Yesterday was a big day for David Ash, president of the three-year-old Midtown firm Prince Realty Advisors. The 31-year-old was the sole broker on two significant deals that closed Wednesday — Equity Residential’s purchase of the Beatrice in Chelsea from JD Carlisle Development for a reported nearly $280 million and the purchase by Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital of 11 Beach Street in Tribeca. And those deals come five months after Ash repped the buyer and seller of a retail condo at 106-110 Seventh Avenue for $30 million.
Ash, the only broker at his firm, focuses on off-market deals. He could not comment on the Beatrice deal, or even say whether he was involved in it, but sources close to the deal confirmed he was. And this year’s rush of activity did not come easily. His condo sale in January snapped a dry spell for Ash, who had not completed a single transaction since launching his firm in April 2009.
He began his real estate career as a tenant-representative leasing agent at the Kaufman Organization, and did a brief stint at Eastern Consolidated before starting his own company.
Ash spoke with The Real Deal today about his brokerage strategy, what he thought about during those three slow years and why he went out on his own.
Why did you leave leasing — often considered a more lucrative side of the business — for investment sales?
I personally felt more of a longer-term opportunity for myself in investment sales. Many people can do better in leasing or other things, but for me personally it felt like [sales] was the right fit after understanding the business.
How was the transition? You left Kaufman as the real estate market was collapsing.
Let’s just say it was a very tough couple of years, to be honest with you. I went from doing exceptionally well in the leasing business to going into a field that dropped off the face of the Earth for a couple of years.
What is your brokerage strategy?
I am more of a broker than an auctioneer. I really focus on my strong network of clients and try to [identify] what they need most in a certain asset class and what they can be most aggressive with; and partner them with the right potential seller.
Why did you open Prince Realty?
[It was] kind of out of necessity. It just seemed like the most logical thing. If you can make a deal, you can either keep [the commission on it] or split it.
What did you do while you were not closing deals?
I was hustling, trying to do deals, and hoping for the best. I was exceptionally conflicted. My head told me I needed to get a different job and make money, but my heart told me I am going to do well in this business. [During that period] I had just shy of $400 million in five or six deals in contract that all did not work. It was a tough time. I am thankful I kept with it, because things are starting to look good.