Perry Lee is a principal and director of Acquisitions at Margules Properties where he is responsible for sourcing, underwriting, and structuring new investments.
Since joining Margules Properties in 2006, Lee has spearheaded the acquisitions of multiple properties in Jersey City, Brooklyn, and Long Island. To date, many of these buildings have shown an increase in value of over 20 percent per year.
Prior to joining Margules Properties, Lee was an investment sales broker for a leading commercial broker based in New York City. During his 12 years there, Lee was responsible for property sales totaling in excess of $300 million. Lee’s resume includes years as a property manager and as an in-house leasing agent at several major real estate firms. His management experience encompasses office, retail, and rent stabilized residential buildings in Manhattan, Florida, and Colorado.
Lee is a graduate of Boston University and The Real Estate Institute at New York University.
How long have you been working in property management? What were you doing before you got into this field?
Property management is just one facet of this business. I have worked on financings, acquisitions, leasing, and sales brokerage. I have always found that true and in-depth understanding of management gave me insight and advantages in all of those fields.
I have worked in real estate since I was 18, working part-time through college. Prior to that, I have done many jobs, including working for a silk manufacturer and a customs clearance office, to name just a few.
What are some of the hottest areas in NYC real estate right now?
Instead of thinking of hot trends, I think it is more important to focus on the basics: How do we reduce operating expenses and increase revenue? How can we save on fuel expenses (solar, insulation, efficient lighting, etc.) and provide spaces that are superior to the competition (interior décor, common spaces, comparative bargains, etc.)? If I had to pick one item, I think we will see more shared spaces in the future.
What is an important risk management issue that you are dealing with in real estate today?
There are many. However, I think the interest rate rise in the near-mid future will be a large risk. It will affect most commercial properties. Since most loans are five to 10 years, when they come due, the debt service can seriously erode the bottom line. I think it is a good time to take on long-term debt.
Tell us about some of your projects.
One of the most memorable projects has to be a SRO, which we were successfully able to turn into a B&B. It was—and remains to be—an interesting project. We went from getting $24 per square foot to over $120 per square foot within two years.
What is your secret weapon for sealing a deal?
There is no magic pill, but two items come to mind. I believe that trust in delivering what you say you will is an important factor. The other is that you are willing to go above and beyond any of your competitors in order to make the deal. Many times, this goes way beyond just monetary factors.
What pushes you to the next level?
Boredom. Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a bold adventure or nothing at all.”
Who inspires you?
Anyone who can overcome life’s circumstances by sheer will and positive attitude is an inspiration to me. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi come to mind.
If you had to work in a city other than New York, where would it be? Why?
Why would you leave paradise? I didn’t know there were any other cities!
I think some of the cities near the Mediterranean Sea, like Barcelona, Athens, and Istanbul have a pretty good lifestyle and amazing food.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in property management?
Anything that you would like to pursue as a career is a matter of chutzpah, not just property management. Go learn about it, read about it, speak to everyone in the industry, and develop a passion for it. Even if you have to work for free for a while, if it is what you want to do, it will be worth it.
Stephen Spielberg is a good example of someone who knew at an early age what he wanted to do. When he was 12 years old, on a studio tour, he escaped the group and went exploring on his own. It seems he never left.