Observer Living: On the Ground

It was a full house at Observer Living at the Puck Building on Lafayette Street on Thursday night. The event drew a bustling crowd of what seemed to be mainly self-employed realty aficionados, who had come to have a gander at showcase booths and properties, and listen to three expert panels discuss a range of real estate topics. Though the exhibition booths and food and drink samplings were much loved, it was clear that the panel discussions were the flavour of the day.

As one attendee, Jennifer Bartlett, told The Observer, “I did a little bit of a scan, I got here before six, checked out a few booths but came in to see the panel first.”

The panel series, in the Grand Ballroom, covered the state of the residential market and buying and selling in a challenging economy, but also offered interior design solutions in a Tips of the Trade panel.

Panel members and hosts proved to be a star-studded cast, including Dottie Herman of Douglas Elliman, Pam Liebman of the Corcoran Group, Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, Sara Gore of LXTV Open House, George Oliphant of LXTV Open House, star broker Jackie Teplitzky, interior designer Jonathan Adler, and Ivanka Trump of the Trump Organization.

“I’m looking forward to the next seminar coming up, I’m curious to see what the gentleman from Miller Samuel has to say,” said Rochid Mizra who owns his own real estate company in midtown. “His report has a big impact on the industry.”

Mr. Mizra described the bulk of attendees as a “tremendous turnout,” something Observer publisher Jared Kushner was not surprised at: “Anytime you serve beer and wine people are happy,” he said with a wink, “but I think it’s also giving a lot of good information.”

“We decided to change the format this year,” Mr. Kushner said of the panel series. “To do more of an education series, since I think a lot of the consumers right now who are looking for apartments are confused about what’s going on in the marketplace.”

LaKeesha Jones-Kee from Brooklyn, who has her own LLC with two partners, couldn’t agree more. “I think it’s great that they opened this to the public,” she said, “because there are a lot of people who are looking to break into—you know, a lot of people have gotten laid off and now they’re looking to branch off and looking into starting their own business.”

The Tips of the Trade panel included The Observer’s very own Simon Doonan, who was having a “fabulous” time. “It’s a terrible blast,” Mr. Doonan, whose day job is creative director at Barneys, said. “I love meeting all these real estate people, ‘cause normally I’m up to my eyeballs with fashion people, so it’s really fun to meet a whole new—to immerse myself in a whole new milieu of real estate fabulosity.”

Mr. Doonan has the one golden tip for anyone in the real estate market.

“I just kept telling them, whatever you do, don’t hire a hetero-sexually interior decorator!”

Observer Living: On the Ground