So you want to be a landlord. Think twice.

I take no responsibility for my tenant's interior design choices.

I take no responsibility for my tenant’s interior design choices.

When I lived in Washington, D.C., I was fortunate to have owned a townhouse for a virtual song.  The apartment downstairs basically covered my mortgage and other costs.

The one-bedroom unit with access to a patio that my tenants shared with me rented quickly during my ten years of ownership.

Each of my tenants but one was great, not making too many demands, too much noise or really any problems at all.  It was the last one that, had I the choice, I probably would have Continue reading

There is more than one way to win ‘bidding war’

Escalators here would serve an important purpose. (Flickr photo by zoetnet)

There is more than one way to win what homebuyers insist on calling a bidding war.  (I call it “competition.”)  But at least two of them are shunned here in New York.

Of course, conventional tactics include raising the price and stripping the contract of any contingencies such as financing and home inspection or otherwise improving terms such as settlement date.

One of the out-of-the-box idea that no one here endorses, however, demonstrates a buyer’s high motivation to close the transaction.  The concept is to offer Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Hamptons, celebs, new-home sales, lower interest rates, auction spat, Baby Boomers, marble stains, housing’s headwinds

Court approves of class action lawsuits by tenants claiming rent overcharges when apartments illegally deregulated

Study: Living in New York actually relative bargain for the wealthy

Hudson Yards finally on track

Regret may define things you might do within your four walls

For politicians, finding a rental apartment differs from searches the mere mortals endure

Sandy deals lingering blow to Hamptons residential prices

Upper East Side developers scramble to convert projects as luxury market rebounds

Details of navigating schools choice provided by BrickUnderground

Council hearing on Fair Cooperative Procedure Law is set for April 30

Outdoor space on ground floor is expensive, but higher up more so for good reasons

Relationships sour between landlords and tenants of Dumbo lofts in converted factories

Q1 sales in the Hamptons 29.4 percent lower than same time last year

It’s time for spring house, garden tours

Interior designer with TV show finally Continue reading

Whew! It’s a virtual stampede of buyers out there

(Flickr photo by abrin523)

Competition for apartments started to heat up about a month ago, and now the flames burn more intensely than ever as a result of withering inventory.

I went on Sunday to eight or nine open houses that had been listed on the Upper West Side in just the prior week, and they were mobbed.  The only one that wasn’t packed in the first five minutes was a $279,000 studio remarkable only for how oppressive it was.

Worse for buyers, at least two of them had offers, including that studio.  In some cases, there were multiple offers — even before those initial open houses.

Listing agents were running out of show sheets, prospective buyers were literally bumping into each other, there was a palpable sense of panic.

“Irrational exuberance,” one of the agents muttered none too originally but emphatically accurate.

We are not alone in that observation.  Indeed, confirming that the housing market is galloping once again, the new Real Deal proclaims in a headline that bidding is “absolutely insane.”

Lord Keynes had a point.

A sellers’ market that is so robust is not a good thing, occasionally even for sellers. Continue reading

Where would all of us be without Whole Foods?

The Whole Foods in Columbus Square on the Upper West Side.

When I lived in Washington, D.C. for a while, a Whole Foods store opened a couple of blocks from my house.

I was so excited given — how to put this diplomatically? — the differences between food shopping in D.C. and New York City, I toured the store twice on its first day.

It turns out that I shouldn’t have been thrilled only about the produce, meat, fish and a variety of other items.  What mattered even more was the impact that Whole Foods had on property values in the surrounding area.

On P Street NW near Logan and Dupont circles, that Whole Foods Continue reading

Accept no offer until your home is on the market

The garden I tended behind my rowhouse in Washington, D.C.

How tempting it is when you get an unsolicited offer to sell your home before you put it on the market.

Maybe you’ll have no, or at least a reduced, brokerage fee. There’ll be no open houses that require your preparation and evacuation. And forget about the anxiety of waiting for a buyer to bite, conducting fruitful negotiations and wondering, “What if?”

Don’t do it.

The situation arises more often that you might imagine. Hell, it happened to me when I moved back to Manhattan from Washington, D.C.

But don’t do it.

There is ample for reason for rejecting an early offer or equivocating  should one surfaces: 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