Archive for March, 2012


Survey Says: Sellers Getting Real about Real Estate

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A new survey of 600 Real Estate Professionals conducted by Coldwell Banker reveals that home sellers are more apt to price their home in line with market pressures.  It also noted other changes in buyer preferences.  The survey also showed what today’s buyers are looking for in a new home.

  • 51% of sellers are more willing to price their property competitively than this time last year
  • 45 % said sellers are more willing to change the appearance of their homes to entice buyers
  • 94% said sellers are clearing clutter and painting or making minor repairs
  • 78% said sellers are de-personalizing the home
  • 59% said sellers are willing to allow staging with new decorations or furniture

Buyers are going back to the basics valuing new or updated kitchens, bathrooms and open floor plans.  Motivating buyers are growing families and job relocation.

Source: “Survey Reveals Sellers More Willing to Price Competitively,” RISMedia

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New York City Real Property Market Value 2012

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According to the New York City Department of Finance, the market value of real property is $845.4 billion, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to last year.

Manhattan rental apartment buildings’ market value increased 15 percent, cooperative apartment buildings increased 9.5 percent and condominium units 7.1 percent compared to a year ago.

In Brooklyn, rental apartment buildings increased 3.9 percent, cooperative apartment buildings 1.6 percent and condominium units 1.2 percent compared to 2011.

Compared to the peak of the market in 2007, the market value of Manhattan rental apartment and cooperative apartment buildings has increased 22.5 percent, and condominium units increased 48.2 percent according to the City of New York.

In Brooklyn, the market value of rental buildings was up 3.5 percent, cooperative apartments 18.4 percent.
These market value increases have resulted in a 40 percent increase in real property taxes since the peak of the market in 2008.

From MIke Slattery, Senior Vice President, REBNY Research Department


In the News

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3/13/12  Luxury Manhattan sales market set to slip following Wall Street’s compensation declines: 
The high-end Manhattan real estate that has propped up an otherwise stagnant sales market, is likely to begin a decline of its own in 2013 and 2014. According to data from the New York State Comptroller’s office and Miller Samuel CEO Jonathan Miller cited by Bloomberg News, the top 10 percent of the Manhattan condominium and co-op market tends to follow the pattern set by Wall Street bonuses two years earlier.”  Get more informaiton at

3/14/12  Rent Study Finds NYC Cheaper Than Long Island, New Jersey:  “In what will be a surprise to many New Yorkers, the city isn’t the most expensive place in the country to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, a new report released has found. In fact, it’s not even the most expensive rental market in the region.”  Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

3/15/12  Pension Reform Announced:  “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos today announced the passage of a sweeping pension reform plan that will save state and local governments more than $80 billion over the next 30 years.  New York City taxpayer savings will account for $21 billion of this savings.  Our legislative leaders have shown extraordinary determination and deserve immense credit for addressing the critical fiscal challenges facing state and local government.”  Read the Governor’s Press Release and Mayor Bloomberg’s Statement

 3/15/12  NY State lawmakers to allow casino gambling:  “New York state lawmakers have agreed to legalize public casinos and will amend the state constitution to allow seven new casinos to operate, lawmakers said on Wednesday.”  Read the full article at


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So You Want to Sell Your Upper East Side Apartment

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You’re ready for a change.  You want to sell your apartment… or Do you?  Carefully consider these questions before you take the plunge.

1) Is the apartment ready to Sell?

Most properties could use a little sprucing up. Some apartments need some renovation . Listing the apartment before it is in ‘show perfect’ condition can cost you days on the market and/or sales price

2)  Are you motivated?

  • Will you be flexible enough to allow the property to be shown when a buyer wants to see it?  
  • Will you trust your broker’s judgment on proper pricing? 
  • Are you open to advice on staging and presenting the property to sell?

3) Do you have the authority and capacity to sell the property?

Make sure the title/proprietary lease is clear and under your management. For example many coop Board have special requirements when an estate owns the property. In the case of Divorce, will your spouse need to agree to the sale? Rely on your team broker, attorney, accountant financial advisor to guide you.

A “NO” answer to any one of these questions may mean you are not ready to sell and could cost you time and money.

Categories : Selling
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In the News

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3/5/12 Pre-K Guide:  Everything You Need to Know to Get Your Child a Seat:  Thousands of families apply to pre-Kindergarten each year, seeking an experience for their child that is more educational than daycare but not as expensive as private school. But demand is so high that there aren’t enough seats to go around, which means that the most sought-after programs remain harder to get into than an Ivy League college.  Read the artlicle at

3/6/12 NYC sees biggest building permit rise since crash:   Number of permits for demolition work soars nearly 37% in the first two months of year, while the number of permits to put up new buildings jumps almost 43%. Levels are still well below pre-2008 peaks.  Read more about it at Crain’s New York.

3//8/12  Apartment bargains melted away in warm Feb.:  Unseasonable temperatures bring out more customers and landlords respond by cutting concessions and even hiking some rents. A “disappointi9ng season” for tenants seen.  Read the full article at Crain’s New York

3/8/12  Stunning gains for city economy:  The city economy grew nearly twice as fast in 2011 as initially thought, according to data released Thursday, and jobs boomed in January.  Read the article at Crain’s New York.

3/9/12  Crumbling East 81st Street Pedestrian Bridge Set for Makeover:  Months after cutting the ribbon on a stainless steel pedestrian bridge at East 78th Street, the city is moving forward with tackling the next decaying walkway connecting the neighborhood to the East River waterfront.  Read the article at 

You’ve found a great apartment, in the right location, a great price, in a terrific building; in fact it’s almost perfect. The problem is you need an extra room, for the baby, watching late night TV while your spouse sleeps or perhaps a home office. Now what?

The answer could be a temporary wall to carve out the extra space. But it needs to be done properly and meet certain safety standards. And you may need permission from building management or the Board.

Room Dividers NY,  1Wall 2 Rooms, and  All Week Walls   are a few of the many companies the city install pressurized walls. These so–called pressurized walls are made using only a tension system can accommodate most any size or shape of room, without leaving behind screws or adhesive residue when they are removed, but look and feel like ‘real’ walls. They can be attractive and functional, offering the privacy or separation needed for an office, TV room or extra bedroom. You may even be able to mount your flat-panel TV to one.  When the wall is no longer needed, it can be removed.

New York City is aggressively enforcing a long-standing but largely ignored code requiring approval from the Department of Buildings for permanent walls. According to the City Building Department, those wishing to divide a space need to rely on bookshelves or partial walls that don’t reach the ceiling. Temporary walls must not block exit routes or interfere with ventilation or sprinkler systems, as well as meet minimum room size requirements.

This new enforcement stems from a fatal fire in 2005 in the Bronx and subsequent criminal prosecution of the landlords and two tenants on manslaughter charges. According to the city, the illegal partitions put up by the tenants had disoriented the firefighters and lead to their deaths.

Safety is of paramount importance. Egress routes, maximum travel distances as called out by the building code as well as sprinkler coverage, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be considered before attempting to place a temporary wall.

Inspired by New York Times Article by Marc Santora.


How’s the Market? February 2012

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While Quarterly Sales Reports show closed activity for the previous quarter, monthly Contract Signed reports are the ‘crystal ball’ of closed sales to come.  Granted all contracts signed for any given month may not close in the next month,  and some may not close at all but most (over 95%) will become closed sales which will become part of the next Quarterly Sales Report.

In the following charts and graphs you can see how the market stacks up against last month and this month last year.






Mortgage Market Trends for Month ending February 29, 2012

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Home sales have developed a positive up trend in the past six months, and it appears that trend will be sustained at least into the near future.

The pending home sales index rose 2.0 percent in January to hit 97, the highest reading in nearly two years. New contract signings were particularly strong in the South, which posted an impressive 10.5-percent gain. The good is that the rest of the country isn’t lagging far behind: national year-over-year contracts are up 8.0 percent.

Lower prices are an obvious factor in driving sales volume. While lower prices drive demand, they also reduce supply. Home supply has been dropping nationally for some time now, though concrete numbers are tough to gauge given the uncertainty over the hidden inventory of foreclosed properties. The estimates we’ve seen on these shadow homes range between two million to four million nationally.

Whatever the actual numbers are on distressed properties, it appears many markets have already reached peak saturation, which means levels should begin falling. According to analysts at Clear Capital, Atlanta and Tuscon, Ariz. are two regions likely to see a drop in REO properties during the year. We wouldn’t be surprised to see similar prognostications forthcoming for Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Central California.

The fact markets are reaching an REO saturation point is one sign that housing is reaching a tipping point. Affordability is another. In many parts of the country, affordability is at a multi-decade high.

We’ve been preaching over the past year that residential real estate is the investment for the next decade. We stand by our exhortations. Unfortunately, many potential buyers still feel otherwise. They are weary of catching a falling knife; that is, buying a property that will continue to depreciate.

Falling knives were a very real concern three years ago; that’s not the case today. Yes, home prices nationally could continue to fall, but you always have to look past national numbers to the local market – many of which are rebounding.

Mortgage rates are another reason we like real estate. Rates continue to skim along a 60-year low. But the economy is improving – GDP posted a better-than-expected annual 3.0-percent growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2011. What’s more, job growth has accelerated and unemployment has dropped. In other words, rates are unlikely to go much lower.

Costs associated with mortgages could go higher, though. The buzz on the new HARP 2.0 is growing louder and attracting many underwater borrowers keen to refinance. The buzz will grow even louder over the next month as interest intensifies.

Rising loan demand tilts the table toward lenders, so we think its prudent for potential buyers to not wait and to take advantage of what remains a very low-cost mortgage financing market.

The Foreclosures-to-Rental Solution

We tend to become more cautious when a theme grips the market. Residential rental property is the hottest theme these days. Even the great Warren Buffett is bullish on rentals, declaring that he would buy a couple hundred thousand single-family homes and rent them, if only he had a way to manage them.

Another prominent supporter of rentals, Lewis Ranieri, the co-inventor of the mortgage-backed security, lays out the case in a research paper for using federal entities to support converting foreclosed properties into rentals. According to Ranieri, his foreclosure-to-rental model can be developed in “most every market in the United States,” and thus help clear the distressed-housing overhang.

We see a few unintended consequences, though. When markets don’t develop organically, there tends to be inefficiency – you get too much or too little of something. Just look at housing for the past six years. The market was incentivized for more home ownership, and we got too much of it.

Single-family rental properties are fine, to be sure, but large swaths of single-family rentals might not be. Rents are rising, but they don’t always rise. Rents impacted capitalization rates. If rents drop, so will capitalization rates and property values. In addition, renters don’t care for properties as well as owners. Could a higher percentage of neglected properties translate into more downward price pressure for owners?

All we’re saying is that before we ask for something we need to be sure we really want it; unintended consequences can be very costly in the long run.

Graph Courtesy from NY Times in an article by Vickie Elmer March 1, 2012.  Data and Commentary provided by Fred Ashe, from DE Capital Mortgage.

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In the News

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2/24/12  Find Your NYC Teacher’s Rating:  “The Department of Education releasted teacher ratings Friday that – for the first time in city history – allow parents to see, by name, how their children’s teachers performed.”  Read the full article at

2/27/12  Buy this Queens site, get free East Side apartments:  “The odd bonus that comes with purchase of a Flushing, Queens site is not in infomercial-style marketing ploy.  It’s the collateral on a bad loan.”  Read about it at Crain’s NY.

3/1/12 NYC stuck on slow boat:  “The economic news just gets better and better.  In the final quarter of 2011, total output of goods and services expanded at an annual clip of 3%, according to Commerce Department data out Wednesday.  In New York, however, the news is not nearly so rosy, and the reason why can be summed up in two words:  ‘Wall Street’.”   Read the full article at Crain’s NY The RED Wrap.

3/1/12 Celeb chef Emeril slashes price on Townhouse:  “One celebrity chef is betting the onset of the spring season will have prospective luxury property buyers on the hunt for a sizzling-hot bargain. Star chef and television personality Emeril Lagasse is planning to reduce the asking price of his Lenox Hill townhouse by a cool $1.5 million, or 10 percent, to ‘take advantage of the spring market’. ” Read all about it at

3/2/12  Manhattan population to jump by 2030, putting strain on housing:  “While the demand for New York real estate remains somewhat unquenchable for the meantime, it’s possible the city could grow so crowded in the future that it may beocme a turn-off for prospective city dwellers”.  Read the full article at



The Faith Report – Winter 2012 Warming Up in Winter

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We may be in the depths of winter, but we’re already at the height of activity for new stores, restaurants and hotels.  New York City remains the center of the world for designers and diners, with a number of new hotels readying to house our many visitors (50 million plus last year).  From new or relocating designers to coffee shops to luxury condotels, it’s still hot in the city!  ~ by Faith Hope Consolo

 The end of a quarter brings a blizzard of Residential Sales and Rental Market Reports; followed by a spurt of press coverage spinning and analyzing the reports. But here’s a report that’s different

The Faith Report reads like a who’s who of luxury retailers.

From Madison Avenue to 5th Avenue and the Upper East Side,  across Central Park on the Upper West Side down to Union Square, the West Village, Soho, Nolita, Tribeca and to the Lower East Side, the Faith Report alerts you to the newest digs for your favorite designers and other trend-setting retailers.

 New York Retail Leasing Activity Report created by Faith Consolo Chairman of  Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Leasing and Sales Division.

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