In the 1970’s, Andy Udis — now a partner at ABS Partners Real Estate — traded a life in the classroom for a life in the private sector.
Unsure of what his next move would be, Udis tried his hand at multiple professions, seeking out the right fit.
The search was not unlike the one that a commercial broker helps a client navigate during the process of finding a new home for their business.
“It’s something that evolved over time,” Udis told Real Estate Weekly. “I had had a number of other jobs and one of them involved me searching for an office location for the company that I was working for and that kind of piqued my interest in real estate.”
When Udis’s then employer, a dealer of paper, sold the business, it became clear to him that the time to pursue real estate had come.
“When I was in a situation where I was making a change, I thought real estate would be a good road to go down because I had gotten a taste of it during that initial search,” Udis said.
The Brown graduate soon found himself at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. On his way to becoming a senior managing director, he began to absorb the ins and outs of the business. Before long, one principle in particular became clear.
“I learned a lesson early on in the business,” Udis said. “As a broker, you have to control one side of the equation. You have to be a tenant broker or you have to be a landlord broker to make it work effectively.
“I went out and started to develop relationships and became an exclusive agent with particular spaces that I thought would be secondary areas,” Udis continued, adding that this first exclusive listing was in Chelsea before it was a global hotspot.
Now a four-year vet of ABS, Udis places the bulk of his attention on Midtown, where he and his team just completed a sizeable combo of transactions.
The four deals span a total of nearly 20,000 s/f at 19-21 West 36th Street, 60-64 West 38th Street, and 21 West 38th, a building brought to full occupancy by Udis and colleague, Ron Zimmerman.
The new tenants each hail from the FIRE and manufacturing sectors, a breed that has not been grabbing headlines the way the trendier TAMI world has.
Udis is very aware that his Midtown epicenter will soon see the millennial-driven TAMI sector begin to forge a larger footprint.
“We’re seeing these TAMI tenants moving north because of price pressure from the high demand in the Flatiron, Union Square, and Madison square Park,” Udis said.
“It’s causing what I think is a trickle-down effect, or trickle up effect because they’re going uptown. They can find comparable building types but at prices that are significantly less than they’d have to pay in Union Square or Flatiron”
It’s no secret that Midtown office space tends to wield a more traditional layout, which could pose an issue to progressive enterprises that clamor for the open workspaces that have become so popular.
“The landlords have to be willing to provide a working environment that is sensitive to what the TAMI tenants want,” Udis said. “It’s having an understanding of what those requirements are,” he continued pointing to open space and high ceilings as key requirements for many such tenants.
That being said, Udis pointed out that not all TAMI clients are against the more bracketed and “traditional” layouts that currently exist in Midtown.
While Udis has carved out a nice career for himself in real estate, he admits that his past as a teacher played a pivotal role in helping him to find success.
Though he admitted that when his “youthful exuberance” for the procession ran dry, he still took the public speaking tools he honed during his time as an educator and parlayed them into successful sales techniques and confidence when discoursing with clients.
“If I’m showing space, the same skills I had in front of a classroom I can use in front of a group of five or six or more executives that are touring a space,” Udis said.
And while that’s helpful, there’s one thing his teaching experience did not impart on him.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” joked Udis when asked if the office leasing market was near another downturn after a robust stretch. But regardless of the near future, he’s seen enough cycles to know that New York will remain strong for the long-haul.
“You learn through the cycles of the market to adapt the dealmaking components. But that’s being aware of where you are in the cycle,” he said. “If you’re sensitive to that, you realize that sometimes it’s going to be a tenant market, sometimes it’s going to be a landlord market. The markets speak to you in terms of where the pricing is.”
“In the down cycle you have to adapt your expectations and the landlords have to adapt their expectations as well,” he continued. “There are landlords who are well prepared to weather the cycles and the same thing is true with brokers I believe.”
As for now, there isn’t much time to worry about the future for Udis. The present is quite busy.
“We have a number of deals that are out there with offers and counter offers and some nice renewals,” he said. “We’re active, we’re busy.”