Weekly Roundup: Renters, new market stats, dropping loan rates, foreclosure purchase risks, credit misconceptions, kitchen trends, and more

Renters don’t stay put for long in the financial district

New York magazine explores world of platonic urban cohabitation i.e. roommates

Housing signals mixed in metro region

Four things to bear in mind when buying an apartment for your kids

19 percent more building permits issued in 2012 than in prior year

Committee ranks Upper East Side tops for kids, Bay Ridge beats all other Brooklyn neighborhoods

Request for proposals to redevelop Lower East Side sites signals end of bitter renewal squabbling

Foreclosures in region higher in December than a year earlier

Estate in the Hollywood Hills finds friendly buyer but at greatly reduced price

Legendary rocker Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Manhattan iffy, U.S. supply low

Making the case for buyers’ brokers, the Times calls it a ‘buddy system’

Empty for 19 years, Park Avenue apartment that Yugoslavia owned leaves much to be desired

You won’t find more households with roommates than in Williamsburg

Manhattan market slackens, but weakness may be only seasonal

In a co-op or condo that leaks, who pays?

Newly scheduled foreclosure auctions post 7 percent decline in August from a year earlier

Influential rabbi accused in $220,000 rent subsidy scheme of unprecedented size in city

Manhattan condo prices in June continue their gradual improvement, especially on the Upper West Side (pdf)

Buff designer finally moves from $15,000 monthly rental to townhouse that’s superior

Sculptor expands his horizons in Tribeca

Disgraced as congressman, he ditches his old Queens district for a rental in Greenwich Village

Actress gives up Canadian perch after break-up (2nd item)

Housing inventory hits this year’s low

10 cities are the worst Continue reading

The Big Apple: Developers under gun and ground

Important housekeeping announcement:  There will be reduced frequency of posts until after Labor Day, but you can look forward until then to Out and About, some typically critical posts taken on The High Road, perspectives on sellers and buyers, and other information meant to be both illuminating and, occasionally, even entertaining.  This regular Friday feature will return on September 9, when it will be combined with Weekly Roundup.

Fair Housing Law settlement points to many more in thousands of other buildings

The developer and architect of an Upper West Side luxury rental apartment complex, The Melar, have settled with the federal government on charges that their new residential building violated federal law because it is inaccessible to the disabled, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharark.

The settlement may have an impact on more than 100,000 residential properties across the city. Continue reading

The High Road: Auctions produce but one winner

For bidders at this auction last February, hope springs eternal.

The willingness of distressed developers to resort to real estate auctions puzzles me.

I also wonder why a consuming public puts up with them.

But I don’t doubt why the companies that run auctions love them: money, of course.

Prompting this screed are three things: 1.  A blogger for the New York Times called to interview me about auctions; 2. A couple of auctions have been scheduled of condos in East Harlem; and 3. I noticed an advertisement just yesterday for 10 properties in the outer boroughs.

The pitch that the auctioneers make to developers is that they can benefit from instant establishment of the market value of their properties.

If the developers decide against selling out the building or don’t accept some of the bids, they’ll know exactly what to charge for the remaining units.  So goes the pitch.

All they have to do is dangle before buyers a few apartments in their building as available “absolute,” the auction companies contend; that strategy guarantees the seller’s acceptance of the winning bids.  Other units will be offered at the same auction with ridiculously low minimum bids, but the developer retains the right to reject the eventual winners.

In either case, buyers can be counted on turn out in droves in the hope of snaring a bargain. They are doubtless the same buyers who shun bidding wars in horror.

Yet an auction is nothing more than a bidding war.

True, a few buyers — even many at times, depending on circumstance — buy property at a good price.  But Continue reading

Developers reap bonanzas. Not always.

An item about the conversion of an office building on lower Fifth Avenue (illustrated in the photo at left) caught my eye last week.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the building at 141 Fifth Avenue has finally sold its last two condo units. It happens that an unidentified buyer paid $12.9 million for the apartments, according to the newspaper.

You might think, as I did, that the developer of the 34-unit building cleaned up, with the average price per square foot of $1,700 and sales said to total $112 million.

Think again. Continue reading

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


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.


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

Buyers of new condos are well advised to beware

Recent articles in the New York Times that are cited in my biweekly newsletter touch on the problems of buying condos in new developments. Many folks are bewitched by the notion of living where no man has lived before.

But it’s a dicey proposition.

Not only are the issues concerning finishes, ongoing construction, inevitably rising monthly common charges and punch-list items that take forever or never to be resolved, but the developers’ integrity can be a source of sorrow.

2008_12_sheffieldnewConsider the Sheffield 57, where business partners are suing and even clobbering each other, and rent-regulated and market-rate tenants are suing the developers. That’s not all: Some 100 condo owners also are suing the developers. They accuse them of being $5.4 million behind in paying there common charges, among other things. Furthermore, unpaid contractors have placed liens against the numerous unsold units in the building, and then the state halted sales altogether.

It is not a pretty picture, Continue reading