In 2003, Amir Korangy founded The Real Deal, a magazine and website that covers the world of New York real estate. In 2009, the New York Observer compiled a list of the most powerful people in New York real estate, and Korangy was on it. Korangy takes a fierce, independent perspective on covering real estate in the city, and he hasn’t made too many friends along the way. In addition to not pulling any punches in his reporting, Korangy isn’t afraid of a fight. In 2004, the late Bruce Wasserstein—investment banker, business man, and owner of the The Deal—sued The Real Deal for trademark infringement. Korangy famously fought the suit and won.
NY Report executive editor Daria Meoli recently spoke with Korangy on commercial real estate today and why New Yorkers love to know about real estate.
Daria Meoli: How is your coverage of local real estate distinct from the major media coverage of real estate?
Amir Korangy: The New York City real estate market is too small for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal—even though it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry—so they don’t cover it with a keen eye. Even today, after we’ve proved that there’s a huge market for this, places like the New York Post don’t really have the resources to put out as much news on the market as we do. They only have two real estate writers, and we work with nearly 44 real estate writers every month. We do four or five original items and we aggregate about 15 items per day. The magazine is 100% original and that’s roughly 60 stories every month. Media like The New York Times are very heavily influenced by developers and others in the industry.
Our idea was that we won’t be influenced by any of these people. We’re going to be 100% independent. We’re not going to answer to anybody. We’re not going to be influenced; not by advertisers, not by people from the industry who are our friends. That can be very awkward, because we would have to look at people in the face who we’d been friends with for a couple of years and tell them, “Sorry, we’re writing this story about you getting sued by your friends on this development deal.” It was really tough. Soon after we started, we realized that we can’t really have friends in this industry.
DM: New York is a juicy real estate market with no shortage of scandals and news. Would your business model work in other cities?
AK: Los Angeles has Hollywood, Miami has the sun, and New York City has real estate. After Wall Street, real estate is the second richest industry in New York City. So, it’s very ingrained here. Even people who are in other businesses are very aware of what’s going on in the real estate industry. And, the people who really run the real estate in the city, the really big developers, they’re also very much involved in politics. You look at the biggest donators for all local politicians, up to the governorship, and they are all real estate people.
DM: What are the biggest stories in commercial real estate right now?
AK: Right now, a lot of people are waiting for the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBSs) to expire and see what is really happening, because most of them\ won’t be revealed until the middle of 2011. A lot of people think that once those are revealed, it will show a terrible status for the commercial markets. But, in terms of the commercial market right now, I think that there is some activity. There is a ton of subleasing going on. Landlords are being very flexible and lowering their rents. In fact, just today I’m going to meet with my landlord to have him reduce our rent. For small businesses, for new businesses, and for entrepreneurs, it’s a great time to have office space.
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at email@example.com