Throughout these unprecedented times as countries and various government officials attempt to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, it has become abundantly clear that all will be forced to adapt to an uncertain future. As an entrepreneur, investor, and self-proprietor, Randal Gindi has considered the long-term effects of the pandemic as it relates to the economy, real estate sectors, and investors. As a fearless business tycoon and devout family man, Randal has always had an insatiable hunger for the entrepreneurial landscape. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from New York University, Randal acquired most of his experience by working at his father’s retail business, where he helped to oversee various aspects of the company.
When the business was sold five years after graduation, Randal Gindi partnered with his brother and opened a health and beauty aid store. Although Randal brought a lot to the table, he came to the conclusion that retail was not his calling. Randal Gindi instead pivoted and began investing. With a sophisticated understanding of the retail industry, he invested in a business that ran events for independent retailers to display and sell their products. Gindi has a remarkable talent for business and an astute eye for market trends. As a brilliant strategist, Randal and his partners sold the business, recognizing that the internet was emerging as the dominant source for sales in an evolving marketplace.
First off, as a resident of New York, how are you doing?
I feel very grateful to be in a position where I am able to comfortably be at home with my family—a luxury not everyone has. New York, as I am sure you know, is the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, and I cannot commend our front line workers enough for the work they are doing. These are uncertain times, but I am doing my best to extend myself to anyone who might be in need right now.
How has COVID-19 affected your daily routine?
It has changed it completely. I am used to meeting with colleagues and business partners regularly, so it has been an adjustment. I am on a lot of phone calls, zoom meetings, and getting a lot of focused work done. In addition, however, I have had an opportunity to spend quality time with my family that I would not have otherwise. I feel blessed to spend my evenings with them reading, playing games, and just connecting. The impact it is having on me is nothing compared to how the impact it is having on others, so I am trying to keep that in perspective.
What is the state of real estate in New York right now?
Just like everything else, it is at a stand-still. The New York, real estate market, began 2020 with an unusually strong January. But when the Governor urged New York residents to stay home on March 20th, almost all real estate activity in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens had already ceased. With no showings, no deals being signed, the real estate market is taking a huge hit. While there are people browsing online, the likelihood that buyers with the ability to purchase right now would buy without seeing a home in-person is almost zero. The current economic crisis has all of the ingredients to cause a collapse in the New York real estate market. We just have to wait and see.
Is there a silver lining?
I am an optimist. I think that despite the fact that a recession is looming over the global economy, this may be an opportunity to question some of the existing systems we have in place and whether or not they work for us. Whether it is real estate or healthcare, I think we can learn a lot from the pandemic. From remote working to digital or virtual tours, I think it is important to take this moment to prepare ourselves for the eventuality of this happening again at a greater scale. As a businessman and entrepreneur, I always believe in ‘pivoting’ and hope that there are ways we can help one another do that.
What about landlords in New York?
It was reported by the New York Times that roughly 40% of New York tenants might not pay rent this month, which will, of course, have a domino effect on landlords. While the Governor has ordered a 90-day moratorium on evictions, this does not mean residents will not need to pay this money back when they are able. For residents living paycheque to paycheque, the addition of two, three, or four month’s rent at once is just not feasible. For landlords paying mortgages, falling behind on payments is also not feasible. It is a difficult situation.
What was your best investment advice before COVID-19?
As one of the biggest cities in the world, New York is renowned for its investment opportunities. Before the uncertainty of COVID-19, I would have suggested investing through a turnkey property, trying a REIT, and buying the property directly. A turnkey property essentially allows investors to buy a property, turn around and rent it immediately. Additionally, a real estate investment trust (REIT) allows local and global investors to invest in NYC real estate, accessing a group of properties that trade like a stock. Lastly, buying the property directly is a great option if it’s available to you financially.
What are your best tips for adapting to this new climate?
As the saying goes, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I know that optimism does not fix unemployment, medical bills, unpaid rent, or any other problem for that matter, but it will help guide you in the right direction. What opportunities do I have? How can I make the best of a bad situation? In almost every instance, there is a direction you are able to move in, even when it does not feel like it.
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