Friday, December 5, 2014

Meet Phyllis Mehalakes, Real Estate Broker & Member of NGLCCNY's Ambassador Committee

Phyllis Mehalakes
Relocation Specialist, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

An interview by
Ingrid Galvez, Executive Committee Chair
Diversity Inclusion & Outreach, NGLCCNY

Many of you attending the Monthly Member Mixers (M3s) will recognize the face of this month’s featured member Phyllis Mehalakes. Phyllis is a long standing member of both the NGLCCNY and a member of the Ambassador Committee. Monthly, she welcomes the existing membership and our guests as she works the check-in at the M3s. Her calm demeanor keeps the lines moving as our attendance and membership grows each month. She is an active member developing strategic partnerships with other members of the NGLCCNY.

She is a life–long activist and long standing volunteer in the community. When not volunteering at the NGLCCNY; Phyllis lends her skills and talent as President of her Co-op Board. As well as volunteering for various gay organizations. The NGLCCNY is lucky to have her as a member and ambassador. I am pleased to share my interview with her.

How did you find your way to DouglasElliman?
After 15 years in corporate America I decided that I wanted to work for myself.  My last corporate job was as an IBM executive running their Media and Entertainment consulting practice for the Eastern US.  My original plan was to become an independent consultant, but as they say in life, timing is everything and unfortunately the timing wasn’t right.  As a native New Yorker I’ve always loved the city and was curious about real estate.  I had a couple of friends at Douglas Elliman, interviewed with the firm, and was given the opportunity to join the best firm in the city which I did shortly after 9/11.

Ideally, who can benefit from your services?
Anyone who has a need to sell, buy, or rent a property in Manhattan or Brooklyn, including investors.  I have experience with townhouses, multifamily homes, and mixed use buildings as well as co-ops, condos, rental apartments.

What sets you apart from other agents?
My professional background is as a consultant.  I work with my clients in a consultative manner enabling them to make informed decisions by educating them about the market, about the buying/selling/renting process, and by making what can be a difficult process as stress-free and smooth as possible.  I also realize that I’m privy to a tremendous amount of personal information and maintain my fiduciary responsibility to confidentiality. I was also selected to be a Relocation Specialist a number of years ago.  As such, one of my specialties is working with clients who want to purchase here but aren’t familiar with the city, our neighborhoods, or certain properties such as co-ops.  In addition to buyers, I also work with clients who are relocating out of the city and need someone to sell a real estate asset after they’ve moved away.

How has legalizing gay marriage impacted the real estate market and what does it mean for the LGBT market?
Legalizing gay marriage has a huge impact; specifically on real estate ownership.  Should a spouse pass away, property ownership can now seamlessly be passed to the surviving spouse without any legal concerns or payment of taxes.  Before gay marriage, there were situations where the surviving partner could not afford to pay the taxes associated with inheriting their partner’s portion of jointly owned real estate thereby losing their home. 

What are key things first-time purchasers need to know about NYC real estate?
For most people, real estate is their largest asset.  I would advise first-time purchasers to work with an experienced real estate agent who can advise them on their purchase and assist them in making a good investment.  A good agent will also advise them on financing options, who to reach out to for legal services, help them determine what’s affordable, and be a good listener and makes their goals a priority. This is how I work with all of my clients, enabling them to make informed decisions.

How did you become aware of NGLCCNY?
I attended a job fair at the Gay and Lesbian Center to provide emotional support to a friend who had just been laid off.  While I was there I met James Howard who was working at New York Life booth.  We met a few days later for coffee and he told me about the Chamber.  I attended an M3 as his guest and found the members to be extremely professional, friendly and willing to help.  As an avid and experienced networker the Chamber was a breath of fresh air and the best networking organization that I’ve joined.

How has your business been impacted since joining the NGLCCNY?
It’s opened up doors for me in our community by providing me an opportunity to develop strategic partnerships, refer business and make important introduction to others, and to increase my business.  Our non-profit spotlights have helped me realize the incredible amount of non-profit organizations we have and associated volunteer opportunities.

What special services are you currently offering and how might NGLCCNY members support your endeavors?
Although I am not a commercial broker, I do have a lot of contacts that I have leveraged in the past to assist non-profit organizations that may be looking for space.  I also realize that there are many people who are considering a real estate transaction but need to speak to a professional such as myself for guidance and always make myself available in this regard.

To learn more about Real Estate you may reach Phyllis at the following or chat her up at the next M3:

Relocation Specialist
DIRECT: 212.727.6175
OFFICE: 212.645.4040
MOBILE: 646.528.6503
FAX: 646.497.8768


Healthcare Options for Small Business Owners

With November 15 marking the kickoff of the 2015 open enrollment period for the state’s new health insurance marketplace, NY State of Health, health insurance is once again top of mind for many small employers.

As small business owners begin looking at purchasing 2015 coverage, they should  consider checking out their options through New York’s new marketplace for small businesses, called the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP for short. SHOP is open to employers with fewer than 50 employees and offers year‐round enrollment. SHOP offers several benefits including competitive pricing and tax credits to eligible small businesses that purchase coverage through the program.

Small business owners can visit NY State of Health’s website to browse available plans and enroll in one that works for their business. If small employers want assistance in finding a plan, NY State of Health offers resources to connect small business owners with certified health insurance brokers who can help with the enrollment process. Small Business Majority also offers an online calculator for small employers to determine if their business is eligible for a tax credit through SHOP.

If small business owners want more information, Small Business Majority offers certified educators who can answer questions about the enrollment process. To find out about events in your area or contact an expert, take a look at our New York outreach calendar, or check out our NY Health Coverage Guide for a wealth of information about SHOP and enrollment.

ICNY Presents: The 12 Days of Xmas!

The Imperial Court of New York and T.M.I.S.M. Emperor XXIII Tony Monteleone and Empress XXVIII Twinkle Montgomery presents, The 12 Days of Xmas, Saturday December 13 from 7PM - 10PM. 

Proceeds for the event will benefit LifeBEAT Music Fights HIV/AIDS. LifeBEAT, founded in 1992, is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to educating America’s youth (13-29) about HIV/AIDS prevention. Lifebeat mobilizes the talents and resources of the music industry to deliver HIV/AIDS and STDs awareness messages through broadcast, print, social and digital media, and distributes educational literature and condoms at concert venues, music festivals, clubs and other events. Lifebeat also provides quality of life services and support, such as musical performances, for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

The fun will happen at Pieces Bar located at 8 Christopher Street, New York, NY 10014. Suggested donation to attend is $10. 

To learn more about the Imperial Court of New York (ICNY) and other upcoming events, please click here

2015 Financial Services Diversity Leadership Awards

The 2015 Financial Services Diversity Leadership Awards will recognize outstanding achievements in diversity and leadership in the financial sector. The NGLCC is proud to announce the application period for these prestigious awards is now open.

For the last six years, the NGLCC has brought together top financial services companies, Members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries and elected officials for this spectacular awards event at the New York Stock Exchange. Originally focused on LGBT diversity and inclusion and now expanded to include all diverse segments, this event is the premier forum to celebrate diversity and inclusion efforts and accomplishments of companies in the financial services industry. Honorees will be considered based on their employment policies, marketing initiatives, philanthropic endeavors, and procurement inclusion of LGBT people, women, persons with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities.

The NGLCC along with its collaborating partners from the disability community, women’s community, and the African American, Hispanic and Asian American communities look forward to recognizing diversity and leadership in the financial services sector on Monday, February 2, 2015 at the New York Stock Exchange.

The 2015 Awards will include:
  • Financial Services Diversity Corporation of the Year
  • Outstanding Corporate Leader of the Year
  • Program or Initiative of the Year

Completed applications must be received by Friday, January 9, 2015. The top three finalists in each category will be notified by Friday, January 16, 2015. Award winners will be announced at the event.

For more information about the Financial Services Leadership Awards contact Announcement can also be found here.