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



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