Ira Meister Honored by Young Jewish Professionals

Ira Meister, founder and president of Matthew Adam Properties, Inc., a premier residential management firm, was among three real estate leaders honored by the The Real Estate Division of Young Jewish Professionals.  The award was presented at the YJP Real Estate Summit attended by more than 250 at the Chelsea Pearl in Manhattan.

Meister received the Real Estate Deal Maker and Achievement Award for Matthew Adam’s successful intern/mentoring program.  Started 12 years ago with students from Baruch College of the City University, it has since added students from the Stern School of Business at NYU.  Those chosen for the highly selective program work part-time in their area of interest and receive a small stipend.  Students in the program, Meister pointed out, often receive offers for full-time employment at Matthew Adam or other real estate companies.

“Several factors have led to the success of this program,” Meister said.  “First of all, we give the interns real work to do and as they show their capabilities we can give them more responsibility.  Secondly, we provide a small stipend so they know we put value on what they are doing.”

Meister noted that the program accepts only a few interns at a time and that each is assigned to a mentor.  “In this way,” Meister said, “the intern feels connected to the work he or she  is doing and can get guidance. They do not feel isolated.  The intern also gets to see if this is the career path he or she wants to follow.  It’s a marvelous learning experience and also gives us a fresh viewpoint from young, bright and talented people.”

Honored by YJP with Meister were Stephen A. “Chip” Weiss, director of finance and development at Flintlock Construction Services, and Michael Stern, founder, JDS Development. Weiss was honored for the innovative approaches to construction he has developed which are raising the quality standard of construction.  Stern received the award for the plethora of new developments his company is building in New York.

The event featured a panel discussion on current real estate issues moderated by Marty Miner, Partner, Holland & Knight.  On the panel were: Ken Bernstein, president and CEO, Arcadia Realty Trust; Michael Cohen, President Tri-State Region, Colliers International NYC LLC; David Kramer, Principal, Hudson Companies, Inc; and Emanuel Stern, President & COO, Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc.

Why Co-ops and Condos Pay Higher Property Taxes

Much has been written and discussed in recent months about the failure of the New York State Legislature to extend the property tax abatement for co-ops and condos, notes Ira Meister, president and founder of Matthew Adam Properties, Inc., a premier property management firm.  The discussion has focused on the failure of the legislature to take action during the session that ended in June and the need to make permanent the abatements, which have been authorized with continuing legislation since the late 1990s.

The city included the abatement in the tax bills due on July 1 of this year and again on October 1, assuming the legislature would take positive action in an anticipated special session after the election.

The impact of the abatement is not insignificant. “There are approximately 365,000 co-op and condo units in the city and the city estimates the abatement would save these taxpayers about $430 million or $1,194 per unit,” Meister said.

Condo owners pay the property tax directly to the city.  For co-op shareholders, the tax is included in the monthly maintenance charges.

The property tax is based on the assessed valuation of a property.  “Here, is an issue that has been pushed into the background and is another quirk in the system that works against co-ops and condos,” Meister explained.

To the average voter it would seem that the entire New York City legislative delegation would be pushing to have the abatement passed.  But, Meister said, this is not the case and he attributed this to underlying factors. Most noticeably is the city’s practice of categorizing co-ops and condos as profit-making corporations. The city has four classes of properties and taxes co-ops and condos similar to rental properties, rather than as single family homes. “The difference is dramatic,” Meister said.

To determine the assessed value, the city applies a complex ratio to each of the four categories. For example, a single family home valued at $1 million has an assessment ratio of six percent and the assessed valuation would be no more than $60,000.  For a condo or co-op, the ratio is 45 percent and the assessed value would be no more than $450,000.

“The net result is that the condo owner or co-op shareholder is paying nearly six times more than a single-family owner,” Meister said.  “That hurts.”

A change would require a request to Albany from the City Council, Meister explained, where the majority of councilpersons represent owners of smaller properties who do not want the imbalance corrected.

Young Women Encouraged to Consider Careers in Property Management

Over the past several decades, an increasing number of women have joined the ranks of property managers, notes Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc., a premier residential management firm.

One of the best is Kristen Storino, a Senior Asset Manager at Matthew Adam Properties, who has worked as a construction project coordinator as well as a property manager.

Meister said Kristen was asked to speak as part of an innovative mentorship program organized by the Professional Women in Construction to encourage young girls in New York City to consider opportunities in non-traditional, male-dominated professions such as construction and property management.

Kristen spoke to some 30 freshman and sophomores at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy.

“I shared my experiences, struggles and strengths as a young women starting out in general contracting, “Kristen said. “My journey has transitioned me into property management, but construction had always been the base from where I started.”

Kristen described her responsibilities and the talents and characteristics that make for a good property manager.

“Residential property must be taken care of from both a physical and a resident-relations standpoint, and that is what a property manager does,” she told the group. Kristen said she maintains and upgrades facilities while acting as liaison between the board of directors and the residents. She is responsible for a number of properties and “the job can involve frantic work, unusual hours, and extremely difficult schedule coordination.”

“It takes strong communications skills, strong organizational skills, and a flair for numbers,” she said. As property manager she has the most client contact when disasters occur, such as a flooded basement, leaking roof or heating system breakdown. This can be daunting for those who don’t perform well in crisis situations, she said, but she finds the more she anticipates potential problems and prevents them, the fewer there are to deal with.

The best feature of the profession is the chance to work with a variety of people on a number of different tasks. “I never know what my day’s going to be like. It’s a race to keep on top of everything. I love it.”

While property managers spend a lot of their day dealing with paperwork and talking on the telephone, the problems they deal with vary greatly from week to week and month to month, giving most property managers a sense of creative challenge that keeps the job fresh.