Are you average U.S. householder? Probably not.

Households pay 24 percent of their total income for housing on average. The average expense: $927 a month.

Renters generally pay less in housing cost ($845 versus $1,008 for owners per month), but they usually pay a higher percentage of their household income than owners (31 percent versus 20 percent).

Twenty percent of recent movers identified convenience to their work as the most important factor in choosing a neighborhood.

So says the Census Bureau in its 2011 American Housing Survey, the latest year for results.

If you’d like more tidbits on the nation’s 115 million occupied homes, read on.  For example, questions about safety, health hazards and accessibility demonstrate that 64 percent of houses have Continue reading

Unit owners can breathe a sigh of (tax) relief

New York State Capitol in Albany (Flickr photo by Jimmy Emerson)

Although there was little doubt that lawmakers would act, it is nice to know that the New York State Assembly finally passed an Omnibus Housing Bill on Monday following Senate action last week.

The legislation restores for three years the expired tax abatement that was created to equalize the tax burdens between single-family homeowners and owners of co-ops and condos.

It also extends for the same period the J-51 program, which provides a tax benefit for the renovation of existing housing.

However, the legislation eliminates benefits for the conversion of commercial space to residential use and limits the eligibility for condominium and cooperative buildings with units that have an average assessed value per unit is  greater than $30,000.  Excepted are projects that receive “substantial” government assistance.

Certain provisions of the 421a program were amended as well so as to encourage new residential development in  some high-density areas of Midtown and Downtown Manhattan. Continue reading

Buyers can learn from first-timer’s ‘confessions’

Tara-Nicholle Nelson

When she was a first-time buyer, long before she became a columnist about real estate, Tara-Nicholle Nelson learned five lessons the hard way.

Her experience can be helpful to everyone who is looking for a new home, whether for the first time or not.  In a nutshell, this is what Nelson confides (if that is possible on the Internet): Continue reading

Out and About: Homes for buyers on tight budget

Apartment building

Built in 1910, this low-rise has 20 apartments on five floors — and no elevator — but represents value for a hardy soul.

They exist, those apartments for buyers on a tight budget.

It will not surprise them that low prices inevitably mean compromise, usually serious tradeoffs for homeownership in Manhattan.

Among the issues they can more or less count on are lack of light, excess of stairs, cramped quarters, dismal condition, inconvenient location, noisy streets or neighbors, grim public spaces, minimal amenities such as doorman or live-in super, or persistent visits by creatures parading on more than two legs. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Apartment bargains, price gains, sinking supply, mixed prognostications

Residential sales market attains highest peak in total dollars citywide since 2008 financial crisis, sales trail 2010

When it comes to the middle class, Manhattan naturally has one of its own

Winning design for micro-apartments allows for 55 250-to-370-sf modular units in Kips Bay

An UWS townhouse is listed for. . . $50 million

Closed sales in the Bronx slide to five-year low in 2012 as median inches up to $288,990

Major architecture firms expect 10-20 percent staff growth

First-floor apartment one of eight ways to get more space for less money

Zillow calculates 8.3 percent rise in home values

It is possible to avoid double taxation when refinancing in the city

If you can’t be too rich or thin, apparently you can have too much house

Average home price in the Hamptons sets record with surge of luxury sales

Sold price of Gramercy condop trimmed 67 percent from price that fashion designer had paid

Singer’s original $18 million asking price for Tribeca penthouse off key

It’s selling days Continue reading

Celebrities are fun to watch, folly to follow

Can you see me now? (flickr photo by dunkr)

If celebrity endorsements didn’t matter, you wouldn’t see stars (many of them on the wane) shilling insurance, pills or perfume.

So it is hardly surprising that building developers like nothing more than to rub shoulders with notables of the silver and pixellated screens.  Real estate brokers are just the same.

It is, indeed, true that proximity to stars sells real estate, as the news media regularly remind us — for example, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times not so long ago.  But why? Continue reading

Brokers breaking law could face severe penalties

When I wrote about proposed new advertising rules for real estate brokers, I was unable to find specific penalties.

Now Whitney A. Clark of the Department of State has enlightened me with a response to my search for answers, and the good news is that virtually all violations of New York Real Property Law can produce the same costly punishments. Continue reading