The Big Apple: Bags of $100 bills, monthly stats, more

GROWING DEMAND FOR TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENTS HAS THEIR PRICES RISING

After a lull that has lasted for more than a year, two-bedrooms are back.

The market share for two-bedrooms first dipped under 30 percent in early 2009, with smaller and larger apartments gobbling up more of the sales, according to data compiled by Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and a market analyst for Prudential Douglas Elliman. But in recent months, that percentage has climbed back up to 39 percent.

The median in Manhattan dropped 20 percent, from a high of $1.6 million, in 2008, to $1.272 million in 2009, according to the data. It has since inched back to $1.3 million.

SELLERS AND BROKERS ARE KNOWN TO MISREPRESENT BEDROOMS, SQUARE FOOTAGE, BUILDING POLICIES AND NOISE

Sometimes sellers and their brokers get things wrong or even flat-out lie to the other side, and New York, says real-estate attorney Jerry Feeney, is “a buyer-beware state.” (Brokers’ websites include fine print disclaiming responsibility for errors.)

If you have even a slight suspicion, it can’t hurt to ask a few too many questions, counsels Jhoanna Robledo in New York magazine.

Among those quoted is someone named Malcolm Carter, who calls square footage “the single fuzziest” point of fact.

LANDLORDS ARE BECOMING WARY OF OUT-OF-TOWN GUARANTORS, BUT THERE ARE OPTIONS

In New York City real estate, there are few titles more thankless than guarantor.

People who do not make enough to afford their paycheck-devouring rents must find a well-paid relative, a benevolent family friend or perhaps a kidnapped and hypnotized multimillionaire to supply personal financial information and assume responsibility for their entire lease.

Jamie Heiberger, a lawyer who represents landlords, says many of them prefer guarantors who live nearby because it is much harder to pursue judgments from more distant states.

One solution to such a roadblock could be a company called Insurent.

RULING GIVES CONDO BUYERS MORE CLOUT IN COURT

A court ruling last week in favor of a client claiming breach of contract and fiduciary duties in a securities case is also being seen as good news for condominium and co-op owners seeking damages from developers.

IF YOU CAN’T TIP WELL, MAYBE THERE’S NO NEED TO WORRY

When it comes to doling out below-market gratuities to the building staff, there are three kinds of apartment dwellers: Those forced by circumstance, those who undertip by design, and those who do it out of ignorance. Visit BrickUnderground.com for the consequences and, the link at the end of the post, for recommended amounts.

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ‘WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE?’

Yes, it is a building with extraordinary prestige. It is well situated, and there are many celebrities and power brokers who live in the condominium, which commands amazingly high prices.

A studio–let’s be clear, a one-room apartment–just sold there for $2.6 million.

APPARENTLY, THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION POSED ABOVE IS. . . NO!

A classy seller of a posh apartment may leave a bottle of champagne for the new owners.

But some New Yorkers have left behind everything from cash and diamonds to their pets.

Among items discovered after the owner moved, a bag full of $100 bills, a kitten, a snake, a diamond necklace and the telephone numbers of celebrities scrawled on a wall.

DATA SHOW 801 NEWLY SIGNED CONTRACTS IN NOVEMBER

There were 801 newly signed contracts last month, up from 749 in October but below the 910 signed transactions in November of 2009.

“Last year was a highly volatile one,” writes Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs.com, “seeing fear trades and destruction of sales volume as prices adjusted, followed by a delayed seasonality and reflation from mid to end of the year.

“This year is turning out to be much more normal and highly seasonal.”

BUT OTHER SOURCES, WHICH DEPEND ON DIFFERENT TIMING, DOCUMENT A FALLOFF FROM THE THIRD QUARTER AND A SLIP IN MEDIAN PRICES

The pace of co-op and condominium transactions in Manhattan continued to lag in November, setting the stage for the lowest rate of quarterly sales since the depths of the economic slowdown last year, says the Wall Street Journal.

But brokers say the market is far less bleak than the sagging housing market across much of the country, where prices have been sliding and mortgage-delinquency and foreclosure rates remain high.

Despite the latest falloff in closed sales following a surge earlier this year, prices remain largely stable in Manhattan, with average prices flat and median prices slipping, according to the data.

Yet brokers say that they have been busy over the past few months, with an increasing number of new sales contracts signed but not yet counted in the statistics. Much of this new activity won’t be reflected in sales statistics until early 2011, they said.

The sales figures, compiled from deeds and co-op sales documents, show that sales in the first two months of the fourth quarter are running more than 25 percent below the first two months of the prior quarter.

WALL STREET BONUSES GENERALLY CORRELATE WITH STRENGTH OF THE HOUSING MARKET

The connection between Wall Street bonuses and real estate sales isn’t just broker lore–it’s real.

The Real Deal tracked the year-over-year percent change in Wall Street bonuses and Manhattan condo and co-op transactions going back to 1993, using data provided by the city comptroller and appraiser Jonathan Miller, respectively.

Besides the volatile period between 1998 and 2005, the leaps and plunges in annual transactions were in lockstep with the bonuses showered on Wall Street at the beginning of that year.

DEVELOPERS LEARN THE LESSONS OF POOR DESIGN FROM THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Kitchen counters that can barely fit a coffeemaker, doors that swing the wrong way and terrace railings that hide views.

These are just a few of the notorious apartment layout mistakes that regularly work their way into blueprints for New York City apartments. But if there is an upside to this long-standing problem, it’s that the downturn is having a corrective effect on floor-plan blunders.

INEVITABLY, MONTHLY COSTS TO RISE IN APARTMENT BUILDINGS NEXT YEAR, BUT BY SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNTS IN MANY CASES

Monthly common charges and maintenance fees at 450 residential buildings across the city will continue to increase next year, and in some cases may rise as much as 7.5 percent from 2010 levels, according to an analysis conducted by the buildings’ property manager, Cooper Square Realty Inc. The increases are in line with the recent years’ track.

Condo owners will likely see average annual increases of 4.5-6.5 percent in 2011, while co-op owners are expected to see annual increases of 5.5- 7.5 percent, according to Cooper Square, which recently analyzed each of its building’s annual budgets.

Most of the spike comes from increases in heating, electric, water and sewage costs, as well as more expensive labor resulting from a new four-year agreement between Local 32BJ and the Realty Advisory Board, said David Wurtzel, president of Cooper Square.

HERE’S A PROPERTY OFFERING YOU CAN’T REFUSE

The New York Post whispers that the Staten Island house where the wedding scene in “The Godfather” took place is now for sale.

The English Tudor residence is offered at $2.9 million. With eight bedrooms, two fireplace and an “English pub” in the basement, the place has a four-car garage and swimming pool. However, there don’t seem to be any horses or wiseguys in the immediate neighborhood.

PROFILE OF UPPER WEST SIDE CRITIQUES RESIDENTS, BAGELS AND MUCH MORE

In the end, the Upper West Side remains undefined, contends poortastemag.com, which many who live in the neighborhood may think is particularly well titled.

“It lacks the cohesiveness of surrounding neighborhoods, and is more known for its cultural institutions than its culinary destinations,” the profile maintains. “But that doesn’t mean you should stay away.

“Search between the bodegas and under the scaffolding and you’ll find some real gems.” Well, yes.

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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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