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Moving On Up: Modern Spaces’ Ted Kokkoris and Greg Kyroglou Offer Insights into Today’s Hottest Real Estate
by Chris Salboudis
NEO talked to Ted Kokkoris, co-Founder and Principal of the Modern Spaces enterprise, and Greg Kyroglou, licensed Associate Broker and Managing Director of the two Astoria-based Modern Spaces offices, at the lovely 30th Avenue branch. Both of these energetic Hellenic Young Professionals have taken a hands-on approach to helping our community thrive.
In the summer of 2008, Ted and his partner started Modern Spaces in Long Island City at the beginning of the area’s transformation that can be seen now as one of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods. “Shortly after, we saw Astoria as the perfect compliment to our company and knew we needed the right person to make this happen for us. One day, in walked Greg and after a few conversations about both of our goals, we knew it was a perfect fit at the right time.”
Greg oversees 16 agents and reports to the owners of what has now become one of the hottest up-and-coming real estate businesses in NY, catering to a clientele of young professionals in Long Island City, Astoria, Williamsburg and Chelsea. The company currently has 7 offices to help cater to the growing market of urban young professionals, local developers, current residents and business owners.
Ted says that the establishment of the company was inspired by the community. “Our primary goal was to create a company that was part of the community, developing a business that would grow along with the people living there. Modern Spaces has now achieved this in the neighborhoods where we have planted roots. Working out of retail storefronts has been the most effective and organic way to involve ourselves in the community and make a difference.”
To this Greg adds, “We basically noted where the desired infrastructure is for our target audience – the great cafes, lounges, parks and other hot spots – and focus on finding spaces available for rent or sale in those areas.” Modern Spaces identifies clients interested in finding, renting, or selling both residential and commercial properties. “The basis for our operations at each location is to create a long-term community of trust and open communication with current and future clients. It’s important that they know and trust who we are as a professional group.”
Why Astoria? Greg explains that Astoria really hit a period of revitalization along with the rezoning and development of the LIC area. When asked why the cost of property and service providers has gone up in those areas he explains that it’s mostly due to the new level of supply and demand that is making these areas – along with Williamsburg and Chelsea – such desirable locations for today’s edgy urban professional. “People in the city discovered these areas and the boom started, so the pricing went up. Our three LIC offices really have a lot of activity since their establishment, and we set up offices in Astoria as we tracked the real estate boom. Our first Astoria branch (on 23rd Avenue and 29th Street) has been open for about four years now and this 30th Avenue location has been open for about a year now. Astoria is great, for example, because our agents are all from here and the surrounding area and know the neighborhood really well. The properties we work with are a mix of older and newly developed properties. There’s a very rich culture thriving here, a great network of people and relationships to form in this neighborhood.”
In 2014, Jeffrey Nolte was recognized at Web Marketing Association’s annual Webawards – the premier award recognition program for Web developers and advertising agencies – for the creation of the Modern Spaces website, which won the WMA’s 2014 award for Outstanding Website. The trendy site highlights the listings and contact information for each broker in a way that is both eye-catching and user-friendly.
When asked what the most interesting and most challenging aspects of the job are, Greg says he loves meeting different people and seeing what they are looking for, what their needs are, and how they value different aspects of the community. “Everything changes from one hour to the next, so you really have to stay on your toes. One moment someone might come in looking for a $1,500 rental and the next someone is coming in looking for a $1.5 million sale. It’s an amazing thing.”
Boom times are usually in the early mornings or after 5pm, but the energetic young agents are always out showing apartments or scouting for new spaces to add to their listings. “You have to work hard, get to know people, let them get to know and trust you well enough that they want to entrust you with the sale or rental of their home.” In terms of the challenges of the job, Greg says that at times it’s difficult to explain what the value of someone’s home is in the current market. “There has to be a lot of trust there and we always work in the best interest of both our clients — the buyer and the seller — but the challenge is when someone has all their memories from growing up or raising their family in one home and now they have to sell it for them. But we work through the process with them and always find a fair value that will make them happy with their decision.”
Given the steep competition in this line of work, we asked what differentiates Modern Spaces from everyone else, Ted explains, “Modern Spaces makes a commitment to affiliating themselves with the brightest and most dedicated Real Estate professionals in the industry, which means that we’re open to networking and to the constant opportunity to improve as an organization, both internally and within the community.” Greg adds, “We offer an award winning website, marketing that is top notch, a personal touch from each agent, and the commitment to helping each of our clients meet their goals. Real Estate is constantly changing and you want someone that is up to date with those changes. As I tell all my clients, ‘Don’t Sell Yourself Short.'”
At Modern Spaces each agent develops their own network and reports to management, as in most companies, but Greg explains that the concept of teamwork and team spirit is quintessential to their success. Modern Spaces’ team philosophy has resonated throughout the entire company where each agent feels comfortable discussing everything from their workday to their aspirations and career. Speaking to members of Greg’s team, it was clear that they share his dedication and enthusiasm. In relaying this to Greg during the interview he smiled with pride and satisfaction. “Yes, it’s one of the standards we want to maintain as a professional community. There’s much more to this job than just listing and making sales. We work together as a family to build our reputation. We’re a small business now, but our reputation will make us a big business in the future. We pride ourselves on working closely so that if one agent is out, for instance, the rest of us know what’s needed. We’re friends, not just co-workers, and we like working with each other, which is important to a strong company.”
When asked what team-building strategies Modern Spaces has in place that make it an enjoyable and unique work environment, Greg says that the company encourages it’s employees to have informal get -togethers in addition to the more formal branch launch parties and community events they host as a professional team. “We have lots of outings, like Bowling Night, Neighborhood Art Parties…. It makes the job more enjoyable and helps us get to know each other better and build on our friendship.”
According to Greg, the most important skills to have in this industry are honesty and a comfort level in communicating with others. “You have to earn everything in life. Nothing is handed to you. I was taught from a young age that it takes very hard work to earn people’s trust. One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Jefferson, who says, ‘I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.’ It’s an idea that is always part of my life both at home and at work. A really big part of what we do is to talk to people, not only as agents making sales, but as friends. Our goal isn’t to just make a sale, but to understand our client and to build a lifelong relationship with them so they’ll feel comfortable working with us, with their decisions and questions, now and in the future.”
As a lifelong New Yorker, Ted Kokkoris loves the direction and growth the city is currently undergoing and is passionate about helping Modern Spaces clients find the right home. His philosophy that ”Buyers and Sellers alike require the most professional, responsible and honest relationship when involved in transactions of this magnitude” is coupled with his 10+ years of experience as an Equity and Fixed Income Analyst has made him an ideal advisor on the financial end of the intricate process of this industry. He truly believes “a home should first and foremost be a place that you love living in, but the short and long term investment factor must be given serious consideration from the early stages of the searching process.”
Mr. Kokkoris and his wife Vasso live in Astoria, with their two sons, Teddy and Michael, who attend St. Catherine’s Greek American school. “Our experience in the Greek community here since our childhoods has been a real blessing,” he says “and I’m very fortunate that my wife has been with me on this idea from day one and very supportive.” To this, he adds, “it’s the most loving and caring atmosphere that we could have ever imagined.”
Born and raised in Astoria, Greg Kyroglou himself first developed an interest in Real Estate after making several moves with his family at an early age, when he developed a sense of what makes each living space different. As an Associate Broker and Managing Director, he is an embodiment of the young professional he helps others to become. Moreover, he is genuinely interested in the constant improvement of Astoria, which is still the neighborhood he and his family call home. Modern Spaces will be bringing over 30 new developments in the next few years to Astoria and LIC.
Mr. Kyroglou will be bringing a New 55 unit Luxury Rental project at the end of 2016 as well as a 21 unit condo building in 2017. “We look forward to keeping all the readers up to date with the latest developments.”