The Big Apple: Tale of 2 districts, much more!

New York magazine takes a gander at both sides of the tracks

New York City is home to one of the wealthiest—and the most impoverished—congressional districts in the country, notes New York magazine.

Although NY 14, mostly Manhattan’s East Side, and NY 16, in the Bronx, are geographic neighbors, the two districts couldn’t be farther apart in many other ways.  The magazine explores the state of income inequality today as seen through perhaps its most glaring juxtaposition.

Appraisal industry is hurting

Those who have worked in the appraisal industry for years say the housing bust has permanently altered the profession.

Not only has the number of people working in the appraisal industry in Manhattan declined in the last few years, but those who remain have drastically shifted the kind of work they are doing.

There are currently only 332 appraisal industry professionals in Manhattan–including certified and licensed appraisers and appraisal assistants–down 26 percent from the peak of 447 in 2007, according to the New York Department of State.

Landlords now offer improvements instead of discounts

With the market bouncing back and renter incentives disappearing, many landlords are ramping up renovations at their buildings after several years of avoiding major capital projects.

Although rents may be higher, prospective tenants may be tempted by granite countertops and new, stainless steel appliances.

According to the New York City Department of Buildings, alteration permits in residential buildings rose 7 percent to 38,815 in 2010 after falling 4 percent in 2009.

There is little appetite for land-lease buildings now

Land-lease buildings are getting the stink-eye these days, mostly because of their maintenance fees.

“Not only are you paying the mortgage on the building, but you’re also paying rent for the land,” typically adding 20 percent or so, StreetEasy’s Sofia Song tells New York magazine.

A complicated ownership structure is another concern. “A lot of attorneys have a visceral reaction: Stay away, there’s too much liability here,” says real-estate lawyer Sandor Krauss.

Banks have followed suit, and it has become difficult lately to get a mortgage in some land-lease buildings.

Where is everyone anyway?

Some Manhattan neighborhoods are assuming that vacant feeling the year round because the people who own or rent apartments there actually live somewhere else most of the time.

Since 2000, the number of Manhattan apartments occupied by absentee owners and renters swelled by more than 70 percent, to nearly 34,000, from 19,000, says the New York Times.

They proliferated in virtually every census tract south of 110th Street, with the most pronounced surges in the East Village, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Gramercy Park, Midtown East and the Upper East Side.

In a large swath of the East Side bounded by Fifth and Park Avenues and East 49th and 70th streets, about 30 percent of the more than 5,000 apartments are routinely vacant more than 10 months a year because their owners or renters have permanent homes elsewhere, according to the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey.

In one part of that stretch, between East 53rd and 59th streets, more than half of the 500 apartments are occupied for two months or less. That is a higher proportion than in resort and second-home communities such as Aspen, Colo.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Virginia Beach; and Litchfield, Conn.

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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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