The Big Apple: Nascent signs of recovery emerge

MANHATTAN BUCKS WORSENING STATEWIDE TREND OF RISING MORTGAGE DELINQUENCIES

The mortgage loan delinquency rate in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens in the final quarter of 2010 was up from year-earlier levels, according to a recent quarterly analysis. The uptick could well lead to a rise in foreclosure activity in coming months.

Manhattan was the only borough to see a decline in delinquencies, with a slight drop of 0.04 percentage points in the period.

APARTMENT MARKET SHOWS POSSIBLE SIGNS OF STRENGTH

Sales in the Manhattan co-op and condo market show signs of bouncing back after dropping sharply last month, reports the Wall Street Journal.

January sales were hurt because Continue reading

Out and About: A textbook case of overpricing?

Everything about this co-op is superlative. (Brown Harris Stevens photo via OLR)

When I walked into a studio apartment in the high 60s on Central Park West, the gut renovation bowled me over.

So did the price, $980,00 with monthly maintenance of $1,166.  That for a north-facing co-op of probably no more than 550 square feet on a high floor in a full-service post-war building.  From the balcony, and only the balcony unless you stand at the window, there are superb views of the park.

But $980,000, I wondered aloud? I told the listing broker that I couldn’t imagine anyone paying that much, but he told me that Continue reading

The Times’ David Leonhardt keeps making sense

Graphic from The New York Times

Prescient and perceptive, David Leonhardt has earned my respect and admiration over the years.  Most recently, his column last week–headlined “The Bears and the State of Housing,” about which more below–got me thinking.  Which is the point.

A dummy, Leonhardt isn’t.

According to a Times bio, he is a New York native who studied applied math at Yale and then worked for Business Week and the Washington Post.  Since 2000, he has written for the Times and has been a columnist there since 2006.  He was one of the writers who produced the paper’s 2005 series on social class in the United States.

His “Economic Scene” column on Aug. 15, 2007 provided rare early warning, which I unfortunately failed to heed, about the Wall Street’s euphoria.  Said Leonhardt:

Going forward, one possibility is Continue reading

Okay, New Yorkers, let’s all take a deep breath

Flickr photo by palisade 14

With the news this week of plunging home sales across the country, doom and gloom has enveloped almost everyone I know.  Stock prices dropped impressively, and the New York Times led the paper yesterday to report on mounting anxiety related to the impact of the latest housing statistics.

To be sure, I recently took a dim view (which I retain) about the chances of a housing recovery in the Big Apple, but Josh Barbanel, whom I know and much respect, injected welcome perspective in an article he wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.  The headline said it all: Continue reading

Don’t believe everything you read, even my posts

The headline words “jump,” “rebound,” “normal” and “healing” have just surfaced about second-quarter reports for Manhattan released in the last 24 hours.

While it is true that the statistics don’t lie, they do represent a snapshot of history and they don’t reveal month-to-month changes.

I have observed the growing somnolence of the June market compared with April, Continue reading

Comparing sales just got harder, in a way

Six of one and . . . (Flickr photo by theilr)

Starting March 12, the city changed the way it displays property records in its online database, the Automated City Register Information System, or ACRIS.  The modification was little noticed until the Real Deal ran a piece on its Web site the other day.

For example, as the publication observed, the closed sale price of a unit at 10 West 66th St. that had shown a recorded sale price of $1 million jumped to $1.75 million. A studio at 61 Jane St. had a price tag of $87,900 when the deal closed in 2009, then $439,500 after the change in ACRIS, from which StreetEasy.com and PropertyShark.com draw data.

The change is meant to reflect virtually everything a buyer expends to purchase a co-op, Continue reading

Is it time to call the housing market’s bottom?

Based strictly on the seriously skewed evidence of what I have been seeing at open houses over the last few weeks on the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and downtown, I’m going to go out on a limb farther down in this post.

Should this photo have more than one bottom?

Open houses have been busy, and some of the properties already have offers on them, sometimes more than one.

At the same time, asking prices are no longer going down.  In fact, many are going up, often on properties listed long ago.  My impression is that the prices of larger apartments are climbing faster than others, though most seem to be leaving room for negotiation.

For example, Continue reading

Plenty of inventory, but how much is tempting?

No need to rush if you're looking for higher-end properties.

Appraisal executive Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel prepared the charts above to show how long it will take at the current sales pace to run through the supply of apartments that existed at the end of February.

Assuming that a low absorption rate equates to relatively high sales activity, my takeaway is this: Continue reading

Brokers must represent best interests of clients

Photo by Floyd Brown

If my bashing of unnamed brokers seems as if I relish the activity as a sport, you are mistaken. It’s just that I’m continually astounded by the behavior of the bad, but nonetheless successful, apples in the bunch of us.

I’m still seething over the behavior of a broker at her open house of an expensive four-bedroom apartment on a corner of Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side a week ago.

The story begins a week before the open house.  Continue reading

New Yorkers can ignore latest housing statistics

Case-Shiller Home Price Levels. Click to expand and see other graphics.

In fact, New Yorkers and residents of other dense urban centers always can pay little heed to the monthly report of housing data from Case-Shiller or any other single sources of information.

Their one virtue is to examine a dated snapshot of the national housing market, excluding areas such as the Big Apple, where few single-home sales occur.  Case-Shiller leaves out apartment sales and its reports embrace whole Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). In addition, the sample of 10 or 20 cities is suspect in my layman’s eyes.

Manhattan by gemini spy on Flickr.

In the case of Manhattan, the MSA covers all the boroughs plus suburban New Jersey and Westchester County. And as everyone knows, the percentage of single-family home sales in the borough never reaches beyond the lowest digits.

I suppose investors and others who might be looking, unreasonably, at the national market for trends in the biggest cities can benefit from glancing at the numbers. But using those statistics for anything greater than a very rough gauge of what is or, worse, will be occurring in a given market is pure folly.

All that said, you may well be able to enliven your cocktail chatter by knowing Continue reading