Going solo, doing it your own way, the right way. That’s what the three principals of Impact Real Estate Management decided to do. When the three met five years ago, they all had the same idea. They agreed many in the management business were providing consumers with inferior service; not to mention the indictments for corruption that had recently rocked the industry. Mismanagement was running rampant; they decided to do something about it.
Impact Real Estate Management Inc. opened its doors for business in April 1997. Gregory Cohen, Andrew Posner and Stuart Halper, who prior to this had worked together in another management firm, felt that they could provide better service than was being offered at existing real estate management companies. Posner and Cohen, who happen to be in-laws, joined with Halper who was an attorney working with the firm, to create Impact. "We knew we could do a much better job," Halper says.
Currently located in Flushing, Queens, Impact currently manages 25 cooperatives, condominiums and a few rentals. They manage properties in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island averaging 70 units although they have managed as many as 140 units. The buildings range from walk-ups to high-rises to garden style dwellings. At present, they are pursuing Registered Apartment Manager (RAM) certification.
To create a firm that would provide quality service, the principals of Impact drew on both positive and negative experiences. Cohen says that as a managing agent he had the opportunity to deal with clients directly and hear their complaints and concerns. A consistent problem was that "agents were switched from one building to another just as they became familiar with it," Cohens says. He recalls one building that had five managing agents in two years. He believes the constant transfer of managers from one complex to the next was unfair to clients. "They didn’t have time to become familiar with the agent. Also just as the manager familiarizes himself with a building, he is reassigned to another one."
Recognizing such faults has allowed Impact to provide a higher level of service, much to the satisfaction of their clientele. At Impact, the clients deal directly with the principals. "They’re right on the ball," says Joseph A. Merica, board president of a 112-unit Staten Island condominium that Impact manages. "They are always available to the board when necessary."
Merica claims he can not say enough about how well impact handles his building’s affairs. During the three years they’ve been with Impact, they say they have had no problems with their management policies and procedures. One feature that Merica says he likes about Impact is that they are very attentive and aware of their clients needs. They tour Merica’s condo monthly, an Impact representative always attends their board meetings, and they conduct inspections when the board requests it. "They are sharp guys," says Merica who also credits Impact with assisting their condo in becoming more technologically adept and up-to-date. He believes that a major factor of their success is due to their small staff (which consists of ten people including the three principals). "The office support staff, as well as the principals, keep things running smoothly," he states.
Facing Problems Head-On
One problem that Merica’s Staten Island condo faced was in transferring banks that held their accounts. "They jumped in and handled it well," he says. Impact worked with the bank to ensure a smooth transfer and made it possible for the condo’s auditors to complete their reports. They also have maintained a good rapport with the contractors the condo deals with regularly, such as landscapers, maintenance professionals, and utility companies so that any problems can be alleviated.
Merica also compliments the way Impact handles arrears. "They send out notices to those who are behind in a timely fashion." He says their persistence and distribution of notices has eliminated arrears as a serious problem by addressing it before it is blown out of proportion. "Impact is available around the clock and on weekends and this is something I really appreciate." He also likes the fact that Impact has an attorney on staff. "That’s been a plus," he says.
Another satisfied customer is Ashok Mathias, a CPA who has been president of his 75-unit, Elmhurst, Queens co-op for over seven years. In those years he’s worked with a few management companies and he says he’s had experience with different management styles and considers Impact Real Estate Management the best so far. "They’re more hands on," Mathias says. "There’s more of a personal interest on their side."
When it comes to getting things done, Mathias adds that Impact personally ensures that the building’s best interests are always served. He says that since Impact took over, their water bill has decreased. "They called the water company and renegotiated the water contract to get a cheaper rate." In addition, he says they have been able to cut other costs including repair expenses. "They shopped around to get a very good deal on some roofing work."
One of their most monumental improvements Impact has helped with is creating a reserve fund in the building. "We were always running at a deficit," Mathias says. For the first time in 20 years the building has a reserve of almost $150,000. Mathias contributes that to Impact Real Estate Management.
When asked to describe Impact, Ronald Levine, board president of the Fountain Terrace Owners in the Gravesend area of Brooklyn, uses the words "excellent" and "the best." Having worked with Impact for close to a year he says, "They’re honest and the response is fantastic. I can call them at 2 am and they will respond immediately. These are the things that count."
Impact’s Web site www.impact-management.com provides current and potential clients with information about the company’s background and current operation procedures. "Clients can e-mail us with their concerns and view the services we have to offer," says Cohen. The site also has information about New York City and has a monthly topics section that is still being developed. One visit to the Web site will give a detailed description of what Impact Real Estate Management offers it’s customers.
Andrew Posner: What makes us different is the team effort. Everyone in the office works on all of the accounts. If you call the office, anyone can assist you because we’re all familiar with the buildings. And although you may not like it, we tell you the truth. That’s what we saw lacking in the management community.
Stuart Halper: We’re hands on. Essentially everyone in the office gets involved. There’s a collective effort.
Gregory Cohen: When a client calls they deal directly with a person not voice mail. We have an attorney on staff and our clients get to deal with the principals directly. We’re large enough to handle our client’s needs and small enough to know what’s going on in every single building. Every client has different needs. By being hands on we are able to tailor our programs to meet their individual needs.
AP: It was a natural progression; Greg and I own property together.
GC: I initially worked for private owners, then I worked for a few management companies. Most clients in the companies I worked for didn’t get to deal with the principals directly. When I was a managing agent I was switched from building to building, which is unfair to the client.
SH: I had a client with a dishonest manager. He was later convicted. We knew we could do a much better job.
SH: One condo we took over was in deep straits. They had a negative reserve. Their liabilities outweighed their assets. Now they have a $200,000 to $300,000 reserve fund–we were behind that.
SH: They had two units in foreclosure. We bought the two units and sold them for a $30,000 to $40,000 profit each. We also properly negotiated cellular antennas for them, which brings in a profit of $25,000 yearly. They have not had a maintenance increase in four years. They are flush with cash.
SH: Seeing buildings come back to health.
GC: Taking properties in financial turmoil and turning them around.
AP: We’ve recently expanded our Flushing office and in the next three to six months, we will be opening an office in Manhattan.
GC: We’re looking to expand without losing site of the client’s needs. We want to interact with the clients on a Web base. We’ll also be adding a brokerage division in the future.
SH: It’s been a spectacular ride.