Before Michael Shvo delved into his thoughts on modern brokers, he made sure to clarify the difference between hiring an architect because of his/her name, and hiring an architect because he/she will create the right structure.
“There’s a difference between just picking an architect because he’s a name — and supposedly, as a developer, you think you’re going to get more money, which is actually not the case if it’s not the right match for that property,” Shvo said.
Brad Inman interviewed CEO Michael Shvo at Global Connect about his path from the Israeli Army to international real estate.
Shvo, 43, moved to New York 22 years ago with $3,000 in his pocket. He dispatched cabs, slept on floors in Harlem, and he tried being a broker.
As it turns out, he was a natural. Navigating million-dollar deals became as much a part of his daily routine as tying his shoes.
As a reformed developer — noting his pathway to entry was not through the status-quo finance or construction sides — he thinks he brings a different view to the world of commercial real estate development.
“We started what I think would be the new trend of marketing and the new way to look at real estate,” he said. “The first building that we did was with Armani, which was the first residential building to be built at 20 Pine by a fashion designer.”
Shvo’s intention was to marry real estate with luxury marketing, a task he accomplished by filling his team with people from Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Then, circling back to Inman’s question regarding his break during the Great Recession, Shvo shared an anecdote about giving a lecture to the board of directors at Hilton. He had just returned from Abu Dhabi, where he sold $1 billion of real estate in 36 hours, which was daunting enough to retire.
In his time off, Shvo traveled, collected fine art and started a family.
He reemerged as a developer in 2013. His firm and partners have recently acquired the Crown Building, which they plan to turn into luxury residences.
“I sucked at being retired,” he laughed.
He closed by stating that one of the reasons he came back was because he thinks the market is great.
Inman pressed him as to what the industry could do to all be better at delivering services to consumers.
“From the brokerage side? Knowledge is key,” he said. “A great broker… the key is to focus on what people want. Listen to them, but don’t get stuck.”