Archive for Downtown

Market musings at 55 Vestry Street-Maisonette

Market musings in a Tribeca maisonette-55 Vestry Street

Wednesday evening I went to a state-of-the-market update meeting held in a duplex maisonette in the Fairchild, at 55 Vestry Street in Tribeca.  Speakers included Howard Lorber - Chairman and President of Prudential Douglas Elliman, Jonathan Miller - co-founder of residential real estate appraisal firm Miller Samual (real estate market guru,  blogger extraordinaire and podcaster),  and Raphael DeNiro Executive Vice President; Associate Broker Prudential Douglas Elliman-Exclusive Marketing Broker for The Fairchild.

Here’s some of their thoughts and market insights:

  • Real estate in Manhattan “had a run of fantastic years so if you compare everything moving forward to 2006 or 2007 you’re bound to be disappointed”.
  • As the stock market goes up for a few days the phones begin to ring but when  the market has a few losing  days the phones become silent.
  • Contract activity usually peaks in May, but because of the Lehman closing, the market took a “time out” and is 3 months out of synch-we’ve seen the peak happen in August.
  • NYC traditionally lags the rest of the country in real estate downturns. This particular cycle is reminiscent of 911 when all sales dropped off then began to pick up again in January/February 2002
  • Lots of all cash purchases-37% cash (usually 5-10%) 63% financed. This is a good sign that the market is turning the corner
  • Inventory is down about 23% in lock-step to where it has been for the last 10 years. There is concern of “shadow inventory” being injected into the market both form new developments and sellers thinking this is the time to sell.
  • First time buyers activity make the entire market feel more confident.
  • Most of the “action” is weighted in the low end of the market.
  • Lots of contracts below $1million have helped to erode inventory levels and prop up sales prices in that piece of the market.


All Real Estate is Local, Very Very Local (Still)

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Real Estate is Hyper-Local

Real Estate is Hyper-Local

The Case-Shiller Index reporting on residential  property sales for the period of March, April, and May was published yesterday.

As noted in last month’s Geezer Rant,  because the index excludes price data on new developments, condos and co-ops,   the Index is not applicable to 99% of residential sales in Manhattan.

It’s interesting to note that the Wall Street Journal commented on this fact albeit  in the second page and 22 paragraphs into the article:

The Survey doesn’t track condominium or cooperative apartment sales, so it doesn’t take into account the majority of housing stock on New York City.

To get a better picture of the Manhattan real estate market in the second quarter of 2009, check out the various reports and press commentary published and discussed at the beginning of this month.

The Q2 Manhattan Market Overview prepared by  Miller Samuel, an independent appraisal firm,  and Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate, differentiates sales by the four major regions of Manhattan:  East Side, West Side, Downtown and Uptown. In addition to accounting for seasonal adjustments, the report also breaks out sales by new developments and resales–both very important factors in reporting median and average prices so that like sales are properly compared.

Even with that degree of Manhattan specificity, there remain neighborhoods within those regions can have quite different sales price results. For example the East Side consists of at least  seven neighborhoods including Beekman, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Sutton Place, Carnegie Hill and Yorkville. Then there are “corridors” like the 5th Avenue and Park Avenue.

Within Manhattan there are areas, neighborhoods, sub neighborhoods corridors etc. Within those areas are specific blocks, specific buildings with specific views from specific floors or amenities which may affect property prices. Think about  a 5th Avenue apartment on a high floor facing Central Park vs.  an apartment in the same building on a low floor with no park views.

But  as Barry Ritholtz pointed out in his blog The Big Picture the “media coverage was mostly gushing” (see below),  the point is that all real estate is local, very very local and even hyper-local. Caution should be taken when extrapolating any national reports’ data  to any specific city or  town.

Front Page WSJ: Home Prices Rise Across U.S.Home prices in major U.S. cities registered the first monthly gain in nearly three years, according to a new report that provided fresh evidence that the severe U.S. housing downturn could be easing. Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index, which tracks home prices in 20 metropolitan areas, rose 0.5% for the three-monthperiod ending in May, compared with the three months ending in April. It marked the index’s first increase after 34 straight months of decline, and came after a variety of housing indicators has shown glimmers of hope for the past several months

Front Page NYT: Recovery Signs in Housing Market Stir Some Hope

After a plunge lasting three years, houses have finally become cheap enough to lure buyers. That, in turn, is stabilizing prices, generating hope that the real estate market is beginning to recover. Eight cities, including Chicago, Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco, showed price increases in May, up from four in April and one in March, according to data released Tuesday. Two other cities, Charlotte, N.C., and New York, were flat. - U.S. Home Prices Rise for First Time in Three Years

Home prices posted their first monthly gain in three years in May, a gauge of values in 20 major U.S. cities showed, reinforcing signs of stabilization in a market hammered by the worst slump since the 1930s. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index rose 0.5 percent from April, the first monthly gain since July 2006 and biggest since May of that year, the group said today in New York. The measure was down 17.1 percent from May 2008, less than forecast and the smallest year-over-year drop in nine months.

CNN/Money – Home prices up for 1st time in 3 years

Index of 20 major cities rises on a monthly basis for the first time since July 2006, hinting that the worst of the declines may be over. The value of U.S. homes grew on a monthly basis in May for the first time in nearly three years, according to 20-city index released Tuesday. The month-over-month increase was 0.5%, according to the report from financial data company Standard & Poor’s and economists Case-Shiller. It was the first increase in the monthly index since July 2006.

Reuters - Home prices up for first time in three years

U.S. single-family home prices rose in May from April, the first monthly increase in nearly three years, suggesting prices may be stabilizing, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller home price indexes on Tuesday.


Malbec Wine Tasting at Morton’s Restaurant

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Malbec Tasting at MortonsWe had a wonderful bottle of Malbec while in Argentina a few years ago. I think it was called Luis Borcas. I’ve never tasted a more wonderful wine paired with beef but have been unable to find it here in Manhattan.

So when I was invited to a Malbec tasting at Morton’s Steakhouse on East 45th Street I was excited to taste these Trapiche Malbecs.  In addition to the wine we were treated to samplings of food as well.

On the wine list:
Trapiche, Torrontes, 2008
Trapiche, “Oak Cask,” Malbec 2007
Michel Torino, “Don David,” Malbec 2006

Broquel, Malbec 2006
Trapiche, “Adriana Venturin,” Malbec 2006

Paired with samplings of:
Sliced Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce
Broiled Sea Scallops, Apricot Chutney
Selection of Cheeses
Miniature Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake

I dutifully sampled the five selections, but kept coming back to my favorite the Trapiche Single Vineyard “Adriana Venturin.” It was spicy yet soft, and after breathing for about a half hour was wonderful with the sliced tenderloin on crostini.

Not really a fan of deserts-and for some reason I didn’t think the chocolate cake would compliment the wine,  took a glass of the Adriana Venturin to the bar and ordered lamb chops.

It was really was excellent.

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Midtown Manhattan Korean & Mexican Food Mashup

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We didn't have this! Too bad...

We expected a taco, perhaps this short rib taco, but we got a kimchi quesadilla instead

They were serving a Korean/Mexican mashup..kimchi quesadilla out of a  truck… the Dessert Truck on loan to Kogi! And it was on 56th street and Lexington Avenue, only a couple of blocks away from my office.

It seemed like a good idea when I read about it in and even better when I read the buzz on where, after the fact, I got the photo below.  (I was without a camera since I returned my Apple iPhone yesterday. Good thing too with the new models and software update announced today.)

At $4 bucks and going to benifit CityMeals-on-wheels I couldn’t miss it!

...but the chocolate mousse from the Desert Truck was excellent!

...but the chocolate mousse from the Desert Truck was excellent!

The quesadilla was a bit greasy but had a nice spicy/hot after glow. The chocolate mousse with peanut butter filling was surrounded by and nestled in a creme Anglais. It was garnished with a piece of caramel coated popcorn-reminiscent of Cracker Jacks.  Very nice.

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