My coverage of New York City news likely will be sporadic over the next couple of weeks, but please do check here to catch up with important developments or perhaps my idle musings.
It takes longer to foreclose on homes in New York than in any other state—and it’s getting longer every month.
Two years ago, the state began requiring that banks and borrowers attend settlement conferences before a foreclosure takes place.
While the conferences are popular with borrowers and have succeeded in helping some families keep their homes, banks have been reluctant to participate. That, and recent revelations that some lenders have improperly submitted foreclosure documents, has prompted judges to take a harsher stance with lenders.
CUOMO IS UNRELENTING ON PLEDGE TO CAP PROPERTY TAXES
Gov.-elect Andrew M. Cuomo is making clear to legislative leaders that one of his priorities is to cap local property taxes, a notion that would have large consequences statewide for homeowners and school districts.
Cuomo is proposing a limit on the total amount of property tax dollars that can be collected annually by a school district, municipality or special district by capping the increase in the local tax levy at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, according to his campaign literature. Schools traditionally receive the largest share of property taxes.
A cap would not directly affect New York City, where property taxes are relatively low because of revenue from the city’s personal income tax and where the schools are financed through the general city budget. But outside the city, New York is among the most heavily taxed states in the country.
D’YA THINK THIS NOMAD MIGHT HAVE A BOOK OR MOVIE DEAL IN THE BACK OF HIS MIND OR HIGHEST OF HIS HOPES?
Ed Casabian’s nomadic existence was born of heartache after his efforts to salvage a seven-year romance proved futile. So he moved out of the co-op in northern Manhattan that he and his now former girlfriend had bought together.
“I was pretty depressed over it and riding my bike around Central Park–it was a Sunday afternoon–and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do,” Casabian, 29, who is from Massachusetts, told the New York Times. “And thinking about the happiest times of my life, it was when I was traveling, exploring and meeting people. Couldn’t I just travel in my own city?”
So in May he packed up his belongings, adopted a catchy moniker, the N.Y.C. Nomad, and embarked on a yearlong journey that might sound like torture to most renters–living in a different home in a different neighborhood every week for a year.
LITTLE THIRD-QUARTER CHANGE RECORDED FOR UNDERWATER HOMEOWNERS IN THE REGION
The level of underwater mortgages in the greater New York City metro region remained relatively flat between the second and third quarters of the year, according to a report by data tracking firm CoreLogic.
Of the 1.13 million mortgages tracked in the region, which CoreLogic defines as New York City, White Plains and Wayne, N.J., roughly 10.8 percent were underwater in the third quarter, down just 0.1 percent from the previous quarter.
Notices of default and newly scheduled residential foreclosure auctions plummeted last month, according to data from PropertyShark.com, partly because banks drew back after their foreclosure paperwork was found to be riddled with errors.
Citywide, there were 146 residential foreclosure auctions scheduled, down 39 percent from the 247 scheduled in October 2010 and 24 percent from the 198 scheduled in November 2009.
FEAR OF SHRINKING BONUS POOLS HAS WALLSTREETERS ACTING WITH AUSTERITY. . . SORT OF
This year, amid the largest decline in bonuses since the onset of the financial crisis, the Street’s big spenders are reining in their seasonal shopping spree in favor of more restrained indulgence. Mere brown-bag lunches aboard the Gulfstream are just the start.
Wall Street bonuses are likely to be down 22-28 percent this year, according to Options Group, an executive-search and consulting firm. The drop follows last year’s much-criticized surge in banker pay and highlights growing uncertainty on Wall Street ahead of regulatory scrutiny and weak financial markets.
Bankers at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase say they are being told bonus pools are likely to be down between 10-25 percent. Some divisions,such as proprietary trading, could be down as much as 50 percent, bankers said.
Still, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and his top deputies will collect about $111.3 million in stock next month in a delayed payoff from last year and their record-setting 2007 bonuses.
SALES OF BIG APARTMENTS ARE ZOOMING BY ONE ACCOUNT, BUT A SAVVY BLOGGER DEMONSTRATES THAT THE ACCOUNT IS FAULTY
The number of families living in the city has been rising in recent years as has the number of five-person families, according to U.S. Census estimates and state birth-rate data. Those factors, combined with a flood of larger apartments conceived at the height of the real-estate boom, have led to an increase in urban apartments with suburban proportions.
The number of four-bedroom apartments sold in Manhattan has nearly doubled over the past five years, to 270 in 2009 from 136 in 2005, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. The Wall Street Journal maintains that sales of large apartments began rising in the 1990s, only to decline sharply after the economic crash of 2001.
But in the past five years they have resumed their upward trend, with sales of apartments with four or more bedrooms rising by 29 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter.
A friend of mine, broker/blogger Sandy Mattingly, tears apart the Journal’s analysis convincingly, criticizing the newspaper’s arithmetic and saying that the use of Census data in the piece was a “very bad way” to prove the trend it detected.
MAYBE HENNY YOUNGMAN REALLY WAS REFERRING TO HIS REFRIGERATOR
Over the last several months, 22,741 New Yorkers contacted the city’s Department of Sanitation and arranged for the pickup of refrigerators, air-conditioners and freezers. In more than 11,000 instances, the machines vanished before sanitation workers arrived in their white trucks to pick them up.
Scavengers, to be sure, abound in New York, especially during tough economic times. But the sheer magnitude of the thefts–11,528 appliances, to be precise–over a relatively brief period suggests to some in city government and the recycling industry that a more organized–get it?–enterprise may be at work as well.
AS MINORITIES FLOCK TO THE SUBURBS, THE REGION IS BEING RESHAPED
Metropolitan New York is being rapidly reshaped as blacks, Latinos, Asians and immigrants surge into the suburbs, while gentrification by whites is widening the income gap in neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, according to new census figures.
Some of the largest population gains since 2000 were recorded in places that not long ago might have been considered marginal, including Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg in Brooklyn; Castle Hill and Hunts Point in the Bronx; South Jamaica in Queens; and Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken in New Jersey. Parts of those neighborhoods and cities, as well as the financial district in Lower Manhattan, registered large gains.
GROWTH IN MANHATTAN’S MEDIAN PRICE BESTED REST OF NATION IN 2005-2009
Manhattan had the largest dollar increase in median housing values in the country between 2005 and 2009, new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show.
The median value jumped by $350,600 per home between 2005 and 2009 to $800,400, an increase of 78 percent.
AT THE APTHORP, ONLY THE MICE SEEM HAPPY
Conditions at the Apthorp are continuing to deteriorate, several tenants in the venerated Upper West Side condo conversion say. A visit by a reporter confirmed that the environment appears to be far from desirable and, in some cases, far from safe.
Their complaints come just days after an article was published in the New York Times detailing the trials of 95-year-old tenant and Holocaust survivor Irene Front, who said that numerous maintenance requests, including complaints of rampant rodent problems at the Apthorp, went overlooked for weeks.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE CITY, WHICH PEAKED AT 10.5 PERCENT, SLIPS TO 9.1 PERCENT IN NOVEMBER
Despite a dropoff in hiring of retail sales clerks heading into the holidays, the unemployment rate for New York City edged down again in November, to 9.1 percent, according to figures released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.
It is now significantly lower than the national unemployment rate, which rose to 9.8 percent in November, from 9.6 percent in October.
The number of private sector jobs in the city has increased by 1.6 percent in the last year, compared with just 1 percent for the country, said James Brown, the department’s principal economist.
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