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Guest post: 10 rules for renting your condo right - 06/30/10 05:50 PM
What appears to be the beginning of a beautiful landlord-tenant relationship can turn ugly faster than you think. So notes seasoned real-estate lawyer Ron Gitter, whose sage advice has graced this blog before and whose Web site contains much more valuable information. "Perform your due diligence when you intend to hand over your precious property to a stranger, or even a friend or relative," he counsels. Ron continues: "For your peace of mind and financial security, consider all the issues that might have an impact the tenancy. Be upfront about any conditions in the apartment that may be of concern (3 comments)
It’s either a perfect storm or a Bermuda high - 06/29/10 10:10 AM
If you think the weather's fine, just dive in. (Flickr photo by SuperFantastic) There is a pretty strong likelihood that soon-to-be released second-quarter reports will show pretty strong sales in Manhattan along with prices that have more than held their own. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal said yesterday that sales of Manhattan apartments were 80 percent higher than one year earlier during the second quarter. The pace was the fastest since the summer of 2008, an illustration that the market has been recovering during the spring selling season, according to writer Josh Barbanel. He also quoted unnamed “analysts” as saying they (0 comments)
Seller rejects $2 million bid for m127 penthouse - 06/28/10 10:30 PM
The winning bid of $2,047,500 (including buyer’s premium) was rejected today for the 2,255-sf penthouse at m127 following yesterday’s auction of six condos in the building, at 127 Madison Ave. in Manhattan, according to Paramount Realty USA, which conducted the event. With three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a 338-sf terrace, that unit alone alone was subject to the developer’s approval. The listed price was $3.4 million, and the discount amounts to 40 percent. The five two-bedroom condos on the block were sold without a reserve, and the developer already has signed those contracts, Paramount said. Bids minus the (0 comments)
This poorly illuminated photo may give you some idea of the crowd. In the event you want to see the official press release from Paramount Realty USA on yesterday’s auction of six condos at the building called 127m, at 127 Madison Ave. in Manhattan, I figured I’d make available the first of nearly two and a half pages of the eight-page press release issued by its public relations firm (the remainder being even more fluff). But first, I’d like to point out that I’m always tempted to say an auction can be the best determinant of market value. Unfortunately, there (2 comments)
Hiding in the dark at the left is the auctioneer (thanks to my limited flash). An estimated 250 individuals filled the room in which six new condos listed for a total of $12.25 million in a building called m127 went up for auction today. In bidding that accelerated in mere seconds before nearly reaching the final price, the units at 127 Madison Ave. in Manhattan sold for $8,431,500 including a 5 percent buyer’s premium. The total represented a discount of 31 percent. Excluding the penthouse, the price per square foot averaged $821, which strikes me as rather low for a (0 comments)
Terms of condo auction at m127 are changed - 06/26/10 10:21 AM
Purchasers who forked over $30 for a bidding package learned minutes ago that the developers of the building at 127 Madison Avenue in Manhattan no longer face foreclosure. According to an announcement by Paramount Realty, which is conducting the auction, “as of Friday, June 25, 2010, Bank of Smithtown has been satisfied in full.” The statement continues: The Sponsor wants to assure you that they can and will close with every buyer at today’s auction. Referring to today’s lending environment, the announcement said further that the seller will grant a 30-day extension to the original 30-day closing date provided that the (0 comments)
When in doubt, let it all hang out - 06/25/10 08:27 AM
The law minces no words. When it comes to letting buyers know about a defect in a property that can materially affect its value, it is impossible for sellers to err in disclosing what they know.
And when it comes to working with a broker, the broker may not fail to disclose his or her relationship to buyer or seller. Nor may brokers hide any material defects of which they are aware. With respect to sellers, they need to appreciate that defending themselves in court will far exceed the amount of money they think, probably erroneously, they will lose by (3 comments)
Interest is heats up for absolute auction of condos - 06/24/10 03:25 PM
Flickr photo by Capture Queen. Although I have been writing about real estate auctions for some time, the interest that I have observed in the selling of six condos at 127 Madison Avenue in Manhattan this coming Sunday at the Roosevelt Hotel has been intense. Hundreds of readers have looked at my posts on the auction, an unprecedented four readers have called me for advice on the sale, and two asked me to represent them at the auction (before I explained to them the hazards that they faced if their bids were accepted). Paul Jaber, a hedge fund executive who studied (0 comments)
Most property managers really tick me off - 06/23/10 08:56 AM
For some folks, arrogance knows no bounds. (Image from the New Yorker.) Possibly the biggest bane facing buyers, sellers and their brokers is property managers in New York City. You’d be hard-pressed to find one of us who praises any of them. In a purchase of a Chelsea co-op that finally is scheduled to close on Thursday, the behavior of the property manager of the building in which my buyer will live strains credulity. It took this dame one and a half weeks to get back to the listing broker and me – only by e-mail – regarding the hefty board (2 comments)
Price is important, but it shouldn’t be everything - 06/22/10 09:54 AM
Living room of $660,000 one-bedroom co-op on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This is one of four apartments that I took the opportunity of broker open houses to visit last week on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The price of $660,000 for perhaps an 800-sf co-op may or may not seem too steep in the eyes of a prospective buyer. However, less important than the value of the place is the way that the savvy listing broker talked about price by putting it into intelligent perspective. His is a lesson often lost on other brokers and, even more frequently, on consumers (1 comments)
Sellers can tempt buyers with attractive financing - 06/21/10 05:44 PM
In a difficult selling environment, there is one surefire way for a property owner to lure buyers. That approach, which is not without risks, is seller financing. Any risks can be minimized, and the strategy can prove to be win-win for buyer and seller alike: The seller gets to unload a property and obtain a higher rate of interest than with most other options, while the buyer avoids the hassle and uncertainty of borrowing from a conventional lender. As Rockville lawyer Harvey S. Jacobs has pointed out in the Washington Post, it is essential for the seller to insist on a (0 comments)
When buyers can’t put their finger on what troubles them about an apartment, often the root cause will be layout. Rooms don’t seem to flow naturally into each other, are awkwardly situated, present decorating difficulties or suffer from some combination of such attributes in those units. Nowhere are these issues more likely than in combined apartments –for example, one in the high 80s on a corner of Amsterdam Avenue. The co-op in question is in a very good pet-friendly building designed by Emery Roth. The 1925 building has a 24-hour doorman, live-in super, gym, playroom, beautifully landscaped roof deck, party (0 comments)
My clients as photographed by the New York Times in front of their Moorestown, N.J. home. I had the pleasure of connecting a New York Times writer with buyers of mine, Arleen and Norman Shabel, a couple of weeks back. The Shabels, who have been looking for pied-a-terre in Manhattan, were quoted in a long piece about homeowners having second thoughts about selling their properties at the 11th hour. Chronicled, as well, were the ziz-zags of buyers whose remorse had them pulling back from offers that they had made or were about to make. And today’s Times had a similar (2 comments)
Maybe tax benefits of homeownership should end - 06/16/10 08:44 AM
Abolishing the mortgage-interest deduction would replenish the nation's coffers. (Flickr photo by hto2008) If anything I have posted so far hasn’t made me a pariah among my professional peers, this piece may well do that. A column I read in the New York Times on Saturday got me thinking, again, about the question of U.S. government policy of supporting home ownership (which has fallen a couple of points to around 67 percent since the housing bust) by allow a tax deduction for mortgage interest. In his provocative article, Joe Nocera quotes several economists and questions the policy. Why does the policy (1 comments)
In May of 2009, only 3.0 percent of the 717 New York State residents polled by the Siena (College) Research Institute of Loudonville said they planned to buy a home. Last month, that number rose to 4.7 percent. Those results compare with 3.7 percent in May 2008 and 5.3 percent in May 2007, close to the height of the housing boom. (Lehman Brothers imploded on Sept. 15, 2008.) With respect to undertaking a major renovation, the numbers starting in 2007 were 20.6 percent, 16.9 percent, 13.8 percent and, this year, 17.8 percent. The numbers do not completely correlate with the (0 comments)
New York City is to auction off apartments and houses in Queens, Brooklyn - 06/14/10 07:23 AM
The minimum bid for this Bayside property is $338,000. The public administrator in Queens is auctioning off 10 co-ops, one condo and 18 single-family houses, each of them left by owners who died without a will. The estate auction takes place June 29 at 11 a.m. at 88-11 Sutphin Blvd., Room 62, Jamaica. Inspection will be June 26-27 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Regarding the co-ops below, the contracts will be nullified and deposit returned in the event that a board rejects a successful bidder. Apartments (upset prices provided): 87-15 204th St., Apt. B57, Hollis, $64,000 86-15 Dongan Ave., Apt. (0 comments)
There oughtta be a law. But wait, there IS. (Flickr photo by kolix) But out of the mouths of experienced brokers is quite another. The other day, clients of mine lingered in a $2 million loft that interested them in Tribeca. As we were leaving the newish building in lower Manhattan, they asked the broker who showed us the condo two questions that he should have known better than to have answered. Q. Who lives in the building? A. A lot of nice people, many like you. Q. What’s the neighborhood like? A. It’s very safe. I had all I (4 comments)
What to make of a Times story on stalling sales? - 06/11/10 05:52 PM
An article in the New York Times today does little to inspire confidence in the Big Apple’s housing market. In case you missed it, the long piece by Vivian Toy begins this way: This year, the burst of real estate action that marks the spring season came early in New York. Manhattan saw a big sales spike in March, well before the market’s usual busy season in May and June. But now, instead of going into the expected overdrive, some brokers say, sales have started to stall. That could simply mean that spring arrived and ended early, as buyers gained confidence (0 comments)
Why I write what I write - 06/11/10 08:47 AM
(Flickr photo by NIOSH) I am living proof that old journalists won’t even fade away. Years after I left traditional journalism and went on to at least three other careers, I can’t seem to stop writing. In fact, I am writing so much that I have developed a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Unshackled from the restraints of editors and the necessity of charming sources, I am free to write what I want when I want – and write and write. I produce two publications: my e-newsletter, Realty Digest, which I started in Washington, D.C. as a modest weekly exercise (1 comments)
Photo by phil.d on Flickr. Of course, the devil is in the details. But what are the details that purchasers of co-ops, condos and townhouses may, to their subsequent dismay, overlook sometimes immediately after closing or, not infrequently, months later? In the kitchen, consumers may too late discover that the gleaming stainless steel of the commercial-style oven does not contain a self-cleaning feature or that the equally gleaming refrigerator does not come with a water dispenser. Prospective buyers also should check whether: the drawers are self-closing, indicating highest quality; the cabinets are sturdy and composed of solid wood; the backsplash (3 comments)
There’s marketing and then there’s fantasyland - 06/10/10 09:39 AM
All of us get spam and all kinds of mail that we don’t have the time to read. From the e-mails that I receive from other brokers, you might think they were the exception. This is just a sample--every one of them selling a property. More below. I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to show you the e-mails that I received on Friday alone, admittedly a busy day, to demonstrate what too many brokers believe is effective marketing and to take the opportunity to rant and whine. Every single one of the e-mails you see here touts a property, and (5 comments)
Why not be a part-time real estate broker? - 06/09/10 05:44 PM
Being a real estate broker is a glamorous and leisurely pursuit. Right! (Photo by loungerie on Flickr.) Someone told me a few days ago that she was thinking of becoming a real estate broker part-time. “Don’t,” I said unhesitatingly. Even if she has a wide social network, there is no way she can succeed. That’s because becoming a broker means working not just full time but all the time. Although many people think of brokers working on weekends, what they don’t know is that brokers also work most other days as well. In the case of the aspiring part-timer, either she (4 comments)
Comparing sales just got harder, in a way - 06/09/10 08:35 AM
Six of one and . . . (Flickr photo by theilr) Starting March 12, the city changed the way it displays property records in its online database, the Automated City Register Information System, or ACRIS. The modification was little noticed until the Real Deal ran a piece on its Web site the other day. For example, as the publication observed, the closed sale price of a unit at 10 West 66th St. that had shown a recorded sale price of $1 million jumped to $1.75 million. A studio at 61 Jane St. had a price tag of $87,900 when the deal (0 comments)
There is nothing like a closing. Thankfully. - 06/08/10 06:06 PM
The truth is I hate closings, which are as ritualized as a religious service. They never start on time. A key individual always is late. The amount of paperwork is oppressive, and the time taken for lawyerly explanations and writing signatures drags as slowly as a dial-up connection. Photo by Orin Zebest on Flickr What brings up this topic is the closing I attended in a stuffy office in lower Manhattan not long ago. I always go to see a transaction through to its conclusion and provide whatever comfort I can to invariably anxious clients. Along with the buyer, whom I (13 comments)
‘For all sad words of tongue or pen . . .’ - 06/08/10 10:19 AM
” . . . The saddest are these: It might have been.” The San Remo So wrote the 19th Century poet John Greenleaf Whittier. The building pictured above and the one below represent some of the most memorable moments in which my life as an apartment owner might have been quite different. The time was probably 1974-75, when New York City was facing possible bankruptcy. My then-wife and I had saved enough money for a modest down payment–laughable now for its small size–and had decided it was time to buy an apartment. We looked and looked, even made a false start (1 comments)
The Frank/Pattersons' new penthouse apartment with huge skylights. In an uncertain market, the question on every buyer’s mind is whether it is the right time to get off the fence. One buyer recently answered that question in an e-mail quoted by the New York Observer. His response is worth noting in part because of the credentials that he and his wife possess. Robert Frank is the wealth reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of the best-selling book, Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. His wife is Rebecca Patterson, global (0 comments)
Model apartment at the m127 condominium. Potential bidders may snag a baragain in the auction June 27 of unsold condos in a small new development in the heart of Manhattan. Or, they may get more than they bargained for. Indeed, winning bidders may well regret their success at the absolute auction of five of the condos plus the penthouse (subject to the seller’s confirmation and, therefore, not an absolute sale) at 127 Madison Avenue, dubbed m127. It turns out there is much information about the auction that perhaps will proves instructive regarding auctions in general, a veritable testament to caveat (0 comments)
Flickr photo by unjanedoan. The convention in New York City and many other housing markets is for buyers to offer to put into escrow a 10 percent deposit when they go to contract to purchase a property. That deposit, which is called a binder or earnest money in some areas, are funds that buyers put at risk. It is meant to ensure that the buyer ultimately conforms to the terms of the sale contract and then closes on the transaction. If buyers default, they don’t get the deposit back. That is obviously a significant penalty. It doesn’t matter whether a (1 comments)
Carlin had 7 dirty words, and brokers have but 1 - 06/05/10 01:21 PM
A broker friend of mine I'll call Lily recently related an encounter of hers that bears retelling. She has an old acquaintance who wants to list his two adjoining apartments totaling something like 10 rooms in a building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Naturally, he called Lily to see whether she would be the right broker to market the pre-war condo. A highly successful broker for the last 27 years who seems to know every apartment in the neighborhood, not just every building, she spent hours analyzing comparable listings and visiting other large apartments that came on the market. Then she (30 comments)
It takes only two to tango, not always a whole team - 06/04/10 05:52 PM
hen I was broker in the Washington, D.C. area, I put together a team of three (plus the virtual assistants on whom I still rely). For buyers, sellers and, especially, me, the arrangement worked beautifully.
Flickr photo by Gavinzac Our clients benefited from having retained three heads and three pairs of hands. We usually collaborated on showing properties to buyers, staging properties for sellers, marketing them, taking various clients under our individual wings, handling paperwork and covering for each other in all manner of circumstances–closings, illnesses, vacations and so on. One of us knew suburban Virginia better than the others (1 comments)
Nothing sells like charm, especially if priced well - 06/04/10 09:02 AM
Not only do buyers glom onto glam in an apartment and long for light, but the charm of original details as varied as dentil molding and pocket doors may well appeal to many of them. Pomander Walk Although such characteristics often can’t hold a candle to the allure of a particularly lovely Manhattan block, the aura of an enclave such as ones that come to mind near Washington Square Park, on Murray Hill or on the Upper West Side can trump an ordinary block’s charm in the opinion of many buyers. The attached homes in those areas generally have rooms of (1 comments)
Is it a losing battle for brand-name brokerages? - 06/03/10 10:37 AM
Are new business models winning a fight with older brokerages? (Flickr photo by red betty black.) The new June issue of the Real Deal has a piece about an unsurprising development among brokers. In the article, which correctly quotes me, writer Candace Taylor notices that many brokers are questioning the value of their affiliation with name-brand firms in New York City. Referring not only to commission splits but also to annual fees up to $5,000 that brokers must pay their firms, plus errors and omissions insurance, Taylor notes: Most agents are willing to fork over the cash in exchange for the (49 comments)
The Supremes. Okay, killing all the lawyers would a mistake, especially those in the photo. But there are times when I’d like to savage some whose involvement in a transaction made my life difficult. Such are the lawyers with little experience in real estate, no respect for real estate brokers, no commitment to hard work or some combination of those characteristics. A lawyer, often a relative or a relative of a friend, who isn’t accustomed to real estate contracts invariably is a problem. She or he usually doesn’t appreciate how routine are the negotiations and terms of a sales (0 comments)
"Running the Gauntlet" by amber in norfolk on Flickr. One of the most pernicious aspects of purchase approvals by the boards of co-operative apartment buildings in Manhattan has to do with price. Boards have an obvious interest in analyzing whether prospective shareholders have the financial resources to keep their monthly maintenance charges from falling into arrears. They also want to ascertain, so far as possible, whether the buyers will be involved and pleasant members of their small community. Are they nice? Do they give big parties? Are they noisy? Does their application appear to be truthful? Some boards also like (0 comments)
West End Avenue (Flickr photo by claudiadaggett) There is one axiom in real estate that sellers rarely get: In a slow market, it normally is all but impossible to recoup the cost of a major renovation. A one-bedroom apartment that is handsome, stylish and uncommonly appealing exemplifies that truth. At the height of the housing market, the current owners purchased the 850-sf co-op in a distinguished pre-war doorman building for $575,000 in 2007 and then undertook a year-long renovation that set them back significantly in excess of $200,000. They made not a single discernible mistake in doing so – except (1 comments)
The new Good Faith Estimate (GFE) went into effect at the beginning of the year. Its aim is to protect the consumer against hidden fees and enable borrowers without advanced degrees in accounting or law to compare apples and oranges. Previously, GFEs had a way of departing from reality at the closing table. As mortgage broker Bruce Maasbach and others have written, from which I am shamelessly quoting without little additional attribution, the new GFE rules require lenders to disclose and estimate all the closing costs outside of their own fees accurately. The clincher is this: The lender (3 comments)
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