Pictures at an evacuation center

MS 118 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan

From my kitchen window, I can readily see the front door of an storm shelter in the schools complex on W. 93rd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.

I decided to pop in and snap a few photos before someone said doing so wasn’t allowed.  Since it is such a joyless place, I was happy not to tarry, but I wanted to share with readers how miserable the experience must be for those who have had to abandon their homes.

Spending nights and much of the days in a school gym (where voting is to take place on Tuesday) now serving as dormitory, commissary and clothing-supply facility has to be better than making do in a cold and powerless apartment.  But it ain’t great.

There is much need of volunteer help and clothing.

One woman I questioned said that Sandy had forced her to leave her home in the Lower East Side. The photos below will give you some idea of where she has to live now.

Continue reading

State to tighten advertising rules for real estate

Few buyers and sellers of residential real estate believe everything in advertisements placed by brokers and agents.

Neither does New York’s Department of State (DOS), which is proposing to implement new rules as a consumer protection to replace its informal advertising guidelines.  In a notice about the change published on Oct. 24, it said:

After consulting with the New York State Board of Real Estate, however, it was determined that enforceable regulations were required in order to adequate protect the public from dishonest and misleading advertising practices.

Covered by the rule is Continue reading

I’ve got your number. Do you have it too?

(flickr photo by MervC)

Among my travel companions over the years, I am legend for wanting to walk just one more block to check out restaurants for dinner.  Such treks can last for hours, literally.

So, I’m sympathetic to homebuyers who want to see one potential new home after another until the search exhausts everyone involved.

And I fully appreciate that buying a home is nothing to undertake casually.

But there comes a point at which enough is enough: Continue reading

Out and About: Welcome home, Rosemary

The Dakota

It probably isn’t a stretch to venture that the Dakota, at 1 W. 72nd St., is the most photographed apartment building in Manhattan and possibly the whole world.

It is, of course, where John Lennon lived at the time of his death in front of the building, never mind a slew of other celebrities.  It also was shown as the site where Rosemary’s baby was born.

Departing from my norm of providing only vague addresses of the properties that I visit, let me tell you about a co-op that went on the market there in April.  And it is one memorable apartment. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Lawsuits, rising sales, falling foreclosures, ghostly cities, rosier forecasts

Everywhere in the city, brown sandstone is a fading commodity

Having tried a $500,000 two-week Hamptons rental to snag a man, Cheryl Mercuris buys $13.72 million UWS condo

Good investment property must first of all be in — duh — right location

Record 33 contracts signed for luxury properties last week

To track down pre-construction bargains, start with city’s Web site, then negotiate hard

Priciest zip isn’t on the Upper East Side after all

Median price of lower-end homes swoons in the Hamptons

Agents have reasons stemming from mid 90s lawsuit for withholding square footage

Mauritian national seeks more than $1 million on claim that co-op board broke anti-discrimination law

Rise recorded in foreclosure, delinquency rates in metro region

Stigmatized Kennedy property in Connecticut finds buyer in week

Acting couple rid themselves of Mediterranean-style mansion in Los Angeles for $6.7 million

Moving four blocks away, funny man and wife add a room

Ex-wife of billionaire financier/philanthropist Continue reading

Buyers and sellers alike need to trust their gut

Maybe not every gut should be trusted. (Flickr photo by Vic DeLeon)

Between accepting the offer and agreeing to the contract, a seller backpeddles on whether that flat-screen TV and the chandelier over the dining room table are included.

Then there’s the seller who suddenly is asking that contingencies stated in the offer be removed from the contract.

Or, there’s the buyer who is beginning to express second thoughts about the closing date.

And what to make of the buyer who doesn’t return the signed contract quickly?

These are just a few of the warning signs of transactions that could prove to be a rough ride or even result in derailment, and they should not be ignored.  Consider what an acquaintance of mine related to me in the following e-mail, which I quote verbatim: Continue reading

How ’bout a house with your wedding gift?

Ellen and Sabrina on their big day.

A family in Calgary offers $5,000 for the successful buyers of their house to help pay for their wedding.  (As newlyweds years earlier, it was their first home.)

Buyers of Christopher Meloni’s condo can have a sports car as well.

Other sellers throw in the furniture, advertise bonuses for the buyer’s broker, pitch a free vacation or dangle a year’s worth of house cleaning.

Will such tactics do the trick? Continue reading

Friendship and family can misdirect buyers

Family matters. To a point. (Flickr photo via the Library of Congress)

The headline might have read “Don’t trust anyone but yourself.”  But that’s a bit extreme.

The problem with using friends and family as sounding boards — as any understandably insecure first-time buyer might do — is that their opinions can have a way of undermining the prospective homeowner’s instincts, intuition, needs and desires.

As for buyers who ask friends in real estate to represent them, they risk bowing to their expertise and biases with regard to a range of subjective criteria.  Among the criteria might be neighborhood, building type, layout, finishes, amenities and floor level.

Although it is useful to pay close attention to a broker, it also is essential for buyers to Continue reading

Out and About: Beware of false hopes

I snapped this photo from the north balcony.  Below is how the project appears from the living room, from which the balcony rail is just visible.

From many apartments in the 37-story high-rise built in 1967 on Amsterdam Avenue in the low 60s, the views always impressed visitors.

Some of the condos retain those vistas, but those facing the site of a massive Fordham University construction project haven’t been so fortunate.  Even those above the 22-story building must contend with an ugly foreground.

I’ve written in the past about concerns all buyers should have about lot-line windows. This issue is different, and it centers on views that are protected by zoning restrictions and landmarking.

In other words, it is not enough to worry about the possibility of construction that could rise some day against your potential new home. Buyers also have to ascertain whether the area beyond is protected as well. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Wily boards, condo prices, housing starts, FICO scores, pocket listings, ghosts, recovery consensus and much more

Those co-op boards are at it again — and again – even against their own

Feng shui consultant busy in Manhattan

Owners of highest-end apartments pay far smaller percentage of units’ sales value in taxes than others do

New condos post 16.7 percent price rise over a year ago

For first time, a New York neighborhood climbs to top of Forbes list of most expensive zip codes

Brooklyn, Queens inventory lowest in four years, but luxury market in those boroughs relatively healthy

Commercial real estate sector poised for 2013 recovery, moving up to second-best city for investment

Twilight co-star purchases Los Feliz house for Continue reading