Before e-mail and texts, there was the telephone

Alexander Graham Bell and his handheld.

A friend who attended the most recent monthly dinner meeting of Lucky Strikers Social Media Club was telling me there about a price negotiation that had her in a fury.

The numbers were something like an asking price of $2.7 million and her buyer’s offer of $2.2 million.  This experienced broker said the market value probably doesn’t support as much as $2.3 million.  But the listing agent contended otherwise, stubbornly.

Teeth gritted, my friend, was punching a text message into her handheld arguing for her position, at which point I, being who I am, felt the need to interject my opinion that an e-mail or text message was no way to conduct a negotiation.

“But I’m afraid I’ll explode on the phone,” said she, whose Continue reading

Brooklyn estate auction produces mixed results

More than 200 persons crowded into a courtroom in State Supreme Court, Brooklyn, for Tuesday’s auction.

With a total of $9,304,000 in winning bids, Tuesday’s estate auction by King’s County Public Administrator Bruce L. Stein produced mixed results.

Many properties enjoyed spirited bidding, topping the minimum amounts substantially, while others went begging.

Excluding the single-family house that was withdrawn at the outset, minimum bids totaled $13,582,000. The proceeds consisted of just 69 percent of that sum.

Six of the houses and co-ops on the block received no bids (26 percent), three Continue reading

What makes you think you’ll close on time?

One of my buyers expected to close on his purchase in February. Settlement was scheduled only yesterday, for July 26.

It’s not that his attorney didn’t try to ensure a prompt closing or that he hasn’t been nagging the seller’s attorney or that I haven’t been nagging the broker.  The sad fact is that there is no way to force the issue.

In my client’s case, the problem is that Continue reading

Out and About: Estate sales merge death, taxes

Flickr photo by Petra Senders

When you see the words “estate sale” in a listing, you know you’re in for a property that’s going to need a ton of work.

And when that listing omits photos, you can be sure the place will be a wreck.

It’s one thing to imagine what you’ll find, quite another to see it in person

A co-op in the low 100s between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway makes the point emphatically.

Offered for $750,000 with monthly maintenance of $730, this two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath unit, plus maid’s room, on a lower floor of a dreary 1909 building with virtually no amenities has nothing going for it but potential.

Unfortunately, Continue reading

The Big Apple: Rents up, condo owners sinking

Luxury markets pulls up Q2 average price, though volume declines

Overall sales volume of condominiums and cooperative apartments in Manhattan has been off about 11 percent so far in the second quarter compared with same period last year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the city’s data.

A year ago, the market was bouncing back strongly from the after-effects of the financial crisis.

Prices have remained flat. Data on closings show that median prices in the second quarter were 1.2 percent below prices during the year-earlier period, while average prices rose by 1.5 percent.

The average price for a Manhattan apartment was about $1.39 million in the latest period. The figures are based on closings filed with the city as of 15 days before the end of each quarter.

Russians are invading Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Look for silver lining. More!

Here’s your chance to catch up with news included to inform, enlighten and perhaps even entertain you. To read about The Big Apple, check out the other of today’s posts and look for Out and About early next week.

Connecticut palace doesn’t suit owner of just a year

Late at night, he should encounter little traffic on the way to his new Hamptons home

Sale price of his duplex was good but not the greatest

Late director’s home in Pacific Palisades is on the market for $7.9 million

Year over year resales fall again, inventory climbs

What to make of those new existing-home sales anyway?

Shadow inventory continues to decline, remaining at five months’ supply

Prices for houses under Fannie and Freddie ceilings rose unexpectedly in April

Sales of new homes in May drift down again

Radar Logic index posts 5.1 percent decline in April from one year earlier

Well Fargo to halt reverse mortgages

Think twice before Continue reading

The High Road: Kudos to Penny Crone, shame on other brokers who ignored prospective clients

(Flickr photo by dampbeebe)

When Jeff Kwong and Bob Moriarity were searching for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, they e-mailed “several” agents.

So reported the New York Times in its Sunday feature called “The Hunt” last weekend.

The only one to respond, the newspaper reports, was one Penny Crone, who eventually helped them land a place they like.

Good for her!

I wish I could say I was amazed by the paucity of replies, Continue reading

Zillow, please accept my tepid congratulations

One thing I like about Zillow is its logo. (It’s about the only thing.)

This tops a press release that Zillow issued last week:

Real Estate Information Marketplace Leverages User-Submitted Data to Add More Than 25 Million New Zestimate Home Valuations, Improve Accuracy

Boasting about an increase of its data to 100 million homes nationwide, Zillow declares:

The Zestimate median margin of error is now 8.5 percent nationwide, and below 6 percent in major metropolitan areas such as Denver, San Diego and Washington D.C.

The acknowledged margin of error previously was 12.3 percent.  Continue reading

Out and About: The unkindest cut

Endless hallways give away a wholesome past. This view is from the public area toward two of the bedrooms.

Since so many pre-war apartments on the Upper West Side were designed on a grand scale, with formal dining rooms and numerous bedrooms, it should be no surprise that many of them do not survive intact.

But I confess that I was surprised on a recent open house tour how frequently it is possible to encounter their offspring, as it were. In fact, four of the five units I visited one recent Sunday had been carved out of larger apartments.

Let me tell you that they were not only instantly recognizable as bastard progeny of bigger apartments, but they featured terrible layouts, wasted space and crude attempts to make the best of a bad thing.

Consider the photo above of Continue reading

June 28 auction date set for Brooklyn properties

1618 Union St.

Twenty-two single-family homes and five co-ops are to be auctioned by the King’s County public administrator on Tuesday, June 28 at 2 p.m.

The properties, which were owned by individuals who died without wills, have minimum bids ranging from a low of $65,000 to as much as $3.6 million.

Pictured below, the $3.6 million townhouse, which is in the heart of downtown Brooklyn across from the City Point development, went on the block last December with an upset price of $4 million.  There were no bidders.

In fact, the auction was lackluster, so other unsold properties that went on the block six months ago have reappeared as well.

However, Continue reading