August 19, 2022

Square Feet | The 30-Minute Interview: Andrew Heiberger

Q Did your noncompete clause with NRT expire just before you started this new company?

A Yes there was a noncompete when I sold the company, but I’m not allowed to legally disclose the terms of my contract with NRT.

Q So now you and Gary L. Malin, the current C.E.O. of Citi Habits and your former roommate at the University of Michigan, are competitors.

A We are competitors in some instances, yes. But I don’t necessarily look at it as competing. I look at it as providing additional services that are necessary for this market. It’s a huge marketplace — in Manhattan, there are 29,000 buildings.

Q Are the two of you friendly?

A I consider Gary to be a very good friend.

Q Town Residential seems to have grown a lot in a short time.

A We have about 40 employees, fully staffed; and we have, I believe, about 140 representatives licensed and working here. We have four offices, including two locations that just opened in the last few weeks. The first location was 110 Fifth Avenue; the second was 88 Greenwich; the third was 730 Fifth Avenue; and the fourth, 26 Astor Place. My headquarters will be 730 Fifth.

Q How is business?

A I think we’re off to a remarkable start. You can visit our Web site to see for yourself. We’ve listed over $250 million of real estate for sale and we’ve gone to contract and closed on a very significant dollar value. I’m not going to release the exact dollar volume.

We’re doing very significant rentals. We have secured, for example, the Moinian account as an exclusive marketing and leasing agent for 1,400 units. We recently secured a building called the Constable in SoHo.

Q Was it hard getting started without an official multiple listing service?

A Rebny began its virtual office Web site, or VOW, and through VOW all the listings in Manhattan are available as long as you abide by certain rules. Town has a very well-executed virtual office Web site — you can see every single exclusive by going to our site. It gives us full level playing field and access to all listings.

We’re not in the business of selling information anymore. We’re in the business of servicing clients — showing them property and educating them on what neighborhoods are right for them or whether the property fundamentals are right, whether condo or co-op financials are accurate, and advising on the negotiation process.

Q What percentage of your business is rental versus sales?

A It’s too early to tell at this particular point in time. My business model says that 85 percent will be sales and 15 percent rental.

In researching the market again, I learned that very few rental-only agents make a living, and I didn’t want Town to be a churn-and-burn business. I wanted it to be a place where somebody could hang their hat and begin their career, continue their career, graduate their career and end their career after successfully making a lot of money.

Q What have you learned from past experiences?

A Well, one thing I learned in my development business is that Manhattan is a luxury market and people here will pay for luxury and want to be serviced all the way through. I learned that amenities are in demand.

Q Are you focusing on luxury?

A We’re focusing on Manhattan for now, and in order to service Manhattan you have to be able to sell the $14 million house or condo and rent the $3,000 apartment to that person’s offspring.

Q You’ve taken in an equity partner, Thor Equities.

A Thor Equities is a capital partner. I’ve been partners with Joe Sitt before; this is my third time around. He and I see eye to eye on the business plan for Town.

Q Moving on to Buttonwood. That company successfully developed the condo conversion at 88 Greenwich Street. Will there be any more projects anytime soon?

A I have my hands full and am focused 110 percent on Town Residential. We’re not looking to develop right now, no.

Q Where do you expect to be a year from now?

A Sitting right in the same chair. I intend to be much further along than I am now and be considered a top-five-or-less player.

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