To say that agents David Fernandez and Andrew Appell work well together is an understatement. The two first met playing basketball and connected even more deeply when Fernandez sold Appell, then an architect, his apartment in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay—right next door to his own unit. Over time, the two friends came to realize that by combining their respective skills in construction, real estate, design, and architecture, they could form the consummate Brooklyn real estate team.
Working under the name Team Fernandez, the duo—along with colleagues Jennyrose Halupka and Nathan M Vascones—specializes in new, from-the-ground-up residential developments in Brooklyn. In 2016, the team grossed more than $60 million sales.
We sat down with David and Andrew to discuss their partnership, the merits of investing and living in Brooklyn, and key advice for prospective buyers apprehensive about making the move.
INHABIT: What led you to the real estate business?
DF: I was in construction as a laborer after the financial crisis. I learned the development process, moved up the ranks, and then decided to take some risk and pursue other avenues. I opened a café in Carroll Gardens, and that’s when I fell in love with real estate.
AA: I was an architect for 10 years. I dealt with developers, project managers, and investors on a daily basis. David presented me with an opportunity, we both quickly saw that perhaps I could step in and fill a void.
INHABIT: How does your current partnership work?
AA: It’s kind of yin and yang. Our personalities are different, our demeanors are different, our expertise is certainly in different backgrounds. When you pull it together, it’s a winning combination.
INHABIT: How has your partnership given you an edge in the market?
DF: Due to our backgrounds, the way we have approached the business is unique. We only focus on new development. We have a success rate of 100 percent—everything we’ve pitched, we’ve gotten.
INHABIT: You have both lived in Brooklyn for several years. How does this impact your relationship with developers working on new constructions in the borough?
AA: I grew up in the Ditmas Park area. I’ve lived in Clinton Hill, I’ve lived in Sheepshead Bay and Long Island City. We have the roots, and we understand it.
DF: Brooklyn is the only place we want to be. When we come to a meeting, we [try to] make the developer not only understand their project, but also the neighborhood they’re in. We have to educate them—we tell them what we feel the neighborhood wants.
INHABIT: How has the Brooklyn real estate market changed in the past few years?
DF: In four years, some neighborhoods have seen a crazy amount of growth, like Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene and Boerum Hill. The Brooklyn market is only getting hotter.
INHABIT: Aside from the scale of the projects, what are the benefits of working with new developments in Brooklyn?
DF: The projects that we’re representing are in areas that have a huge lack of inventory. What we’re getting involved in are projects that are actually changing the neighborhoods, and we’re not going to see that bubble burst anytime soon.
INHABIT: Do you have any advice for prospective buyers nervous about investing in property outside of downtown Brooklyn?
DF: The only way to understand if it makes sense for you is to spend a day in the neighborhood. Go hang out in a local restaurant, café or park, and spend some time there. If you go out of your way to do that, you’ll realize it could be home.
AA: There is a majestic quality to being near the water in Brooklyn, but still being near the train. You just have to see it.
INHABIT: What are some of your favorite shops and restaurants in Sheepshead Bay?
DF: There are a lot of Turkish lunch spots and hookah bars that I go to. And a new coffee shop called Orso.
AA: I have a soft spot for old-school places like [retro-themed neighborhood staple] Roll-N-Roaster—it’s like a time capsule. And on the other side of the spectrum, there are trendier more upscale newcomers, like my favorite Next Door.
INHABIT: Your home wouldn’t be home without _______________ .
DF: My outdoor terrace.
AA: My bookcases.
Get in touch with Team Fernandez here.
Photography by Allie Leepson.