By Al Barbarino
When Marcus & Millichap’s Peter Von Der Ahe graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles, he set his sights on the east coast in an effort to “expand his horizons.” He would do so personally, professionally – and musically.
Peter Von Der Ahe settled in at Boston College, where he studied English and paid his bills by using the improvisational piano skills he developed in high school to tour the northeast with a band.
“I always joke that I had more disposable income in college than I do as an adult,” Von Der Ahe said with a laugh.
The 36-year-old’s background as an English major, his piano chops and his knack for improv relate more to his job as first vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap than one would think.
Von Der Ahe still plays the piano regularly, finding time despite being married with three kids. In the same way he works his way around the keys, feeding off fellow musicians with little more than a split-second’s notice, the broker is equally in tune with his colleagues, clients and the ever-changing real estate market. There’s the constant flux of buyers in and out of the market, the changing politics, people and technologies.
He recalled the spontaneity of a close client who once insisted that he would never sell any of his properties, but suddenly called in one day declaring that he would sell them all; or the changes that occurred in rent stabilization law through the Rent Act of 2011, which said that a building owner can increase the rent in an individual apartment based on increased services, new equipment, or improvements.
“Things are always changing so it really keeps you on your toes” he said. “There’s so much excitement and unpredictability involved.”
But Von Der Ahe isn’t winging it. Just like his roots in music allowed him to score off-Broadway gigs throughout his college career, the valuable experience he’s amassed during his ten years at Marcus & Millichap have made him one of the most sought after brokers in the city.
He learned the nuts and bolts of the industry at Arthur Anderson, before moving to Marcus & Millichap in 2002, where he said he was able to thrive because of the “entrepreneurial environment and the meritocracy.” Everything seemed to fit into place under the Marcus & Millichap system – even his background as an English major.
“This job is all about communication,” Von Der Ahe said. “It’s all about finding the motivation to move yourself and help to move others to find clarity – helping them realize where it is they want to go.”
Meeting face-to-face with clients is crucial in establishing credibility, showing them that you are able to communicate clearly and effectively. For first time clients, it’s the right time to identify what their goals are and how they can achieve them, Von Der Ahe said.
He recalled meeting with a client and owner of a $20-something million multi-family building in order to set out a game plan for the future. The in-person interactions helped to cultivate and shape the relationship into a trusting one.
“In this case we helped the client figure out where they wanted to be five years from now,” he said. “We helped them market their property and after assessing some of the risks we determined what we thought would be the best opportunities.”
His team, led by himself, Joe Koicim and Scott Edelstein, has seized many of those opportunities, setting multiple sales records for multifamily assets, transacting deals in all of Manhattan’s neighborhoods.
Among Von Der Ahe’s notable closings was the $33 million sale of 18 East 68th Street and the $20 million sale of 220 Park Avenue South in 2011; the $16.5 million sale of 317 and 319 West 35th Street, the $16 million sale of 319 West 94th Street in 2008; and the $16.2 million sale of 230 East 44th Street in 2007. His current listings include the $47 million property at East 44th Street and West 27th Street, listed at $26.5 million.
“Often you’re able to create results you didn’t think possible,” he said.