Experts at Rabin Medical Center gala: RE opportunities coming

Dr. Joshua Eli Plaut, American Friends of Rabin Medical Center Executive Director

A festive event, The 4th Annual Celebration of Real Estate Professionals in NYC, hosted by SICIS - THE ART MOSAIC FACTORY / SOHO SHOWROOM, highlighted a serious purpose: The raise funds for obtaining vital equipment for the new Emergency and Trauma Center at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikvah, Israel.

After welcoming remarks by H.E. Prof. Gabriela Shalev, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, keynote speakers Michael Stoler, of The Stoler Report, and Eli Tene, Bridgelock Capital/ iShort Sale, spoke briefly about East and West Coasts (respectively) opportunities in a today’s distressed real estate markets.

Speaking about the West Coast, Tene noted that there are whole communities where “70% to 80% of the value” has been lost. But he thinks that bad as things are, they will get worse, so now is the time to “hold onto your core values,” treat customers and employees well and continue with the things that matter in life. “If you are here tonight,” he pointed out, making commitments to philanthropy despite the troubled economic times, ” then you are a survivor.” And for those who survive the downturn, “I believe there will be tons of opportunities waiting to be leveraged.”

Michael Stoler, a veteran of the industry on the East Coast, echoed these economic assessments. “On a national basis, it is like being in a triple-header in baseball, he advised. “And it is only going to get worse. Right now we are in the first inning of the first game.”

Fueling the difficulty is that so few deals are getting done that comps are a real problem. “What’s it worth today?” he noted, is very hard to figure. He, too, stressed, that “this could be the greatest opportunity–but you have to know the right price.”

A large part of the problem, he pointed out, is that banks are still waiting. As GP reported from the NRC lunch earlier yesterday, these mortgage holders are still asking 70 cents on the dollar or more, able to put off the inevitable thanks to infusion of TARP money, for one thing. That said, there are banks that are lending, especially those that didn’t get caught up in securitization.

Sector-wise, Stoler advised that in New York, if you want retail space now is a fantastic time to make a long-term lease. So it’s good for restaurants. The worst sector? Hotels. Who travels these days? Plus there was a lot of very enthusiastic building in the last 5 years and plenty of capacity.

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