With Labor Day approaching, let’s wake up

(Flickr photo by DanielJames)

With summer coming to a close, I’m stirring with new energy and new blog posts

Starting next week, I’ll return to my regular schedule of daily posting.

My next “Out and About” will appear on Tuesday, then on the following Mondays or Tuesdays, depending on various factors: Late news; an irresistible urge to fulminate, bloviate or elaborate; or time constraints.

And on Fridays, I’ll continue to provide the most pertinent links related to the Big Apple, U.S. real estate, celebrity sales and purchases, household tips, experts’ forecasts and a variety of other topics.

Now and thereafter, you’ll find both more timely and additional items by following me on Twitter (below) or checking my Facebook page.  This site, Twitter and Facebook contain a collection of different information.

I’ll continue to write about a range of subjects for buyers, sellers and everyone else with an interest in New York real estate.  Topics cover the waterfront — from mortgage news to broker ethics.

I look forward to “seeing” you then and publishing your comments.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

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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

Web site

New search tool may make brokers squirm

Whether it’s about an individual’s tennis game, cooking ability or professional achievements, who would want to be rated?

Certainly not brokers, who have the same legitimate concerns that others possess.  Yet the practice is becoming increasingly common.  As Inman columnist Bernice Ross puts it:

With multiple listing services, companies and third-party vendors such as Trulia, Yelp and Zillow all posting agent reviews, there’s no escaping the fact that agent reviews are here to stay. About 20 percent of sellers currently receive a post-closing follow-up, as do about 25 percent of buyers.

Now, Streeteasy has announced that it is dipping its bytes into the cyberspace of broker assessments.  As critical as I can be of other real estate brokers, I have my doubts Continue reading

Queens administrator to auction 24 properties

In Forest Hills, this house has an upset price of $724,000

An estate auction of 16 houses and eight apartments will be conducted Sept. 13 starting at 11 a.m., according to Queens Public Administrator Lois Rosenblatt.

Minimum prices range from $83,000 for a one-bedroom co-op in Jackson Heights to $724,000 for the two-story house shown above in Forest Hills.

At 77-27 Kew Forest Lane, the house is a two-story structure being sold “subject to tenancy.”  Its owner was one Stephen Nedeicu, and taxes amount to $5,860 annually.

One of the apartments on the block is a 499-sf Manhattan studio at 101 W. 12th St., which has an upset price of $330,000.

Minimum bids are set by Rosenblatt at 25 percent below the appraised value.

Below are the properties to be auctioned Continue reading

The High Road: Relationships fray

Part 3: The saga of “The worst broker ever” ends badly for all concerned.

(Flickr photo by feastoffun.com)

When it comes to guaranteeing the commission, Nathaniel cannot speak for his brokerage.  Moreover, the lack of specificity as to when the commission would be due is troubling.

With that in mind, I send the following e-mail on the Thursday before the purported open house:

I know you’ve emailed me about the commission previously. But I’d much appreciate it if your firm would fax or email signed confirmation that my firm will receive 2.5 percent of the sold price no later than settlement of the transaction for having produced a ready, willing and able buyer.  If the settlement does not occur because Seller breaches the contract, please also indicate that the commission will be due in that event as well no later than the settlement date in the contract.

Since my client plans to see the unit — regrettably in my absence — on Saturday, it is essential that I receive the confirmation  well before his appointment.

With no response in 24 hours, I decide a telephone call is required.  Continue reading

The High Road: Broker shows his true colors

Part 2: In my previous post, I detail the questionable claims made by “Nathaniel,” the listing broker for a downtown property.

(Flickr photo by feastoffun.com)

Nathaniel, the listing broker who has been communicating directly with my buyer, causes me to doubt almost everything about him and what he says.  I decide it’s time to get to the bottom of his claims and send an e-mail:

When I look at the Streeteasy listing , I see that the building is a co-op.  Also, I see there that it is an HDFC income-limited building.  If both are up to date and therefore true, I wonder how my client would qualify on the one hand and not face an intrusive board approval process on the other.  The second related issue has to do with any board sublet and pied-à-terre policies, for which it would be useful to me to have the benefit of some elaboration on your part.

 Also, I was just a bit surprised to see that the sales were not listed in the OLR database.  Perhaps you could explain. 

 Finally, if you happen to have electronic copies of the financials, board application and other docs, we would love to have a look.

 Assuming my questions and your responses present no obstacles, would you be able to show the property Friday afternoon?

Here’s how the broker responds, exactly as written with the exception of identifying details:

Its a really lose COOP.

The building is still labeled HDFC but Continue reading

The High Road: Meet the worst broker ever

This is the first part of a three-part series about my interactions with a listing broker whose level of professionalism astonished me.

Some brokers really tick me off. (Flickr photo by feastoffun.com)

Communication between me and the listing broker I’ll call Nathaniel began after the buyer I represented e-mailed him directly.

The buyer is someone I’ll call Ben, who is a regular reader of my blog. He spotted the listing on Streeteasy.com and, contrary to my prior advice about contacting other brokers himself, began an extended correspondence.

About the listing: It indicated that the property below 14th Street was an HDFC (income limited) condop with three bedrooms and two baths. The asking price was between $500,000 and $1 million. (I’m purposely being vague so as to protect the broker’s identity since doing so would be an ethical lapse.)

Ben wanted to know why the listing reported two baths while the floor plan showed only one.  He also asked in the same e-mail whether the board would permit a pied-à-terre.

“Sorry,” the broker responded without explanation for the error, saying that one bath was correct.

He ignored Continue reading

Drumbeat intensifies against home subsidies

Finance Professor Viral V. Acharya of NYU's Stern School of Business

An op-ed piece in the New York Times this week drew a tweet from a broker friend of mine saying that the authors’ points were “inane.”

Even as a dedicated social and economic liberal, never mind real estate broker, I have to disagree with him.  In earlier posts, I have confessed to finding myself in the uncomfortable position of questioning why the American Dream has to consist of homeownership.

A roof over heads is a roof, whether owned or rented.  Shelter is shelter.

Since the contention that home ownership stabilizes neighborhoods has yet to be proved, what are the other justifications for homeownership?

Try to enumerate the advantages of homeownership, and I’ll bet Continue reading

At a closing, what’s a real estate agent to do?

A closing that went smoothly for the buyer I represented.

When I go to a closing here in New York, most of the time I have nothing to do.

While doing nothing is boring, it’s also a good thing.  It generally means that the closing is going well.

But sometimes Continue reading

Wall Street sneezed. Now what?

(Flickr photo by Mash Potato)

Few of you would disagree with the thought that the gyrations on Wall Street cannot be a good thing for the housing market in Manhattan.

After all, it is axiomatic that our market catches a cold when Wall Street sneezes.  And Wall Street suffered much worse than a fit of sneezing.  It briefly went into intensive care and, unfortunately, could be rushed there again.

I didn’t need the latest consumer confidence level, the latest statistics in the listing database or the following e-mail on Saturday from buyers with whom I have been working to know that the impact on Manhattan’s housing market has to be severe:

[We] have been discussing our outlook for NYC and we have come to the conclusion that we do not think that we want to spend approximately $500,000 for a 1/2 bath or 2nd bath.  We think that for a savings of $500,000, we can manage with 1 bathroom. . .  

This economy has made us more conservative. I thank you in advance for your understanding.

Indeed, how could I not understand, as I wrote in my response?

(Flicker photo by Diego da Silva)

I don’t see how the housing market can fail to freeze.

Consumer confidence plunged in early August, as the Wall Street Journal noted.  The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index for early August recorded a startling drop to 54.9 from 63.7 at the end of July and 63.8 in early July.

That is not a good, though unsurprising, sign of things to come.

The preliminary August current conditions index fell to 69.3 from 75.8 in late July, the Journal reported. The expectations index plummeted to 45.7 from 56.0.

Because it is August and little is happening anyway, I view with a grain of salt the numbers in the OLR (OnLine Residential) database.  But they may be worth a gander.

Compared with the month ended July 17, the time since then has registered what I take to be an insignificant 1.74 percent decline in the median listed price, to $811,400.  At the same time, the (lagging) number of signed contracts fell 6.14 percent, to 76.

To me, the most revealing statistic for this admittedly crude analysis is the number of listings with price cuts.  They actually plummeted by 220 to 969, an 18.5 percent change over the month.

Not so alarming, you might conclude.  But. . . but. . . fully 170 of the 220 — that is, 77 percent — of the reductions over that period occurred in the last seven days!

If you have the stomach for more numbers, consider, too, August’s angst compared with the especially accurate statistics that Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs compiled for July.  He notes that only 1,168 new listings came on the market in July, the 10th consecutive monthly decline in new supply from the previous year.

Moreover, he finds a mere 713 contracts signed that month, down from 988 in June and also down from 760 one year earlier.

At the same time, pending sales — those at some stage after having gone to contract and before closing — have continued a steep downward trend that began in June.  They are down 8.7 percent as of now, though seasonal decreases are normal.

Seasonal or not, I’m wondering whether this won’t be the fall and winter of our discontent.

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

Private ‘MLS’ permits statewide property search

Everyone selling real estate and most prospective purchasers realize that there is no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in New York City.

That void results in brokers having to resort to their shared databases through systems such as OLR (OnLine Residential), though listings by many boutique firms never appear in them.

Still, the vast majority of listings are fed into StreetEasy.com, where many buyers check to see what’s available along with services such BuyFolio.com.  Both the New York Times and Craigslist can be sources of properties being sold by their owners without brokerage assistance.

It’s not a great system.

Little did I know until meeting Dawn Pfaff at a monthly dinner meeting of the Lucky Strikers Social Media Club that there exists something she has describes as a statewide MLS.  Sort of.  Continue reading