Weekly Roundup: Rent control, record low, rates, renovations, rosier forecasts. . . much more!

Three-year extension of rent control becomes law

Area single-family homes experience 2.9 percent drop over 12 months

South Bronx burns no more

Trulia says it’s cheaper to rent than buy in Queens

Selling condos to moms and dads often comes down to child’s play

Harlem’s renaissance enjoys revival

Following reports of rent scams by Queens man, attorney general issues Craigslist alert

NYU’s Furman Center documents plunge in Continue reading

Negotiations should lead to meeting of the minds

Butting heads is not what is meant by a meeting of the minds. (flickr photo by Shiny Things)

Buyers, sellers and their brokers can have a way of forgetting what they are trying to accomplish in a real estate transaction.

Some seem bent on proving who has the stiffest. . . backbone.

The smartest ones Continue reading

No more online product reviews for me

My new microwave oven. Isn't it lovely?

My ancient microwave oven died not long ago, so I went online to buy a new one.

Probably like you, I spent a fair amount of time — hours, I am embarrassed to confess — checking out various brands and features.  When I found a promising candidate, I read the reviews.

Not one of the possibilities emerged as worthy of purchase.  Most of the reviews were negative of the one that most tempted me: Continue reading

Cash is king, but potential borrowers are pawns

The graphs above are several weeks old, but I held onto the image because it presents a compelling indictment of mortgage lenders.

I just wish there were a third graph that charts mortgage rates over the years.

With interest rates at low and then historically low levels starting in 2009, it stands to reason that the line representing purchase loans would turn up along with an increase in home buying activity.  Only because lenders imposed onerous standards on borrowers did that fail to happen.

To be sure, one explanation for the all-cash trend has been the choice that certain buyers could make.

They would include Continue reading

Renting to own can be option if used cautiously

Buyers who are short of enough cash for a downpayment, closing costs, moving expenses and property improvements may find themselves gravitating toward a rent-to-own option.  It also is a route that consumers in the process of repairing their credit my want to try.

But such a concept — which I have found to be employed infrequently — must be pursued with great care. Continue reading

Homeowners who bought in 2007 should be celebrating, not crying over spilled milk

Condo and co-op sales (source: Prudential Douglas Elliman via the Real Deal)

Note: With my break drawing to a close, alas, normal frequency of posts resumes Monday.

Let’s say you bought a new home five years ago, a year before Manhattan’s residential market nosedived.

And let’s assume you coughed up $1 million for the privilege of living in your modest 870-sf apartment with two small bedrooms plus one and a half baths on the Upper West Side.

The third set of assumptions might be monthly mortgage payments of $3,500, maintenance of $1,400 and other ownership expenses such as insurance and maintenance of $100 a month.

Do you wish that you had waited until now to have made the purchase?

If you are like many other former homebuyers, Continue reading

Out and About: Agent and seller at odds

A well-lighted cave is still a cave. (flickr photo by d'n'c)

Note: After my short break, normal frequency of posts resumes next week.

The agent grimaced when I asked at an open house how long her listing had been on the market.

“Forever,” was her one-word reply.

Checking out the two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath condo in Morningside Heights, I was underwhelmed by the $1,616-sf duplex.  My chief objection: The lower floor is in the building’s basement down an exceedingly narrow flight of stairs.

To her credit, the listing broker in describing that subterranean space did not glorify it as anything more than a playroom, media room or perhaps gym.

The half bath is down there, and the light from window wells is negligible.  It is a cave.

As for the rest of the apartment, Continue reading