Archive for March, 2013

Douglas Elliman released the March 2013 report for Manhattan & Brooklyn Residential Rental Markets.  The March 2013 Elliman Report for the Manhattan & Brooklyn Rental Markets reported here and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman.


“Since the beginning of the year, the rental market has found its second wind, resuming a higher rate of price increases.”Mar_2013_Manhattan_Rental


Manhattan:  For the past three months, the year-over-year rise in median rent price has increased. After bottoming to 0.8% in December of 2012, the percentage changes for January, February and March of 2013 were 2.6%, 4.7% and 6.7% respectively. The vacancy rate fell to a 2-year low of 1.46% in March 2013 from 1.89% in the same period last year.


Brooklyn:  Though 2013 began with no growth in the year-over-year median rental price, rents resumed rising with a 7.2% gain in February, followed by an 11.3% increase in March.


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 Q:  I am considering purchasing a condominium unit in a small building, but the condominium board does not have an accountant prepare audited financial statements.  Is there a requirement that condominium and co-op boards have accountants prepare audited financial statements?

 A:  No, there is no requirement that boards have accountants prepare audited financial statements.  However, audited financial statements prepared by an accountant provide assurance that the financial statements fairly reflect the building’s financial position.  Consequently, an audited financial statement will provide a prospective purchaser with confidence that they have an accurate picture of a building’s financial condition.  Purchasers considering a condominium or co-op that does not have audited financials should proceed with caution when conducting their due diligence.

 Important Tip:  As mentioned in a past Legal Line Question of the Week, audited financial statements for a condominium or co-op are one of the due diligence items that your real estate broker should request from the seller or managing agent as soon as possible in order to expedite the transaction.

 Based on REBNY article by Neil B. Garfinkel, REBY Residential Counsel Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP   

This post is provided as informational proposes only and should not be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice by the RealEstateGeezer. You should seek advice from a qualified professional


In the News – March 28, 2013

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3/21/13 Jon Bon Jovi Selling NYC Penthouse for $42 Million:  Rocker Jon Bon Jovi has put his Manhattan penthouse on the market, and a peek inside shows 7,452 square feet of pure luxury. And it better be luxurious and then some, considering he just put the place on the market for $42 million, a mind-blowing price even for New York real estate.  See the full article with pictures 

3/21/13:  Plan for Trash Station Debated at Upper East Side Democratic Mayoral Forum:  All politics were local last night at a Democratic mayoral forum on the Upper East Side, where a proposed trash facility brought out strong feelings from the candidates and crowd.  See the full report at  NY1.   

3/28/13  Verizon trounces Time Warner in Poll:  In the endless war between Verizon FiOS and Time Warner Cable, there is finally a clear winner—at least, according to the 84,000 Consumer Reports readers who responded to the magazine’s annual survey of their television, Internet and home phone service providers.  See the full article at Crain’s New York Business 

3/28/13  Brooke Shields nabs East End home listed for 4.3M:  Actress Brooke Shields and her husband, Chris Henchy, are buying a six-bedroom beach “cottage” on  Lewis Street in Southampton that had an asking price of $4.3 million, the New York Post reported.  See the full article at The  Real Deal.


Spring Cleaning your Kitchen

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If you’re like most New Yorkers, your kitchen isn’t what you want it to be.  There’s hardly enough space for the usual appliances, and even less space for storage and work space.   Organization is the key to a functional space, but with busy day to day life happening all around you, the kitchen is usually the first casualty.  Realize that unless you never use your kitchen, it’s bound to get messy. 

 One expert advises taking an evening (or two) once a year to ‘cleanse’ your kitchen.  Here are a few tips:

  •  Downsize – Remember the space you have to work with and pare down the non-essentials to a minimum.  Look at your stuff with a critical eye.  Do you really need three corkscrews?  You can only use one at a time, so why not keep the one that works best, and let the rest go.  How about all those plastic containers for left-overs?  Do yourself a favor and sort through them and make sure to keep only the unstained containers with matching lids.  Ideally, you only need a few.  Recycle the rest.  Think about it: do you really need 50 coffee mugs when only one of you drinks coffee?
  • Drawers – if you have internet, you really don’t need takeout menus!  Recycle them as well.  Get rid of the extra chopsticks and little ketchup packets.  Clean out the inside of the drawers with soap and water.  Use your space wisely.  Get a jar or pretty flower pot to store your cooking utensils on the counter or shelf.  Keep eating and measuring utensils in the drawers, and find a new home for the rest of the stuff, like under the sink or hanging on the wall.  Seriously, do you really need a junk drawer if you only have 2 drawers in your whole kitchen?
  • Compartmentalize – Group and stack where possible, like things together; plates, bowls, mugs mixing bowls and cookware.   This goes for food storage too.  Go through your spices and get rid of the old containers.  Open the jar and take a sniff, if you can’t detect the scent, you should purge it.  Keep spices together in one location, and only keep the ones you use most often.  This saves time and money.  Go through your refrigerator and freezer.  Dispose of any science experiments (spoiled foods) and wipe the shelves with soap and water. 
  • Surface area – Counter space is at a premium in most Manhattan apartments.  Get rid of that bread maker (and other little-used appliances) – you don’t have space for it.  Store less-used cookware and serving pieces on top of the cabinets. 
  • Dead space – Install a shallow shelf above your stove to keep cooking oil and salt and pepper for cooking.  If you have extra wall space, buy a nice medicine cabinet or spice rack to hang your spices on the wall.  Find a shelf for your cookbooks

 Remember, this is a process, and even if you only do this once a year, for at least one day, your kitchen is neat and organized.  


Inspired by an article on by Elizabeth Wolff

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In the News – March 18, 2013

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03/04/13:  Spurned Apartment Buyers Still Long for ‘the One’:  Buying a home is an obstacle course strung with emotional tripwires, especially when New York City prices are involved. So if a buyer is ready to commit to an apartment but is ultimately rebuffed, it can be difficult to quickly put the old flame firmly in the past. Months or even years later, some rejected buyers shyly acknowledge that their curiosity still sometimes gets the best of them.   See the full article in the New York Times  

03/08/13  New Middle School to Be Opened in Unused P.S. 158 Space, Officials Say:  After several years of lobbying the Department of Education and elected officials to relieve overcrowding, Upper East Siders are getting a middle school in P.S. 158’s vacant space, officials announced Friday.  See the full story at

03/18/13 Jessica Lappin Advocating for Equality on International Women’s Day:  New York State is moving forward on empowering women.  Achieving pay equity, protecting reproductive rights and ending gender discrimination are some of the goals outlined in Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equlity Agenda.  Read more about it here

3/18/13  Rise in Complaints About Rats Prompts Call for New Eradication Program:  New York City officials are calling for a publicly financed program to bait, kill and remove rats in the wake of reports that Hurricane Sandy sent droves of the rodents scurrying inland, with many of them taking up residence in new neighborhoods.  Read the full story in the New York Times

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Lawyer’s Tips for Preparing for Appraisal

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The appraisal is an important piece to the financing puzzle.  The price on the appraisal is the figure upon which the financial intuition bases their funding decision.  A failed appraisal could kill the deal.

  • Make sure your broker attends the appraisal.  This gives him the chance to present a neat package of all the comparables for the transaction price and show off the property.
  • Show off features of the apartment that may not be so obvious like deeded storage or a second dishwasher.  This is even more important if the appraiser is not familiar with New York City.
  • Explain negative comparables.  For example the apartment in the same line that sold for a great deal less that needed to be renovated needs to be pointed out.


From article by Jerry Feeney

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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.







This week, Elliman released the February 2012 Elliman Report for Manhattan & Brooklyn Rental Markets.   The Rental Market Report summarized below and reported here   was prepared by Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman.

“Despite the more modest pace of rental price gains at the end of 2012, a more rapid pace has returned in 2013.”

The pace of rising rents in Manhattan cooled at the end of 2012, but returned in February with even stronger gains. We expect the improving economy, low vacancy rates across most markets, and tight credit conditions to continue placing upward pressure on rents in the coming months. However, with rents already at or near record highs, and low mortgage rates turning more would-be renters into first time buyers, rents may not see the same rapid rise throughout the year.

  • After four consecutive months with an average of 1.6% year-over-year price gains, median rent rose 4.7% from prior year levels to $3,190. Average rental price also expanded at a similar pace, rising 4.9% from year ago levels to $3,956.
  • After 7 months of year-over-year declines, the overall Manhattan vacancy rate was unchanged from its 1.69% year ago level.

After taking a breather in January, Brooklyn rental price indicators began to once again rise at a quicker pace in February. The number of days it took to rent a property fell and landlord concessions were rare, as the rental market remained tight. Rents rose quicker for larger apartments, as would-be tenants of smaller rental apartments continued to shift to the purchase market, enticed by record low mortgage rates. We anticipate rents to remain high this year as the economy slowly improves.

  • After last month’s more modest gains, the rental market resumed robust price growth in February. Median rent increased 7.2% from the same month last year to $2,590.


Manhattan’s Inventory Skyfall

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Real estate appraiser, Curbed graph guru, blogger, and podcaster Jonathan Miller presents some startling inventory stats.

 Lack of inventory is one of the biggest housing market complaints these days.  One would think that sellers would be rushing to put their apartments on the market given the low competition but they’re not.    There are a few reasons for this dichotomy:

  •  Many sellers can’t sell:  they’re either upside down in their apartment or don’t qualify to trade up. 
  • February inventory was as far below the 10-year average as it was above the average in Feb 2009.
  • Inventory is 51.3 % below the same month total in 2009 and 33.2% the 10 year monthly average
  • Housing is local but credit is national; this is a scenario that is playing out across the US.
  • New development probably won’t solve the problem as it accounts for 10 to 20% of sales.
  • Tight credit keeps supply low, and is not likely to ease this year either.

 Excerpted from by Jonathan Miller of The Matrix.


In the News March 10, 2013

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02/15/13 MTA Awards $258M Contract for Second Avenue Subway station at E. 72nd St:  Progress continues on the Second Avenue subway project, as the Metropolitan Transit Authority awarded a major construction contract for the future East 72nd Street station, officials announced Friday.  See the full article at  

03/08/13 Unique UES clapboard mansion hits market for $10.5M with a treehouse:    Lots of mansions on the Upper East Side are loaded with frills. But one that just hit the market for $10.5 million has something a bit unusual in its backyard — at least for a home in Manhattan: a 14-foot-high treehouse.  See the full article at

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…But there’s no pleasing everyone all of the time, especially in real estate.  Buying real estate is mostly about personal preference, from location to décor.  Some things can be changed, true, but you can’t just move an apartment to a different location.  So we’re going to focus on tips for the things you can change.

  •  Odors:  Your apartment is all spruced up and ready to show, but buyers use all their senses when looking for a home.  Nothing sends people running faster than powerful odors.  Cigarette smoke and pet odors cause people to think the odors are permanent.  Invest in professional cleaning to address the challenge.
  • Extreme Overpricing:  If buyers and their brokers are constantly commenting on the price or worse, nobody is even looking at it or you continually get lowball offers, you may have a challenge on pricing.  Make sure your apartment represents value for the price.  Make sure you listen to your broker’s advice when it comes to pricing.  He’s the expert in your neighborhood, and can bring you comparable prices to similar apartments.
  • Dirt and mess:   Buyers get distracted by clutter and dirty dishes, piles of mail and books in plain view.  Make sure everything is neat and tidy before every showing and open house.
  • Lots of little malfunctions:  Buyers will almost compulsively open and close cabinet doors and drawers, flick light switches and hold handrails as they go up and down stairs.  Drippy faucets  and uneven tiles will sometimes send buyers running, or at the very least subconsciously start tallying up the cost of all the little fixes and drop their offer accordingly.  To sidestep this pitfall, walk through the apartment with your broker and have him show you all the little fixes that need to be handled.  Check with your building Super to see if he can fix them for your inexpensively.

 Inspired by Trulia article by Tara-Nicholle Nelson

Categories : Build Your Team, Selling
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