The Big Apple: Whither our housing market. More!

MAYBE YOU CAN SEE NEW JERSEY FROM A CONDO FACING AUCTION AND MAYBE EVEN RUSSIA

If you head to Edgewater, N.J. Nov. 17, you can start the bidding with $50,000 on a one-bedroom condo in Battery Park City.

Unit 333 at 21 South End Ave. is the only real estate in New York City among numerous other properties in New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to be auctioned by the Williams & Williams company.

The Regatta

Seventeen units in the Regatta are now on the market, including one with a signed contract, at prices ranging from $385,000 for another third-floor unit described as a junior one-bedroom to $2.7 million for a two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor.

WHITHER THE HOUSING MARKET? IT DEPENDS, SAY VARIOUS PROGNOSTICATORS

When it comes to the housing market, predictions are perilous business, notes the New York Times. A market that looked as if it was verging on a renaissance one month could, depending on the factors that go into analyzing it, look pretty lousy the next.

This has certainly been the case in New York City of late. The local rollercoaster comes amid dark news on the national housing market.  And there are indications that the New York market may not be as resilient to the country’s economic woes in 2011 as it was in 2010.

For example, if you take a look at Manhattan data for October, from an analysis by StreetEasy.com, the number of newly signed contracts represented about the same number as in October 2007, a year before the housing crash, during a period considered a relatively healthy benchmark for the market. Any sign of normalcy is said to be good news these days.

The city’s biggest brokerages are reporting that their agents have been busy, and October is traditionally a strong month on the real estate calendar, which flew into chaos in 2008, 2009 and parts of 2010.

Still, even with the higher volume of signed contracts in October–which would then be expected to show strong sales in December–average asking prices this October were down by 11 percent compared with October 2007, and the units selling were smaller, with deeper price cuts, according to Sofia Song, the vice president for research of StreetEasy.com.

IF YOU LIVE IN A SMALL BUILDING AND ARE WILLING TO WORK, CONSIDER SELF-MANAGEMENT

As monthly charges start to rival or even exceed some monthly mortgage payments, many people are wondering whether there’s a less expensive way.

For some buildings there is: self-management.

Residents of self-managed buildings do everything themselves: They take out the trash. They shovel the snowy sidewalks. They hire the contractor to fix the roof. They balance the books. They file the forms and permits required by the city Department of Buildings and Department of Finance. They enforce the building rules–no exceptions for friends and (obviously) neighbors–on everything from pets to renovations.

The money saved through pure self-management can be significant, and that of course is the main attraction.

TITLE COMPANY MAKES OFFERING PLANS AND THEIR AMENDMENTS AVAILABLE FREE ONLINE

Title-insurance agent TitleVest has branched out to put offering plans, amendments and associated data online in the form of searchable PDFs, reports Habitat magazine.

Downloading the plans starts with a visit to the TitleVest home page, free registration and clicking on the “Place New Order” box. On the pulldown menu, choose “Coop/Condo Offering Plans” and then hit GO. On the next page that comes up, choose your county, type (co-op or condo) and address, then hit SEARCH.

When results appear, choose the “Copy: FREE” option under “Place Order.”  Scroll down the boilerplate box just below it to check the “I agree to the terms and conditions” box and, finally, hit SUBMIT.

THE NY POST FINDS IT ODD THAT WOMEN MAKE UP THE MAJORITY OF AN EAST VILLAGE APARTMENT BUILDING

An East Village co-op that’s home to one of the city’s top housing officials has become a women-only building where dirt-cheap units are marketed only by word of mouth to the residents’ pals, the Post breathlessly says it has learned.

“I find it strange that no man has ever moved in,” Roberto Caballero, a former district leader in the neighborhood, told the reliably unbalanced newspaper. “I would consider that a form of discrimination.”

Caballero, who is openly gay, says he believes “lesbians are favored for apartments” because more than half of the building’s 12 known female residents are gay. The seven-unit building on East 11th Street near Avenue B was once owned by the city but was given away for peanuts in 1989 at a time when the neighborhood was overrun by junkies and drug dealers.

Intended as low-income housing, the five-story tenement has become a destination for well-to-do lesbians, including Margarita Lopez, the $187,000-per-year Housing Authority board member and one-time city councilwoman, and Rosie Mendez, a current councilwoman.

TENANTS OF ONE OR TWO YEARS AGO FACE RUDE AWAKENING WITH NEW LEASES

For the past two years, many developers have successfully filled their new buildings with renters lured by attractive incentives.

Concessions have recently begun disappearing as the rental market has improved. The contrast is starkest in buildings that finished construction in the past two years: During the initial lease-up, landlords offered new renters several months of free rent, but they’re not nearly as generous now that the buildings are full.

(Brand-new buildings hitting the market now are still likely to offer a month free, but concessions are skimpier than they were during the worst of the downturn.)

That means many tenants are in for a rude awakening as new buildings begin their first round of lease renewals. So far, developers say there are enough new tenants to make up for the lost renters. However, industry insiders expect higher vacancies and the return of concessions in the months to come, especially as the slow winter months arrive.

BUT INTEREST REPORTEDLY IS SURGING FOR RENTALS IN NEW BUILDINGS. . .

While the new condo market has just begun a slow, painful recovery from the downturn, new development rentals have experienced a dramatic rebound, experts say. In part, the turnaround has been spurred by wealthy New Yorkers choosing to rent rather than buy in a still-tenuous economy and tight mortgage market.

Whatever the reason, rents at high-end buildings, which dipped during the downturn, have bounced back, and some projects are fetching higher rents than ever before.

. . . AND OLD ONES TOO: THE WALDORF’S APARTMENTS APPARENTLY ARE FIT FOR ALMOST A KING

In the priciest sign to date that the luxury rental market is on fire, last week seven apartments at the Waldorf-Astoria were rented to the Saudi royal family for a staggering $210,000 a month, setting an all-time record for the city post recession.

The Saudi royal family, which was seeking space for 29 people, signed a six-month lease with an option to extend. The family was not working with any broker exclusively.

BONUSES ON WALL STREET ARE EXPECTED TO CLIMB BY 5 PERCENT

Wall Street bonuses are set to rise about 5 percent this year, fueled by increases to compensation for employees in hedge funds, retail banking and private equity that offset declines for those in stock and bond trading, according to a survey by compensation consultants Johnson Associates.

The survey results demonstrate Wall Street’s knack for finding a way to churn out profits and prop up pay levels despite uneasy markets, mounting regulation and mistrust by many Americans.

“The industry is resilient and will continue to make a lot of money,” said Alan Johnson, managing director of the New York firm. “It’s probably going to be a better year than some people thought.”

RESIDENTS OF OLDER BUILDINGS WITH LEAD PIPES AGAIN ARE CAUTIONED TO RUN WATER BEFORE USING IT

New York City health and environmental officials advise residents once more to run their tap water for at least 30 seconds before drinking or cooking with it after testing showed a rise in the percentage of homes with elevated levels of lead.

The city is required to test for lead in tap water each year under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In tests conducted from June to September in homes in older buildings known to have lead in their plumbing, 30 of 222 samples–or about 14 percent–exceeded allowable lead levels.

Last year, only 5.4 percent of the samples had elevated levels, city officials said.

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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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