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

Seller timetable is essential in setting price

A real estate broker who called me after reading one of my posts was telling me about his approach to sellers when recommending a listing price.  Basically, he has them agree to progressively lower prices depending upon how long the property stays on the market.

I have a somewhat similar approach.

What I do is Continue reading

The High Road: Seller scofflaws walk free

(Flickr photo by Jeremy Brooks)

Every contract that I have seen for an exclusive listing requires the seller to pay the commission if a ready, willing and able buyer makes an offer to purchase the property.  And there is case law supporting the obligation.

I’m prompted to write this post after chatting with another broker, “Sandy,” who talked about the prospect of being stiffed by property owners who, it seems, merely want to test the market by listing an apartment for sale or, more benignly, have a change of heart.

She mentioned the situation of a growing family Continue reading

Months are what separate buyers from sellers

Both sides lose when buyers and sellers dig in. (Flickr photo by toffehoff)

I have a theory about the failure these days of the natural tug-o’-war between buyers and sellers to result in successful negotiations.

In short, it is that many sellers set listing prices based on where they think — or hope — the market is today or at least within slingshot range of their aspirations.

Sellers just can’t come to terms with Continue reading

Out and About: Sellers need to appreciate that price should be no object for them too

This two-bedroom, one-bath Upper West Side co-op has lingered on the market at its original price of $895,000 since last July. It is not described below.

The listings database is filled with properties that have gone unsold for months and months.

One example of many that I recently visited happens to be a one-bedroom co-op in Lincoln Square.  The 700-sf apartment went on the market for $479,000 last April and has ticked down in three steps to $429,000.  Its last reduction: $10,000 back in June.

The problem with this ground-floor unit is small rooms coupled with courtyard exposures.

But those flaws are not why the apartment hasn’t sold, is it?

Properties don’t fail to sell because of Continue reading

The High Road: Even brokers sometimes need brokers

Consider the real estate broker whom I’ll call Seth, whose experience he recounted last week while my client was taking measurements of the condo that it is to be his in a month.

Seth and his wife recently went into contract to purchase for more than $5 million a Jersey City, N.J. property.

As a New York licensee, he realized that buying in New Jersey is so unlike New York that Seth would be a fool to represent himself. Said he: Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Which city is dirtiest? And more!

Here’s your chance to catch up with news included to inform, enlighten and perhaps even entertain you. To read about The Big Apple, check out another of today’s three posts.



HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO Continue reading

Let us all praise honorable brokers

A casual buyer to whom I’ve sent listings and shown apartments occasionally over the last year or two called me last week to say that he’s found the one he wants to purchase. It is in Fort Green, Brooklyn, and I have yet to see the studio.

But he wanted me to represent him. Terrific, except that he already had visited the condo in a new development called 96 Rockwell Place.  Twice.

Worse, he has had substantive conversations with the sales associates there and even told them he wanted to make an offer.

In such a circumstance, Continue reading

Welcome to the housing market’s darkest days

Pounding rain assaults Brisbane (Flickr photo by Burning Image)

No, I don’t mean that sales and prices are plunging.  We’re entering that period when you’ll see fewer new listings, fewer open houses, not so many names on sign-in sheets and more properties going temporarily off the market.

We are entering the dark days.

It’s the holidays!

You can argue both sides of the coin of whether it’s a good idea Continue reading

Columnist Liz Weston dishes out prosaic advice

Liz Weston (Photo by Art Streiber in AARP magazine)

Reluctant as I am to admit that I have a free subscription to the AARP magazine, I have to confess my wonder at the contents of the most recent advice column by Liz Weston.

Since I believe that you get what you pay for in almost any arena, it occurred to me that the name under which she brands her column–“My Two Cents”–couldn’t be more appropriate. Continue reading