VMCASA was founded in 2012 by real estate industry veteran and NYU Schack alum Viviana Addo. The former properties and finance executive has a decade of practical, global assets and investment experience to complement her scholarship on the international real estate front.
Receiving her education from the vanguard of the business, Addo holds a Master’s degree in Real Estate Finance and Investment from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate (2019). Viviana is equipped with expert education and a passion for providing honest, sustainable listings for buyers and investors worldwide.
Downtown had a chance to catch up for a Q&A with this powerhouse woman, founder of VMCASA Viviana Addo.
DTM: Tell me a bit more about VMCASA and how you got started in this new business venture and why?
VA: I started VMCASA to offer a fresh and holistic solution to real estate investment. We are committed to creating an honorable legacy of transparency, outside-the-box thinking, inclusion, and sustainability in the real estate industry.
DTM: What did you do before VMCASA?
VA: I started my career in industrial design as a junior furniture and lighting designer. From there I moved on to the fashion industry in operations. I studied Business Management at Baruch College and obtained my Masters at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. After college, I started working for Cushman and Wakefield as an asset services associate where I managed the New York Presbyterian real estate portfolio.
DTM: What was your foray into real estate investment?
VA: I have always loved the arts and architecture, as well as finance and investment. I interned and worked in both industries. It was then that I discovered that real estate was the perfect mix of both worlds. I found that real estate also offered the opportunity to give back to the communities in a way that was special to me.
DTM: Where do you live?
VA: Downtown Manhattan in Battery Park City.
DTM: What do love about the area you reside in?
VA: I love the spirit of Downtown Manhattan. Forever cool, inspiring views, and there are always people from all over the world coming here! The new and old worlds are constantly colliding here—which creates such a vibrant culture.
DTM: Do you have a family, and if so, what is their favorite thing to do in your neighborhood?
VA: Yes. My family and I love Battery Park City, we love all the parks along the Hudson River, and its views.
DTM: How did you spend Mother’s Day 2021?
VA: I had an amazing surprise Mother’s Day Brunch with my husband and daughter at STK. Lovely food, space, music, and, of course—company!
DTM: Do you think there are any common misconceptions about property investment?
VA: Yes. The key one being—that the options are limited. There are so many ways to invest in real estate. A limited partnership, shares on a REIT, or digital shares—just to name a few.
DTM: can anyone be a property owner?
VA: Yes—all it ever takes is a little bit of vision and the right advice.
DTM: Who in your industry is your mentor?
VA: I’ve had so many over the years. The biggest influences on me have been Betty Castro from Cushman & Wakefield, she really opened my eyes to the industry. And of course, my professor Manish Srivastava at my alma mater over at NYU. There are also colleagues within the industry, whose careers can serve as great mentorship roles— like Mary Ann Tighe from CBRE.
DTM: What do you think are some of the most important aspects of being successful in your industry?
VA: A client-oriented vision to find value. Resilience to stick it through. And a true love for the craft. Ultimately I feel the passion to serve these communities is what drives long-term success within the industry.
DTM: Do you foresee a resurgence in buying in NYC, and will high home prices and high demand continue/or go back to being a trend in the future?
VA: I absolutely see a resurgence in buying in NYC. No other city provides a sense of inspiration, freedom, and opportunity as the capital of the world.
DTM: When you say VMCASA has global assets, what does this mean?
VA: I mean our digital assets. In 2021 I founded a media division to VMCASA called Growing Cities. The platform currently owns and produces international podcasts featuring some of the most interesting minds and voices in global real estate.
We have recorded 20 episodes that are streaming on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play as well as at the website www.growingcities.com. We recently were awarded a 2021 Creative Muse Award for the podcast and are in conversations with sponsors to grow this digital asset to reach more listeners in more cities around the world.
DTM: What is the difference between what you do and the everyday real estate broker, or high-end brokers like Ryan Serhant and Fredrik Eklund?
VA: I respect what Ryan Serhant and Fredrik Eklund do and I am a big fan of their work. Being a broker is just one part of my capability. I am a well-rounded real estate professional with real estate analysts and asset management experience.
I can see the big picture, and work at the institutional level in real estate. I am also very committed to giving back to the City of New York and my global community by raising awareness about sustainability in the built environment on my podcast Growing Cities.
DTM: Where do you hope VMCASA will be in 5 then 10 years from now?
VA: We would by then have created an array of memorable transactions that bring value to the lives of our clients. Our goal by then is to be one of the leading real estate consulting companies in New York and one of the premier investment sales companies in Colombia.
DTM: How is your industry toward women, and can women take the lead?
VA: In residential real estate, there are many successful female real estate professionals and valuable opportunities. However, within commercial real estate, there is a lack of opportunity for women and even more for women of color where we only make up 3% of the industry. I had to create my own opportunities since the barrier of entry to the industry (investment sales, and asset management) is so artificially high.
There is an even smaller percentage of women who make it to positions of leadership. That is a constant struggle for women in every industry and real estate is just showing signs of being open to inclusion.
That is one of the reasons why I joined forces with other women in real estate by becoming a member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) New York. I am a member of the diversity and inclusion committee. I hope to inspire a new generation of real estate professionals to be pioneers, to think big, to lift others, and to leave a legacy for the community they serve.
DTM: What book are you reading right now, and why?
VA: I am finishing Becoming by Michele Obama, and the Second Sex by Simon de Beauvoir. I chose them to inspire me to be resilient, and to break barriers.
DTM: As much as we hate to keep bringing it up, how did COVID affect your industry/and personal business?
VA: First, I would like to thank all the first responders and hospital workers in New York City and cities across the country and the world. Our industry was greatly slowed down. However, it was an opportunity to reinvent the previous approach the industry had. I am currently starting an exciting opportunity with a portfolio focused on the workforce and affordable real estate.
This is a segment of the industry, I anticipate will be very busy in the years to come, and one that allows me and the team to contribute to rebuilding New York post-Covid-19.