Out and About: The curse of lot-line windows

With two more windows, this living room would be twice as light.

What the photo above graphically illustrates is what happens when the reality of lot-line windows comes home.

When the owners purchased their home, they doubtless assumed that nothing would block the windows at one end of the living room.  Those current sellers were wrong, all too clearly.

Either unaware of lot-line windows in the condo or blissfully unconcerned about them, the buyers must have congratulated themselves on the purchase of their light-filled new residence in a 1910 doorman building on a corner of Broadway.

Now, they must be regretting the day of their closing.

After they bought the place, Continue reading

The Big Apple: Sales, prices were up at one point


Artists have long struggled in New York, moving into rough areas, gentrifying them and then getting forced out, Crain’s observes.

But as the city has gotten increasingly expensive, there are few such neighborhoods left to move to, forcing a growing number of artists to abandon the city.

Although there are no official numbers, a survey of 1,000 artists conducted in 2009 by the New York Foundation for the Arts found that more than 43 percent expected their annual income to drop by 26-50 percent over the next six months, and 11 percent believed they would have to leave New York within six months.

Even more troubling, cultural boosters say, is that for the first time, artists fresh out of art schools around the country are choosing to live in nascent artist communities in regional cities such as Detroit and Cleveland–which are dangling incentives to attract this group–and bypassing New York altogether.


The Big Apple: Village townhouse is auctioned. More!


It took only three minutes, from 6:19 p.m. to 6:21 p.m., for the successful bidder to spend $6.634 million at a court-ordered auction yesterday of a Greenwich Village townhouse that had been listed at $9.95 million not long ago.

“I’m very happy with the price I paid,” said the affable bidder, 51, Continue reading

Someone there is who does not love a wall


11-story building under construction at 77 E. 12th St. in January 2009. (Photo by Andrew Fine)


If it’s the light and the views that grab you in an apartment, don’t ask only about the low buildings in the distance, cautions real estate lawyer Ron Gitter, who regularly contributes his advice to readers of this blog and writes one of his own that is well worth bookmarking: coopandcondo.com. There is, he says, one other very important issue to consider.

by Ron Gitter

With an almost unquenchable thirst for square footage, developers of late have been utilizing the entire footprint of building lots–sometime with consequences that the residents of the newly constructed building don’t anticipate.

You’ll find an increasing number of examples of this trend in “lot line windows,” Continue reading

Guest post: 10 rules for renting your condo right

by Ron Gitter

What appears to be the beginning of a beautiful landlord-tenant relationship can turn ugly faster than you think.  So notes lawyer Ron Gitter, whose sage advice has graced this blog before and whose Web site contains much more valuable information.

Perform your due diligence when you intend to hand over your precious property to a stranger, or even a friend or relative, he counsels.

For your peace of mind and financial security, consider all the issues that might have an impact the tenancy.  Be upfront about any conditions in the apartment that may be of concern to the tenant.

At the same time, there is no reason for your relationship with your tenant to be of the love-hate variety: He or she gets to live in a great apartment in the Big Apple and you receive a significant and, sometimes, obscene amount of rent.

Where we live, that’s peaceful coexistence.  The 10 or so suggestions below should ensure that war doesn’t break out:

(Flickr photo added by Mr. Wright)

1. Comply with all condo rental requirements: You must submit a rental application to the managing agent.  Even before the lease is signed, make sure that your proposed tenant understands that financial disclosure, various documentation and a background check may be required prior to the building’s approval of your tenant.

2. Check the creditworthiness of your tenant: Continue reading

Guest: 5 ‘secrets’ that board minutes might reveal

Some board minutes can be a challenge to decode. (Flickr photo by studentofrhythm)

If you’re buying a co-op or condo, don’t fail to have the minutes of the respective Board of Directors or Board of Managers examined by your attorney.

In his advice below, lawyer Ronald Gitter–whose Web site is an essential resource for his clients and anyone else contemplating a sale or purchase–writes that the minutes can provide critical information about the physical and financial condition of the building, plus insights into its personality, or “DNA.”

Below, he outlines the five areas that demand a buyer’s attention.  Only by reading the minutes as a key component of all the due diligence that your attorney performs can he or she be confident that you likely will avoid nasty surprises in the near and distant future.

It is up to you, says Gitter, to ensure that your attorney covers the following issues:

1. Reserves, maintenance and assessments. Although the old real estate mantra was “location, location, location,” now it’s “value, value, value” in the new economy. The minutes often describe a building’s cash position, the history of maintenance increases and the imposition of assessments. The Board’s ability to keep expenses in check and to avoid annual maintenance increases or assessments is always a sign good management.

2. Capital expenditures. Continue reading

Should you ask super to help renovate your place?

For a renovation, you'll want someone who knows what she or he is doing. That may or may not be your super. (Flickr photo by Sarah Ackerman)

If your super does a renovation for you, it likely won’t cost you as much as an outside contractor.  In addition, you won’t have to worry about the security of your apartment.  And you often can get away with some relatively minor changes or repairs without formally notifying the board.

Ron Gitter, a lawyer whose Web site is loaded with information about co-ops and condos in Manhattan, has all the answers.  He just clocked 100 Q&As, prompting him to list his five favorites.

One of them is this:  “I am buying a co-op that needs major renovations. The super has offered to do the work at a significant discount. Is that a good idea?” You’ll find Ron’s detailed response on his site, and here, in part, is his response:

When a renovation is more complicated, it is not always a good idea to have the super do the work. First of all, if things do not go well, you will have a dispute with someone who basically runs the building. Not a good way to get things started. Secondly, if Building Department filings are required, a super may not be in a position to take care those details and that can become a problem in the future when you go to sell your apartment.

You should bear in mind that co-ops and condos can be very sensitive about building employees doing work for individual unit owners because of liability issues and because the work distracts the employees from their primary obligations, Ron reminds readers.

You may take away something valuable from not only the other four questions but all 99.

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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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