By Keat Foong, Executive Editor
Companies today are eager to hire temporary workers. And that is a boon for the corporate housing sector, says Suzanne Miller, president of Empire State Properties.
Miller founded her company Empire State Properties in 1991. Today, the company has become a leading provider of luxury corporate housing and relocation services in New York City. Recently, Empire State Properties has been expanding. It appointed Dennis Duden, formerly regional general manager at Mariott’s corporate housing brand ExecuStay, to the newly created position of general manager. The company has also opened a for-sale housing brokerage division, Luxury Listings from Suzanne Miller Inc.
Corporate housing provides a convenient, and more cost-efficient, alternative to hotels for travelers, says Duden. Empire State helps the employees or consultants of Fortune 500 companies find temporary housing in New York. “Companies love the service we provide,” says Duden.
Empire State Properties has a unique business model. It cuts out the middleman, namely the traditional corporate housing company, by connecting corporate clients in search of temporary living quarters directly with the residential property owners. In return, it earns a brokerage and management fee paid by the property owners. The company currently oversees a portfolio of 300 to 400 condo units throughout the city that it can rent out as corporate housing, says Miller.
Of late, Miller is noticing many Chinese, Middle Eastern and Israeli condo buyers in the Manhattan market. She says that last year, she witnessed “the largest number of [foreign] buyers in many years.” “There are a number of [places]—Switzerland, Japan and Manhattan—in which these buyers can park their money,” notes Miller. And of these cities, New York City is a top destination. “Everyone feels New York City is a safe haven.”
Empire State Properties provides what it describes as full “white-glove” management services, to help owners rent out and manage their units. The company provides facility management, customer service for the guests, housekeeping, repair and linen service, and full back-office support, such as accounting, quarterly financial statements and advertising and marketing.
In some cases, the corporate guests renting the units become interested in purchasing permanent homes in New York City. In that case, Empire State Properties’ brokerage division Luxury Listings is able to step in to show them million-dollar properties. Luxury Listings also supplies condo purchasers with full-service management, including working with attorneys on the condominium purchase, consulting with interior designers and overseeing renovations, and arranging for housekeeping.
Miller notes that the rental market in Manhattan appears to be softening. “We are observing concessions and other things we have not seen since the early ’90s.” By contrast, the corporate housing sector appears to remain strong, boosted by corporations’ penchant for hiring sub-contractors, who need temporary accommodations.