15 houses, 6 co-ops head to auction in Queens

This Kew Gardens house has the highest upset price, $665,000, in the estate auction by Queens Public Administrator Lois Rosenblatt.

Queens Public Administrator Lois Rosenblatt has announced that an estate auction of six co-ops and 15 houses will be held on June 14 starting at 11 a.m.

Minimum prices range from $45,000 for a single-family house in Jamaica to $665,000 for one in Kew Gardens.  For the apartments, which will be sold pending board approvals, the lowest acceptable bid is $74,000 for a co-op in Corona and the top is $143,000 for a Flushing unit.

Shown above is the detached stucco house that was owned by Anna Javor at 110 82nd Road in Kew Gardens.  With a one-car garage and nearly three stories, the house sits on a 5,000-sf lot and is subject to tenancy. Taxes are $7,496 annually.

The properties to be auctioned are listed below along with Continue reading

Weekly Roundup with The Big Apple

For the long weekend, this post combines The Big Apple, which I publish on Fridays, with my usual Weekly Roundup.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend!  See you again on Tuesday.

The Big Apple
 

Albany reaches agreement on property-tax cut but apparently not for New York City

Co-op boards levy all kinds of fees, but they must be ‘reasonable’

Don’t sign contract without first reading co-op board application

Residents of massive Lincoln Plaza building sue Millstein Properties over disparate pricing

Gorgeous and relaxing Upper West Side amenity throws a benefit for itself

Co-ops are a different animal

A man’s home can be his garage as well these days

Lead in your pants is okay, but not in an apartment with children

New legislation would give second-home owners a tax break

_________________________

TV anchor who wouldn’t dub himself the greatest downsizes to a pied-à-terre

Ostriches will want Continue reading

Accept no offer until your home is on the market

The garden I tended behind my rowhouse in Washington, D.C.

How tempting it is when you get an unsolicited offer to sell your home before you put it on the market.

Maybe you’ll have no, or at least a reduced, brokerage fee. There’ll be no open houses that require your preparation and evacuation. And forget about the anxiety of waiting for a buyer to bite, conducting fruitful negotiations and wondering, “What if?”

Don’t do it.

The situation arises more often that you might imagine. Hell, it happened to me when I moved back to Manhattan from Washington, D.C.

But don’t do it.

There is ample for reason for rejecting an early offer or equivocating  should one surfaces: Continue reading

The High Road: Auctions produce but one winner

For bidders at this auction last February, hope springs eternal.

The willingness of distressed developers to resort to real estate auctions puzzles me.

I also wonder why a consuming public puts up with them.

But I don’t doubt why the companies that run auctions love them: money, of course.

Prompting this screed are three things: 1.  A blogger for the New York Times called to interview me about auctions; 2. A couple of auctions have been scheduled of condos in East Harlem; and 3. I noticed an advertisement just yesterday for 10 properties in the outer boroughs.

The pitch that the auctioneers make to developers is that they can benefit from instant establishment of the market value of their properties.

If the developers decide against selling out the building or don’t accept some of the bids, they’ll know exactly what to charge for the remaining units.  So goes the pitch.

All they have to do is dangle before buyers a few apartments in their building as available “absolute,” the auction companies contend; that strategy guarantees the seller’s acceptance of the winning bids.  Other units will be offered at the same auction with ridiculously low minimum bids, but the developer retains the right to reject the eventual winners.

In either case, buyers can be counted on turn out in droves in the hope of snaring a bargain. They are doubtless the same buyers who shun bidding wars in horror.

Yet an auction is nothing more than a bidding war.

True, a few buyers — even many at times, depending on circumstance — buy property at a good price.  But Continue reading

What if your title company is crooked?

Titleserv has closed the doors of its national headquarters in Woodbury, L.I.

Let’s say you bought an apartment or single-family house not long ago, and one of the nation’s biggest providers of title insurance issued your policy.  That company would be Titleserv, which has described itself as follows:

We operate in 47 states domestically as well as in select international markets and provide both residential and commercial services.

Established in 1986 in Woodbury, New York, Titleserv was founded on a fundamental premise – to be the title insurance provider of choice by offering the most reliable and comprehensive title insurance services in the residential and commercial industry. . .

Access to National underwriters allows Titleserv to provide the most competitive pricing coupled with boutique service.

When a title company runs into problems, you can be sure that you, too, will run into problems.  Read on. . .

As for Titleserv, does it intrigue you to learn that the company was raided by federal investigators suspicious about an alleged illegal kickback scheme several years ago and Continue reading

Out and About: Three into one don’t go

Imagine a complete room, a bedroom, at the top of this image of an apartment that just refuses to end.

Even apartments that have resulted from the combination of two units can challenge architects.  When it comes to combining three units, you can’t count on a challenge that is, in most cases, insurmountable.

Such is the case of the co-op with the floor plan at the right.

At the top, the room that I had to cut off was a one-bedroom apartment.  The first fully illustrated space now designated as “den/4th bedroom” was its the living room, and the incomplete one above was the original bedroom.  Where you see the walk-in closet to the right of the current den was the kitchen.

Moving  Continue reading

The Big Apple: Flip tax, prices, big sales, more

Look for more or expanded flip taxes in co-ops

A growing number of co-ops are considering creating or expanding flip taxes as they struggle to replenish reserve accounts depleted by rising costs.

A survey commissioned by Habitat magazine found that close to two-thirds of responding co-op boards already have in place what’s colloquially called a flip tax — formally, a “transfer fee.”

Of the 186 co-op boards responding to the survey, more than 129 charge some kind of transfer fee or administrative fee paid by the seller of an apartment when the unit is sold.

“A couple dozen of our buildings may be looking at the issue,” says Dan Wurtzel, president of Cooper Square Realty, which manages 400 properties.

Once a co-op board decides to consider a flip tax, there seems to be broad agreement about what type to institute. “Two percent of the total sales price of an apartment seems to be the number that everybody likes,” according to property manager Gerard J. Picaso.

An Upper East Side mansion that went begging for 7 years finds a buyer at last

A 13-room townhouse at 870 Park Ave. originally listed for $23 million in 2004 finally has found a new owner. Continue reading