Archive for January, 2013


Organizing Tiny Spaces – the Drawerless Kitchen

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Have you seen the size of some New York City kitchens?  The smaller ones don’t have many drawers or none at all!  Where do you keep your takeout menus and measuring cups with no drawers? 

A few tips to turn your kitchen into a functional space:

Minimize – keep only the essentials.

Compartmentalize – keep like things together, eating utensils, cooking utensils, serving utensils and such.

Stack up – Stick to one or two colors in the kitchen to keep the kitchen looking neat. 

Knives – Use a knife magnet to keep them handy but out of the way.

Frequently-used Miscellany – Hang wine openers, measuring cups, cheese graters, etc from a hook to keep them off the countertops.

From article at DNA

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In the News January 27, 2013

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01/24/13  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Reports for the Hamptons Market Q4 2012:   The Hamptons housing market had more fourth quarter sales and the fewest listings in inventory than there had been at any point in the past 6 years. Fiscal cliff tax planning was a key driver of the market, especially at the upper end, resulting in the highest average sales price in more than seven years. We saw many more sales above $1M and a record number of sales over $5M. We anticipate that the increased market momentum will continue to carry into 2013.  See the full report at

1/24/13  Douglas Elliman releases Elliman Reports for North Fork for 4Qtr 2012:  The North Fork housing market also saw a drop in listing inventory, which fell sharply to a four-year low. Thanks to record low mortgage rates, the fastest monthly absorption rate in more than four years, and rising sales, there was some upward pressure on housing prices. With a stable listing discount, negotiability between buyers and sellers remained stable as well, while average marketing times increased as tight inventory caused older listings to be more readily absorbed. We expected conditions to continue to improve in 2013.  See the full report at


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Trading up? Be prepared to wait

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You’ve decided to move up to a bigger or better apartment.  You have all your ducks in a row, credit score is near perfect, your broker is the best in the business, but you’re not getting anywhere.    Listings are scarce and credit is tight, so you end up sitting out because you can’t find what you’re looking for, have been outbid or you can’t get a good loan.

Two-bedroom apartments are particularly challenging since the market is shrinking in this area, according to Miller Samuel.  The available number of two-bedroom apartments is down by 28.4% from the same period a year ago.   This is largely due to low equity since the fall of prices in 2008; selling may not net enough extra cash to move to a bigger or better place at a price move-ups can afford.  The down payment requirements also come into play here as people need to dig for the cash to make their next move. 

Financing is another barrier to moving up.  Only the strongest borrowers with the best credit scores and income are being approved for loans with the favorable rates.  Others who are self-employed or receive a large portion of their income in commissions and bonuses are meeting resistance, and if they can get approved at all, the rates are appalling.  Without reasonable loans, buyers are watching their dream homes get snapped up by others.

It seems that contracts are being landed by the most aggressive buyers.  They are the first in the door at an open house and can make up their minds quickly.


Consider a lease-back - making the sale of your current place contingent on the option of renting from the buyers for a few months to help you find a new place in a tight market.

Get in Early – be the first in the door at an open house.  Many websites like Douglas Elliman allow you to save searches and will send you an email for every new listing that meets your criteria.

Be prepared – Make sure all your paperwork is lined up including your mortgage pre-approval and your financials so you can make an offer on the spot.

Work with the right team – A responsive broker and real estate attorney can make all the difference in a hot market.


In the News, Januray 20, 2013

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01/14/13 Manhattan’s storied co-ops take a backseat to new luxury condos – Manhattan’s once-fabled co-op addresses no longer command the biggest sales prices in the city, and have been upended by newer destination condominium addresses, real estate author Michael Gross writes in the Daily Beast  See the full article at The Real Deal   

01/17/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 4th Quarter 2012 Brooklyn Sales Report.  Listing inventory for the Brooklyn housing market continued to fall, reaching four-year lows that kept sales from rising.  Although mortgage lending remained tight, record low mortgage rates combined with limited supply of both re-sale and new development listings placed upward pressure on housing prices. With the expected improvement in our local economy, we are pleased with the direction of the Brooklyn housing market and look forward to an active market in 2013.  See the full report at  

01/17/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 4th Quarter 2012 Queens Sales Report.  In the final quarter of 2012, we continued to see inventory fall, reaching its lowest fourth quarter level in seven years. Record low mortgage rates and lack of inventory caused prices to rise in some markets. While a shortage of inventory kept more sales from occurring, properties sold more quickly as buyers and sellers moved closer together on price. We are encouraged by the constant improvement we are observing and look forward to an even better Queens market for 2013. See the full report at

01/18/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 4th Quarter 2012 Palm Beach Sales report.  There was a significant uptick in Palm Beach sales activity this quarter compared to the results last year. We also observed a significant shift towards high end properties as indicated by the jump in overall market prices and luxury market prices. The longer marketing times largely reflected older inventory being sold off. The market improvement has been an encouraging development that we expect to see through most of 2013.  See the full report at


How’s the Market? December 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.








Upper East Side Year Ahead

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2012 finished with a bang.   Thanks to talk about the ‘fiscal cliff’, Manhattan had the busiest 4th Quarter sales in 25 years.

Sales inventory has dropped to a 12-year low.

Studio & one bedroom apartment inventory, already low, is falling as available units are snapped up.  According to Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman reports, smaller apartments are in short supply and prices will rise.  It’s important, when listing apartments, to make sure the unit is ready, priced right, staged and in perfect condition.

Rental prices remain high with falling inventory. 
Higher rents generally drive sales in our neighborhood, except when credit is tight.  Those who  can’t buy are forced to continue to rent, keeping rental prices high. 

… The exception is the Second Avenue Subway construction corridor where median rents are down by 1.7%.  Unsurprisingly, median rents are on the rise outside the subway corridor east of First Avenue and west of Third.  According to Jonathan Miller of The Matrix  the was a 3.2% increase to the west and 2% increase of median rent prices to the east of the Second Ave Subway zone.  It stands to reason that the rental inventory rose 9% in the Subway zone, and fell by 5.1% to the west and 2% to the east for the same period.

 Some renters are not grousing about the rent around the construction.  In fact they are grateful for the break in rent, and the construction disturbance seems to pale in comparison to higher rents elsewhere in the city according to this New York Times article.

Tight lending restrictions are bringing out Cash Buyers.  Most new developments are being funded by Hedge Funds.  Since banks are more averse than ever to taking risks, they aren’t making as many loans.  According to the Business Insider, even though mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, one mortgage insider predicts that new mortgages funded will hit an all-time low in 2013.  

The price is what the Appraiser says it is.  Appraisers are not always local so I make it a practice to meet with appraisers and present them with comparables, information about the neighborhood and specifics of the building.  It’s also important to make sure everything in the apartment is in working condition, clean, bright and tidy and have information available about changes made that enhance the value of the apartment.  For more great tips, see this article from the Brick Underground on how to Ace your Appraisal.

Second Avenue Subway Update – Muck Houses at 69th St and 72nd St are on target to be removed by Fall 2013 and Spring 2013 respectively.  The construction continues and they’re getting ready to start on the 72nd street Station structure.  The contract has been awarded and according to MTA the contract completion date is December 2013.  The first phase of the project from 96th to 63rd is scheduled to be operational in December 2016.
The MTA is holding a 5th Quarterly public workshop on Jan 30.  To receive an email invitation to this workshop, send an email to   For more up-to-date information from the Second Avenue Subway project, check out their newsletters.  

A new Cornell campus on Roosevelt Island will give rise to an F-train tech corridor.   Our neighborhood will benefit from the desire of faculty and students to live in areas that are convenient by train in Manhattan.



 Today, we released our Fourth Quarter report for the Manhattan Residential Sales  Market.  Manhattan Residential Rentals Market Overview Q4 2012 reported here and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman.

“The Manhattan housing market was characterized by inventory falling to 12 year lows across the re-sale and new development markets.”

  • The number of listings fell 34.2% from prior year levels to a 12-year low of 4,749. As a result, the pace of the market quickened, with the monthly absorption rate falling to 5.5 months, the second fastest rate since 2000.
  • Overall price indicators were mixed. Median sales price slipped 2% to $837,500 and average sales price edged 1.1% higher to $1,461,473 over the year ago period.
  • There were a record 2,598 sales in the fourth quarter as looming changes to federal tax laws and general economic improvement elevated activity in an already improving housing market.
  • Listing discount, the percent difference between the list price at time of sale and the sales price, was 3.7%, down from 4.9% in the same period last year.
  • With the number of active listings falling for several years, days on market, the number of days from the last change in price to contract date, expanded by 47 days to 177 from the prior year quarter. The lack of new supply resulted in the absorption of listing laggards characterized by longer market times.