Out and About: Walls always speak volumes

Portion of a wall that needs help

Clean windows, polished floors, organized closets and sleek kitchen all communicate positive aspects of any home being considered by buyers.

One characteristic that is not usually noticed at once also can have a decided impact on first impressions and subsequent appreciation of properties on the market.

That is the walls, especially in pre-war apartments and townhouses. The shape they are in speaks volumes.  They thereby affect prices in ways that can elevate or depress the selling price.

Consider the photo above. Perhaps you can Continue reading

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Weekly Roundup: Hot sales, rising prices and rents, upward trending rates, online reno tools, conflicting recovery predictions and much more

Sales hot, hot, hot in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, where Williamsburg prices soar 23.6 percent in year

Even with continued inventory shortage, Q2 sales leap up

Average rent in city (excluding Staten Island) breaks $3,000 for first time

And median rent in Manhattan hits $3,195 in June, with Brooklyn’s jumping 13.5 percent since 2012

Many uptown adherents now embracing downtown neighborhoods they once considered unthinkable

Landlords, boards of co-ops and condos tailoring latest amenities to Continue reading

Liking paperwork, you’ll love co-op renovations

(Flickr photo by luxomedia)

Anyone planning to undertake major renovations in a co-op apartment faces a forbidding task.  Without the building’s prior written consent to undergo structural alterations of an apartment, count on trouble ahead.

If you are a brave soul with plans to expand the kitchen you soon will acquire, add a bathroom or take down a wall, there is no guarantee that the co-operative will approve the alteration request.

Many boards won’t even consider Continue reading

So you want to be a landlord. Think twice.

I take no responsibility for my tenant's interior design choices.

I take no responsibility for my tenant’s interior design choices.

When I lived in Washington, D.C., I was fortunate to have owned a townhouse for a virtual song.  The apartment downstairs basically covered my mortgage and other costs.

The one-bedroom unit with access to a patio that my tenants shared with me rented quickly during my ten years of ownership.

Each of my tenants but one was great, not making too many demands, too much noise or really any problems at all.  It was the last one that, had I the choice, I probably would have Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Foreclosure auction, DOMA effects, climbing prices and rates, millennials, home offices, housing affordability and more

Have a great holiday week! No more posts until July 8.

Foreclosure auction scheduled for co-op in posh River House at end of 18-year legal battle

Metro area’s foreclosures down in April but still above national average

6.2 percent growth in construction spending expected during the year

End of DOMA produces real estate tax benefits for New Yorkers, of course others as well

Analysis of Manhattan prices, sales suggests they’re flatter than apparent in Q2

Actress sees black, not red, in sale of Greenwich Village duplex for $7.45 million

Comedian who played TV psychologist, hotel owner lists Bel Air home again at new lower price of $15.5 million

Peripatetic former Dateline anchor Continue reading

Don’t let home suffer humiliation of bad breath

If prospective buyers entering your home end up looking like this, you’ll have to admit you’ve got a problem. (Flickr photo by db2r)

Do you know whether your home smells?

Homeowners sometimes are unaware how offensive to others can be the pungency of Fluffy’s litter box.

In co-operatives, condominiums and rental buildings, the odors of cabbage or ethnic spices assaulting hallways and insinuating themselves through vents not only may irritate neighbors but also drive away prospective buyers as surely as Fluffy’s transgressions.

The mere sautéing of garlic, which is bound to linger in a cook’s apartment, easily penetrates public spaces and the disapproving nasal passages of anyone who traverses them.  And never mind what some perceive as the stench of tobacco smoke, especially from pipes and cigars, as a powerful disincentive to making an offer.

As for marijuana, I imagine approval or disgust may vary considerably according to the individual. Continue reading

Few phrases more chilling than ‘back on market’

Who is the seller and who, the buyer? (Flickr photo by Mr. van Meelen)

Few more words sound more ominous than “back on the market.”

They could mean that broker after broker couldn’t sell the property.

Or that a buyer withdrew after learning about nerve-wracking defects.

Or that the seller couldn’t stand the many months that the home was on the market with no taker and so elected to pause its marketing.

More charitable explanations also are possible.

Perhaps Continue reading