Weekly Roundup: Wily boards, condo prices, housing starts, FICO scores, pocket listings, ghosts, recovery consensus and much more

Those co-op boards are at it again — and again — even against their own

Feng shui consultant busy in Manhattan

Owners of highest-end apartments pay far smaller percentage of units’ sales value in taxes than others do

New condos post 16.7 percent price rise over a year ago

For first time, a New York neighborhood climbs to top of Forbes list of most expensive zip codes

Brooklyn, Queens inventory lowest in four years, but luxury market in those boroughs relatively healthy

Commercial real estate sector poised for 2013 recovery, moving up to second-best city for investment

Twilight co-star purchases Los Feliz house for Continue reading

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Weekly Roundup: Reports reveal strong sales, weak supply in Manhattan despite increasingly tough standards for borrowers everywhere

Inventory plunges to seven-year low in Q3, sales strong, prices little changed

Streeteasy finds decline in price cuts, time on market compared with same quarter in 2011

Penthouse owner sues board president on claim she sabotaged $27.5 million co-op sale as revenge for rejected lowball offer

Managing agents say residential building in better shape than years ago, but watching pennies

Enduring family feud, Charles Rutenberg Realty has progressive business model making it Manhattan’s 6th largest brokerage

Life as a 20-percenter isn’t a bed of roses, resident of mixed-income building confesses

Landmarks subcommittee blesses expansion of Upper West Side historic district, clearing way for Council approval

Who will be able to claim credit for 95-story Park Avenue tower soon to be constructed?

Pundit frustrated by cable-TV news sells TriBeCa loft above $1.32 million asking price

Actor trades outer space for outside space in $2.5 million purchase of Park Slope duplex

Aerobic exercise fanatic Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Killing rents, Rat Island langor, celebrity doings, strong resales, shrinking inventory, negotiation advice, Home Depot vs. Ikea, shared households, lots of guessing. More!

Townhouse sales on upswing

Divided board okays 2 percent increase for rent-stabilized units, 4 percent if for 2-year lease

There’s a right way to approach board members with complaints

It’s still mainly doormen, not doorwomen

Apartments selling faster than a year ago

State to spend $60 million on legal services, counseling for homeowners

For delinquent condo residents, the white gloves are off

29 percent of residents spend more than half of their income on rent

Winner of Rat Island auction off City Island in the Bronx settles in

Court rules that rent-controlled apartment can’t be distributed in divorce

Singer is gambling on absolute auction for sale of estate previously listed for $3.5 million

Performance artist Continue reading

The Big Apple: Median price grew most here

My coverage of New York City news likely will be sporadic over the next couple of weeks, but please do check here to catch up with important developments or perhaps my idle musings.

BANKS STRUGGLE TO SEIZE HOMES, MORE SO IN NEW YORK THAN ANYWHERE ELSE

It takes longer to foreclose on homes in New York than in any other state—and it’s getting longer every month.

Two years ago, the state began requiring that banks and borrowers attend settlement conferences before a foreclosure takes place.

While the conferences are popular with borrowers and have succeeded in helping some families keep their homes, banks have been reluctant to participate. That, and recent revelations that some lenders have improperly submitted foreclosure documents, has prompted judges to take a harsher stance with lenders.

CUOMO IS UNRELENTING ON PLEDGE TO CAP PROPERTY TAXES

Gov.-elect Andrew M. Cuomo is making clear to legislative leaders that one of his priorities is to cap local property taxes, a notion that would have large consequences statewide for homeowners and school districts.

Take my refrigerator, please, as the eighth item below suggests. No, not YOU! (Flickr photo by Tammy Green)

Cuomo is proposing a limit on the total amount of property tax dollars that can be collected annually by a school district, municipality or special district by capping the increase in the local tax levy at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, according to his campaign literature.  Schools traditionally receive the largest share of property taxes.

A cap would not directly affect New York City, where property taxes are relatively low because of revenue from the city’s personal income tax and where the schools are financed through the general city budget. But outside the city, New York is among the most heavily taxed states in the country.

D’YA THINK THIS NOMAD MIGHT HAVE A BOOK OR MOVIE DEAL IN THE BACK OF HIS MIND OR HIGHEST OF HIS HOPES?

Ed Casabian’s nomadic existence Continue reading

With thinking come murmurs of my mind

Housing recovery will depend on bitter medicine. (Flickr photo by aussiegall)

Experts cannot agree on how long housing’s crisis will continue or how to fix the problem.

You may have noticed  my characterization of the situation as a “crisis,” and certainly everything that has happened in housing in the last three years has been tragically dislocating to millions of families and profoundly harmful to the economy. No one knows when it all will end or even how bad things will be when it’s finally over.

The effects of the bursting bubble have thrown lives into chaos and helped make a shamble of the economy, and that’s where the word “crisis” comes in. Whether ameliorating the crisis means that the nation will–or should–return to 68-69 percent home ownership is another matter on which I have written and will consider again below

Meantime, allow me to quote some of the sources in the Bloomberg piece that I mentioned in my post yesterday. For example:

Morgan Stanley housing strategist Oliver Chang:

Whether it’s the sidelined, shadow or current inventory, the issue is  Continue reading

Wallstreeters must hope that past isn’t precedent

I’ve been reading a justly lauded book about Bear Stearns and the shenanigans that led to the firm’s collapse, House of Cards by William D. Cohan.

In his dissection of the firm and his evisceration of its executives, the author periodically brings us up to date on their compensation, a pittance in contrast to most of the mammoth packages handed on Wall Street today.

For example, Cohan writes that top executives, especially Ace Greenberg and Jimmy Cayne, were making “eye-popping” amounts of money in the fiscal year ended June 1991.  He notes that:

. . . the thirteen top Bear Stearns executives received an average compensation of $2.8 million, up 25 percent from the year before.

Greenberg’s cash compensation for the year increased to $5.3 million, from $4.2 million the year before.”

Who among us wouldn’t be thrilled to collect that much money in a single year?  Answer: the folks toiling on the Street these days. Continue reading

Where’s that bottom everyone is talking about?

Buyers seem not only to be looking again, but they are starting to make offers.  And the offers are less likely to be insulting than they were just a couple of months ago.  Much of the activity appears to be centered on properties listed below $1 million, though buyers at higher levels clearly are less gun-shy than they were in the recent past.

If you doubt the foregoing information, have a look at Sunday’s New York Times, which leads the Real Estate section with a long piece that has the following headline:

Bidding Wars Resume

Regular readers of this blog and my e-newsletter won’t be surprised by the news: I have been warning that such wars would reappear once there occurred a perception that the bottom was here or approaching.  (However, my timing was a bit off; I didn’t expect that change until sometime next year. In any case, I doubt the trend is widespread yet.)

Ask buyers about their renewed interest, and the answers are almost the same: Continue reading