The Big Apple: Citywide stats improve. . . a bit

VOWs prove useful to buyers searching for new homes

Brokerage firms are getting into the digital game themselves, creating a “virtual office Web site” or VOW.

These are sites operated by brokers that enable clients to search for most of the available properties in a particular market, not just the firm’s exclusive listings, according to the New York Times.

While brokers have mixed feelings about whether these sites are worth the investment, the emergence of the VOW is yet another sign that once tightly guarded listing information has finally been set free in New York.

Dollar value of citywide sales climbs from Q1 to Q2 as seasons change, but sales activity slips 4 percent below one year earlier

The total dollar value of New York City’s residential sales transactions jumped 13 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to $7.42 billion compared with the first quarter of this year, according to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

Average home prices inched up 3 percent versus the same time last year, growing 2 percent to $747,000.

Although sales volume increased 10 percent from last quarter, it decreased 4 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

Enrollment, tuition in private schools is heading–surprise!–up

Enrollment at New York City private schools is rising, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, and tuition at the schools here is rising faster than tuition at private schools everywhere else.

In the city, enrollment rose by about 3 percent between the 2007-2008 school year and 2010-2011 (though it grew at a slower pace every year).  Nationally, enrollment dipped 1 percent from 2008-2009 and 2010-2011.

Disappearing board has oversight of real real estate brokers

The little-known 15-member New York State Board of Real Estate, which helps craft regulations for the industry and hears public complaints about brokerage licensing, has a mandate to meet at least three times per year. Yet it has not held a meeting in more than 24 months.

The low-profile board, which is affiliated with the Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services, is an influential body that has broad authority to develop and publish rules and regulations affecting real estate brokers and salespersons.

It also provides a forum for the public to air its grievances about such issues as race or family status discrimination, and the body provides to the State Legislature an annual report on real estate licensing complaints.

Replace your old air conditioner with a ‘green’ one and collect $30 without passing out from the heat

Receive a $30 rebate on a new Energy Star room air conditioner purchased until Sept. 6 if funds are not depleted by then.

Such air conditioners use at least 10 percent less electricity than conventional models, saving you energy and money. Con Edison residential customers can get a $30 rebate when they buy one.

Will Fannie Mae disapprove well qualified borrower’s loan because the building falls short?

Whether a building is Fannie Mae approved is a question brokers and buyers should be asking before the contract gets signed, counsels lawyer Ron Gitter.

Even in “all cash” transactions, a buyer should want to know whether a future sale could be impacted by a building’s failure to keep Fannie Mae happy.

As the regulation of consumer lending continues to impose greater limitations on the availability of financing, apartments in co-ops and condos without Fannie Mae approval will continue to experience roadblocks on the road to the closing table.

Staten Island neighbors are accused of treating disabled youngster heartlessly

The state Division of Human Rights is investigating residents of a Bulls Head condominium for allegations they are verbally harassing a family who installed a wheelchair lift for their disabled daughter, the Staten Island Advance reported.

Maria and Michael Stasinski say they have been subject to insults, dirty looks and the cold shoulder by the same neighbors whose children once played with their 5-year-old Giuliana or stopped by for preserves jarred from the fruits growing in their backyard garden.

“Cerebral palsy affects her legs, but not her heart,” said Mrs. Stasinski. “She has feelings. People came and spent time with her, and now that they don’t, she misses them. It’s a void for her.”

Declining everywhere else in the city, foreclosures surge in Manhattan

Foreclosures on co-op apartments in New York City reached a two-year high during the second quarter, more than quadrupling in number since the second quarter of 2010, according to the latest data from

The spike was fueled by a major uptick in scheduled foreclosure auctions in Manhattan, which had 66 in the second quarter, up from 27 at this time last year and from 41 in the first quarter.

Although bedbug complaints are up, city issues fewer violations than in 2010

The bedbug wave that caused widespread unease in New York homes, offices, movie theaters and retail stores may have been somewhat more hype than bite, according to data from city agencies.

While residential bedbug complaints through the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development rose in the last fiscal year, violations have decreased. There were 4,481 violations issued as a result of 13,140 complaints in 2011, compared with 4,808 violations and 12,768 complaints in 2010.

Habitat magazine asks whether board members should be paid

Although the bylaws of co-ops and condominiums generally prevent compensation for boards (other than reimbursement for money spent), there does not appear to be a city, state or federal statute or regulation prohibiting the practice if the shareholders/unit-owners agree.

So, Habitat magazine asks, then answers, should you try compensating your board members? What are the pros and cons of paying for their services? What might be the consequences?

Manhattan condo prices are stagnant in April for 8th consecutive month

The RPX Manhattan Condominium price increased 12 percent from its post-crash low in May 2009 through August 2010 but has not exhibited any lasting gains since then, according to the Radar Logic data analysis firm.

Although prices spiked in early March, the gain was more than offset by declines in late March and April.

On a year-over-year basis, the RPX Manhattan Condominium price increased 1.7 percent, but it stalled at 11 percent below its level at the end of April 2008, before the housing crisis hit the Manhattan condo market.

Sales activity increased 4.2 percent relative to April 2010 while remaining 15 percent below the average transaction count in 2007 and 20 percent below the average transaction count in 2004. The year-over-year increase in sales activity was particularly large among studios and one-bedroom units in the 600-900-sf range.

Developer of Manhattan’s first timeshare condominium is accused of fraud

A lawsuit has been filed against developer Ian Bruce Eichner and other owners and operators of the Manhattan Club, the city’s first time-share condominium resort.

The suit accuses Eichner and other entities of fraud and “breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” according to court documents dated June 28.

Five time-share owners in the Manhattan Club, which is in the Park Central Hotel at 200 W. 56th St., are alleging that “through a coordinated and uniform marketing strategy, defendants fraudulently create and maintain the impression that access to and beneficial use of timeshare units in The Manhattan Club is completely or almost completely limited to timeshare ownership interests,” the court filing said.

Eichner declined comment.

Sales of new condos revive in Brooklyn, Queens

Sales of new condo developments in Brooklyn and Queens made a comeback in the second quarter of this year, according to the latest market reports.

In Brooklyn, 24.6 percent of sales were new developments, according to data prepared by the Miller Samuel appraisal firm, marking the highest recorded level of sales activity for new developments since tracking of the statistic began in the first quarter of 2008. Even in Queens, where there are fewer new developments, a record 8.9 percent of sales were new condo.

“This is the first time we’ve seen (sales of) new developments improve in any way since Lehman,” said Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel. “New development tends to be closer to the high end of the market, which is fairing better than other segments.”

When it comes to board applications, some condos are looking more like co-ops

In the wake of the recession, an increasing number of condominium boards are hoping to weed out financially questionable buyers by requiring extensive application packages, says the New York Times.

Demands can include years’ worth of federal tax returns, detailed lists of all assets and liabilities, several letters of references, and even board interviews.
These buildings are waging a war of attrition, forcing potential residents to supply extensive documentation in the hopes that those who appear to be a financial risk will walk away of their own volition.

Only excluding inflation have rents recently peaked

Manhattan rents are rising, but appraisal executive Jonathan Miller demonstrates that they’ve been higher when inflation is taken into account.

“Adjusted for inflation, we have a long we to go before we see actual peak numbers,” he says.

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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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