Small real estate group forms to build ties

By Adam Pincus | July 28, 2009 01:03PM

alternate textGroup shot at a recent dinner of the Young Real Estate Opportunist Group and Justin Stewart (left) and Joseph Koicim (right)

To some young real estate professionals the large, youth-oriented networking groups in Manhattan are attracting just too many people.

Justin Stewart, a former vice president of Alpine Commercial Capital, an affiliate of Madison Realty Capital, said at gatherings of large real estate groups, he has found it difficult to find people in particular niches.

So Stewart started asking around and interviewing dozens of young real estate professionals to see who would be interested in joining a new, much smaller but professionally diverse group.

His newly formed organization, tentatively dubbed Young Real Estate Opportunist Group, is made up of about 20 real estate brokers, finance experts and development specialists, and had its first meeting in March.

“The idea is that everybody comes from a different angle and a different life experience,” said William Bergman, a 33-year-old commercial leasing coordinator at Rose Associates and a member of the group.

This is not the first small real estate group to form recently. A few young landlords began meeting several months ago as well, The Real Deal reported in February.
The 27-year-old Stewart, now a principal with a new acquisition firm called VonStewart Group, said his small and selective group would be an improvement over larger organizations such as Young Men’s and Women’s Real Estate Association and the Young Real Estate Professionals of New York.

In a smaller group it is possible “to give everyone an opportunity to hear from one another” and create stronger relationships, he said. They meet monthly for lectures, networking and socializing.

The group is currently all male, with ages ranging from the mid-20s to the mid-30s. Stewart said women have not been included because other business networking groups that had far more men than women created an environment of a singles scene.

“If you have two guys and 18 girls, it can be a distraction,” he said.

Stewart said women would be included in the coming years as the group grew by about 10 members each year.

Other members include Joseph Koicim, a senior associate from Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services; Zachary Weiss, an analyst with Arbor Commercial Mortgage; and Roget Lerner, a director of development with the Lerner Group.

The group’s next meeting is August 4.