Suffern, NY Elie Rieder chose a career in commercial real estate because he is passionate about it. He loves hard assets that he can “feel and touch,” and as the founder and CEO of Castle Lanterra Properties (CLP) he is committed to acquiring properties with outstanding rates of return for investors – while creating communities that residents and neighbors can take pride in.
Established in 2009, CLP identifies and acquires well-located multifamily properties in primary and secondary markets of the U.S., where performance can be enhanced through operational and capital improvements. Under Rieder’s leadership, CLP owns and manages a portfolio in excess of 7,300 residential units valued at more than $1 billion. Acquisitions to date in 2016 have totaled 1,600 apartment units, with an additional 1,700 units scheduled to close by year end.
A third generation real estate owner/operator, Rieder watched his father and immigrant grandfather build success from humble beginnings. The flourishing family business served as a catalyst and platform to launch his own firm. “I began at the bottom and in the weeds,” said Rieder. “I grew the business brick by brick through hard work, long hours and asking for advice from seasoned people in the field.”
He learned early on that honesty, fair dealing and integrity are the foundations to success and longevity. “I see myself as the link in a chain to carry forward my family’s high standards and ethics,” said Rieder, who has developed a sterling reputation for being a man of his word. He and his firm are on good terms with everyone they have ever transacted with, both on the buy and sell side, and have many relationships that provide steady and growing deal flow.
Rieder is directly involved in all of the company’s investment and property management activities, drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a real estate investor, owner and manager. In his role as CEO, he has instilled a philosophy of robust and in-depth market knowledge, thorough due diligence and strategic management. “I believe in taking a professional and very hands-on approach to improving and turning around underperforming properties,” Rieder said.
Expert and meticulous due diligence is a CLP hallmark. The company’s team of experienced investment professionals employs a multi-disciplinary process to evaluating every aspect of a potential transaction, combining financial, operational and technical expertise with an in-depth understanding of local, regional and national markets. “We spend a significant amount of time looking at how the property would perform on an unlevered basis,” said Rieder. “We also account for downside scenarios such as negative rent growth, rising interest rates or a drop in occupancy. It’s not that we’re afraid of risk – we just want to understand it.”
With its lean and efficient structure and strong third-party relationships, the company has the ability to move quickly, identifying, structuring and closing potential transactions with speed and decisiveness. “We’re usually not the highest bidder, but we’re usually the strongest bidder,” Rieder said.
CLP’s investments have demonstrated a history of success in terms of improving both the tenant experience and the cash flow generated through upgrades to unit quality, community amenities and property aesthetics. Strategies employed to turn around underperforming properties include overhauling management, reconfiguring under-utilized space, reducing operational costs, improving security and ultimately repositioning assets within their markets.
The company continues to expand its geographic footprint by acquiring value-add properties in a number of markets, from the metro New York area and Chicago to growing regions, such as Austin, Tex. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. CLP’s portfolio has grown considerably within the past couple of years and Rieder expects this to continue. “The goal is to maintain our controlled growth strategy – slow, steady and smart. As I learned from my father and grandfather, sometimes the best deal is no deal.”
The highly-experienced CLP team possesses a unique set of skills and competencies. Rieder sees it as his responsibility to identify, showcase and intertwine these individual talents in order to deliver expertise in all facets of real estate investment and management. “Our core management team has been together from the beginning, and we are all pursuing a common goal,” he said. “Many companies tout an open-door policy, but we take that a step further. Everyone at the firm, from top to bottom, has a seat at the table and their input is welcomed and appreciated.”
To be able to achieve long term success in the real estate investment space, Rieder believes it is important to stay ahead of the curve in terms of best practices and technology. However, he feels that the industry as a whole has lost some of its “personal touch.” According to Rieder, “In a world where communications are typically handled via a computer or mobile device, I prefer to pick up the phone or meet someone in person. Relationships are built on handshakes and face-to-face interaction, not text messages and emojis.”
For Rieder, success is directly tied to elevating the lives of others. At all of CLP’s properties, he actively encourages and implements outreach programs, including an academic scholarship program to provide opportunities for tenants. The program recognizes students with strong academic performance who demonstrate leadership and participate in both school and community activities.
“As a company that firmly believes in the value of higher education and strengthening the connection we have with our residents, the scholarship program is a natural fit for us,” he said. “There is no better way for us to improve their quality of life than to support and encourage their academic and career goals.”