The Big Apple: Sales, prices were up at one point

WITH FEW AFFORDABLE NEIGHBORHOODS, MANY ARTISTS ARE FLEEING NEW YORK CITY

Artists have long struggled in New York, moving into rough areas, gentrifying them and then getting forced out, Crain’s observes.

But as the city has gotten increasingly expensive, there are few such neighborhoods left to move to, forcing a growing number of artists to abandon the city.

Although there are no official numbers, a survey of 1,000 artists conducted in 2009 by the New York Foundation for the Arts found that more than 43 percent expected their annual income to drop by 26-50 percent over the next six months, and 11 percent believed they would have to leave New York within six months.

Even more troubling, cultural boosters say, is that for the first time, artists fresh out of art schools around the country are choosing to live in nascent artist communities in regional cities such as Detroit and Cleveland–which are dangling incentives to attract this group–and bypassing New York altogether.

PURCHASE MORTGAGES POSTED 26 PERCENT DECLINE FROM 2008 TO 2009 AND 60 PERCENT FROM 2004 PEAK

The number of home purchase loans in New York City decreased by 26 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to a report by the NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.

By the end of 2009, home purchase lending in New York City had declined nearly 60 percent from the 2004 peak. Loan originations nationally declined just 5 percent from 2008 to 2009, but they fell approximately 50 percent from their peak in 2005.

Mortgage lenders issued some 24,500 purchase loans in 2009 in the city. Manhattan, which had an increase in such lending as recently as 2007, recorded the biggest drop last year–42 percent.

HUGE GREEN ROOF, LIKELY THE CITY’S BIGGEST ON A RESIDENTIAL BUILDING, SPROUTS IN UNION SQUARE

A 14,000-square-foot green roof was unveiled at Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square. Its designers and engineers are billing it as the largest residential green roof in the city.

It sits atop the seven-story podium of the building, which largely houses Beth Israel Medical Center, at One Irving Place. In all, the property takes up a full city block. It is topped by the four Zeckendorf Towers that rise 29-stories at its corners.

BUYERS SEEK TO BACK OUT OF CONTRACTS FOR PURCHASES IN HUGE FLUSHING COMPLEX

In one of the largest cases of buyers remorse in New York, scores of people who agreed to purchase apartments in a new development in Queens  have filed suit seeking the return of their deposits.

The complex of nearly 1,100 apartments in six towers is a few blocks from the heart of the Flushing commercial district. It has been controversial because of its size and the impact it might have on local business and traffic.

When Sky View Parc was first marketed in 2008, prices ranged from $385,000 for studios to more than $1.2 million for three-bedroom units on a high floor. Some prices have been raised slightly and some trimmed slightly since.

The complaint was filed on behalf of 67 would-be buyers in contracts to buy 41 condos. The complaint in Brooklyn federal court said that buyers wanted their money back because they were unable to obtain loans after the “collapse of the mortgage market” and were unable to close.

Their lawsuit said that the developers failed to file a disclosure statement. Such a statement is required in large developments under a federal law enacted in 1968 intended to help protect buyers from fraud in new real-estate subdivisions.

MANHATTAN CONDO SALES RISE IN AUGUST, REVERSING JULY’S TREND, BUT THAT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT TODAY

Manhattan’s condominium sales began showing signs of recovery in August after posting steep declines in July with the end of federal tax credits for first-time home buyers.

Condo prices increased 1.8 percent in August from July and 9.4 percent from the year-earlier month to an average of $1,038 per square foot, according to real-estate data company Radar Logic.

Still, the market hasn’t returned to its pre-crash exuberance, the report said.

The number of condo sales increased by 12.1 percent in August from the month a year earlier, representing a recovery from the steep drop-off in July.

IN SEPTEMBER, PRICES IN THE STATE ROSE 2.67 PERCENT FROM AUGUST AND 3.82 PERCENT FROM A YEAR EARLIER

Even as overall U.S. home prices declined year-over-year in September for the second straight month, New York was the state with the highest level of home price appreciation in the country, with a 2.67 percent increase, according to a new report from analytics firm CoreLogic.

That figure includes sales of distressed homes; excluding distressed home sales, New York home prices rose by 3.82 percent in September compared with September 2009.

New York was one of just seven states to see home prices increase during that period

THE MARKET IS NOT ABSORBING AVAILABLE APARTMENTS AS WELL AS A YEAR AGO

Absorption rates as compared with last year are still generally lower across the board by price and region, reports the Miller Samuel appraisal firm.

In addition, some weakness seems to be occurring at the lower end of the market following expiration of the homebuyer tax credit initiative.

IT’S NOT EXACTLY THE RANGE, BUT BEES GET A HOME ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE

A townhouse near the American Museum of Natural History has a secret tucked in its concrete backyard: two hives, home to about 100,000 bees.

They belong to Walker Stevenson, a 51-year-old database developer whose on home is at 111th and Broadway.

Stevenson says he knows of at least two other beekeepers on the Upper West Side–one on West 77th Street and one on West 84th Street. The neighborhood is well-suited to bees because it’s wedged between Central Park and Riverside Park, which are both full of nectar-producing trees and flowers.

As for the exact location of Stevenson’s hives, he prefers to keep it under wraps. “Even though it got legalized, people tend to freak out about bees a bit, so it’s better just to keep things quiet,” Stevenson says.

IN THE REGION’S MOST EXPENSIVE AREAS, PRICES INCH UP

Home prices in many of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the New York metropolitan area are starting to inch up as the market for these high-end areas stabilizes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

However, some economists say that prices could wobble at the bottom for a number of years before sustaining a significant rise.

LAWYER LISTS FIVE TRAPS THAT EVERY APARTMENT BUYER SHOULD AVOID

New York City is a world unto itself, of course, notes real estate lawyer Ron Gitter of coopand condo.com.

That’s particularly true when it comes to buying a co-op or condo. With board approval, tight credit, full financial disclosure, the pressure to get deals done quickly, and a myriad of other hoops to jump through, getting to the closing table presents a unique set of challenges.

Gitter sagely outlines how to avoid the pitfalls of buying a New York apartment.

BUILDING OWNERS TRY RAISING SALES INCENTIVES FOR BROKERS TO BOOST BUSINESS

At a number of properties in New York, building owners are reviving higher commissions and other incentive plans that nearly disappeared during the real-estate boom, when there usually was no need for such inventives to sell apartments.

“When properties are flying off the shelf during the heyday, brokers in many ways were order-takers; today they have a different role,” says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc, an appraisal firm. “In a weaker market, it could increase your odds of selling.”

ONE PROFESSION BESIDES EXTERMINATORS HAS CAUSE TO LOVE BEDBUGS

As bedbugs continue to pop up at locations in the city tenants are increasingly looking to the legal system for help.

Michael Kozek, an attorney with tenant representation firm Jeffrey S. Ween & Associates, says that dozens of New York City rental and co-op residents have hired him over the last six months to fight their landlords over the critters. Most cases have been resolved before reaching the point of a lawsuit.

When you read what the occupants of bedbug-infested apartments go through, you’ll have some insight into their ire and plenty of sympathy for them–the occupants, not the bedbugs, the exterminators or the lawyers.

CITY’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE TICKS DOWN TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE MAY 2009

New York City’s unemployment rate dipped again in October, as companies added more than 40,000 jobs in the month, the state’s Department of Labor said.

The city’s unemployment rate stood at 9.2 percent, down from 9.3 percent in September and 10.4 percent a year ago. That was the lowest such rate in the city since May 2009.

The professional and business services, which have led the city’s recovery from the recession this year, added almost 15,000 jobs last month as corporate profits rose, according to James Brown, the department’s principal economist. Those sectors include many of the services that the city’s banks and other big corporations use, including accounting, advertising and legal work.

The city’s job gain, which is not adjusted for the usual seasonal fluctuations, was more than double the typical increase in jobs in October, Brown said. The unemployment rate fell only slightly because it is seasonally adjusted.

JOURNAL INVESTIGATES LAWYER’S INVOLVEMENT WITH SALES OF NINE UNITS AT THE RUSHMORE ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE

Some people familiar with the Rushmore condominium say several of the nine apartments sold and attributed to John Cobb, a civil rights lawyer in Newburgh, were actually shown by Carolyn Li, whom Cobb said has been a friend for 15 years.

“I didn’t know about John Cobb’s existence. I never heard of this man,” says Rosy Mimoun, who with her husband bought three of the apartments credited in the documents to Cobb’s sales but, she says, sold to her by Ms. Li. “We never knew of anyone but Carolyn Li.”

Under New York state law, only real estate brokers and lawyers can sell property on behalf of someone else and collect commissions.

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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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