The Big Apple: Flip tax, prices, big sales, more

Look for more or expanded flip taxes in co-ops

A growing number of co-ops are considering creating or expanding flip taxes as they struggle to replenish reserve accounts depleted by rising costs.

A survey commissioned by Habitat magazine found that close to two-thirds of responding co-op boards already have in place what’s colloquially called a flip tax — formally, a “transfer fee.”

Of the 186 co-op boards responding to the survey, more than 129 charge some kind of transfer fee or administrative fee paid by the seller of an apartment when the unit is sold.

“A couple dozen of our buildings may be looking at the issue,” says Dan Wurtzel, president of Cooper Square Realty, which manages 400 properties.

Once a co-op board decides to consider a flip tax, there seems to be broad agreement about what type to institute. “Two percent of the total sales price of an apartment seems to be the number that everybody likes,” according to property manager Gerard J. Picaso.

An Upper East Side mansion that went begging for 7 years finds a buyer at last

A 13-room townhouse at 870 Park Ave. originally listed for $23 million in 2004 finally has found a new owner.

Over the years, the 12,000-sf mansion was listed for as little as $19 million and lately at $24.5 million. The buyer has not been identified.

But an Upper West Side condominium gives up on sales

The new development at 208 W. 96th St. has gone rental.

The stylish three-bedroom apartments occupied full floors and had offering prices of $2.29 million to $2.395 million.  Asking rents are predictably high: $11,000-12,000 a month.

Ironically, you’ll find a critique of the units published just yesterday, before news arrived of the change in the building, as the last item in “Out and About.”

Brooklyn auction yields bargains for bidders, minimal returns for developers

During a one-hour auction, the four penthouses at the 37-story building now known as One Hanson Place were sold for a total of $8 million, including a 3,263-sf four-bedroom unit on the 26th floor with a huge terrace that sold for $2.8 million.

Three apartments in the old Williamsburgh Bank Building — 3,243-sf four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath units without terraces that were originally listed for close to $5 million — went for around $1.7 million each. Unit 27A, a 2,848-sf three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath, went at $1.325 million.

Four of the six apartments were sold absolute, meaning the developer has committed to the price. The buyers also paid a 10 percent premium on top of their bid. The sellers have a week to reject the deal on 27A and the $1.65 million price on 30A, one of the four-bedroom apartments without a terrace.

But the building’s 3,263-sf, four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath place with 2,909 square feet of terraces, which was originally priced at $5.8 million and last listed at $3.45 million, went without a reserve, for $2.55 million.

Metro Theater may rise again as an arts complex

Since its construction in 1933, the Metro Theater on the Upper West Side has had a turbulent history.

This year, longtime owner Albert Bialek is in discussions to convert the Metro into a new home for Wingspan Arts, a 10-year-old nonprofit group that provides arts education for some 6,000 students in the region.

The group is proposing a three-floor theater and education complex at the site, on Broadway between 99th and 100th streets, with construction costs estimated at as much as $25 million.

Tax collector loves phantom apartments even as developers grouse

The two penthouses under the red-brick arches atop of Morgan Lofts on East 36th Street are impressive, but only in official documents.

Each has approximately 2,200 square feet of space, walls of glass and rooftop terraces facing the Empire State Building. Every year, each is billed $30,000 in property taxes plus thousands of dollars more in common charges.

But the penthouses do not exist — except in the files of government agencies.

They are among a number of phantom condominiums in at least three projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn caught up in the maze of city and state rules for condominium development, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Foreclosures wane in first quarter, but home prices decline citywide

NYU’s Furman Center reports that housing prices declined between the last quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 in every borough except Queens, where prices remained essentially flat.

Manhattan home prices declined 1.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011, but they were 2.5 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2010 and only 11 percent lower than in the peak of the market.

Home values in the Bronx and Queens have each depreciated by almost a third since their peaks in the second quarter of 2007 and fourth quarter of 2006, respectively.

The volume of home sales continued to decline in every borough compared with the previous year. In Manhattan there were 29 percent fewer sales in the first quarter of 2011 than during the first quarter of 2010.

Smoking ban prompts attorney to question contraction of shareholder rights

The co-op or condo population can now determine behavior within the privacy of your own home, writes lawyer Ron Gitter in the Huffington Post as the result both of a recent court ruling and a co-op board’s smoking ban.

“In essence, it appears to be an expansion of the Business Judgment Rule to cover actions by the unit owners, not just by the co-op or condo board,” says he.

“As long as it’s in the best interest of the co-op or condo population as a whole, the individual’s personal habits can be sacrificed for the good of the community. . . Whether the courts can or will intercede in these building-wide decisions is yet to be seen.”

Gitter consequently advises potential purchasers to make an effort to understand the personality of the co-op or condominium. “Make sure you’re comfortable with the club that would have you as a member,” he declares (in an allusion, for those too young to know, to Groucho Marx).

Construction employment drops to 13-year low

The New York Building Congress says employment for construction workers fell to its lowest level since 1998 during the first three months of the year.

Construction employment has fallen 25 percent from its peak in the third quarter of 2008, just before Lehman Brothers imploded.  At the time, there were 136,000 construction workers employed in the city in comparison with 101,200 last quarter. In the second quarter of 1998, there were just 99,000 people working construction.

Subscribe by Email

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
Web site
Search 20,000 NYC Properties

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s