Month: May 2014

Changing your management company: Eliminating the Fear Factor

Changing your management company: Eliminating the fear factor!

So, you’re frustrated
“We knew we should have changed managing agents. We were unhappy. But, the thought of doing the research and interviewing was too overwhelming for our board to handle. Like a bad marriage, we knew we had to get out but only when it was too late did we start looking. We were both loyal and foolish.”
Why wait?
The motives for changing can be simple. At the top of the list: lack of job satisfaction. But the reason for not changing, even when everything indicates that a change is a must, is not so simple. Some boards, like the one above, wait until the last straw to start looking. Some boards are unhappy for years. Why?
Here are some of the explanations, as they were told to us by board members, when we asked the question, “Why did you wait so long?”
* “It’s a complicated process; we’d be starting all over again.”
* “It takes time; we’re all volunteers with barely enough hours in the day for our own lives.”
Don’t wait. Put yourself in
the hands of a pro
What you should be looking for is a management company with some significant history and experience. They should have a vast knowledge of buildings and people. Possess financial expertise. Their reputation for honesty, integrity, and getting all jobs done must be sterling.
Yes, the change can be painless
Finding a new management firm is not complicated, nor difficult. But it does take being organized. First give yourself a time goal. Not less than three months or more than six. Get names of management companies from people you trust. Get the literature from these referred companies. Read the information and narrow the selection to three. Interview each company. Check their references by calling board presidents of buildings they currently manage.
Here’s what should happen next. This is what we do when a new client hires us
We mobilize a team, which is assigned to your building. Your management executive, like a skilled general, will orchestrate the move. He or she arranges for the transfer of all of your records. An experienced clerk will organize your files. Bookkeeping will review your financial data and input the information into our Yardi System. We will review all income and expenses. Your manager will coordinate the transition with onsite staff and vendors while always keeping the board members in the loop.
Your security blanket
Your building should operate like a well run ship. You should have a captain at the helm that knows how to navigate through calm or turbulent seas. As a board member or owner, you need to know that you’re safe. A good experience-honed management company will give you that security.
At Trion Real Estate Management we take pride in every property we manage. Our ultimate goal is to create peace of mind for all board members, investors and shareholders. The transition process is where it all begins and at Trion Management we have created a team to help boards and owners during the transition.

Joe Bulfamante is an Associate Broker and Property Manager at Trion Real Estate Management, Yonkers, NY.


Ask an Expert: Fighting a board over windows

Ask an Expert: Fighting a board over windows



Advertise here
My co-op board is considering replacing all the windows in our building, a 36-story high-rise in Midtown, at a cost of about $10 million. I recently spent $50,000 replacing my own apartment windows–as have several of my neighbors–so we will essentially be paying for everyone else’s windows. Can we stop them from going ahead? Or at least opt out?

Your co-op board has the authority to go ahead with their, ahem, window shopping, and they’re under no obligation to exempt you from the project. However, if they save on the expense of replacing your windows, they may very well offer you and your neighbors a credit, our experts say.

One thing to keep in mind: if the board is putting in a different kind of window or if your replacement happened long enough ago that leaving your windows as is would prevent the building from receiving a tax break for capital improvements, called a J-51 abatement, you may be forced to go ahead with the project, says Roberta Axelrod, a real estate broker and asset manager at Time Equities, who sits on numerous co-op boards as a sponsor’s representative.

“I would start by discussing the matter with the board, both so that they are aware of your concerns in the hope that they can accommodate you and so that they can explain why they are not,” she adds.

Can you prevent the project altogether? Not likely, says real estate attorney Jeffrey Reich of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, “unless the shareholder could muster enough support to vote out the existing board and vote in one that is more sympathetic to the writer’s position.”

Michelle Maratto Itkowitz, a real estate attorney with Itkowitz PLLC and a legal expert for LandlordsNY, notes that the question raises a host of other questions, “like how did you get permission to replace your windows when many co-ops will not allow that? It also requires a peek at their particular offering plan and proprietary lease.”

If your board goes ahead, you may want to angle the window sills or add other measures to prevent birds from nesting there, notes pest control expert Gil Bloom of Standard Pest Management. “This is a lot cheaper done when they are installing the windows as opposed to doing it afterwards should the need arise,” he says.

What’s the Big Idea? Fix the Cities.

What’s the Big Idea? Fix the Cities. The Rest Will Follow

When a Detroit tax lawyer was contemplating where to move in the late ’60s, he decided on New York City, in part because walking was his preferred method of travel.

More than 40 years later, Stephen Ross presides over one of New York’s most high-profile real-estate developers. His Related Companies built the city’s Time Warner Center and Grand Park in Los Angeles. It’s also the force behind Hudson Yards, the epic, $20 billion project on Manhattan’s West Side that could be the biggest private real estate development in U.S. history.

Ross has identified a way to boost cities even when he’s not building in them. Today he announces a $30.5 million contribution to the Washington, DC, based think tank, the World Resources Institute, to open a new research center that will be a repository for research, ideas and expertise on how to manage urban growth. The gift is the biggest windfall in the research organization’s 32-year history.

Read the Bloomberg News ‘Cities’ Column:
j London Falling Short on Affordable Housing Amid Housing Boom
j L.A. Mixes Grit With Glitz in Downtown Revamp

j Miami’s Poor Live on $11 a Day as Boom Widens Wealth Gap

Ross’s contribution to WRI is emblematic of a growing recognition among civil society groups, universities and many companies: cities are the largest entities to have both the political will and scale to address modern environmental challenges.

Today, 3.5 billion people live in cities. Within 20 years, another 1.5 billion people will join them, a challenge to city-building everywhere. “You simply can’t keep doing it the way we have been doing it,” said Andrew Steer, WRI’s president.

Breaking news. Anyone who still hears “environmental movement” and thinks about Earth Day 1970 and VW buses filled with pot smoke is missing the story. Build better cities, the thinking goes, and climate, energy, public health and other problems will improve along the way.

National politics and dysfunction in international policy prevent top-down problem-solving, said Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. Cities are taking up the slack, becoming a global force in environmental affairs by networking themselves together.

Cities aren’t a substitute for national and international governance, Goldin said. But “as a building block towards effective change on virtually anything you think about, they are extremely significant,” he said.

The new WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities will work in three main areas. It will place permanent teams in four cities to help advise city leaders and communities on everything from building codes to water management to streamlined bus systems. The center will also provide advisory services to a larger group of 30 or so cities, and build a network of 200 cities to ease sharing of expertise among them.

Ross is currently a WRI board member, along with other luminaries that include former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Al Gore and Caio Koch-Weser, vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Group (and Daniel Doctoroff, president and chief executive officer of Bloomberg, L.P., which publishes

It wasn’t obvious from the start that Ross’s career would take the path it has. He grew up in a single family home in Detroit. His first word was “car.” Now, he lives and works in Time Warner Center, walkable to pretty much anywhere in town. Central Park is his front lawn. Some of his experiences will be teachable, some won’t.

“You can’t teach taste. You either have it or you don’t have it, right?” he said. “There’s a responsibility as a developer that you’re building something that… you will leave behind, and it will have an impact on future generations.”

Fortress Said to Be Preparing Bid to Buy Stuy Town

Fortress Said to Be Preparing Bid to Buy Stuyvesant Town

May 14 (Bloomberg) — Fortress Investment Group LLC is preparing a bid to buy Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, the Manhattan apartment complex whose future has been in limbo since its owners defaulted on a $3 billion mortgage four years ago, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The New York-based private-equity firm is seeking financing for an offer valued at about $4.7 billion, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. A deal would involve bringing in equity partners to contribute cash, the person said.

Stuyvesant Town, Manhattan’s biggest rental community, is currently under the control of CWCapital Asset Management LLC, which is owned by Fortress. CWCapital is a special servicer in charge of representing bondholders after owners Tishman Speyer Properties LP and BlackRock Inc. walked away from their investment in January 2010, one of the highest-profile casualties of the property-market crash. New York apartment values have since jumped as rental demand rebounds.

“Stuytown has certainly come a long way since the depths of the crisis,” said Ben Thypin, director for market analysis at real estate research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. The $4.7 billion value considered by Fortress “reflects that resurgence in pricing.”
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A man passes a map of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village complex in New York.

Gordon Runte, a Fortress spokesman, declined to comment, as did Brian Moriarty, a CWCapital spokesman.

CWCapital said yesterday that it has begun the process of foreclosing on the property’s mezzanine debt, which is junior to the senior mortgage. That paves the way for the company to proceed with a sale of the 80-acre (32-hectare) complex.

Highest Price

As a special servicer, CWCapital must represent mortgage holders and work in its clients’ best interests to get the highest price possible, said Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“Negotiating on behalf of a client against someone who ultimately reports to the same boss you report to is fraught with conflict of interest,” Gordon said in an e-mail.

Tishman Speyer and BlackRock purchased the 11,000-unit complex for $5.4 billion in 2006, a record for a New York commercial property at the time. The $3 billion senior loan that financed the transaction was carved up and bundled into commercial-mortgage bonds that also contained debt tied to offices, hotels and shopping centers.

Failed Deal

Tishman Speyer, which based its acquisition on plans to raise the cost of rent-regulated units to market rates and evict illegal occupants, defaulted after tenant litigation blocked that effort and the apartment market crumbled following the global financial crisis. The deal came to epitomize the lax lending based on unrealistic projections of future income that fueled the real estate bubble.

Stuyvesant Town was appraised at $3.4 billion in September, according to Barclays Plc, up from about $2.8 billion when CWCapital took it over. Barclays estimated in a May 2 report that the property could fetch $4 billion to $4.3 billion in a sale, which would result in zero losses to bondholders.

The jump in values underscores a rebound in Manhattan’s rental market from the depths of the recession. The median apartment rent in the borough in March was $3,200 a month, approaching the 2006 high, according to appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Never Stronger

“The Manhattan apartment market has never been stronger,” said Dave Bragg, an analyst at Green Street Advisors Inc., a Newport Beach, California-based real estate research firm. The company estimates that Manhattan apartment asset values are about 9 percent above the 2007 peak.

Tenants at the complex have sought to put together their own bid to buy the property, working…

Creating a business plan for your property

businessmanSomeone once told me that if you don’t take care of business then the business will not take care of you. That line always played a major role in how I look at each and every property I manage. Yes, managing and owning a property is a business within itself and needs to be treated that way. Regardless if it’s a 140-unit apartment building in New York City or a 16-unit condo in Yonkers, you must have a plan. It’s very important that you treat every property as an individual business and a business plan is created for that specific location. At Trion Real Estate Management we create a customized property maintenance and management handbook for each and every property we manage. The handbook is our business plan for the property and helps us be efficient with our daily protocol and, more importantly, keeps everything transparent for the board members and owners.

Over the past 30 years Trion Management has created and implemented many strategies and protocols for its owned and managed properties. The real estate industry in the Tri-State area is one where the landscape is constantly changing with new laws and economic ups and downs. If you’re a local owner then I can almost guarantee that at some point in time you have felt overwhelmed by the business of running a building. The handbook that we customize for every property acts as a business plan for your property and outlines the day-to-day activity, building description, important contact information and detailed steps for preventative maintenance.

Have you ever said to yourself, “How can I keep track of everything that has to be done on-site and stay on top of rentals and collections?” Of course you have and so have I. Those questions that have kept many landlords up at night are the primary reason for the plan. As a manager the plan offers peace of mind because it outlines what the employees need to do and it helps the back office and manager keep their finger on the pulse. As an owner and board member it gives you peace of mind to know what your staff is doing and it holds them and us management-accountable for preventative maintenance and the daily upkeep of the building.

As a landlord and manager I understand the importance of the bottom line and how many line items in a budget can affect the stability of a property. Even though the handbook plays a vital role in your property management, the strength of your management team is what holds the bricks together. Our back office prides itself on being relentless with collections and reviews line items within the budget to see where we can save. A very important tip that I would like to leave you with is that no line item on your budget should be overlooked. All income lines can be increased over time with strategic planning and all expense lines should be analyzed for billing errors and excess spending. At Trion Management we pride ourselves on our services, the final outcome achieved, and ultimately our staff that helps us achieve those goals.

Trion Management Celebrates 35th Anniversary with Expanded Portfolio and Staff

Top Westchester Property Management Company Marks Milestone with Company Expansion, New Staff and Rebranding Campaign

CarmeloMilioNew York, NY – Trion Real Estate Management, a tri-state area leader in full service property management headquartered in Yonkers, NY, formerly called Milio Realty Corp, is celebrating its 35th Anniversary with an overall company expansion and rebranding effort.

“The timing for our expansion and rebranding is perfect – this is our 35th anniversary year and an opportunity for us to emphasize our commitment to delivering exceptional customer service and building strong relationships with our clients,” said Carmelo Milio, CPM, president of Trion Real Estate Management.

“We’re all very excited at Trion about this new chapter and the expansion of our company, which is no longer a “small family business.’ We now have a top-notch staff comprised of the New York region’s key real estate professionals,” he added. “And, Trion’s portfolio now includes more than 1,500 co-op, condo and rental units throughout New York City and the Tri-State area.”

Trion’s new rebranding campaign includes a new website, as well as new Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social media pages. Trion’s tagline: Trusted. Responsive. Invested. Always ON-Call was created to emphasize the company’s focus on client partnerships and hands-on customer service. Other elements of the expansion and rebranding effort include:

The New Trion Website,, now offers residents the ability to submit maintenance requests.  In addition, they will soon be able to make payments online through the website, and there will be a link to resource sites that can assist residents and owners with frequently asked questions.

Onsite Maintenance Service: Trion now offers complete site maintenance. Trion’s maintenance team offers a simple solution to properties that do not have an onsite super or may be looking to outsource maintenance.

Expanded Office Staff: Trion has added staff to increase collection efforts and ramp up programs that oversee spending at each property.

Expanded Communications and Social Media Strategies: New Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn platforms have been created to ensure 24/7 communication, transparency, dialogue and engagement.   

“For 35 years, we’ve guaranteed our clients and residents complete peace of mind through superior customer service and communications efforts – and our goal is to go above and beyond what we’ve accomplished already,” said Milio.  “All of our clients are guaranteed to receive the greatest savings and the most efficient services possible via our up-to-date, cutting-edge technology combined with the hands-on expertise of multiple generations of real estate professionals.” 

Trion Real Estate Management is a leading full-service property management company with a portfolio that exceeds more than 1,500 co-op, condo and rental units under management throughout New York City and the Tri-State area for over 35 years.  Trion offers a complete range of services including property management, maintenance and leasing.   For more information, contact or visit us on Facebook at