The Big Apple: Prices double over 10 years. More!

10-YEAR REPORT DEMONSTRATES REBOUNDING MARKET FROM 2009 TO 2010

The 2010 Manhattan real estate market shows marked improvement from the doldrums of 2009, with prices twice as high as a decade ago, according to 10-year apartment and townhouse market reports.

The median sales price of Manhattan co-ops and condominiums in 2010 was $880,000, up 3.5 percent from 2009 and 104.7 percent from 2001, according to the apartment market report prepared by the Miller Samuel appraisal firm for Prudential Douglas Elliman. The average price of $1.46 million rose 4.6 percent from the previous year and 87.2 percent from $778,575 a decade ago.

Sales activity also has grown. There were 10,060 apartment sales in 2010, 35.4 percent more than 2009’s total of 7,430, which was the lowest in more than a decade.

Appraiser Jonathan Miller cautioned that pent-up demand following the worst of the real estate downturn accounted for much of the improvement. Factors such as high unemployment and pending foreclosures could further hinder the housing market in the months to come.

“The question is, where do we go from here?” Miller remarked.

As for the 10-year Manhattan townhouse report, the median sales price was $3.85 million, up 13.2 percent from 2009 and more than 114.5 percent from $1.8 million in 2001.

INVENTORY IS RISING, BUT MUCH OF IT IS OLD HAT, AND WEATHER MAY HAVE SLOWED THE MARKET

According to industry analysts, it isn’t that there’s “nothing to buy,” it’s that much of what’s out there is stale–and it’s stale because it’s overpriced.

Appraiser Jonathan Miller, founder and CEO of Miller Samuel, said some of the sellers out there now likely bought at the peak and are pricing their properties higher than they should because they’ve seen improvement in the market.

“They’re technically on the market, but they’re not in the market, and that’s the distinction,” he said.

Miller estimates that only one-third of Manhattan’s current inventory is priced within 10 percent of its actual value. Typically, he said, that figure hovers around two-thirds.

Even properties priced right had trouble attracting buyers, and January’s forbidding weather may have been the chief reason.

POPULAR PLACES FAR AND WIDE THAT NEW YORKERS FAVOR FOR SECOND HOMES ARE HURTING

From the Rockies to Central America, home values in destinations popular among New Yorkers are off by as much as 30 percent, with little price recovery seen in 2010, according to an analysis of sales data.

A slew of real estate offices that lined main drags in ski-friendly towns in Vermont are shuttered. Buyers in Bermuda seem to circle endlessly without purchasing, keeping inventory high and depressing prices, according to real estate analysts.

Still, some  midpriced areas that New Yorkers frequent such as Costa Rica are showing signs of life. And with the collective sense that the worst has passed, many brokers are feeling optimistic about the coming months, even if prices could take many more seasons to rebound completely.

SOME SAY FENG SHUI IS THE ANSWER TO SALES IN TOUGH TIMES

These days, it’s not always enough for an apartment to have great fixtures or a panoramic view of the skyline, the Wall Street Journal observes. Some buildings such as the new condo in East Harlem known as Embelesar 118 are hiring feng shui specialists to provide tours of the premises and offer design tips.

Susan Chan has worked with half a dozen brokers to design model apartments that offer a commitment to balance, light and spatial harmony–otherwise known as good feng shui.

“Everyone thinks of feng shui as an ancient Chinese practice,” says  Chan, who estimates she’s worked on about 50 residential and commercial real-estate projects. “I’m trying to modernize it.”

FORDHAM SELLS PARCEL TO DEVELOPER FOR $125 MILLION TO BUILD RESIDENTIAL HIGH-RISE

Glenwood Management has purchased for $125 million a vacant lot owned by Fordham University at 49-55 Amsterdam Ave.

The property overlooks Lincoln Center at the northwest corner of the university’s superblock, where Fordham is constructing a new law school and building a dorm that just broke ground.

THE REAL DEAL PROFILES THE CROP OF INNOVATIVE NEW REAL ESTATE BUSINESSES

The start of 2011 ushered in a flurry of new start-ups, many with innovative new business models related to New York City real estate. (Along with several friends, I’m mentioned.)

CLANS FROM FAR AWAY ARE MAKING THEIR MARK ON THE CITY’S LANDSCAPE

Not too long ago, New York City real estate was defined by the likes of the Astors and the Rockefellers. Not so anymore.

While those original real estate families–from European countries such as Germany and France–have made their lasting mark on the city, today’s big players are just as likely to be Jewish immigrants from Syria or Iran or hotel developers from Taiwan or India as they are to be from old-money European families.

And while it’s impossible to broad-brush these groups because all real estate players (regardless of where they’re from) make business decisions that lead them in different directions on a daily basis, there are still some discernible fiefdoms.

HABITAT PROVIDES ILLUMINATES THE OBSCURE RESPONSIBILITIES OF BOARD OFFICERS

No organization can run properly if every day-to-day decision must be made by a vote of five, seven, nine or more people. Someone’s got to lead.  Someone’s got be responsible for certain tasks.

Those individuals are co-op and condo board officers. But what do they do?  Visit the Habitat magazine archives to find out.

THERE’S TROUBLE AND THAT STARTS WITH T AND THAT RHYMES WITH D AND THAT STANDS FOR ‘DAKOTA’

The Dakota, the legendary New York apartment building, has long been famous for its celebrity residents, including Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall and John Lennon.

But it is also well known for having among the most restrictive co-op boards in Manhattan, having turned down would-be buyers including Billy Joel, Cher and the acting couple Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas.

Now a lawsuit by a former board president is offering an inside look at how its enigmatic decisions are made, and to hear him tell it, the process is not at all in keeping with the Dakota’s rarefied reputation.

In a statement, the board called the man’s allegations “preposterous.”

Another Dakota apartment is the subject of a tangled tale spun by the Wall Street Journal, which said the two-bedroom unit has gone into contract. But the $4.4 million deal is caught up in legal measures taken by Dutch prosecutors, who say they have claims on the property.

The co-op is owned by Jan-Dirk Paarlberg, an investor with extensive real-estate holdings in the Netherlands who began his career working for Bear Sterns in New York. He was convicted on multiple counts in the Netherlands last year and now is fighting to stay out of jail.

A TAX THAT SELLERS AND BUYER LOVE TO HATE SURVIVES A CHALLENGE

A proposed rule regarding private transfer fees now excludes funds paid to condominiums and co-operatives, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced this week.

CITY FINALLY DECIDES THAT COMPUTERS CAN HELP ATTACK MORTGAGE FRAUD

Despite the bright spotlight that the housing crisis shined on mortgage fraud, officials say New Yorkers continue to be duped.

Now, the city is taking aim at the perpetrators of mortgage fraud through a program that it hopes will root out questionable property transactions and alert officials and prosecutors when they happen.

Under the system, devised by the mayor’s Financial Crime Task Force and begun on Wednesday, a computer program will search the city’s public property database for “digital fingerprints,” or red flags, that could indicate nefarious real estate activities.

Among the indicators: multiple changes in title ownership, or flipping; the transfer of titles at below-market prices; and the sale of properties at prices beneath the minimum amount required for tax filings.

RADAR LOGIC RECORDS SLIDING PRICES IN NOVEMBER

Manhattan condo prices started to decline in November after hitting what appears to be their peak for the year in late October, according to the Radar Logic data analysis firm.

The RPX Manhattan Condo price declined 2.9 percent on a month-over-month basis to $1,038 per square foot on Nov. 30. On a year-over-year basis, the Manhattan condo price increased 10.7 percent, remaining 14.5 percent below the all-time high of $1,213 on Dec. 16, 2008.

“It is too early to say whether the recent declines in RPX prices represent a turning point in the one-and-a-half-year upward trend,” the firm’s latest neighborhood report said.  “They may simply reflect seasonal factors including a decline in household mobility after the beginning of the school year and during the holidays.”

Sales activity in the Manhattan condominium market declined 11.5 percent on a month-over-month basis but increased 6.6 percent year over year through November 2010.

Of the eight Manhattan neighborhoods tracked by Radar Logic, five exhibited month-over-month gains in condominium prices, and all eight exhibited year-over-year gains.

CITY LISTS WORST PLACES TO CALL HOME–WITHOUT MENTIONING SUBWAYS

New York housing officials identified 200 buildings they say are the most poorly maintained in the city and are responsible for more than 20,000 hazardous violations.

Brooklyn had the highest number of problem buildings with nearly half the list at 99. The Bronx was next with 70 offenders; Manhattan was third with 23.

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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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