They say brokers worry only about their wallets

I suppose we brokers have only ourselves to blame for the perception among the general public that we are out only for ourselves.

Yet I confess to feeling dismayed by what I read in a series of comments on the UrbanBaby Web site Consider a few of them, quoted verbatim: Continue reading

Out and About: $1 million here, $1 million there

Riverside Park on a balmy winter’s day

Two co-ops about a block apart on Riverside Drive have some commonalities.

Each has direct river views of the Hudson along the Upper West Side and each needs pretty extensive renovations.

The classic five-room unit is a few floors below the midpoint of its building and has two and a half baths, while the other one is four floors higher and contains three baths.

Although the larger apartment covers 3,000 square feet, the smaller one seems to have only 1,800, based on others in the same line.

Having full-time doormen and welcoming pets, their buildings were constructed in 1920s.

All things otherwise being equal — and certainly they are not — Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: New Yorkers see little change in 2012, a slugger scores, new-home sales slip

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Bank moratorium leads to sharp drop in foreclosures citywide, swooning to lowest number in last seven years

Apartment values increase 3.6 percent in five boroughs, including rental buildings

Map shows younger singles looking for a mate or date where to live

With growing pessimism, surveyed New Yorkers expect real estate market to remain virtually unchanged over the year

Plethora of studios and one-bedrooms forces price cutting from Murray Hill to the Upper East Side

Report shows that things are not quite so sunny in paradise

Millionaire hoopster takes 58 percent loss on sale of North Bergen condo

Slugger scores with Rushmore flip

She seems drawn to sex Continue reading

Down-payment ‘insurance’ for housing market?

Prof. James A. Wilcox

Reading an op-ed piece by James A. Wilcox in the New York Times yesterday, I was struck by the novelty of his ideas for what amounts to government-backed insurance against a loss in home equity.

But the more I read the column by the respected economist, a business professor at the University of California, Berkeley, the more dubious I became. He writes:

Down-payment protection would provide a sensible and affordable way to restore confidence.

He contends that a large number — perhaps two million — of potential buyers who are renting or living with relatives hesitate to take the risk of making a purchase even if they have good jobs and credit histories.  Says he:

While near-record numbers of houses all over the country are empty, the sidelines are crowded with this huge ‘shadow demand.’

His solution for activating that demand, whatever its dimensions, would be Continue reading

Sellers may want to forget about offer amount

(Flickr photo by Welfli)

Okay, I wrote that headline to get your attention.

The amount of an offer obviously matters, but it’s not everything.  In a sense it is not the most important thing.

What should matter to sellers is the quality of the offer, and that depends on several factors. Continue reading

Buyer is found for bankrupt Harlem church

227 Lenox Avenue

That Harlem church in a brownstone building on Lenox Avenue has found a buyer prior to its scheduled auction.

Vice President Richard Maltz of the David R. Maltz & Co. auction firm told me in a telephone interview that a purchaser offered $1.166 million, including a 6 percent buyer’s premium, on Jan. 18, the first day that the property was available for inspection.  He declined to identify the buyer in what he described as company policy.  Continue reading

The High Road: ‘Renovated’ is like grade inflation

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, that’s what I call a renovation. (Flickr photo by Zusjes Weblog)

In the incendiary days of our overheated market just four or five years ago, you couldn’t give away renovated properties.

Flush with Wall Street largesse, seemingly all buyers wanted to impose their own taste on any apartment or townhouse they considered.  So what if it took wads of cash, endless frustration and overwhelmingly large pools of patience?

Buyers wanted to do their own thing.

Those days are pretty much in past, and I imagine they’ll be back.  But the properties that sell quickest of late Continue reading

Out and About: Truthfully, there is a free lunch

(Flickr photo by Glamhag)

If you are anything like me, you like getting something for nothing.

And if other brokers are anything like me, they are suckers for giveaways as well.

Offering free stuff is one way of luring brokers to open houses geared to the industry.  I confess to feeling a bit ashamed to say that it works for me.

I’ve provided it myself, the logic being not only that more brokers will attend an open house but that they’ll spend more timing absorbing its characteristics while they chomp on a lunch that is close to free — that is, if we value our time at nothing.

(Often, it is lenders, not brokers, who pick up the tab as a way of promoting themselves to brokers.)

Although I don’t go out of my way to attend such open houses, I’ll acknowledge that Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Supply slips, optimism grows

What is it worth to you to get high?

Foreclosures cast a lengthening shadow over state’s housing market

Sales up, prices down in the Hamptons

Resurgence of interest in lower-priced properties may signal suburbs’ recovery

Sales of apartment buildings in 2011 exceeds 2010 by 33 percent

Developers’ eyes to drift increasingly from Manhattan to Brooklyn in search of more space

Q4 prices, supply fall in Brooklyn from 2010 level as sales and days on market grow

Institutional buildings converted to condos bow to market forces

He sees many fewer millions than originally in the sale of his Tribeca penthouse

Felonious former football star faces foreclosure on Dade county home

She sells SoHo apartment not so suddenly

Village townhouse bought by Malcolm Forbes finally finds buyer

Singer takes a bath in Hawaii

Housing inventory Continue reading

Aunt Sally, Mom and Dad can be kiss of death

One grain of salt is more than enough. (flickr photo by krissen)

Nothing can more easily kill a buyer’s motivation than comments that trusted friends and relatives make.

That includes the barking dog next door, the odor of cooking cabbage in the halls, the traffic outside or the absence of door personnel.

After buyers decide that a property — apartment or house — is perfect for them, they are likely Continue reading