By Sarah Trefethen
This is a summer of long weekends and automated, out-of-office emails, when the consensus seems to be that the weather’s just too warm for doing business in Manhattan.
But Robert Khodadadian remembers the rough years of 2008 and 2009, when — still in his 20s — he was running a nine-broker company based in Long Island and every deal was a test of creativity and determination.
“You’d stay until eight, nine o’clock to get people on the phone,” he says. “It wasn’t like it is now; everyone was working. There were no holiday parties, no vacation.”
He sounds almost wistful.
It’s not that Khohdadadian, a 30-year-old Eastern Consolidated associate director with a face-splitting smile and infectious enthusiasm, is anti-fun. He just likes doing deals. And he’s eager to make the most of his new position at Eastern Consolidated and his partnership with industry veteran Adelaide Polsinelli.
Khododadian and Polsinelli target properties to investors here and abroad. Russians in particular are on his radar. As Khododadian points out, they are expected to spend over $4 billion on US real estate next year.
Marketing trophy properties to the real estate game’s most serious players could seem like a big change for a young broker who got through the downturn working with small business owners in the outer boroughs.
But he says the transition has been a breeze.
“The thing is, I always knew these people, I just didn’t have anything to give them,” he says, explaining that “some people are always in the newspaper, always buying and selling. The smart broker calls them.
“The beauty of Eastern is, the platform works for the mom and pops all the way up to the $500 million development sites.”
Polsinelli, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated who brought Khododadian onto her team in 2011, uses words like “tenacious,” “gregarious” and “charming” to describe her young partner.
“Robert has the unique ability to balance aggressiveness with sensitivity,” she wrote in an email.
Khododadian grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, the middle of three children of Persian immigrant parents. His father is a jeweler in Long Island. “Khododadian” means “god-given” in Farsi.
His instinct for business was evident even as a kid in school.
“I always liked to buy nice stuff, and I would always sell clothes and sneakers to all my friends,” he says.
By the time he was a 20-year-old junior studying finance at Pace University, that instinct was ready for the big time.
On a lead from an uncle, Khododadian purchased a foreclosed home in Hempstead, Long Island, with 100 percent financing. Three months later, he had completed a gut renovation and flipped the house, and his professional fate was sealed.
“I was, like, wow,” He recalls. “It was so easy to make the money that I was like, ‘this is what I have to do.’”
By the time he graduated Pace and went to work for Massey Knakal in upper Manhattan, he had bought and sold seven more houses.
In 2006, Khodadadian left Massey Knakal and founded his own brokerage firm, Skyline Properties, in Great Neck. In 2010, they opened a second office on Park Avenue.
Getting through the downturn required thinking outside of the box, Khododadian says. “It was definitely rough, but my edge was staying out of Manhattan. Focusing on the smaller stuff, the more personal, mom-and-pop type people. We started doing more volume to survive.”
Khodadadian and Polsinelli met in early 2011, through a deal on the lower east side.
At first, Posinelli hesitated to add another agent to her team, but “Robert shone more brightly than any of my other junior agents. I knew he would be successful under the proper tutelage.” Within a month, the pair had done a $28 million deal.
In addition to working with foreign investors, Khodadadian is spending time canvassing Canal Street, an area that he thinks will soon undergo a retail transformation as SoHo shopping spills over to the south.
Whether working with Russian investors or Chinatown landlords, he says the key to success is finding a way for all the players in a deal get along. “A seller needs to be comfortable with a buyer on a friendly level. That’s it. And it really depends on the broker,” he says. “It’s about me making them both feel comfortable with each other.