The Big Apple: Condo prices, rents rise and more!

Condo prices rise 12 percent over May 2009, but pace seems to flag

The Radar Logic data firm reports that Manhattan condo prices went up 4.7 in January over a year earlier but that the rate of growth seems to be slowing.

Although prices have climbed 12 percent above the post-bust low in May 2009, the price recovery is “losing steam” or may simply reflect seasonal weakness in demand, according to the firm’s RPX Monthly report on Manhattan neighborhoods. The report said it was too early to know with any certainty what contributed to the increase.

Uptown neighborhoods fared better than downtown neighborhoods, with year-over-year increases caused by higher prices per unit as a result of a shortage in supply.

Apartments with a washer/dryer clean up when sold

One new value-enhancing amenity that’s catching on is allowing shareholders and unit-owners to install clothes washers and dryers in their apartments. Plumbing issues have been the usual reason for forbidding washing machines.

But one veteran real estate appraiser has estimated that a washer and dryer add approximately 5 percent to the value of any apartment, leading to the increasingly permissive attitude these days.

The rich are renting. . .

A dozen or so new large-scale luxury rental buildings that have gone on the market in the last year are testing the limits of the price that renters will pay for what developers call “aspirational living.”

In a city not known for restraint when it comes to displays of wealth and status, the properties — with their tens of thousands of square feet dedicated to amenities such as private screening rooms, sprawling gyms and even a dog spa — are something new in the rental market.

The decision by developers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on rental projects that in past years would most likely have been high-end condos was driven by a number of factors.

. . . and buying with a vengeance

Sales and prices in the luxury sector bounced back last year from 2009, although they still were significantly below the peak in 2008, according to a new report from Stribling.

The rebound is continuing into 2011, but Kirk Henckels, who prepared the report, said he was worried that sales could deteriorate — because the inventory of luxury apartments has been falling, even though listings usually surge during the spring.

Henckels said sales of co-ops costing $20 million or more began to rebound in the last half of 2010 and in the beginning of this year, long after the lower end of the market had come back to life.

The report found that the most expensive trophy properties, which had soared during the boom years, were hardest hit during the downturn. Once the recovery began, they were last to see sales revive.

If your prospective landlord is among the worst, the city working with Craigslist aims to help you find out

Tenants now can find out a lot about any landlord’s portfolio by clicking a link, “NYC’s worst landlords,” on the apartment search pages on Craigslist. It provides information that highlights, with the help of Google Maps, landlords with the worst inspection records.

The agreement with Craigslist is part of an eight-point package that Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, proposes to empower tenants and compel landlords to act more responsibly.

New York magazine details what a century and a half of apartment living reveals about us

New York re-invented the apartment many times over, developing the airborne slice of real estate into a symbol of exquisite urbanity, says New York magazine. Writer Justin Davidson continues in an eloquent essay on changing times:

Sure, we still have our brownstones and our townhouses, but in the popular imagination today’s New Yorker occupies a glassed-in aerie, a shared walk-up, a rambling prewar with walls thickened by layers of paint, or a pristine white loft.

The story of the New York apartment is a tale of need alchemized into virtue. Over and over, the desire for better, cheaper housing has become an instrument of urban destiny.

When we were running out of land, developers built up. When we couldn’t climb any more stairs, inventors refined the elevator. When we needed much more room, planners raised herds of towers. And when tall buildings obscured our views, engineers took us higher still.

State frees sellers’ brokers from having buyers sign out agency disclosure form if accompanied by their own broker

Although the Department of State requires that consumers sign an agency disclosure form when they have “substantive contact” with a broker, the Division of Licensing now says that real estate brokers do not have to provide one if the individual is in the presence of his or her own broker, according to a letter sent to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

That’s a clarification of the law, for which violation carries severe penalties.

Substantive contact occurs when the consumer is unrepresented, the consumer’s broker is not present, that broker is acting on behalf of a landlord or seller, or the broker accompanying the consumer is a dual agent representing both buyer and seller.

Proportion of foreclosures inches up citywide

New York City foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans reached 4.19 percent in January, up 1.26 percent from January 2010 and 0.56 percent above the national average, according to a a new report from CoreLogic.

While most of Manhattan’s foreclosure rates paled in comparison to the rest of the nation, foreclosure the proportions in Upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs were classified as high, or greater than 2.8 percent.

Robust market lifts rents, shifting balance to landlords, with 150 percent increase in leases signed from a year ago

The Manhattan residential rental market remained strong during the first quarter of this year, with rents rising and vacancy rates falling, according to two new industry reports.

Tenants paid more rent in the quarter than they did the same period last year, according to a report prepared by the Miller Samuel appraisal firm.  Median net effective rent, which includes landlord concessions, rose 7.4 percent to $2,808, while average net effective rent rose 3.9 percent to $3,342.

Considering the net effective rent on a per-square-foot basis, the increases were far more dramatic, soaring 20.3 percent to $47.62.

The upward pressure on prices came as the volume of new apartment leases signed surged to 6,665 in the first quarter, up 150 percent from the same time a year ago.

“The rental market is more robust than it has been in the last couple of years,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller.  “The market has tilted in favor of landlords.”

What’s up with Hudson Heights?

Hudson Heights in upper Manhattan is nestled in an area that has long been considered a Dominican stronghold, but for a couple of blocks along West 181st Street between Fort Washington Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard, a more diverse crowd has been setting up shop in the past few years.

Dominican sancocho and café con leche are difficult to find. But there is a Starbucks and you will find Northern Sicilian and Thai treats, as well as specialty retail stores.

Hudson Heights, a sub-neighborhood within Washington Heights, extends from West 173rd Street to Fort Tryon Park on the north, and from Broadway to Riverside Drive on the west. Locals coined the name Hudson Heights in the ’90s to distinguish the area from the then-notorious Washington Heights neighborhood during an era marked by violence and drugs.

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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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