Archive for About New Yorkers

The Elliman 2004-2013 Decade Survey for Manhattan Co-op and Condo Sales was released recently at  and summarized below was prepared by Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman.

 “The number of sales reached second highest level in 25 years as listing inventory fell to a 14-year low.”

Manhattan Decade Report

  •  After 4 remarkably stable years with activity hovering just over the 10,000 sale threshold, the number of sales jumped 21.2% to 12,735 from the prior year level to the second highest total in 25 years. A record of 13,430 sales was set in 2007.
  • Median sales price edged up 2.4% to $855,000 from the prior year.
  • Average sales price increased 1.9% to $1,443,753 and average price per square foot rose 4.6% to $1,136 respectively year-over-year.
  • Listing inventory fell 12.3% to 4,164, from prior year levels to a 14-year low.
  • Days on market, the number of days from the last price change to the contract date, fell 29.7% to 121 from the prior year.
  • Listing discount, the percentage difference between the list price at time of contract and the sales price, fell to 3% from 5.6% in 2012.


How’s the Market – January 2014

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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.






In the News – February 2, 2014

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1/30/14  Douglas Elliman Releases Decade Report for Manhattan Townhouse Sales 2004-2013:  Like the apartment market, Manhattan townhouse sales jumped and prices edged higher over the past year. Inventory continued to fall, resulting in the fastest paced market in 17 years. There were noticeable gains in market share of 3-5 unit/family sales, as more consumers looked to convert them to single family homes. We anticipate additional improvements in the townhouse market over the coming year.  See the full report at




In the News January 12, 2014

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1/9/14:  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Report for 4th Quarter 2013 Brooklyn Sales:  Brooklyn’s housing market continued to be one of the strongest in New York City with rising prices and sales as well as a large decline of inventory. It is also the only borough to see the median sales price exceed the levels set during the previous boom. The combination of rising sales and falling supply made the market move at the second fastest rate in 5 years. We expect this momentum to carry into 2014 as the economy improves.  See the full report at

1/9/14:  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Report for 4th Quarter 2013 Queens Sales:  The Queens housing market had a large increase in sales to help the year finish on a high note. Sales price trends remained fairly stable year-to-date, but choices for buyers were limited as inventory fell to the lowest level on record. Like much of the region, the decline in sales and rise in supply made the market pace unusually fast. With the economy expected to improve, we anticipate an active housing market in the first half of 2014.  See the full report at

1/9/14:  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Report for 4th Quarter 2013 Westchester and Putnam Sales:  The housing market in Westchester had many of the same trends as those we observed in the city: rising sales, falling supply and rising prices. Median sales price and the total number of sales reached an eight-year high. Falling inventory kept pressure on prices throughout 2013 that resulted in modest year-to-date increases in housing prices. With an unusually high number of signed contracts in the fourth quarter, we expect this momentum to continue into the new year. Putnam’s housing market experienced falling inventory but not to the same extent as Westchester did. The number of sales jumped above last year¹s totals, but housing prices were generally stable. The decline in supply and the increase in sales caused the market to move faster than last year, but not at the same rapid pace as Westchester. We anticipate similar conditions over the next several quarters.  See the full report at


In the News – October 12, 2013

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10/10/13  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Report for Brooklyn Sales – 3Q 2013:  The Brooklyn housing market has shown the most strength compared to any other borough. Housing prices have set 10-year records and inventory fell to the lowest levels seen in five years. We expect the rising mortgage rates to take some of the edge off of the market frenzy in the coming months. Perhaps the biggest change in the market going forward is the buyers outside of the borough who sought out Brooklyn as a destination rather than as a more affordable alternative to Manhattan.  See the full report at

10/10/13:  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Report for Queens Sales – 3Q 2013:  Queens has continued to benefit from the strength of the Brooklyn market and still low mortgage rates. The borough had more sales this quarter than any time in the past three years and inventory fell to an eight-year low. Although buyers have had less inventory to choose from, housing prices have remained steady over the past year and we anticipate this trend to continue over the coming quarters.  See the full report at

10/10/13:  Douglas Elliman Releases Elliman Report for Westchester and Putnam Sales 3Q 2013:  The Westchester housing market continues to improve. Listing inventory continued to fall consistent with the rest of the metro area, but the number of sales reached their highest point in over 30-years. However, the rising mortgage rates will make this new record hard to beat. Housing prices increased somewhat last year and properties sold more quickly. We expect more of the same over the coming quarters but without records. Like its neighbor to the south, the Putnam housing market had a lot more sales this quarter than last year and buyers had fewer properties to choose from. Although properties took a little longer to sell, housing prices remained stable, which is what we anticipate in the coming quarters.  See the full report at 

In 1971, the city launched the 421a program as an incentive for developers to build projects on underused or unused land.  Today, a record number of condos have a 421a status.  Ranging from 10 years duration below 96th Street to 15-25 years in Upper Manhattan, the exemptions do have an expiration date.  The exemptions start to decrease annually after the first two years, which usually means rising common charges.

Historically, condos will sell for a higher price if the common charges are low.  While in development, the developer will set the rate for the monthly charges until a board is in place.  Luxury buildings with high-end amenities like rooftop decks, concierges, etc. may have lower common charges while the 421a Tax Abatement is in force.

Once the tax abatement expires, condo boards are generally scrambling to find ways to reduce costs.  Some condo bards have taken the drastic action of terminating their contracts with property management and hiring an on-site manager.  This extreme step takes a dedicated hands-on board to oversee the manager, decrease costs and look for ways to raise revenue.  Board members are generally volunteers, so finding people willing to give their time for the community is sometimes difficult

Some condo boards find other ways to chip away at the expenses; cutting staff, renegotiating mortgage rates, installing high-efficiency lighting in the common areas, and other similar strategies. Some cost-cutting measures come with risk of reduced services, but the upside remains – lower common charges generally create higher selling prices.


Inspired by The Real Deal Article by Hayley Kaplan


Brooklyn Rents on the Rise – Rivaling Manhattan Prices

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Brooklyn, once thought of as the affordable alternative to Manhattan, is seeing a steady climb in rental prices.  Especially in the Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill neighborhoods, the average rent climbed to $3,035 in July, an 8.2% increase according to the Elliman Report for Manhattan and Brooklyn Rentals for July 2013.

Long time Brooklyn residents are concerned about being priced out of the market as more and more people are finding Brooklyn to be their primary option when looking at rentals, causing demand to go up, along with the prices.  Manhattan’s rents have been rising for more than two years, but the growth seems to be slowing.


Excerpted from NY Post column 


In the News August 18, 2013

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8/7/13 TV Star Ortiz lands at Elliman after KWNYC firing:  Luis D. Ortiz, the newest star of “Million Dollar Listing New York,” has officially signed on to work at Douglas Elliman, he told The Real Deal exclusively today.  See the full article at The Real Deal 

8/15/13  Bloomberg’s “affordable” micro-apartments don’t come with micro prices:  New York City’s micro-apartments aren’t really all that affordable, and in reality are geared toward the upper-middle class, the New York Observer reported  See the full article at The Real Deal 


How’s the Market – July 2013

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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.







In the News July 28, 2013

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07/11/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Brooklyn Sales Report:  The Brooklyn housing market continued to experience limited levels of new inventory coming to the market. In fact, the spring market marked the lowest inventory in seven years and as a result, sales slipped and prices pushed to 10-year highs. The market moved at a faster pace with shorter marketing times and smaller discounts from list price. We do not expect significant improvement in re-sale inventory to enter the market in the coming quarters, which will keep the pressure on the market.  See the full report at 

7/11/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Queens Sales Report:  The Queens housing market had the lowest inventory total in five years, but sales continued to rise. The faster pace of the market is resulting in some upward price pressure. Despite the limited supply, we didn’t see much change in market times or negotiability between buyers and sellers. As buyers in Manhattan and Brooklyn seek out affordability, we anticipate Queens to be one of the primary beneficiaries of this trend.  See the full report at

7/11/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Westchester & Putnam Sales Report:  The Westchester housing market has experienced the most active second quarter in 8 years. Inventory continued to fall, reaching an 8-year low for the spring market. With a brisk pace of signed contracts in the second quarter, we expected a high level of closings in the next quarter and limited new inventory to enter the market. However, the shortage of supply has only caused a slight gain in prices. We see rising interest rates as a sign of an improving economy and anticipate continued improvement through the rest of the year.  See the full report at

7/16/13  Residents Sound Off About Planned East Side Esplanade Makeover:  The Rockefeller University’s plan to improve a neglected public park along the river as part of a campus revamp has some neighborhood residents worried the overhaul will destroy the East River Esplanade.    See the full article at DNA 

7/18/13  Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Miami Sales Report: The Miami housing market pushed ahead with more sales than during any other quarter over the past seven years.  Inventory continued to fall, causing prices to rise across most property types. Cash purchases remain an important driver of the market accounting for about three fourths of all condo sales. An improving regional economy as well as heavy international demand and a strong relationship with New York consumers is expected to keep the market moving over the next several quarters.  See the full report at

7/18/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Boca Raton Sales Report:  Boca Raton experienced a large drop in supply over the past year keeping the pressure up on housing prices.  Little relief from low inventory is expected soon. Despite the decline in inventory, sales have been rising as marketing times have been falling. Cash remains a distinct advantage for buyers competing for fewer listings accounting for two thirds of all sales. We expect the current conditions to continue through the remainder of the year.  See the full report at

7/18/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Fort Lauderdale Sales Report:  Fort Lauderdale is experiencing falling inventory. The lack of supply placed pressure on prices as the average size of a sale slipped a bit from last year. Sales of condos and single family homes reached their highest total in over seven years and cash purchases accounted for nearly two thirds of all sales. We anticipate these conditions to characterize the market over the coming quarters.  See the full report at

7/18/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Palm Beach Sales Report:  Palm Beach showed some of the largest price increases in the region caused mainly by the lack of inventory.  The supply of homes fell steadily over the past year but the second quarter had the most sales of any spring market since 2008.  Price increases in the luxury market outpaced the overall market with the addition of many larger-sized sales. Without near term relief from low inventory, we expect more of the same tight market conditions throughout the year.  See the full report at

7/25/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2 QTR 2013 Long Island Sales Report:  With the combination of rising sales and falling inventory, the Long Island housing market had the fastest market pace we’ve seen since 2005. As housing prices have begun to rise, we are now seeing signs of new supply entering the market, a relief for buyers. Interest rates started to increase at the end of the quarter and are expected to keep the market from getting overheated over the next few quarters.  See the full report at

7/25/13 Douglas Elliman Releases 2QTR 2013 Hamptons Sales Report:   The Hamptons housing market had the most active spring since 2006. There were a lot more sales and inventory continued to fall keeping the upward pressure on the housing prices. With fewer choices for buyers, we saw properties sell slightly faster with less negotiation between buyers and sellers. We expect more of the same tight conditions over the next several quarters.  See the full report at

7/25/13 Douglas Elliman Releases North Fork Sales Report:  The housing market in the North Fork behaved much as it’s neighbors to the south.  There were more sales this quarter along with less inventory and prices are beginning to rise.  An improving economy and concerns about rising interest rates brought a lot of buyers into the market even though credit remained tight. Overall it was an encouraging spring and we look forward to a stronger market for the remainder of the year.  See the full report on

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It is particularly interesting to note that the controversial East Side  Marine Transfer Station near Asphalt Green  is precariously located in the most dangerous flood zone.

Recently FEMA released new flood maps in the wake of Super storm Sandy.    When Sandy hit last October, according to the 1983 map, only 218,000 residents, 36,000 buildings and 377 UES_Flood_Map_Evacuationmillion square feet of built area was in the high-risk floodplain.  The most updated maps show 400,000 New York City residents living in the flood plain and about 270,000 working in areas now considered high risk for dangerous flooding.

Legend_Flood_MapOfficials warn that flooding could get worse.  The maps are developed from historical data and do not consider climate changes that could raise the sea level or increase heavy downpours.

Mayor Bloomberg outlined recommendations for protecting New York City from future hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, cold events and torrential rains.  He expects that by mid-century up to 1/4 of all of the City’s land area will be in the floodplain, affecting some 800,000 residents.

You’ll find the interactive flood map here. See also the FEMA Fact sheet


Excerpted from Crain’s New York



Thinking of Selling Your Apartment with a Neighbor?

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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

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In the News June 23, 2013

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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


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

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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

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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.