The Real Estate Philosopher


As the Managing Partner of Duval & Stachenfeld – a 70-lawyer law firm in mid-town NYC known as The Pure Play in Real Estate Law – I am inviting you to join The Real Estate Philosopher™. This will consist of my thoughts and also thoughts of friends and colleagues.

It will not be published in any traditional media – it will go only to friends of our firm. The purpose here is very simple – to put forth thoughts in the real estate world that are different, provocative, and challenging of accepted wisdom. Hopefully, nothing said here will be mainstream thinking.

You may be wondering how I am qualified to write on these topics since I am “just” a lawyer. However, I have an unusual place in the real estate world. As the managing partner of The Pure Play in Real Estate Law (one of the largest real estate law practices in NYC), I interact with an incredible number of real estate players. This ranges from small real estate shops with nothing but a gleam in their eyes, to some of the largest real estate institutions in the world, and everything in between. This gives me a unique and global perspective and allows me to act as an amateur philosopher in the real estate world. This has always been my hobby and it is what I love doing.

Regards,

Bruce Stachenfeld
a.k.a The Real Estate Philosopher™

The Latest Bubble

Sep 13, 2017

I note that roughly fifteen years ago – in mid 2001 – Barrons wrote a perceptive piece that, in one article burst the internet bubble. It pointed out that no matter how many “eyeballs” internet companies were getting, almost all of them only had a few months left of cash to burn and if they didn’t raise more money by then they were broke. And so it was. Between three and six months later virtually all of these companies disappeared in a puff of smoke.

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For an ‘Edge’ in Real Estate Investing, Follow the Talent

Jul 28, 2017

My law firm has an internal message called “ATR”. It stands for: Attract, train and retain talent! For a law firm it is the whole game. Clients sometimes leave or even get merged or go out of business; however, if you have a high-quality legal product you can always get more clients. If, on the other hand, you lose your talent – i.e. your lawyers – it is game over – because you have nothing left to sell. Also, once the talent starts to leave it is like a run on a bank and almost impossible to stop.

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How to Beat Amazon

Jun 29, 2017

I have been reading all the articles about Amazon buying Whole Foods and how that ends the grocery business for everyone else, including Walmart. And beyond that, it also means the end of retail since Amazon could buy other retail companies too. From the articles it sounds like “game over” for not only groceries but all of retail. This seems like kind of defeatist thinking. So I was thinking about how one could compete with Amazon. Here is how to do it….

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A Twist of the Dial to Rescue Troubled Retailers

Jun 7, 2017

In the last issue I wrote about retail and made the point that retailers should stop being about “retail” and be about “brands” that are “exclusively” sold in their stores. To refresh, my point was that “retail” is merely a place – a location – where someone with branded (or unbranded) goods sells their wares to the public. Retail is therefore a classic “middleman”. And what does the internet do to “middlemen?” It destroys them – or at least eviscerates their profit margins. To refresh, my point was that “retail” is merely a place – a location – where someone with branded (or unbranded) goods sells their wares to the public. Retail is therefore a classic “middleman”. And what does the internet do to “middlemen?” It destroys them – or at least eviscerates their profit margins.

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Retail is Dead – Long Live Retail

May 4, 2017

The retail world is in turmoil. That is nothing you don’t already know. I will not bore you with the 100 or so articles on retailers closing and all of the negative press in the retail and real estate worlds. Instead, I will give you my (philosophical) thoughts as follows….. I start with a question as to what, in a big picture sense, is “retail” anyway?

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Is Real Estate Becoming A Service?

Apr 13, 2017

Real estate just became its own separate asset class. However, ironically, that may have occurred just at the moment it should have been morphing more deeply into other asset classes. Don’t get me wrong, as a real estate professional I am very happy about real estate being named as its own investment class; however, it is worth taking stock of what is actually happening around us and its implications.

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What is a Power Niche?

Feb 27, 2017

One of the most important things for any real estate business and, indeed, any business is a successful marketing program. Of course in our hearts we want to believe that if we just do something great then everyone will figure it out and be impressed. But alas, that is just not true. Indeed, Einstein flunked physics and couldn’t land a job. And everyone has an example of a super-talented person that ends up just toiling in the trenches for someone else. Like it or not, the world belongs to the marketers. And I believe that this will increase more and more over time. Someone – but I cannot find the exact quote – said something like this:

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The End Game for Co-Working

Jan 19, 2017

I have been watching – and our firm has been participating in – the co-working trend. It started with Regus when it was founded in 1989 but didn’t really go anywhere until WeWork captured everyone’s imagination with its trendy platform. Since then, numerous competitors have entered the market, each with its own twist to appeal to different parties.

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