Total existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops—rose 3.1% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.00 million in January.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Matt Engel
Continuing the Family Legacy in Real Estate
Matt Engel, President of Langsam Property Services in the Bronx, has been working with his father Mark for almost 25 years, managing properties throughout New York City and lower Westchester County. The company oversees the day-to-day operations of almost 350 buildings, including 11,000 housing units and 300 commercial units.
A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Engel holds a B.S. in Economics, with a concentration in real estate and finance. “Real estate has always been in my blood, but I never made a conscious decision to get into real estate when I finished college,” he admitted. “But after a few years out, I decided to join my father, who has been in the business for 50 years.”
In his previous career, Engel served as a Senior Consultant with Ernst & Young Kenneth Levanthal’s Real Estate Advisory Services Group. Some of his notable clients included Barnes & Noble, Morgan Stanley’s Real Estate Funds, the New York Jets and the Durst Organization.
Now a broker and Certified Property Manager, Engel enjoys working with his father every day. “We have a very positive relationship,” he said. “We have different responsibilities to handle and sometimes we’re sharing the same things. We’ve had a wonderful run and we have really made it work.”
For the Engels, every day is different. Some days are quieter, but on others they’re deluged with e-mails and phone calls relating to issues with all of the buildings they manage. “Our goal is to resolve all of those issues and get home at the end of the day,” he said.
In addition to building maintenance, the company provides tenant screening, legal services, tenant account management, financial management and analysis, insurance coverage, plus community and police relations.
Engel noted the company traces its roots back to 1949, when it was founded by Ralph Langsam, who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a bomber pilot and navigator in World War II. Over the years, Langsam has managed properties for Apple Bank, Northside Savings Bank, Montefiore Hospital Medical Center, the Community Preservation Corporation, and many others. Currently, many of its residential buildings are affordable and rent-regulated apartments.
“I think today that building owners are more likely to hire outside management firms,” explained Engel. “There’s a long, complicated list of compliance regulations and owners need more help to have a full understanding of what’s required. It’s difficult to manage a building by yourself.”
In addition to running the firm, Engel also Chairs the Community Housing Improvement Program, a real estate advocacy organization, and Co-Chairs HGAR’s Legislative Committee. Just this year, the Legislative and RPAC Committees had the largest crowd ever of HGAR Realtors attending Lobby Day in Albany. “It was a terrific turnout and a great opportunity for everyone to go to the seat of power in the state government,” he said. “It’s very important to lobby for protecting homeowners and neighborhoods.”
One of his goals is the passage of legislation that will allow for investments in rent-regulated apartments. “Right now, if a rent-controlled apartment needs $50,000 worth of upgrades, the landlord is unable to recoup the costs with a rent increase,” he explained. “They’re frustrated by being hampered in their financial ability to reinvest in their properties, and for that reason, many apartments remain vacant.”
New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board also controls the annual rents in these apartments and historically allows increases of only very small amounts like 1% to 2%. “During the last administration, there was a zero percent allowance, so a lot of landlords ended up losing money,” noted Engel.
In addition, Engel currently serves as First Vice President of the Bronx Realty Advisory Board, a group involved with labor negotiations for union contracts for all building employees in the Bronx. He also serves on the national board of the Young Leadership Division of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
A longtime Bronx real estate professional, Engel served as President of the former Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors from 2009 to 2011. “The Bronx has always had a strong culture of real estate owners and vendors in the business, and we were able to build a lot of great relationships,” he said.
While his days are always busy, Engel and his family enjoy traveling. He and his wife live on Long Island with their 15-year-old and 13-year-old daughters. “I’m also an avid golfer and a big baseball fan. I’m definitely known as a Mets guy,” he said.