The Big Apple: Snakes, bedbugs and more, oh my

YOU CAN HAVE YOUR APARTMENT AND EAT WELL TOO

It’s not quite a trend, but community-supported agriculture plans, or C.S.A.s, farmers a fee to become members and in turn have vegetables, fruits and meats delivered to them at the building by a farm truck weekly.

For example, Holton Farms, an eighth-generation farm in Westminster, Vt., approached the Solaire in Battery Park City about its C.S.A. plan.  Immediately, Solaire’s management agreed to help promote the farm through the building’s e-mail system and smoothed the way for the farm to park its truck and makeshift farm stand in front of the building on River Terrace every weekend.

“It made sense for us,” said Michael Gubbins, director of residential management for the developer, the Albanese Organization, “and it’s become a very popular community service.”

Albanese also gave Holton Farms access to its residents at two other environmentally friendly buildings it owns in Battery Park City: the Verdesian, another rental building, and the Visionaire, a condominium.

Holton Farms signed up about 50 families at the three buildings this season, but dozens more people stop by to shop at the farm truck.

As in other C.S.A. plans, members pay Holton Farms an annual fee — in this case $250 to $1,000 — at the start of the season, entitling them to farm products. But the program differs from a traditional community agriculture plan in several important ways. In most plans, a farmer makes deliveries of whatever is in season to a drop-off site like a church, school or community room.

WHEN JEWS LEAVE, THEIR MEZUZAS OFTEN STAY BEHIND–AND RESIDENTS OF VARIOUS RELIGIONS LIKE IT

Jews have left their mark on every aspect of New York life, but perhaps none are so ubiquitous and tangible as mezuzsas, those the palm-length encasements attached to countless doorways. So in a city that both savors history and likes to shake things up, it is perhaps inevitable that many of those mezuzas now belong to gentiles.

Left behind when Jewish residents died or moved out, they have survived apartment turnovers, renovations, co-op conversions, paint jobs and other changes wrought by time.

“I love mine,” Eva Gasteazoro, a performance artist who discovered a mezuza on the doorway of her second-floor apartment when she moved in 10 years ago. Although she was raised Catholic, it never crossed her mind to take down this symbol of a Jewish household.

“It’s a very beautiful one,” she said, running her fingers over the raised Hebrew lettering on its tarnished but ornate metal casing. “A lot of the new ones are plastic,” she added, looking askance at a white mezuza jutting from her Jewish neighbor’s doorway.  As the New York Times notes, she is not alone.

FOREIGN INVESTORS ARE SNAPPING UP PROPERTIES HERE AND IN OTHER U.S. CITIES

Eastern Europeans and, to a lesser extent, East Asians have been especially active in New York City, where they’re buying high-end residential properties not only in Manhattan but outside of it.

The lure: Properties that cost half as much for the same square footage as similar homes in London, thanks to foreign exchange rates and reduced prices in the U.S. They’re also attracted to the comparatively stable political environment in the U.S., explains Edward A. Mermelstein, an international real-estate attorney whose firm negotiates deals in New York City, Moscow and other major cities.

INVENTORY SPIKES THIS YEAR WERE BIGGER THAN IN 2009

Appraisal executive Jonathan Miller has found  that the supply of apartments was greater this year than after New Year’s Day and Labor Day in 2009.

The head of Miller Samuel also says that the declines in inventory over the last two spring markets were similar but for different reasons.  Last year, it was all about weak sales, but the reason was strong sales in 2010.

Also, summer of 2009 had bigger inventory drops than did the same period this year, when there happened to be a sharp decline in larger units during the second half of summer.

SNAKE SHOCKS MAN ANSWERING NATURE’S CALL

Answering nature’s call turned into a wild encounter for a Bronx man when he discovered a three-foot-long yellow-and-white snake with bright red eyes perched on his toilet seat, authorities told the Wall Street Journal. (Probably, he didn’t make it to the toilet in time.)

The man called 911 immediately reporting a “huge snake” in his bathroom late Monday night. Emergency services unit officers corralled the reptile and turned it over to the city’s Animal Care and Control center in Harlem.

CONDO BUYERS MAY HAVE DEPOSITS RETURNED IF COURT RULING IS UPHELD

A federal judge has ruled that the Related Companies, the sponsor of a luxury condominium building on the Upper East Side, must return a $510,000 buyer’s deposit, a decision that lawyers said could chill development in New York and across the country, according to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

The decision also could entitle hundreds of recent condominium buyers to back out of their agreements without fear of losing their deposits. “It’s a free ticket out,” said Stuart Saft, a real estate lawyer who was not involved in the case.

BEDBUG NEWS DOESN’T ABATE BUT NEEDS TO BE AIRED

It appears that a loophole in New York’s three-week-old bedbug disclosure law may entitle co-op and condo buyers to the same bedbug history information as the renters that the law was intended to protect, says BrickUnderground.com.

As currently written, the disclosure law applies to all housing that is subject to the Housing Maintenance Code–which includes co-ops and condos as well as rentals, explains real estate lawyer Jeffrey Reich. Therefore, his firm is encouraging their co-op and condo clients “to err on the side of caution and to comply” with the new bedbug disclosure law.

PRICE INCREASES REGIONALLY FOR PREVIOUSLY OWNED HOMES BEAT U.S. NUMBERS

in the expansive New York City metropolitan area, existing home sales dropped 16 percent year-over-year, to an annual rate of 420,300 homes. Prices in the area, meanwhile, were up 3.3 percent since August of last year, recovering slightly more value than prices nationwide; U.S. prices were u p 2.8 year-over-year.

But some analysts remain skeptical that last month’s numbers signal any long-term improvement. “The report shows some stabilization in the housing sector, however, we are still bouncing along the bottom,” said Mitchell Hochberg, principal of New York-based Madden Real Estate Ventures. “Shadow inventory and months of supply will keep downward pressure on prices for the foreseeable future.”

THREE-BEDROOM APARTMENTS ARE TURNING UP SCARCE

Despite everything you might have heard about the down housing market, things are not so bad if you’re in possession of a three-bedroom apartment and thinking about selling. Of course, the inverse is true if you’re in the market for one.

“What we’ve seen has been kind of tight on space,” says Johnny Matos, who has been on the lookout with his wife, Carla, ever since she was pregnant with their second child and wanted a three-bedroom.

‘WALL STREET’ CHARACTER’S PENTHOUSE TODAY WOULD HAVE SEXTUPLED IN COST SINCE THEN

In Oliver Stone’s 1987 film “Wall Street,” stockbroker Bud Fox buys a penthouse apartment at St. James Tower in Manhattan’s Sutton Place neighborhood for $950,000.

As the sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” opens, similar units in the building are on the market for nearly $6 million.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
Web site

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