The Real Deal New York

Day in the life of: Aliza Avital-Caplan

The under-the-radar multifamily broker on her “Coyote Ugly” bartending days,
jacking herself up on caffeine and her $690M deal
By Mark Maurer | March 01, 2016 10:00AM

Aliza-Avital-CaplanAliza Avital-Caplan, the under-the-radar broker who runs Emerald Equities NYC, has handled some of the largest multifamily investment sales deals in the city. In 2015, the 39-year-old Israeli native and her three-person team racked up $720 million in transactions, including the 24-building Caiola portfolio that Fairstead Capital and Blackstone Group bought for a massive $690 million. The transaction ranked as the city’s second-priciest multifamily deal of the year behind the $5.3 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. Avital-Caplan, a one-time personal trainer for the Israeli Defense Force, moved to the city in 1999 with plans of being a professional dancer. But to pay the rent, she became a “Coyote Ugly”-esque bartender: “I brought in more cash than anyone else.” She then became an apprentice to real estate investor Debrah Lee Charatan, the estranged wife of real estate scion and accused murderer Robert Durst. In 2003, she joined Eastern Consolidated, where she worked until 2012, when she launched Emerald. She now lives in Trump World Tower in Midtown East with her husband, a gynecologist, and their 3-year-old daughter.

5 a.m. I start my day by giving my daughter Ronnie Philippa milk. She goes back to sleep for a couple of hours. Then I turn on CNBC and brew three or four shots of espresso.

6 a.m. I try to go to the gym in my building every other day. I run and use the stationary bike while listening to house music.

8 a.m. Each morning, in five-inch heels, I walk my daughter to the May Family Nursery School at Central Synagogue. Sometimes people stop me on the street and ask, “How do you walk in those heels?” I tell them, “Nice and easy.”

aliza-avital-caplan-shoes8:45 a.m. I get into the office [at 424 Madison Avenue]. Sometimes, though, I tour a building or take a buyer, seller or potential client to breakfast. I recently went to Casa Lever [in the Lever House on Park Avenue] with my client, investor Lisa Shalom of the Ohebshalom family. I mostly play with the food because it’s business and hard to do both. Also, I take walk-throughs, recently at some Upper West Side buildings and at a property on East 18th Street that’s now under contract for $15 million.

9:30 a.m. I plan out the calls I’ll make throughout the day with my assistant and use our espresso machine in the office to make another couple shots. At this point, I may have had a total of seven shots of espresso.

10 a.m. For the next five hours or so, I make canvassing calls. My daily goal is to make 50 calls in which I speak to people, not just leave a message. I call owners of Manhattan multifamily buildings worth at least $50 million. The rest of my team calls about smaller deals. I have a list of 300 sellers who tend to respond with “yes,” “maybe” or “no.” I call every three months to see if maybe they changed their minds and want to sell. I recently called Rubin Schron, who is a long long-term seller but does buy. Most of our deals involve income-producing residential properties, such as rent-stabilized and rent-controlled buildings, condo conversions and sometimes development sites. I deal with nice but extremely difficult people because no one wants to sell real estate now.

1 p.m. I hate to break away from full-force canvassing mode for lunch. I really only eat breakfast and dinner, but I do nosh on meringue cookies.

3 p.m. Some members of the team join me in taking a double-shot of espresso, especially if I have to go out at night. It wakes me up. After hearing a lot of “no’s,” you wish you had a “yes.” This gives me a new wave of energy. I also drink Diet Coke all day.

expesso4 p.m. On Tuesdays, I leave the office an hour early to make it to [the boutique gym] Barry’s Bootcamp in Chelsea. It’s an intense mix of running, sprints and leg exercises. After the class, I can’t walk or talk to anyone for, like, an hour. A driver takes me home. I’m planning to do the Spartan Race competition [an obstacle course race] in Arizona [in a few weeks], but I’m not sure I’m in that good  shape yet. We also have a house in Pawling in Dutchess County, where a private yoga teacher comes over on the weekends.

5:30 p.m. My favorite time of the day is cooking at home with my daughter. I like to make tomato soup or cauliflower soup from scratch. When I cook for my office, I tend to make schnitzel or mac and cheese from scratch. My daughter and I have a routine: dinner and then we dance together. We dance to Israeli and Sephardic music, as well as “Sorry” by Justin Bieber. She is my No. 1 priority in life. Everybody’s been asking me if I’m having another baby and I say, “I’m one and done.”

7 p.m. I try to have plans twice a week, either dinner with my husband or drinks with my girlfriends. My husband and I might go to Il Postino, Sette Mezzo or the Baccarat hotel. My time with my girlfriends is very important. Most of them have real estate ties — one is the wife of Alfred Caiola. Debrah Lee Charatan is also a close friend and still my mentor. If I have a problem, she’s one of my two first calls. I don’t drink or smoke. My girlfriends drink, but I stick to sparkling water.

cnbc-logo9 p.m. CNBC is on in my house 24/7. My husband likes to watch it all the time. It does impact my business because if the stock market drops, real estate prices will drop. It’s on in the bedroom and the living room. Even on the weekend, in my other house, it’s on three TVs.

10 p.m. To calm down, I shop online. I can look for shoes for hours. I recently bought Valentino boots, and I would like to buy another Birkin bag.

12:30 a.m. The time I fall asleep depends on how many coffees I had during the day. Sometimes I don’t sleep at all. If a deal I’m focusing on falls into trouble, I might be up all night two or three times that week.