The Big Apple: Prices, sales slip in 1st quarter

Weakness emerges in Manhattan market during first quarter

Reports issued today showed price declines as much as 23 percent from the same time last year, according to the New York Times.

One of the reports, prepared by the Miller Samuel appraisal firm, had the median sale price down by 9.9 percent to $782,071. According to that document, a new index of sales that have yet to close recorded a 7.1 percent increase over the same time last year, suggesting an upswing in the current quarter.

Explanations for the dip included the artificial bump caused last year by the federal homebuyer tax credit and a boost this year in the sales of co-ops, which are generally less expensive than condos, as the result of a crimp in condo inventory.

As Noah Rosenblatt, a blogger, broker and data provider, points out on, the figures on which the reports are based are flawed because of the way they are gathered.

Says he: “. . . you MUST understand that you are seeing an incomplete report with a ton of Q1 sales not yet publicly released! Especially March, whose sales will continue roll in over the course of the next 4-8 weeks. . .”

Price of studios suggests it’s a good time to buy one

The studio market has gone soft again–just as it did in the last recession, says the New York Times.

Prices have dipped to 2005 levels, making it possible to find studios in Manhattan in the $200,000s–lots of them. And they don’t all face a brick wall or involve a lengthy hike to the subway.

The average price for studios dropped to $404,326 in 2010 from a high of $500,479 in 2008.

A recent search of Manhattan listings on the Times real estate site and on found close to 200 studios available for $300,000 or less. An article about studios in The Times in 2009, before the market had bottomed out, found only a handful of studios in that price range.

The Times provides answers to some co-op questions

If you worry about asbestos, how the IRS treats deposits accompanying co-op board applications or gossip about foreclosures and late maintenance payments, look here.

So-called minorities overtake 23-county region’s population of non-white Hispanics

For the first time, black, Hispanic and Asian residents of New York City and its suburbs are a majority of the metropolitan area’s more than 19 million residents, according to the 2010 census.

New York is the first major metropolitan area in the country outside the South or West in which non-Hispanic whites have become a minority of the population.

In 2000, the census found that non-Hispanic whites made up 54.3 percent of the area’s population. By 2010, their share had declined to 49.6 percent.

Small studios experience huge rent jump  in the last year

Monthly rents for Manhattan’s tiny studio apartments have taken big jump in the last year, a sign more young people are signing leases to live on their own, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In March, the average monthly rent for a studio apartment in a doorman building was $2,529, up 12.3 percent from a year earlier, according to Real Estate Group NY’s monthly rental report. In buildings without a doorman, studios increased 11 percent to $2,143.

Prices for one-bedroom units with and without doormen jumped more than 6.2 percent from a year ago, while two-bedrooms without a doorman climbed 4.9 percent to an average $3,853. Doorman units saw an even bigger jump—5.1 percent to an eye popping $5,361 per month.

To find a deal on an apartment for sale in Manhattan, search far and wide

The housing recovery has been up and down, and New York magazine suggests that the result is a chance to find an underpriced property before it catches up.

A variety of experts mined the data and read between the digits, looking for outlier bits of the market.

Living above a restaurant doesn’t have to condemn you to a living hell

From a quality-of-life perspective, most experienced apartment-dwellers would rather live above a bank than a restaurant. But more co-op boards, condo developers and landlords have opened their arms to restaurants in hard times while negotiating firmly on details affecting residents and, in turn, property values or rents.

In other words, it may be easier than ever these days to co-exist peacefully with a restaurant–if the landlord, board, or building owner puts the right conditions in the restaurant’s lease.

“You have to regulate opening and closing times, delivery hours, trash location and pickup times, and make sure all construction is carefully inspected, not just by the required legal authorities but for your own needs,” says retail leasing expert Faith Hope Consolo. “Go with the restaurants that have good reputations for following all of the above, even if the negotiations are tougher.”

One moving company doesn’t want to bug you

If you are moving, you may be understandably concerned about picking up bedbugs in transit.

Yet whether out of cost worries, denial or ignorance, New York City moving and storage companies have been slow to adopt procedures that cut down the risk of in-truck transmission. So, the folks at say they were intrigued to hear that Moishe’s, the 30-year-old local moving company, recently announced a prevention program.

Speaking of bugs, city’s new Web site and landlord requirements target you know what

City officials are turning things up a notch, with a hot new website and tough new rules for landlords with bedbug tenants.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development used to be solely responsible for issuing issue violations to landlords over bedbugs, but now the Health Department can send bedbug scofflaw landlords to the city’s Environmental Control Board, which can fine landlords who ignore bedbug complaints.

In addition, the city now can issue liens on properties should their owners ignore the fines. And property owners who don’t take care of bedbugs could be required to get an exterminator to sign a sworn affidavit confirming that the problem is under control.

Property in upper Manhattan is to be auctioned next week

A 44-unit apartment building at 509 W. 212th Street in Inwood is scheduled for auction on April 6. The lien amount is $5,288,753.

The property was purchased for $4,790,000 last September, according to

Illegal renovation work can bedevil apartment residents, but they can avoid being told to go to hell

If you suspect that your neighbor is engaged in illegal renovation work, you have a range of choices on how to respond.

But first make sure that what your neighbor is up to is illegal, counsels general contractor Yoel Borgenicht in a BrickUnderground column. He specifies five telltale signs that work is being performed illegally and then details how to proceed.

Storage rooms come in all shapes, sizes and restrictions

The solution to clutter at home is to clutter a storage room, and there’s the rub.

As many co-op and condo buildings have found, storage room can create both problems and solutions. To find out everything you need to know in terms of common practices and legal technicalities, check out the facts as explained by Habitat magazine.

The last one out better turn off the lights

Starting May 28, households in the five boroughs will be socked with rate increases of up to 12 percent to run app1lances, thanks to the federal government, which decided that power companies needed an extra $500 million a year, according to the New York Post.

And that’s on top of another 4 percent state-approved Con Ed rate hike that kicks in today.

A typical apartment resident’s electric bill of $74–based on 250 kilowatt hours of power each month–will go up to $86, or $12 more than last July. Approximately $8 of that boost will come from the feds’ decision.

Appraisals less like than in the recent past to throw monkey wrench into a transaction

As the economy stabilizes, appraisals have begun to follow suit, the Real Deal reports.

Appraisers, mortgage brokers, and agents agree that appraisals in the city are now more accurate than they’ve been for the past few years, though they say there’s still room for improvement.

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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
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