Low monthly fees nice but perhaps warning sign

moneyMonthly condo fees and co-op maintenance are important criteria when judging the value of a potential new home.

Everyone wants them to be low enough to conform to their budget.  However, the pitfall can be when they are too low.

Those monthly charges to shareholders and owners are what keep a building running right.

Depending on the building, they cover such costs as Continue reading

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The Big Apple: Bags of $100 bills, monthly stats, more

GROWING DEMAND FOR TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENTS HAS THEIR PRICES RISING

After a lull that has lasted for more than a year, two-bedrooms are back.

The market share for two-bedrooms first dipped under 30 percent in early 2009, with smaller and larger apartments gobbling up more of the sales, according to data compiled by Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and a market analyst for Prudential Douglas Elliman. But in recent months, that percentage has climbed back up to 39 percent.

The median in Manhattan dropped 20 percent, from a high of $1.6 million, in 2008, to $1.272 million in 2009, according to the data. It has since inched back to $1.3 million.

SELLERS AND BROKERS ARE KNOWN TO MISREPRESENT BEDROOMS, SQUARE FOOTAGE, BUILDING POLICIES AND NOISE

Sometimes sellers and their brokers get things wrong or even flat-out lie to the other side, and New York, says real-estate attorney Jerry Feeney, is “a buyer-beware state.” (Brokers’ websites include fine print disclaiming responsibility for errors.)

If you have even a slight suspicion, Continue reading

10 questions to demand of your board candidates

Who will fill the seats on your board? (Flickr photo by dolphinfxt)

Annual meeting season for condos and co-ops is in full swing.

Although many residents may skip the meetings, routinely check off the names of existing board members or casually sign away their votes to proxies, they may thereby ignore the single most powerful way to protect their interests.

Please bear in mind that the state invests the boards of co-ops and condos with fiduciary responsibility.  It is their job to see that funds are collected, not wasted and obligated in a manner otherwise consistent with the law.

Since the burden of responsibility is heavy and rarely shouldered equally by board members, I have developed a list of questions that I think each incumbent candidate for a board should be required to answer–publicly.

My list grows out my membership and presidency of both a condo and a co-op board.  The latter board is one from which I resigned mainly because of time commitments that grew increasingly burdensome in all areas of my life and because of my disgust with the other members. Here are the questions Continue reading