AB: It depends on what aspect you’re looking at. In 2015 the submarkets are continuing to flourish, and new areas are being created in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
BBH: How is the devaluation of foreign money affecting property valuations in New York?
AB: It’s not really affecting it yet, I think it could potentially go either way. It could have a positive effect since people see the U.S. as a big investment. With our thriving economy there are positive signs of growth. I think it might be beneficial for the real estate market, in which people want to put their money into hard assets.
BBH: Do you expect condo sales in New York to accelerate in fall 2015? How about over 2016?
AB: I think we’re going to see the ultra-luxury market cool down in the fall. The $600,000 to $3-4 million price range will have a tremendous amount of demand, and continue to grow. In 2016 I think we’re going to see a plateau in certain areas that have seen huge growth in the last 3 or 4 years.
BBH: How are New Yorkers coping with skyrocketing prices? Have you seen them coming up with innovative ways to stay in desirable neighborhoods or are you seeing them redefine what is considered a desirable neighborhood?
AB: I’m seeing both. People are moving to new areas that are being created, and we are seeing people rent at certain price points. Over the years we’ve seen areas change and people move out, and then new areas are created. For example, people have been priced out of Williamsburg and go to Bushwick, same with Chelsea to Upper West Side. It gives the ability for new areas to be created. A driving force behind that is the different communities, such as the arts community who played a tremendous part in building Chelsea up. This is not just in New York, all over world different communities thrive in different neighborhoods, and it helps drive that area.
BBH: Do you believe landlords in older buildings are feeling the pressure to compete with new builds in terms of what they offer for amenities?
AB: Yes and no. Some landlords don’t necessarily want to compete with the new products. Landlords don’t always need to cater to the high-end part of the market. There are other opportunities. However, there is a lot more services that non-amenity buildings can offer now with innovative technologies that they couldn’t before and this puts them in a more competitive standpoint.
BBH: What is MNS currently working on that you’re most excited about for the upcoming year? What can you share with us?
AB: The new condo inventory. There is a tremendous amount of demand for it in Williamsburg and we are bringing quite a few new products to the market, and it is being very well received. People are finding value in the higher quality and it is on par with the most luxurious protects in Manhattan.