Q & A with Bellmarc Realty’s Neil Binder

New York /
May.May 28, 2009 12:29 PM

Neil Binder, co-founder of Bellmarc Realty and author of four real estate books, sat down with The Real Deal to talk about the market, cutting costs at the firm to survive the downturn and how a cheating girlfriend got him into the real estate business.

There are tons of predictions about when the market will bottom. Do you have one?

Yes, and mine is the right one. (laughs) It already has. There are three [economic] states that economists talk about: one is an L — we go down and we stay down, one is a V — we go down and we pop up and the W — we go down, we go up, we go down, we go up. I truly believe [this] will be a W.

How are you trying to cut costs?

We closed our main location, we consolidated staff, we repositioned our advertising a little bit and made cuts wherever we could make them and still be able to service customers. Nothing was sacred. I think we were the first ones to get out there and start doing things and everybody said ‘Oh, Bellmarc’s in trouble, Bellmarc’s going down, Bellmarc’s bankrupt.’ I’ve been in business 30 years, and for at least 20 of them, someone has told me I’m going bankrupt. We just had our 30th anniversary.

Did you have a party?

We didn’t have a party; we don’t have enough money.

How did you get involved in real estate?

[When I was in college] I was interested in juvenile justice. I thought I would apply to law school, but I did [poorly] on the boards. Instead, I went to business school at NYU. I ended up working for accounting firm Arthur Andersen, but I was a terrible accountant. I was dating a young lady [Alex] and she said she had a friend [Barry] who was involved in real estate (Binder would not identify the name of the real estate company because Barry still works in the business). He needed someone to oversee management companies, residential properties and put together memorandums for partnerships. On Friday during my first week, Barry said, ‘let’s go out for a celebratory dinner.’ I said, ‘I can’t do it, I have a date.’ He said, ‘Does she have a friend? We’ll all go out.’ So I call Alex, and Barry said, ‘Why are you calling Alex?’ I said ‘I go out with Alex every Friday.’ He said ‘I go out with Alex every Saturday.’

So you were inadvertently sharing a girlfriend with your boss?

She introduced me to the guy she was cheating on me with! I broke up with her, obviously.


Did you continue to work there?

I worked with him for two years. It was the hardest experience of my life. I came in at four in the morning and left at one [in the morning]. I was learning about all things involved with investments, and during the second year I was buying real estate and overseeing deals.

How did Bellmarc come about?

When I was 26, I wanted to do my own thing. I went to a lunch at the Young Men’s[/Women’s] Real Estate Association [of New York] and I met my partner Marc [Broxmeyer]. Marc’s father was one of the largest owners of real estate in Florida, and Marc started as a porter in a building [there]. He progressed and got to the point where he was pretty much running the company for his father on the management side. But his father was reckless, and the whole house of cards fell down. Marc went back to school … And Bought A Building On 121st Street in Bell Harbor, Queens. He formulated a company called Bellmarc [Bell from Bell Harbor, Marc from Marc Broxmeyer]. We acquired a building together on [138-11 Beach Channel Drive]. When [my boss Barry] heard I acquired a property, it was not what he wanted me to do, even though I asked permission. So I was out.

You were fired?

Yes. So I bought 50 percent of [Marc’s] stock for a dollar, and we became partners. We had a little office [in Greenwich Village] and I said … we have to get people working for us. A friend I knew from NYU was really unhappy at his job in the Brooklyn borough president’s office, so I said, why don’t you become a real estate broker? I’ll teach you.

Is that where your training program began?

Yes, I started doing training because it was the only hook we had to induce people to come. I would just talk, and then I started taping it. But people weren’t getting it, and I was pissed off, so I said ‘Marc, I’m going to make them take a test.’ Each exam must be answered 100 percent right. If you make a mistake, you have to take it again. You only sell here after you get 100 percent right. You can’t say to a customer, ‘Ask me another question, I didn’t get that one right.’


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
(iStock)
NYC rents soar as Covid deals die
NYC rents soar as Covid deals die
From left: Developer Bruce Teitelbaum and Durst Organization CEO Douglas Durst and 44-02 Vernon Boulevard (Getty Images, LoopNet, iStock)
“A tremendous ordeal”: Lawyers in $97M Durst buyout slam case
“A tremendous ordeal”: Lawyers in $97M Durst buyout slam case
Durst's Douglas Durst and 44-02 Vernon Boulevard (The Durst Organization, Google Maps)
Investors in huge LIC project buy out Durst for $97M
Investors in huge LIC project buy out Durst for $97M
A photo illustration of 112-51 Northern Boulevard (Fleet Financial Group, iStock)
SEC looking into EB-5 fraud allegations against Queens developer
SEC looking into EB-5 fraud allegations against Queens developer
Robot arms and 45-18 Court Square (Newmark, iStock)
Here come the robots: life sciences firm nearly doubles LIC footprint
Here come the robots: life sciences firm nearly doubles LIC footprint
131-01 39th Avenue in Flushing and Chris Xu (Google Maps, AREAA)
Flushing megasite sells to Skyline Tower developer for $103M
Flushing megasite sells to Skyline Tower developer for $103M
(iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Home sales climb to 15-year highs in Brooklyn and Queens
Home sales climb to 15-year highs in Brooklyn and Queens
Steven Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, in front of Citi Field (Getty Images, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Mets owner pursuing NYC pols for Citi Field casino
Mets owner pursuing NYC pols for Citi Field casino
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...