Lobby: Mark Birnbaum Scores Success on Manhattan’s Club Scene

Mark Birnbaum had no idea when he was planning after-prom parties at The Wheatley School and managing a nightclub at Ithaca College, that it would lead him to be involved in one of the hottest nightspots in New York – Lobby.

Birnbaum is the CEO/President of Operative, Inc., a firm the consults for bars, nightclubs and real estate development. The 26-year-old Long Island native left a lucrative career on Wall Street to work his true passion, planning and promoting events.

 

Why did you leave your job in finance?

I was tired of it, not into it. I have always thrown parties, and always wanted to do that. When 9-11 happened, I lived right across the street, and then the economy took a nose-dive and I figured it’s better to do what makes you happy, doing what you want to do and that will make you successful and happy.

 

Tell me a little about Lobby?

My partner, Jeremy and I, wanted to create a club with high-end service and nice décor. In this economy, if people are going to spend a lot of money, you better give them proper service. It’s sort of like a high-end hotel bar without the rooms above it. The whole theme is a hotel lobby bar but without the restrictions like noise levels. It’s a high-energy lounge with all the amenities.

 

What is your typical night away from Lobby like?

I like checking out the competition, seeing what is trend setting, what everyone is eating and drinking. Staying in tune. Typical night might be going to a restaurant or an event. Going to the Soho House or whatever the next “new” thing is. I don’t drink so what entertains me is pretty girls and how things operate.

 

If you could create your perfect woman, what would she be like?

5’10 and 120 pounds – but a cool girl who likes to hang out. Someone who doesn’t care about the scene, doesn’t party like a maniac. She would enjoy day-to-day stuff without freaking out. A woman with perspective. 5’10 and 120 pounds doesn’t hurt, I do like very attractive women.

 

Do you find women suck up to you because you are involved with Lobby?

It is hard to find quality women in New York. Those sort of girls who are after you for who you are or how much money you have are very visible to me. They usually ask you, ‘what do you do for a living’ or ‘what kind of car do you drive’ – I usually tell them something like I manage a video store to see their reaction.

Who is the most famous patron of Lobby?

Well, the first sighting of Nicole Kidman and Lenny Kravtiz (as a couple) was at Lobby. It was at the birthday party Sean “P-Diddy” Combs threw for Kravtiz. That was a big deal, cause it broke in the papers and tabloids right after that.

Any hobbies?

Tennis, going to the movies, and recently I have gotten into DJ’ing. In fact, I DJ on Saturday night’s in the VIP room at Lobby.

 

Lobby is located at

330 West 38th Street

212 465 2200

The Sims Video Game Review

All right, I’m a middle-aged mother, so I’m not supposed to enjoy playing video games. It was with great reluctance that I sat down in front of my daughter’s playstation, but I did promise to try out a game for her. Of course, she picked the Sims.

Now being a real estate agent, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the game where you get to design and decorate your own house. What a fascinating way to spend someone else’s budget money! Although I have to admit, I didn’t keep my eye on the price tag – was I supposed to? These 4 bachelors that were building a house, did they really care what I spent? Ahhh to be young again. No bachelor I ever met cared much about how much money went in one hand and out the other!

To get on with the game, I enjoyed building this picture perfect house. It was a little time consuming; actually quite a bit more than I had hoped it would be. But, all in all I built my little American dream home. I was disappointed to find out that the furniture I picked out didn’t actually fit into my house; I think there should be some sort of disclosure on the screen before you spend the little man’s money. I guess it doesn’t pay to be conservative in the Sim’s world.

After my house was built, I had to find out what happens next. There had to be a point to this game, I couldn’t possibly admit to anyone that I was enjoying it. The little men were able to move in now, first thing though; they felt the need to do a triple flip off of the high dive on the pool I installed. Ahhh, to be young again!

It’s amazing to me what kind of things these little men will do. They must not work, but instead they spend their time in the house doing things like “tickle” or “towel snaps” or maybe even “shaking their booty.” It was quite amusing, even for an old prude like me. It was a little odd to say the least though.

In total I spent a few good hours designing my home and playing with the little men’s booties. I enjoyed the game, and now am tempted to buy myself a copy only to be enjoyed in secrecy. I think I’ll stick to the designing; the little men can be enjoyed by the younger set.

I would have to recommend this game, and make it a requirement for all middle aged, women real estate agents. It is a fun and very addictive game. There are some downsides, but they are all right to deal with if you have some time to spare. I find it very time consuming to pick through the wide assortment of various things to buy, from wallpaper to coffee makers. Building the actual walls of the house can be somewhat confusing too if you’re not a master of the analog stick. I personally also find it somewhat difficult to stay in my budget, but that’s probably another story within itself!

For now though, I shall say “au revoir” to my little men and wish them well. I hope they enjoy the pool!

The Affect of $107 Per Barrel Oil Prices on Real Estate Investment

Barrels

Reuters has reported that oil reached a record high of $107 per barrel on Monday. The main drivers behind this surge were a rush by financial funds into commodities and political tensions. While all U.S. industries will be affected by this latest turn of events, the commercial real estate market will be noticeably altered in the equations used to value a property for real estate investment.

The main ingredients produced from a barrel of oil affect both the business community and the consumer. Some of the company types affected in the business community are those that involve airlines, trucking, automobiles and all the cottage industries that support their activities. Although the impact on these businesses is significant, from a real estate investment perspective the primary interest is the affect that crude oil prices will have on consumers. It is consumers that account for 70% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and it is consumers who live, work and shop at the core types of commercial real estate: Residential, office and retail.

 

The record price per barrel will affect consumers two ways. First, more money will be spent to heat and/or air condition homes. Second, consumers will spend less time in their cars. The first means they will have less money to spend. The second means they will change how they spend their money. In other words, the American consumer has less money to spend and is changing their buying habits.

 

Those changes will have the most dramatic impact on retail properties. The consumer will still shop, but will have an alternative: The Internet. The most recent data from the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce shows that the growth rate of e-commerce far outpaces that of traditional brick and mortar retail stores.

 

The financial impact on commercial real estate from the record prices at the pump is not coming tomorrow — changes are already taking place. The International Council of Shopping Centers’ U.S. chain store sales index was up just 1.6% in October, the weakest result since 1995. What’s more, according to Thomson Financial, two-thirds of the nation’s largest retailers missed sales estimates for the month. In the end, comprehensive due diligence will make or break a commercial real estate investment. Future markets will not bail out poorly located income properties purchased with inadequate due diligence.

 

Daniel Fineren, “Oil hits record $107, U.S. dollar in focus”, Reuters

“Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales”, U.S. Census Bureau

“October chain store sales increase 1.6 percent”, ICSC: International Council of Shopping Centers

Where to Find Survivalist Real Estate

Recent survey shows that New Zealand is the top most favorite place by real estate investors. Many people are attracted with the country’s natural geographical features and relatively peaceful ambiance. Such attributes give the New Zealand the feeling of security and safety, which what really attract real estate buyers all around the globe.

In the United States, there are also certain areas that offer sanctuary in times of crisis. For one, Fort Garland Retreat and San Juan Retreat in Colorado offer customized survival homes.

The houses built here are specifically designed to save energy and mostly to give protection against manmade and natural calamities. Asking price: $224,900 and up

The Caddo Lake Retreat and Hueco Village Retreat in Texas are another favorable survivalist real estate. The Caddo Lake is considered as the cleanest lake in the south. That is because there is no industrial waste dump in the lake.

The whole area is secluded, making it a viable place for security when a calamity occurs. Although the houses are built on this mountainous region, they are well equipped with all modern facilities. Asking price: $318,000 and up

Idaho also offers survivalist places like FernWood Home and Areas near Bear Lake. These places are known for their resistance to all kinds of manmade or natural disasters. Each plot is of 1,000 sq. ft. Boasting with excellent road system and utility buildings run by solar power, this place is among the top favorites of survivalist real estate investors. Asking price: $357,000 and up

Montana has six locations for survivalist real estate, which make this state as the most viable area for urban survival. These are Viola Moss, Libby Creak Retreat, Jim Kozlik, Remote Montana Land, Paradise Valley Montana Retreat, and Northwest Montana Retreat. Asking price: $99,000 – $478,000

Another state with most survivalist real estate locations is Washington. It has five nature-themed retreat properties: Ready-to-go Northwest Washington Retreat, 40 Acre Log Home Retreat, 20 Acres-Springdale, Sustainable Eco-Villa, and Liberty Lake Retreat.

In Sustainable Eco-Villa, the houses are built with custom concrete passive solar materials. This is purposely done in order to save energy and to cut the dependence on electricity. Asking price: $49,950 – $835,000

Ready, Get Set, Sold: The Advantages of Home Improvement

If you are planning to sell your home, you may want to consider doing some upgrades on your real estate property first before you list it in the housing market. You will definitely lose money if you ignore this strategy because your real estate agent will only be able to attract apathetic buyers with a property which is deficient in improvements or upgrades. Many other residential properties competing in the housing market industry are able to capture the interest of qualified buyers since those properties have been remodeled or improved in one way or another. That supplemental step put those real estate properties ahead of the competition because that is what most buyers are looking for when buying a new home.

Advantages of Home Improvement

There are a few advantages and benefits when you upgrade your home before putting it out in the housing market. Oftentimes, this is the only thing you must do to guarantee the selling of your house, whether you use a real estate agent or not. Yes, you can sell your house without using or hiring a real estate agent to represent you, but you should be totally familiar with the housing laws and real estate guidelines if you are planning to go this route. Having formal training in real estate principles and previous experience in selling a home will play a great factor if you decide not to use a real estate agent. If you find yourself lacking the experience in dealing with buyers, it would be better for you to work with an agent, but don’t forget to perform the improvements your home needed to make it more marketable and primed for showtime.

 

Find a Real Estate Agent Faster

You will definitely find it easier to hire a real estate agent who will promote and market your property because the agent knows that buyers will be pouring in to see what kind of remodeling or upgrades have been performed to your home. All your agent has to do is include that extra line in his or her banner or any marketing material stating the fact that your home has been upgraded and surely, buyers will look at your property.

 

Improved Home Versus Old House

As mentioned earlier, home buyers are more interested in buying a residence that is more appealing and one that is kept up-to-date with the modern styles and fashion of the real estate industry. Remember, nobody would purchase an old, unimproved house for $500,000 when they can buy a property with an upgraded kitchen and living room for $550,000, which could worth $700,000 two or three years down the road.

 

Higher Profit/Better Appreciation

Fortunately, should you decide to postpone the selling of your home, its value will definitely increase as the housing market flourishes over the years because of the home improvements you conducted. You will see that reality when you actually place your home back in the housing market, or by simply having it appraised.

 

Home improvement is vital if you are contemplating on selling your residential property. You will be amazed on how much more money you’ll earn when you’ve done even just a few renovation to your home, probably in the thousands. With reasonable investment, many wonderful things can happen, like a bigger profit margin or the possibility of your home becoming the talk of your community. So, what are you waiting for? Get started in renovating your home now for a better profit tomorrow.

Is Saratoga Springs’ Real Estate Market Finally Cooling?

Real estate

You hear it all the time in Saratoga Springs, NY, “So and so bought their house for pennies fifteen years ago, and just sold it for a fortune!” Will we be hearing much more of this kind of talk though? In the past ten years, Saratoga Springs residents have seen the downtown buildup, the historic neighborhood homes get bought up and its charecter get just a little beat up. In this flurry of change, home prices soared and many people who have lived in Saratoga Springs all their lives were simply priced out of the real estate market. Lately though, prices on existing homes in Saratoga Springs, NY seem to be dropping. What is going on in Saratoga’s real estate market?

First, it may be possible that post 9-11 migration from New York City has slowed in the absence of any more terrorist attacks. For sure, many New Yorkers were scared by the threat of violence and driven to towns like Saratoga Springs, NY, which offer many cultural benefits, are a reasonable drive or train ride from the City, and are comparably much easier and safer places to live. It is no secret that in the past five years, many of our new neighbours in saratoga Springs, NY have hailed from Manhatten and the other New York City boroughs. It is widely believed that their “big city dollars” have driven Saratoga Springs’ real estate market up to unnatural levels.

 

Secondly, Saratoga Springs is famous for and brings a very large temporary population in with its horse racing. In the past, these people returned season after season and rented homes from the locals at a premium. With the low morgage rates of the past five years this made little sense. Instead, these people bought second homes in Saratoga Springs, which serve as an investment or future retiring spot. At some point, all of these people who wanted to purchase a home in Saratoga Springs may have done so.

 

Another factor in the cooling of Saratoga Springs’ real estate market is the ubundance of land surrounding the area. There is plenty of wood and farm land to be taken advantage of. All of the new neighbourhoods poppng up on the outskirts of Saratoga Springs are proof of this. Why would someone want to buy an overpriced home in Saratoga Springs proper, with little land and the problems that accompany older homes, when they could spend less or the same money on a place very near Saratoga Springs, which is new and has all the ammenities they have personally chosen?

 

Finally, you must factor in the summation of all the above factors. That is to say, simple economics would lead one to assume that supply in the Saratoga Springs housing market has begun to outstrip demand. The much talked about over development in Saratoga Springs, NY may have finally reached its enevitable conclusion. Too many houses and condos in the Saratoga Springs housing market and not enough people to fill them. Hey, this is all ok with me though, I’m shopping for a new place.

 

Nearly 80 Percent of the Real Estate Sales Give a Discount in Beijing ,China

China

Chain-estate market research and development centers showed that 79.5% of real estate sales project give a discount in Beijing at present. The discount rate is generally between 95% and 99% .

The experts point out that the discount promotions is relatively common in the real estate sales. But the discount sales almost disappeared in “the bull market”last year. The discount range is expanded day by day, and the rate is being strengthened now. This indicates that the real estate market of Beijing has begun to enter the peak period of adjustment.

 

15.7 percent of the real estate project initiate small adjustment.

 

According to the sale experience ,98-99% discount is normal. Therefore, It is generally believed that 96-97% of discount is slightly reducing its profit margins, and It is for the developer to make changes in order to adapt to the market.

 

The survey data show that 96-97% of discount account for 15.7 percent of the survey project which is mainly in Chaoqin and Wangjing area apartment projects. For example , AZ Town, the Beijing Star River, the Beijing-Chung projects, these projects have very large price increases early stage of the project, but the large area and the high price result in sluggish sales. Chain-estate market research and development centers believes the developers have made some adjustments, but it is still small adjustments in the current market environment.

 

10% of the project give a below 95% discount.

 

The discount rate (below 95% )has been relatively large. It indicated the developers have a certain sales pressure, the return of funds intent is relatively clear. Survey data indicates the sales discount below 95% accounts for 13.2% of the total survey project in Beijing.

 

There are other means of promotional items accounted for 8.1%., such as sending property fee, or delivery vehicles, delivery of parking spaces. Experts point out that if this way is converted into cash , a number of projects has reached about 95% of discount, but most of these approaches is limited or only old customers can enjoy.

 

In addition, the data show that no discount items accounted for 20.5 percent which half are concentrated in the CBD, the Asian Games Village area. The individual items plan to raise the price, which is basically concentrated in the two regions.

Bay Area, California Real Estate Market – Is it Time to Sell or Should I Wait?

Bat

The local and national media are “blowing the bubble” out of proportion. Listen to the experts and read the statistics as reported by NAR (National Association of Realtors) and CAR (California Association of Realtors).

 

The reality is that the market is balancing out, normalizing, flattening a bit, but experts are still predicting a continued appreciation (at least 10% if not more, compared to 20% + enjoyed here in recent years). Of course, there are no guarantees and no one knows for sure.

 

As a Realtor in the East Bay Area of California, I am seeing some price reductions on properties that have been on the market over a month, but this is because it is a Buyers market now. Agents are trying to find a starting price point after coming off of years of “throwing any price out there and getting it.”

 

Good agents do their homework and put a realistic price on the house in the first place, thus eliminating the need to broach the subject of price reduction with the Sellers. Since the Sellers ultimately call the shots,if they are properly educated on the current market (not the market 2 months ago or 6 months ago) then they are more apt to be realistic and follow their agent’s advice.

 

If you currently have or are soon to put your property on the market, and you have a good price on your property, just be patient; don’t be quick to reduce the price. Your property will sell, eventually; it’s just not a “quick-sell” market like we have enjoyed in recent years.

 

However, we are still seeing full price and near-full price offers being submitted, and even seeing some multiple offers here and there. Overall, real estate is still a great investment and experts are not predicting a loss, simply a slow decline in appreciation.

Millionaire City: A Real Estate Building Game Review

City

Digital Chocolate introduced the Millionaire City game in May 2010 and brought the online world a taste of real estate building. The game allows players to quickly become a millionaire but it is challenging enough to keep one interested.

In the game players create a city that is flourishing and race unlock new levels, which in turn unlock new houses, business, and decorations. All of these items enhance the game play.

 

Rental coins add up quickly if the player homes around the business, this way when the business is ready to pay out the surrounding homes will increase that payout.

 

There is no need to bug your friends about joining you in the game. If they already play, they are added to your game when you begin. It’s easy to get lost in this fame. I wish all the games on Facebook did this, as it would make playing all of the many games out here much better.

 

On the Millionaire City game, one can also make the game screen full size, so that t stretches over the entire monitor. This ways it’s easier to see what area is in need of routine work or expansion, without having to scroll all over.

 

It’s easy to collect rents as they come available on the small plot you are given . A player can click on all the homes and business that will fit in that area within a few minutes, but it maybe harder then the new plots of land are bought. Thank goodness, you can hire a rent collector.

 

The extra plots of land will costs you four million dollars in Millionaire City but once you out grow the starting plot you will have the money to purchase the adjacent plots easily. The money that can be made here is vast and come easily.

 

I think this game will be enjoyable to people of all ages. It’s simple enough for a child of 6-8 to learn how to place house quickly, and collect the rent. The cars will appeal to the younger kids as will the animations. Adults will enjoy the overall game experience of being a real estate tycoon on Millionaire City.

Russia’s Quietly Acquiring Some Very Prestigious International Real Estate. Not Buying It. Just Getting It..

Russia

Russia’s government is quietly acquiring some very prestigious international real estate. Not paying for it. Just getting it.

The latest example is the gorgeous Russian-style Cathedral of Saint Nicholas on the French Riviera. A blaze of colour, pattern, domes and spires on the outside and richly embellished inside the cathedral is undeniably a religious and architectural work of art. Designed and built in 1912, it was constructed on land that had been bought 50 years earlier by Tsar Nicholas II’s grandfather, Alexander II.

 

The cathedral was intended to cater to the Russian orthodox elite – aristocrats and industrialists in the main – who’d fled Russia for the French Côte d’Azur before the 1917 revolution. Many of those exiles took up residence in the lovely Mediterranean town of Nice so the cathedral became their local place of worship.

 

After the fall of the soviet regime two decades ago many new Russian exiles have arrived on the Riviera, many settling in and around Nice. This new Russian elite, fattened by post-Soviet governments, has made quite a splash with their huge wads of cash, buying up expensive villas with nice sea views and spending oodles of money in Riviera casinos. Whether they spend a lot of time in church is anybody’s guess.

 

The Russian government however, under Putin, was sufficently interested in the St Nicholas Cathedral to file a lawsuit in France requesting ownership. The grounds were that, well, the ground is theirs. And Russian money built the church. The French judges duly scratched their heads, turned the arguments about and inspected them and agreed Moscow could have ownership of the St Nicholas Cathedral on the Provencal coast at Nice.

 

Until the judgement, the church had been looked after for 99 years by the Nice Russian Orthodox Cultural Association (ACOR). They managed the 99-year lease granted by Russia’s czarist regime in 1909. Their legal argument, rejected, was that ACOR had in practice inherited the cathedral once the Russian royal family was executed by revolutionaries.

 

The cathedral in Nice is only one of a number of prime pieces of real estate that has had Russian state lawyers reaching for their books on international property law. In 2009, they snapped up another wonderful cathedral in Bari, Italy. Plus a building in Israel, “Sergei’s Courtyard”, that was built for Russian pilgrims in 1890. In 2008, they took possession of a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris. They’re now at work to win ownership of London’s St. Andrews Cathedral.

 

But Putin’s lawyers and Putin’s government are being far from even-handed when it comes to rights and responsibilities dating back to the days of the Tsarist regime.

 

A group of thousands of French citizens has been fighting for reimbursement of billions of euros in today’s money which have accrued in bonds their families owned in Tsarist Russia but that the Bolsheviks snatched. Vladimir Lenin refused to honour these debts owed by the Tsar. Despite an (unsatisfactory) settlement in 1996, 316,000 bondholders continue to claim reimbursement of up to 100 billion euros. A spokesman for the bond holders, Eric Sanitas, said:

 

“…when Russia owes money from the tsar-era we should forget about it – but when they want to claim property that belonged to the tsar we mustn’t forget that.”

 

In a nicely ironic twist to the soviet tale, the French bond holders have decided that – now that Russia owns the St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice – the group will legally claim it back in part-compensation for the bonds.

 

Source: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1956045,00.html#ixzz0l5fD1aer

 

Source: http://www.connexionfrance.com/index.php