Archive for July, 2011

Just released today are the new 2Q 2011 Residential Sales Market Report for the  Hamptons & North Forkprepared by Miller Samuel Inc. for Prudential Douglas Elliman.  

  • Median sales price slipped 1.1% to $766,250 from the same quarter last year, as average sales price jumped 11.3% to $1,513,637.
  • Year-over-year quarterly sales activity edged 6.4% higher to 619 sales compared to the same quarter last year, yet surged 63.3% from the first quarter. The lack of activity in the first quarter was related to the market concern over the potential increase in capital gains tax, causing market participants to rush to close before the end of 2010.
  • Listing inventory increased 6.3% to 2,329 listings compared to the same quarter last year, the same rate of increase in the number of sales.
  • Despite the stability in prices and the absorption rate, the marketing time of an average sale was 188 days, 57 days longer than the corresponding quarter in 2010.
  • Listing discount—the difference between the list price at time of contract and the contract price–jumped to 11.4% from 6.4% in the same quarter last year, reflecting a larger mix of high-end sales.

Categories : Market Reports
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Today we are released second quarter sales  for the Brooklyn residential market.  Brooklyn Market Overview Q2 2011 reported here and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Prudential Douglas Elliman.

“Prices edged higher as sales surged, but rising inventory tempered further gains.”

  • Median sales price rose 3.7% from $463,000 second quarter last year to $480,000, also marking a 1.1% increase from $475,000 in the prior quarter.
  • There were 1,942 sales across the borough, just slightly above last year’s numbers, as sales activity has generally remained stable over the past two years.
  • The number of sales remained 7.7% below the 5 year quarterly average, while the number of listings remained 17.4% above the 5 year quarterly average.
  • The time taken to sell a residential property expanded by more than a month over the last year to 142 days, but was consistent with the historic norms prior to last year’s federal homebuyers tax credit.
  • The percentage difference between the listing price at time of contract and the contract price—the listing discount—increased to 3.9% from 2.8% in the prior year quarter.

Categories : Market Reports
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Week in Review: News You Can Use July 8, 2011

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  • “Despite a banner month for Governor Cuomo, New Yorkers put their Trumpets down when it came to the Economy” Read all about it at Siena Research Institute
  • New York City Tax Commissioner Announces 10% Assessment Cap on Co-ops, Condos. “New York City Finance Commissioner David M. Frankel confronted his critics yesterday at a City Council Hearing in May, announcing he was placing a 10% cap on tax assessment increases for co-op and condo properties in the five Boroughs.” Read about it at Habitat.
  • AGs, Banks near $60B deal on Foreclosures. “America’s biggest mortgage servicers are closing in on a deal with federal and state officials to settle some of the thorniest foreclosure problems.” Read about it in the New York Post.
  • Manhattan rents rise with room to go higher. “The Manhattan apartment rental market has been heating up for months, and second-quarter market reports released today by residential brokerages Citi Habitats and Prudential Douglas Elliman show skyrocketing rents. Now, the question is how long the rent increases will continue.”  Read about it at the Real Deal
  • Homes Dark and Lifeless, Kept by Out-of-Towners “some Manhattan neighborhoods are assuming that vacant feeling the year round, because the people who own or rent apartments there actually live somewhere else most of the time” Read about it in the New York Times


Square footage: It’s a matter of opinion!

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I remember seeing a cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine Cartoon Bank showing two mice talking about the size of their in-wall apartment. One said to the other “Counting the space behind the pantry shelves, it’s eleven square feet.”

Nowhere is caveat emptor more applicable than when referring to the stated square footage of a Manhattan apartment.  Many real estate sites have disclaimers like this: “Exact Dimensions can be obtained by retaining the services of a professional architect or engineer.” At best all stated square footage and dimensions are approximate. At worst they are deceptive and misleading.

It is part of the overall marketing plan with most brokers: clean up, de-clutter, professional photos, and professional floor plans.  Brokers want to show the property in the most flattering light.  A floor plan in black and white (lately I’ve seen 3D color floor plans), provides a visual that shows walls, doors, fixtures and open space. 

In addition to the stated square footage, does the floor plan show the whole truth?  Are columns shown in the proper location and proportion to the space?  Are radiators and moldings shown?  How about the thickness of the walls?  Sometimes they are, sometimes not.  While technically correct, some graphic designers will measure from wall to wall, without taking into account such things as moldings and radiators.  But, these things eat into usable floor space.  Many times columns and window and door placements, even wall thickness are just estimates based on educated guesses and knowledge of building practices for a particular building.

For more information on how floor plans are created, see the New York Times article here.

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Today we released Second Quarter sales  report for the Manhattan residential rental market.  Manhattan Residential Rentals Market Overview Q2 2011 reported here and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Q2 2011 Rental Highlights

  • There was an 11% decline in the number of rental listings available, as new rental activity expanded 51.5% from the second quarter last year to the same period this year.
  • A nominal 3.4% of new rental transactions received landlord concessions, averaging an equivalent of 1.2 months of free rent, compared to 60% of new rentals receiving an equivalent of 2 months free in the same period last year.
  • Tenants paid a median net rental price of $2,888 per month this quarter, as compared to $2,700 in the same quarter last year, also marking a 2.8% increase from $2,808 last quarter.
  • The average number of days from original list date to lease signing, or days on market,was 33 days, nearly 3 weeks faster than the 53 day average in this quarter last year.

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New York City Real Estate is different – and navigating the waters can be difficult without a network of friends or financial resources to help you.  There are many websites you can visit, but here’s a few to help you get started:

StreetEasy has searchable listings and user forums geared towards sales rather than rentals. For $15/month you can get sold prices of coops, condos and townhouses. A must have if you are trying to determine what the “correct” selling price should be.

Trulia  has searchable listings and interesting neighborhood stats.

The New York Times website  has articles and searchable listings.  provides you with comprehensive and detailed data including zoning, permits (Department of Building information), property tax information etc.

Curbed NY  is a cross between commentary and gossip, it is a good place to get a feel for New York real estate and learn about new developments and conversions. Tongue-in-cheek

The BrickUnderground gives practical advice, with current prices and advice on rental apartment living.

Hotpads A search tool with thousands of apartment listings plotted on a map.

NabeWise ranks neighborhoods based on various characteristics.

If you have certain neighborhoods in mind, for rentals,  sites like Naked Apartments and RentHop  provide search tools to narrow preferences

Navigating the waters of Manhattan real estate is not for the faint of heart.  It takes stamina and persistence to find just what you want at a price you can afford.  Educating yourself is a great first step.

 Adapted from a New York Times article by Joseph Plambeck


Selling with Facebook?

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Who do you know that uses Facebook? Maybe the easier question is who doesn’t?  Have you told your friends your apartment is for sale?  There’s a growing number of people who are looking for their next apartment on Facebook, forsaking Craig’s List due to the list’s increasingly negative reputation.

Someone will post on Facebook they’re looking for an apartment in a certain neighborhood or building.  Chances are good that someone else will know a person who knows about a vacancy or apartment for sale in the building or neighborhood.  It’s a case of the good old American Know-who.  If your friends and their friends are on Facebook, chances are, one of them know someone in the market for a new home.

If a Facebook friend points out a listing, consumers are more likely to trust them.  If your friends know your apartment is for sale and they know someone is shopping for an apartment, chances are very good they’ll point them to you and your apartment for sale. 

 Sometimes it’s not What you know but WHO you know.

Inspired by an article in The Real Deal.

Categories : Selling
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You have to live here too… Living in a Staged home

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Your apartment is on the market.  It’s been de-cluttered, polished and photographed.  Possibly you’ve spent good money on having your apartment professionally staged.  It looks like a spread in a glossy magazine. 

 But wait, you have to live there too.  “Do I have to keep it looking like this all the time?  How on earth can I do that while we live there?”  The short answer is you don’t have to.  Follow these tips to be able to show at a moment’s notice: 

  • Keep new purchases to a minimum
  • Don’t shove everything into a drawer, cabinet or closet.  Buyers are going to open every drawer and door to judge storage needs
  • Use a pretty basket or covered box to put mail, keys, calendars, etc. and place on a closet shelf or other out of the way place to keep things neat and protect your privacy.
  • Use baskets in the bath to keep cosmetics, toiletries and appliances looking neat.  Use a plastic basket for all your shower supplies that you can store in a cabinet or closet when not in use.
  • Keep your ‘company’ towels neatly folded on the towel bar and spares neatly folded or rolled up in the linen closet.  Your ‘everyday’ towels go in the washing machine or laundry bin prior to showing.
  • Make sure the kids’ toys are neatly stored in storage bins or chests.  Make sure the toys are picked up before bedtime or leaving for the day.
  • Pets are a touchy subject.  Not everyone is a pet lover.  Pets and their folderol should be removed if at all possible while your apartment is being shown.
  • Make the beds and fluff the pillows every day before leaving the house
  • Dishes should be washed or rinsed and stacked neatly in the dishwasher right after using them for last minute clean up of the kitchen.

Keeping your apartment in tip-top condition at all times might be a strain on the nerves, but the prospect of a quicker sale should help motivate you.  Make these practices part of your daily routine to reduce the stress. 

Read more about presenting your home in the best possible light from an insightful home stager I have worked with, Donna Dazzo.

Categories : Selling, Staging
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Today we are released second quarter sales for the Queens residential market.  The Queens Market Overview Q2 2011 reported here and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Prudential Douglas Elliman.

The second quarter Queens market showed price and inventory stability compared to the past year.”

  • For the third consecutive quarter, the year-over-year median sales price of a Queens residential property edged higher. Median sales price increased 2.1% from $335,000 in the same period last year to $342,000.
  • There were 2,361 sales in the second quarter, 40.6% below the same period last year, largely due to the federal homebuyer tax credit expiration in April 2010 that had stimulated sales activity.
  • Although second quarter listing inventory slipped 1% below the same period a year ago, the monthly absorption rate—the number of months to sell all listings at the current pace of sales—jumped to 16.7 months, up from 10 months, as sales activity fell short of last year’s levels.
  • Buyers and sellers grew somewhat further apart in their negotiations as measured by the listing discount that expanded to 7.1% from 6.4% in the same period a year ago, above the 6.1% average of the past 5 years.
  • With the lower level of sales activity and stable inventory, the time to market a property expanded by 18 days to 115 days in the second quarter.

Categories : Market Reports
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Recently, the New York City Council passed two bills supporting consumption and production of local foods and farming.

  • ·         Buildings with a rooftop greenhouse will not be considered an additional story by the Department of Buildings
  • ·         Greenhouses will be exempt from height limits as long as they take up less than one-third of the rooftop.
  • ·         The city will maintain a database of unused spaces in order to transform them for urban farm use.
  • ·         Another bill will require city facilities like jails and health centers to purchase locally grown food.

 The bills are being sent to Mayor Bloomberg, where he is likely to sign them into law . From inhabitat New York City article

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Our Q2 Manhattan Market Overview which was released Friday and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Prudential Douglas Elliman 

  • There were 2,650 sales in the second quarter, 3.8% less than the federal-tax-credit-stimulated 2,756 sales total from the same period last year, and 10.7% more than 2,394, a seasonal uptick from the prior quarter.
  • Median sales price declined 5.5% to $850,000, the second consecutive year-over-year decline of this metric. Both average sales price and price per square foot edged 1.6% over the same period.
  • There were 8,070 active listings available at the end of the second quarter, 1.1% less than the 8,157 total in the same period a year ago, but a 6.1% seasonal increase from the 7,605 total in the first quarter.
  • The number of days between the change in the list price, if any, and contract date—known as days on market—jumped from 105 in the previous year’s second quarter, to 136 days in the same period this year.
  • The percentage difference between the listing price at time of contract and the contract price—the listing discount—fell to 3.5% from 9.1% in the prior year quarter.

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