Archive for August, 2011

People tend to find Co-op Board interviews difficult, if not downright stressful.  Some co-op Boards are now requiring applicants to submit their dogs for interviews as well.  Owner/Applicants can also be required to submit letters of recommendation from dog walkers, neighbors and groomers for their pet.

There are a number of trainers who now specialize in preparing dogs who face the scrutiny by New York City co-op boards.  Ms. Renee Payne, owner of Walk This Way , a canine behavior therapist designed an interactive interview process for co-op buildings to evaluate potential canine residents. 

  • Frustration tests to see how easily a dog loses patience and whether or not it acts out if it does not get what they wanted on demand.
  • Separation Anxiety tests to determine if the dog can remain calm when the owner is asked to leave during the interview.
  • An Elevator test to see a dog’s response riding the elevator and strangers getting on and off.
  • Doorbell tests to see how many times the dog will bark when the doorbell is rung. 

Excerpted from New York Times Article by Sarah Kershaw on August 23, 2011.


Hurricane Irene – Updates, Tips & links

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

The current forecast is that Hurricane Irene will reach the New York metropolitan area as a Category One storm. The ground speed of the storm has accelerated; gale forces winds of 40 miles per hour will reach New York City by 9 pm Saturday. The severe weather is expected to last between 12 and 18 hours. As Hurricane Irene continues on its path, the impact on New York City becomes more clear and additional information and precautions are being advised.


  • Mayor Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation of coastal areas in Brooklyn, Queens, including all of the Rockaways, and Staten Island, along with Battery Park City and the financial district in Lower Manhattan and Governor’s Island. People are expected to be out of these areas by 5PM on Saturday.
  • MTA and NJ Transit service, including subways, buses, and railroads, will begin to shut down at noon Saturday. Depending on the effect of the storm MTA service may not be restored in time for rush hour Monday morning.
  • The NYC Department of Buildings is ordering suspension of all work at construction sites in New York City as of 2 p.m. Saturday, August 27 to 7 a.m. Monday, August, 29, 2011. Please continue to review their website for the most up to date information on precautions for buildings and construction sites.
  • The City is revoking permits for events on Sunday and in the low-lying areas on Saturday.
  •  Evacuation centers are open as of 4:00 pm today, Friday August 26; there are 91 centers in total. See link below for location of evacuation centers.
  • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in the State of New York and may close bridges and tunnels if winds exceed 60 miles an hour for more than a short time

Building Owners and Managers can prepare by:

  • Organizing emergency contact information for staff, tenants, and vendors.
  •  Locate and review relevant insurance information.
  •  Ensure you have proper staffing to run the building and perform EAP duties.
  •  Secure objects in and around building such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, gas grills, antennas and satellite dishes.
  • Check flood pumps to ensure proper operation.
  • Make sure backup generators are working properly and you have adequate fuel.
  • Residential buildings should notify residents to secure outdoor furniture on patios and balconies.

In addition to the city’s local preparations, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security have regional and national support personnel briefed and on call. FEMA’s Private Sector Desk is operational from 8am-8pm daily and can be reached at or by calling 202-212-2240. Our regional private sector liaison is Terry Winters who can be reached at or 212-680-8516.

For more information on Hurricane Irene, please check the resources below:

NYC Department of Buildings:

NYC Office of Emergency Management:


National Weather Service:

To locate your local evacuation center:

Details of MTA Shutdown

Please stay safe.



Comments Comments Off

Mortgage Market Trends for week ending August 26, 2011

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off



The woes of homebuilders and anyone dependent on home building continue. The July report on new home sales shows that the annual sales rate has fallen to 298,000 units, hitting a five-month low. The good news is that supply isn’t expanding. In fact, only 165,000 homes are in inventory. This is a record low and a 6.6-month supply at the going sales pace.

Homebuilders face a cluster of problems: bargain-priced foreclosures; higher lending standards; and skittish buyers, many of whom have been further put off by the recent stock market sell-off. Mounting concerns of a double-dip recession and rising cancellation rates have only exacerbated homebuilder worries. The chief concern now is that builders could be forced to cut prices, something they’ve been fighting tooth-and-nail.

Despite the recent spate of bad news, home prices continue to hold their own, and in many instances are moving higher – at least month-over-month. The FHFA home price index for June increased 0.9 percent after posting 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent increases in May and April respectively.

However, does the slump in new and existing home sales portend falling home prices? We remain optimistic that prices will hold. People are understandably wary about big-ticket purchases, like a home, because of slow job growth and stagnating economic activity. But all have a reservation price (a price they will not sell below). Houses (that is, habitable houses) won’t be given away; they’ll be taken off market if the sales price doesn’t exceed the reservation price.

Reservation prices could fall and the monthly price trend could reverse, of course. That said, we think most of the bad news is baked into the system, so we don’t think there will be any heavy discounting. In short, we still think a home is a worthwhile investment in today’s market.

Mortgages have also been holding a price trend. Bankrate reported that its weekly survey on rates posted another all-time low. It’s worth noting, though, that after the survey was released, yields on the 10-year Treasury note spiked 10 basis points, which points to higher mortgage rates in the next survey.

A surfeit of negative news has kept mortgage rates low. This has lead many analysts to opine that ultra-low mortgage rates are the new norm. We think this is a dangerous way of thinking (which we’ll explain below) and that it is still best to take advantage of rates unseen in over 50 years.

Is This the New Norm?

We’ve gone down the higher-inflation, higher-interest rate road many times in the past, only to find ourselves doubling back. There is an interesting trend occurring with banks, though, that could persuade us to go down it once again.

One of the more vocal criticisms of banks is that they haven’t been lending as much as they should. There is some validity to the criticism; banks have been squirreling away a higher amount of reserves with the Federal Reserve, which has attenuated loan supply and, therefore, money supply, thus keeping inflation in check.

Data released by the Federal Reserve show this period of containment appears to be ending. In other words, excess bank reserves are leaking into the economy and money supply is growing. Because we operate in a fraction-reserve banking system, which means one dollar can be sufficiently leveraged to produce nine more; more reserves put to work can quickly raise inflation pressure.

This all might seem abstruse to the layperson unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Federal Reserve and fractional-reserving banking. All we are saying is that it is folly to write off price inflation and the possibility of higher mortgage rates, because there is no “normal” when it comes to financial markets.


Graph Courtesy from NY Times in an article by Vickie Elmer August 26, 2011.  Data and Commentary provided by Fred Ashe, from DE Capital Mortgage.

Comments Comments Off

 As I tweeted last night @reGeezer:

Celebrated anniversary at Del Posto in Meat Packing District. Had 7 course tasting menu- local ingredients paired w/Italian EVOO+wine. Wow!

 Below is the menu from Del Posto’s site. Our favorites were the ostrich and the 100 Layer lasagne!

                                                                  Menu Tradizionale

Champagne “Fleur de L’Europe,” Fleury Brut NV France

Del Posto CRUDO with Homegrown Herbs & Burrata
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, ROI: Cru Riva Gianca, Riviera dei Fiori DOP 2009/ 2010 Liguria
Cinque Terre “Marea,” Bisson 2008 Liguria

Apician Spiced OSTRICH, Date Conserva, Lovage & Barley Crisps
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, La Mola, Sabina DOP 2009/2010 Lazio
Copper Ale “Spring Fling,” Blue Point Brewing Co. New York

Sheep’s Milk Ricotta NUDI di Uovo, Bird’s Nest Style
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lungarotti, Umbria Colli Martani DOP 2010/2011 Umbria
Friulano, Meroi 2007 Friuli

100 Layer LASAGNE alla Piastra
Butter, Beppino Occelli April 2011 Piemonte
Morellino di Scansano “I Perazzi,” La Mozza 2008 Toscana

VEAL Braciole, Roasted Porcini alla Cacciatore & Broccoli Blossoms
Extra Virgin Olive OIl, Zamparelli 2010/2011 Campania
Barolo “Rocchettevino,” Bovio 1999 Piemonte

PECORINO Fresco with Warm Eucalyptus Honey and Saffron
“TOCAI PLUS,” Bastianich 2006 Friuli

Nectarine ARROSTO, Basil Gelato & Grilled Lemon Cake
Extra Virgin Olive OIl, Mondranova 2010/2011 Sicilia
Passito di Pantelleria, “Ben Rye,” Donnafugata 2008 Sicilia


Comments Comments Off

The New 3.8% Real Estate Tax Is Coming

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

Beginning January 1, 2013, a new 3.8% tax on some investment income will take effect.

It was passed by Congress in 2010 with the intent of generating an estimated $210 billion to help fund President Barack Obama’s health care and Medicare overhaul plans.

It’s complicated and difficult to predict how it will affect every buyer or seller.  The National Association of Realtors ® developed a brochure with examples and different scenarios

  • ·         Effective January 1, 2013, the 3.8% tax will affect some but not all income from interest, dividends, rents and capital gains.
  • ·         Only on individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) above $200,000 and couples filing a joint return with more than $250,000 AGI
  • ·         Applies to the Lesser of Investment income amount in excess of the AGI amount over $200,000 or 250,000

 Read more about it here.

Comments Comments Off