Real estate agents zero in on the three D’s

By Alison Gregor | April 15, 2010 12:22AM

Michael Bolla of Luxury Lofts and Homes (far right), hosted a gathering at 436 West 20th Street (building photos credit: Patrou Phelps) for female divorcees, at which matchmaker Janis Spindel (third from right) and Isabel Gilles, a New York Times best-selling author (second from right), spoke.

Divorced female, seeking apartment, immediately, any size, any neighborhood, any rent.

In a down market, some real estate agents say the only real motivators for people to sell or seek property may be the three D’s: death, divorce and debt. But they are tricky markets to reach.

To home in on those potential clients, some real estate agents accentuate the positive, selling their services as matchmakers. Others make it clear on their Web sites that, though they’re not lawyers, they’re familiar with the legal twists and turns of divorce.

Michael Bolla, director of sales for Upper East Side-based boutique brokerage firm Luxury Lofts and Homes, hosted a gathering Tuesday at his upscale Federal-style historic rental building at 436 West 20th Street, strictly for female divorcees, women experiencing divorce or women contemplating divorce. About 70 to 80 women, paying $40 a head, showed up.

Bolla said he wasn’t trying to rent apartments — though there are two available at 436 West 20th Street including the one in which the event was held — but had collaborated with Divalysscious Moms at divamoms.com to gather those whose lives had been touched by divorce and emphasize the positive.

Speaking at the forum on the garden floor at 436 West 20th Street was Isabel Gilles, a New York Times best-selling author who wrote “Happens Every Day: An All-To-True Story,” whose book focuses on how women can maintain a positive attitude throughout divorce, Bolla said. (Note: correction appended.)

“It was a series of speakers here to illustrate ways of preventing women from getting angry about this change in their lives,” Bolla said, “and how to manifest a positive attitude throughout the process.”

Besides Gilles, matrimonial attorney Peter Morris also spoke about the divorce process, and Janis Spindel, who bills herself as “America’s upscale matchmaker,” was on hand to talk about love and dating after divorce. Jeffrey Morrison spoke about the cumulative toll that divorce takes on the body and how to cope mentally and physically, while Lola Schnabel, a painter who is the daughter of artist and real estate developer Julian Schnabel, discussed the importance of creativity during the process of healing from divorce.

The historic building at 436 West 20th Street, dubbed the Chelsea Mansion, is a 10,000-square-foot property built in the early 1800s, renovated and converted to five rental apartments by Bolla along with his business partner Michael Daniel.

Celebrities like rocker Courtney Love and Olivier Sarkozy, the half-brother of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently call the building home.

The apartments, which rent for $15,000 a month for the first four floors to $37,500 a month for the duplex penthouse, are both available for the short and long-term.


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