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As the Chairman of Duval & Stachenfeld – a law firm in mid-town NYC known as The Pure Play in Real Estate Law – I am inviting you to join The Real Estate Philosopher®. This will consist of my thoughts and also thoughts of friends and colleagues.

It will not be published in any traditional media – it will go only to friends of our firm. The purpose here is very simple – to put forth thoughts in the real estate world that are different, provocative, and challenging of accepted wisdom. Hopefully, nothing said here will be mainstream thinking.

You may be wondering how I am qualified to write on these topics since I am “just” a lawyer. However, I have an unusual place in the real estate world. As the Chairman of The Pure Play in Real Estate Law (one of the largest real estate law practices in NYC), I interact with an incredible number of real estate players. This ranges from small real estate shops with nothing but a gleam in their eyes, to some of the largest real estate institutions in the world, and everything in between. This gives me a unique and global perspective and allows me to act as an amateur philosopher in the real estate world. This has always been my hobby and it is what I love doing.


Bruce Stachenfeld
a.k.a The Real Estate Philosopher®

An Insidious Danger to Your Business in the Real Estate Industry

Jun 25, 2018

There is something particularly dangerous and awful lurking out there that can potentially destroy just about any business – even a very successful one – and that is letting someone get between you and your “customer.” To be clear what I mean here by “customer,” it could mean:

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The “Best” Books to Read for Building a World Class Real Estate Organization

Jun 4, 2018

This article contains my thoughts on which are the ‘best’ books to read in order to build a world class real estate organization. As a philosopher I am supposed to think – of course – that’s what we philosophers do. However, when you really are honest with yourself, you admit that most thinking is built on the thinking of others. You learn something and then you apply it to something else or you build on it, or, just maybe, you break away from what you learned completely

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A Super-Easy Marketing Thing You Can Do – But So Many Miss This…

May 18, 2018

Sometimes people are brilliant at what they are doing but overlook an opportunity that is right under their noses. So here goes some hopefully useful thinking … What is the absolutely easiest free marketing and sales pitch any company can make in the real estate world – or really in any world? Answer – your name – i.e. the name of your company!

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Is Talent Analysis the Magic Key to Successful Real Estate Investing?

Apr 2, 2018

The front page of The Wall Street Journal’s Review section on March 24th – said the following in very large type: The U.K. Is Doing Just Fine, Thanks Hearkening back to July of 2016 – right after Brexit – there were many – and I mean many – that thought the U.K., and London in particular, would get nailed. The fear was that everyone would move away and Britain would be screwed. The Real Estate Philosopher’s article, dated July 11, 2016 was entitled Brexit and London and Talent, Oh My, and my main point – now about 20 months old – was exactly the opposite of the fears of the time. I said in boldface type: London Will be Just Fine! Okay, I was 100% right and (sorry to be a little bit humbuggish here) it is important to examine why I was right. My thinking at the time was as follows:

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How to OUT Perform in the Real Estate World

Feb 15, 2018

I start my thinking with a book I read by Howard Marks (of Oak Tree fame). The book is called The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor, and gives a good deal of thoughtful investment advice from a long-term successful investor. Anyway, Marks asks a question at the outset of his book, which is ‘do you want to outperform in the first place?’ Of course you want to outperform you might say, but that answer is very flawed. In order to “out”-perform what must you do? The answer – as Marks points out -- is both obvious and at the same time quite worrisome: You must be ‘different’

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Double Trouble – We’re in a Massive Bubble

Dec 20, 2017

Of course, it is hard to know if one is truly in a bubble until after it pops. And even if you could be sure that you are in a bubble, it is impossible to know when it will pop. I am considering the signs of a bubble in wondering if we are in one now….. The crash is now ten years old – does anyone remember anything about it other than how it was really smart to buy at the bottom? Tax reform makes us all think that money will rain from the sky – and with a $1.5T tax cut, maybe it is raining money?

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Platforms – The Flavor of the Month in Real Estate Investing

Oct 25, 2017

In the old days a sponsor found a deal to buy a real estate asset and called up a financial party (either a fund or other institution). They would form a joint venture and purchase the asset and that would be that. Of course those – relatively simple – deals continue today; however, more and more we see clients entering into a more long-term relationship.

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The Latest Bubble

Sep 13, 2017

I note that roughly fifteen years ago – in mid 2001 – Barrons wrote a perceptive piece that, in one article burst the internet bubble. It pointed out that no matter how many “eyeballs” internet companies were getting, almost all of them only had a few months left of cash to burn and if they didn’t raise more money by then they were broke. And so it was. Between three and six months later virtually all of these companies disappeared in a puff of smoke.

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