How the Co-op King of New York Earned His Crown

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- How do you go from being a literary agent to a professional real-estate investor?

For Francis Greenburger, this week's guest on Masters in Business, it came rather naturally. In 1966, after dropping out of high school, he used a $5,000 loan from his father -- who was, in fact, both a literary agent and a real-estate investor -- to start buying residential buildings.

He survived both the high interest rates of the 1970s and the 1980s housing bubble, but he ended up making his fortune by converting prewar New York apartment buildings into occupant-owned residences, giving tenants a path the wealth creation. That earned him the moniker “the co-op king of New York.

Today, his closely held firm, Time Equities Inc.,  has properties in 30 states and five countries, with 31.1-million-square feet of residential, industrial, office and retail property. That portfolio is valued at more than $4 billion.

Greenburger is the author of "Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur."  He still is chairman of his late father’s literary agency, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, representing powerhouse writers like Dan Brown and Nelson Demille. His philanthropies include two foundations: the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice and the OMI International Arts Center.

His favorite books are here; the transcript of our conversation is posted here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunesBloombergOvercast and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found at iTunesStitcherOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week we speak with Jason Schwarz president of Wilshire Funds Management and Wilshire Analytics. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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