Archive for June, 2013


In the News – June 30, 2013

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

6/25/13:  Charity leaving UES, citing too few poor families:  Children’s Aid Society concludes the Upper East Side is “no longer a high need community” and prepares to sell its property there and move on. Development follows similar exit from Village two years ago, which netted $33 million.  See the full article at Crain’s New York Business 

6/28/13 Eli Zabar Eatery to Open on Madison Avenue:  A new Eli Zabar outpost is slated to open on a tony stretch of Madison Avenue, according to a company sign posted in the window and a neighbor. The gourmet grocery, which will be located at 922 Madison Ave., at East 73rd Street, is an “Eli’s Essentials,” meaning it will have more of a deli and takeout vibe than some other restaurant-centric stores in the company.  See the full article at DNA 

Comments Comments Off

Thinking of Selling Your Apartment with a Neighbor?

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

With larger Manhattan apartments generally selling for more per square foot, this question comes up from time to time.

Suggestions to consider:

  • Would the 2 apartment layouts work well together?  Some really don’t.  According to some experts, the straight line – horizontal feel does not really work well.
  • Consult an architect or professional designer to see if the combination would create a desirable space.
  • Bigger combinations are more desirable than smaller combinations.
  • Consider the cost and amount of work that would be necessary for the renovation.

Other points to ponder:

  • Be objective when determining  whether the combination would be more valuable
  • Have a good working relationship with the other owner
  • List both apartments with the same broker and make sure an architect has reviewed the proposed combination to make sure it is feasible.
  • Make renderings and floorplans available to prospective purchasers
  • Hold open houses at the same time for both units.
  • Make sure you have a written understanding on how any sales proceeds will be divided prior to marketing the units.
  • Make sure the combination would be approved by the co-op board.  If this is the first combination in the building, definitely make sure the board is in agreement prior to marketing them together.
  • Consider offering the units individually as well as in combination with the neighbor to cover your bases.
  • Financing is trickier when purchasing two apartments that will be combined to one.  Make sure your lender is on board.
  • Have an architectural plan created for marketing purposes that achieves the multiple bedroom apartment with the least amount of renovation necessary.  Consider getting a proposal from multiple contractors based on the plan.  Avoid the lowest priced contractor which may be unrealistic in price.
  • Consider purchasing part of the common area from the board or association to enhance the layout.


Excerpted from article at the Brick Underground

Comments Comments Off

In the News June 23, 2013

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

06/06/13  A second win for Bloomberg’s taxi legacy:  Hours after his plan to expand livery cab service to the outer boroughs was reinstated by the state’s highest court, the mayor’s “e-hail” app pilot project was also given the go-ahead, giving his administration a double-win after a string of legal defeats.  See the full article at Crain’s NY.

06/06/13  Supermodel Adriana Lima Lists Central Park Condo for $5.5 Million: Rumor has it Adriana Lima has listed her 2 Bedroom 2.5 Bathroom,view 146 W 57 2200 SF condo in Midtown for $5.5 Million.  The building boasts of a 24 hour white-gloved doorman and concierge, with an exclusive restaurant and dining terrace and fitness center.    The apartment has views of central park, lots of windows, customized walk in closets and a media room to die for.   See the Full article at Yahoo! News

06/12/13:  Dolly Lenz leaving Elliman: Sources:  Dolly Lenz, Douglas Elliman’s perpetually top-ranked luxury sales broker is leaving the firm after a 14-year tenure.  See The Real Deal for more details

06/13/13 Milestone contract for Second Avenue Subway:  A $208 million job given by the MTA to two large contractors will complete the first phase of the massive, long awaited project on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  See the full article at Crain’s New York Business

06/13/13 UES Marine Transfer Station Needs $2.4M in Flood-Proofing:  The city needs to spend almost $2.4 Million to protect the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station from flooding after an inspection showed a storm the size of Sandy could leave it deluged.  See the full article at DNA

Pledge 2 Protect (  is a growing coalition of residents, organizations, businesses, educators and parents working together to protect the health and safety of tens of thousands of New Yorkers by stopping the construction of a dangerous and ill-conceived garbage station, the E. 91st St. Marine Transfer Station (MTS).  Major waste facilities do not belong in ANY residential neighborhood anywhere in the city.

Some points to consider:

  • The proposed marine transfer station would be illegal if it was proposed today, yet it is being grandfathered-in under subpar conditions.
  • The facility is expected to operate 24 hours a day, 6 days a week by 2015
  • Barges and long-haul trucks will serve the MTS continuously causing air and water pollution
  • Construction costs are expected to increase from $45 million to approximately $1 billion over the next 20 years.
  • There are 11 day care facilities and 16 schools in the primary and secondary EIS study areas
  • Two senior citizen centers are located in close proximity to the site.
  • The Isaac Holmes public housing complex and 2,200 residents are next door to the MTS.
  • 22,000 residents live within 1/4 mile of the dump.
  • Up to 500 garbage trucks will use the dump’s entrance ramp daily, through a playground for children under age 5 and Asphalt Green’s facilities used by 31,000 children every year.
  • Idling trucks lined up next to the playground will release exhaust emissions.
  • Industrial traffic will endanger children and adults accessing community facilities and pedestrian throughways.
  • The steady supply of garbage will attract rodents and other vermin which can spread disease, overtake open spaces and infest neighboring homes and businesses
  • The proposed location for the station is in Flood Zone A, which puts it in the highest risk of flooding and could result in the displacement of garbage from the MTS into waterways and neighborhood.


Read more about Pledge 2 Protect and their efforts  on their website at

Comments Comments Off

Make Your Offer Irresistible

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off


You’ve found it, THE PERFECT apartment.  You want it; it’s going to be yours.  Or is it?  Here’s a few tips to increase your chances of being able to sign on the dotted line.

  • Pay cash.  Sellers love all cash offers because they are less likely to fall through at the last minute.  If you need a mortgage, a low appraisal could sink your chances, and cause you to lose your deposit.
  • Get pre-approved.  If you have to get a mortgage, make sure everything is up to snuff with your credit.  Get the letter from the lender saying you’re pre-approved.  While it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the loan, it shows that the lender has verified your income and credit score and determined that you can afford the payments on a mortgage at a certain amount.
  • Make your best offer.  In today’s market you may only have one shot, so make it your best offer.
  • Up the ante.  Add an escalator clause, with which you agree to increase your offer is there is a higher bid from another buyer.  Remember, if you agree to pay more than the market value (appraisal), you’re on the hook for the difference, whether or not the mortgage will cover it.
  • Increase your earnest money.  This shows how serious you are.  If you back out of the contract for any reason allowed in the contract or state law, you could get your money back.
  • Pay for extras yourself.  Offer to pay some of the closing costs or other prepaid costs.
  • Make contingencies easy to handle.  Sellers usually prefer no contingencies, but buyers need the protection contingencies provide if they need to cancel the contract.  Use your pre-approval and strong earnest money deposit to take the sting out of a financing contingency.  Seek the advice of your broker to help you determine what will help.
  • Write a letter to the seller.  This will help you connect with the sellers.  Make points like “We especially love…” and “We appreciate…”
  • Work with the seller’s timetable.  Express your willingness to go to closing on the seller’s schedule.

Inspired by Chicago Tribune article


Comments Comments Off

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

“The rate of rental price growth is beginning to show signs that the pace seen over the past two years might not be sustained.”M&B_Market_May_2013

Strong price growth has defined the Manhattan rental market for the past two years. Landlord concessions remain rare and vacancy rates are still very low. Marketing times remain short and there is limited negotiation on price. The key drivers of high demand include improving New York City economy and tight mortgage lending conditions, both of which are expected continue through the year.

For the second consecutive month, Brooklyn rental price growth slowed from year ago levels but it is not yet clear whether this is a sustainable trend.  The market has enjoyed strong growth for much of the past two years and the number of new rentals jumped as more tenants opted to search for affordability rather than renew. The key drivers of tight credit and rising employment remain firmly in place and we expect Brooklyn rents to remain elevated over the near term

Comments Comments Off

How’s the Market? May 2013

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

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.






It’s a Seller’s Market – Every Minute Counts!

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

With all cash offers becoming the norm, open houses packed to the gills, bidding wars, and some listing prices actually rising, there’s little doubt in New York City that it is a seller’s market.   The rules of engagement have changed.  Serious buyers need be prepared to act quickly.  Know what you want and strike while you can.  All cash offers help a lot since sellers are choosing offers with the least amount of hassle.

Recently, fewer apartment listings – down 27.6% last month over a year ago – and low interest rates have increased competition among buyers and driven up prices.  Add to that, listings going into contract faster, and the pressure is on to decide and act on the apartment of your dreams.

Some tips to help you get the perfect place:

Automate Your Search:   Websites like and eliminate some of the work, and will allow you to save searches and receive emails with new listings that meet your requirements.

Don’t Wait for the Open House:  Schedule a showing during the week before the first open house if at all possible.  If you wait until the open house, there is a good chance you may not even get a chance to make an offer.

Forget About Getting a Deal:  If this is THE apartment for you, make your best and final up front.  Let the seller know you are really serious.  Consider making the offer with a 24 hour ending time.

Don’t Delay:  Being the first to make a solid offer can give you an edge.

Be Thorough:  Have your financial statement prepared and ready to go, a short personal biography and anything else your broker recommends to put you in a strong position.

Increase Your Down Payment:  The standard 20% down is very old school.  Most brokers are recommending 30% to 35% down.  Appraisals are lagging behind asking prices because they are based on past sales.  If the appraisal comes in low, the bank will not lend more than the appraised amount, so buyers need to have cash to make up the difference.  A larger down payment can give you the edge in multiple bid situations, as well as make you look stronger to a co-op board.

Beware of Mortgage Contingencies:  Fewer sellers are willing to accept contingencies, and the buyers may be desperate enough to waive the contingency and risk losing their deposit.  But beware; if you don’t have cash to cover your losses, it’s not really a good idea to give in to the pressure.  If the appraisal comes in low, or the bank finds a deficiency with the building and won’t lend you the money, you could lose your deposit without the contingency.

Negotiate the Contingency:  Get your broker to help you structure the contingency so that it is attractive to the seller, but protects your interests.

Set Your Ultimate Price:  Decide what your number is, and be prepared to walk away.  This way, hopefully you’ll be able to sleep at night.

Sign Your Contract Quickly:  Today’s sellers get impatient when buyers take too long with their due diligence and negotiations.  A contract isn’t binding until it is signed.


Inspired by New York Times article


Watch those Refinancing Expenses

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

With interest rates still low, some New York homeowners are seeking to refinance their existing mortgage.  If refinancing is on your radar screen, and if you’re careful, you may not have to pay the mortgage recording tax again when you refinance.

New York state charges a recording tax on new mortgage debt.  In New York City, the rage is 1.8% of the loan amount for mortgages under $500k and 1.925% above $500k.  Borrowers who already “paid the tax on an existing mortgage is entitled to an exemption from payment of the tax with respect to an existing principal balance a second time” according to attorney Guy Arad, with Adam Leitman Bailey.

Watch out – if you’re switching lenders when you refinance, you might have to pay the tax anyway.    In order to skip the tax when switching lenders, you must get your existing lender to assign or transfer the mortgage to the new lender.  The new lender would then rewrite the mortgage to meet the new terms.  The catch is, some lenders don’t always agree to do the assignment.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If the lender agrees to assign the mortgage, the extra paperwork will take more time.  Make sure your closing date is set with this in mind.
  • Both lenders must be present at closing.
  • There will likely be extra legal fees and assignment fees, which should be considered when figuring the tax savings.  Sometimes the savings is not worth the headache.
  • If the new loan is larger than the outstanding loan, you will be taxed on the difference.
  • If you think you will be refinancing sometime down the road, find out what the lender’s policy is on transfers before signing the mortgage.

Based on New York Times article by  Lisa Prevost.


Best Time to Sell? Manhattan Sales More Like a Bell Curve

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

New York Real Estate Appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel and the Matrix developed the following charts to show how the spring market may be more important to the annual housing market cycle.


After plotting the sales market for each quarter for the last 10 years, then plotting them on separate graphs, he shows us how each season trends throughout the decade:

  • Winter – First Quarter (Jan., Feb., Mar.) 23.2 % of all annual sales, trending lower.
  • Spring – Second Quarter (Apr. May. Jun.) 25.5% of all annual sales, trending higher.
  • Summer – Third Quarter (Jul. Aug. Sep.) 26.8% of all annual sales, trending higher.
  • Fall/Winter – Fourth Quarter (Oct. Nov. Dec) 24.5 % of all annual sales, trending lower.

Manhattan activity seems to be trending towards more activity in the spring and summer with less activity in the winter and fall.  It may suggest a window of opportunity available to sell in the spring and summer.

Inspired by Curbed NY article.

Comments Comments Off