Mansion GlobalLUCY COHEN BLATTER
Nov. 20, 2017
Eddie Shapiro appreciates understated luxury
Eddie Shapiro, the 42-year-old founder and CEO of Nest Seekers International, began his career in real estate in the early 1990s at a small Midtown Manhattan firm.
Now, Nest Seekers, the Manhattan-based firm he founded in 2002, has since expanded to the Hamptons, South Florida, New Jersey, Los Angeles and London, with their near-future focus set on building out a larger presence on the West Coast and in the U.K. The company boasts over 1,000 agents and 20 offices.
We spoke to Mr. Shapiro about the resilience of the real estate market, why his best advice may not be best for his personal business and more.
Eddie Shapiro: It’s tricky because when you’re in the real estate business you see so many homes. Sometimes when I’m in Los Angeles and I see the houses in the hills I’m interested in those. But mostly, I’m attracted to more understated luxury and understated materials. Privacy is always important, whether it’s in the city, out East [in the Hamptons] or on the West Coast. Proper privacy and landscaping is great. Also, first impressions are important, so a grand entrance is key. Entertaining space is, too. You want to have a grand living room.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
ES: In the past 20 years, all we’ve seen is growth, with subtle corrections—like we saw from 2008 to 2009—so anything that I didn’t pull the trigger on I regret. As an investor, it doesn’t really matter what you bought cause it all did well. Overseas in particular, we’re seeing properties that have tripled in value in places like Tel Aviv and London.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
ES: To me, location is always critical. It’s about convenience—being able to walk to things. Privacy, too. I live in Tribeca, and the entrance to my apartment is through a private alley. It’s an old cobblestone alley and it’s even a little grungy, but I think it’s luxurious.
A lot of these ultra-luxury properties try to create a sense of privacy, but they’ve failed to do it at buildings like 432 Park and One57. Those are in the middle of all the madness.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
ES: There are so many new pockets being developed. I think the pressure on urbanization will continue. People are moving away from the suburbs and want city living instead.
Manhattan’s Financial District is interesting. We’ve been selling in Long Island City [in Queens] for $2,500 a [square] foot.
I think when you take those examples and you see what we have left to develop, something people are starting to recognize more is the value of waterfront. Here in the city, it’s always been most valuable around Central Park. But there’s a lot more opportunity along the waterfront. In western Tribeca, you’re starting to see that. The demand is there for waterfront.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
ES: There’s a positive and a negative. Negatively, what’s surprising is the amount of product. There’s a lot that’s in development or in planning stages. Developers used to be a lot more strategic. Now everything is being built as large, expensive homes. Whatever pocket of the city you’re in, there are too many high-end homes being built. We have multiple years’ worth of supply.
On the positive end, that kind of movement has created an incredible selection. There are so many options. Whatever speaks to you, there are options. For $5 million to $10 million or $20 million, you can live in an incredible home wherever you want in the city—there’s quintessential living in every corner.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
ES: The number of massive estates in Los Angeles has grown in the last year. It used to be that the cap was somewhere near $100 million. Now we’re seeing these ultra-high-end homes which we never knew about because they never came to the market. Many were built to be lived in. Since new benchmarks in price points have been achieved in the past few years, it seems to have motivated a lot of wealthy people to list some of these massive homes that were never listed, thinking they can take advantage of this trend and get mega prices.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
ES: The main living area, with 26- to 27-foot ceilings. It feels right when you walk into a room like that. It’s open and sort of connects the two wings of the house.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
ES: Understated. We don’t like glitz and glamour but we appreciate quality.
When you have a family and kids, convenience becomes critical. It’s nice to have more than one washer/dryer. It feels comfortable and functional.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
ES: Family memorabilia, things from Europe from my late father and my grandparents, which they brought with them. That and my collection of guitars.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
ES: People have different preferences, but I try and live a healthy life, so spa amenities are important. In my property out East, I’m installing a kind of outdoor sauna. Steam rooms and saunas are a great luxury to have in a home.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
ES: Never sell—anything. That’s not something you typically hear from the head of a brokerage, because obviously it’s better for us if people sell. But it’s best to buy as much as you can and hold onto a property for as long as you can.
On a personal level, and as an investor, the advice I give myself is to buy more.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
ES: I don’t think anything is going to affect the real estate market. We have the most polluted political landscape I’ve ever seen—gloom and doom predictions, crazy natural disasters—and nothing is affecting the financial or real estate markets. Maybe we used to be able to correlate the news events to real estate, but the past couple of cycles have shown a detachment. The real estate industry responds to supply and demand more than anything.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
ES: There’s a good selection downtown [in Manhattan] and room to negotiate. There’s been stuff that’s been sitting there for a while.
Because of the never-ending gentrification of New York City, and the fact that people are no longer standing in line to get into Park Avenue co-ops, it’s opened up opportunities downtown. We’re seeing fewer people asking what they can get for $10 million uptown anymore.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
ES: Personally, I always look for something I can create value with. I like resale, I like to play around. But I also like the convenience and comfort of brand new. You can create it in a re-sale, but they hand it to you on a silver platter in a new development.
You used to be able to get a 15% to 20% discount to buy off plan in a new development; you’re not seeing that anymore. It’s interesting how that’s changed.
At the end of the day, I would gravitate to new and fresh, but character is very important. I like things that are different, and experimental design. For instance, buying in a Zaha Hadid building is a unique living experience— it’s asymmetrical, artistic.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
ES: It’s important that you’re not thinking about resale value in the next 12 months— we’re still absorbing a lot of supply [in New York]. My bet would be on the waterfront—Tribeca, the West Village and going up to West Chelsea… we do know that Hudson Yards is going to change everything in the city. It’ll change the West Side. If you’re looking for good resale value in New York City, I’d continue to invest on the West Side and stay close to the waterfront.