March 22, 2017

In New York, Luxury Real Estate's Pied Piper

By Troy McMullen

Robert Dankner in his office

When New York found itself in the throes of the financial crisis in 2008, and home sales began to tumble, most real estate brokers scrambled to help clients unload properties languishing on the market.

But not Robert Dankner.

"The smart money knew better," says the 55-year old co-founder and president of Prime Manhattan Residential. A former Wall Street banker who began his financial career at E.F. Hutton's futures department then trading oil and currencies, Mr. Dankner says the rattling market was exactly the time for cooler heads to prevail.

"In Manhattan real estate, that was not the moment to cut and run," he says. Despite the market gyrations, he remained bullish, especially about the top end of the market. "Wise people knew that It was a time to invest and expand not unload."

That perceptive yet pugnacious attitude has served Mr. Dankner well in the frenzied world of luxury Manhattan real estate.

With residential property deals ranging from $1m to $40m and commercial sales reaching as high as $80m, Mr. Danker has quietly entered the upper echelons of New York's competitive real estate circles.

Danker has represented both buyers and sellers in several record-breaking Manhattan deals over the years, with many of them involving the kinds of high-profile clients most New York brokers covet.

His biggest asset? An encyclopedic knowledge of the residential market and an astute understanding of how to unlock value, he says.

"It's a unique skill set in this kind of fast-moving market," he says. "Navigating New York, especially the luxury end of the market, is complicated, but not if you understand where to find real and sustained value."

Those skills also serve Mr. Dankner well on the commercial real estate side. The company, co-founded in 2007 with Jonathan Anapol, has a roster of high profile commercial clients who have come to rely the firm's uncanny reading the market.

Mr. Dankner recalls a recent case-in-point:

A commercial broker referred the owner of a loft unit on East 67th Street to his firm after another agency failed to sell it. Mr. Dankner immediately pulled it off the market, dropped the price and relisted it. It went into contract for $8.24m 10 days later.

"Its an example of how we read the market," Mr. Dankner says. "Clients what an honest and informed way into some of these deals and that's what we've always provided."

That sage insight will be needed in the current Manhattan real estate market.

After years of soaring sales, the last quarter of 2016 saw the median resale price of homes in Manhattan endure its most precipitous drop in four years. The 6.3 percent decline, to $900,000, was recorded by Douglas Elliman in its most recent sales report.

"The market is always going show gyrations no matter how good or bad things are," he says. "That's why clients benefit from a cool hand and reasoned approach and that's what we bring to the table."

Mr. Dankner is also benefiting from utilizing a unique personal style that has served him well within the monied circles of New York real estate. Known among colleagues as the "nonbroker broker," he often resembles the look of an artist more than a seasoned financial adviser.

More comfortable in skinny jeans and Prada wingtips, he has been wearing hats daily for 25 years and says he has more than 100 of them. An avid watch collector, he can often be seen sporting rare timepieces.

The relaxed look appeals to some clients while putting others at ease, Mr. Dankner says.

"In New York, people respect style and value people with a unique spirit," he says. "I think clients feel the same way and come to appreciate someone who looks at the world in a more unique way."

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