By Harry Brads
Hair & Makeup by John Edington for Angelo David Salon
Shot on location at Renaissance Properties/Bradley & Ken Fishel/632 Broadway Rooftop & 8th Floor
Change comes when it comes. Unlike opportunity, it doesn’t knock. It requires no invitation,” says Aloysius “Loy” Carlos. With partner Kenneth J. Moore, he co-founded Classiques Modernes, a lifestyle and realty management and advisory company based in New York City.
Certainly, 2020 is a year that has brought about global lifestyle changes. Since the beginning of the year, most cities and countries worldwide have been in full or partial lockdown in one form or another. Where permitted, global travel is still severely restricted. In the United States, many parents are working from home. In many states, children are taking virtual classes. Social distancing measures have turned New York City sidewalks and streets into temporary restaurants. Even this is welcomed by New Yorkers, who crave social interaction and the open space that is missing in typical city apartments.
“Some people are saying New York is doomed, that there is a mass exodus, that people are moving to the suburbs or out of state. But historically speaking, New Yorkers have always moved away to Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and beyond. They may need more space, have a growing family, or sometimes want a change in lifestyle. As for widespread telecommuting, that’s a new reality. But that affects every metropolitan city in the world, not just New York City,” explains Carlos.
With over half a century of real estate experience between them, the principals of Classiques Modernes have seen, first-hand, changes in lifestyle, and how corporate structure affect where employees and executives live.
SO, IT BEGAN
In 2004, an executive of Colgate Palmolive was being temporarily relocated, and his one-bedroom was referred to Carlos and Moore. From there, their portfolio of properties grew exponentially when two of the biggest relocation companies in the United States, based in Arizona, started assigning them all their New York City relocating executives working in top Fortune 500 companies.
“Up until the early 2000s,” explains Moore, “executives and employees were corporately relocated out of state or to different countries around the world, wherever they were needed. And those assignments usually lasted several years.” Together with the two relocation companies, Moore and Carlos handled the sales and rentals of several apartments and townhouses in Manhattan’s most coveted areas. In 2006, however, the law changed and out of state relocation companies were mandated to officially turn over direct management of properties to a “local” company. With strong encouragement from the relocation account managers and their New York City clients, Loy Carlos and Kenneth J. Moore then established their management firm, which is now Classiques Modernes Lifestyle & Estates.
“We did extremely well, working with corporate relocations until the 2009 financial crisis hit,” recalls Moore, “when we saw 70 percent of our accounts vanish in an instant. Companies were recalling employees back to the U.S. and were terminating positions.” But thanks to New York City’s resilience and years of experience in real estate brokerage, Carlos and Moore still manage several properties they sold to clients. Some are pied-a-terre’s; some are straightforward investments. These properties require real estate managers to look after them to ensure that necessary maintenance and repairs are performed diligently and lease them or sell them when necessary. Acting as owners’ representatives, the two also attend board, construction, and any other meetings that require principals’ participation.
Today Classiques Modernes has an ever-growing portfolio thanks to a very affluent clientele that requires absolute discretion and a high service level. Carlos and Moore manage most of these accounts with relative autonomy, establishing a successful track record built on years of trust.
The two have set record sales throughout the years in brokerage, though they explain many of them go unpublicized. They regard confidentiality and discretion as crucial in preserving their relationships with high net worth buyers and sellers. Says Carlos, “Most of the clients who are drawn to us have impeccable taste, they are down to earth individuals who prefer to do what normal people do like ride a bike, go to a farmer’s market, go shopping, run in Central Park. They have nothing to prove to anyone; they know who they are.”
The duo recalls one of their first sales over two decades ago representing an advertising executive. They placed her apartment at a price other brokers said was impossible to get. After its sale, a couple of months later, the owner sent a letter expressing her gratitude and appreciation, describing their skills and professionalism as ‘highest by any standard of measure.’ “While we’ve sold apartments and townhouses with prices that range up to the mid- to high-seven figures, we never minimize the value of clients who have helped make all of what we do possible,” says Carlos. “Some of these properties we’ve now sold two or three times. Some clients now span multiple generations. We’ve worked with the grandparents, the parents, and now the children. Moore adds, “These longstanding relationships form the foundation of our business.”
For sure, the real estate process has changed with the generations. Carlos recalls everything was photocopied and typed on a typewriter when he began in the business in 1989. Even word processors, a precursor to today’s computer, were few and far between. “We used to have a mainframe system. I was a teenager working part-time who got promoted as a full-time manager of listings and information systems of a large brokerage company because I was the only one who could figure out how a computer network worked. People who haven’t seen me since then are often confused about why I’m still in real estate and not in tech.”
Carlos credits most of what he has learned to his former employers, who had given him the freedom to grow and who showed confidence in him. “It wasn’t always easy. I had to argue for replacing dummy terminals with PCs. I had to fight for digital storefront displays when all other companies were pasting pictures and typed sheets on their windows.
LEARNING FROM THE PAST
He was a one-person in-house marketing production—taking photos, scanning transparencies, processing it in Adobe Photoshop 1, scanning floor plans, and redrawing them, then laying them together in one sheet and printing them in color. According to Carlos, set-up or flyers you see today were always outsourced at the time. “We had digitized videos loaded for listings as early as the mid-1990s. I recall attending a seminar during the early 90s when presenters told us that in the future, broadcast news would be watched directly from our personal computers in real-time! I was the only one in real estate sitting there—a kid barely in his 20s with long wavy hair, jeans, and dangling earring!”
Carlos and Moore both believe that the prolonged time dealing with the pandemic has profoundly affected people. “Yes, people are forced to move for financial and employment reasons,” Carlos suggests. “But I also believe that the downtime has allowed people to reflect on their lives and their priorities. So at least partially, some movement has to do with people aligning themselves with what they want in life.”
“The market will get tougher,” says Moore. “You have to pay attention to what’s going on. You have to innovate. As a small company, we are nimble and can adapt and adjust.” Carlos concludes, “In a booming market, everyone looks the same because anyone can sell. It’s when the market is tough when the truly experienced and skilled brokers stand out. Ken and I try to simplify things. Other people like to complicate things because they want to show people how important they are. When you walk the streets of Venice during peak tourist season, every store and restaurant is packed. You get what you can get. But it’s during the offseason when you get the time and space necessary to distinguish the real treasure from the trash.”
For more information on Classiques Modernes, visit classiquesmodernes.com.