That maxim about the first offer proves correct

Sellers who resist a first offer can count on crying over spilled milk. (Flickr photo by +tajc)

Conventional wisdom has it that the first offer on a property usually will be the best one.

With two co-ops on the market of which I have knowledge, such has been the case.

One was listed for $799,000 at the outset and the other, for $3.95 million.

The first apartment went on the market in early February. A few weeks later, I presented an offer Continue reading


Mack truck is headed into the Manhattan market

(Source: Mack Truck Inc.)

When the government lowers its limit for an insured mortgage loan starting Oct. 1, the impact on our housing market may well prove to be staggering.

I confess that I hadn’t focused on the consequences until the New York Times rang alarm bells on Wednesday in a Page 1 story headlined “Federal Retreat on Bigger Loans Rattles Housing.”  In it, David Streitfeld writes:

But now Democrats and Republicans agree that the taxpayer should no longer be responsible for homes valued well above the national average, and are about to turn a top slice of the housing market into a testing ground for whether the private mortgage market can once again go it alone. The result, analysts say, will be higher-cost loans and fewer potential buyers for more expensive homes.

The maximum government-insured loan limit through September in high-cost areas such as ours had been raised to $729,750 as the nation reeled from horrifically deflating house prices across the nation.  The new limit Continue reading

When seeking a doorman building, look for a condo

He may be a budding doorman, but he's out of uniform. (Flickr photo by Photo-Fenix)

It’s just about the next best thing in Manhattan to having a chauffeured limousine always at your disposal.  That would be living in a doorman building.

Door personnel and concierges obviously do like to get paid for their work, and that means you’ll fork over plenty in common charges or maintenance fees to live in a doorman building.  In fact, the cost of all labor normally is the biggest budgetary item in such a building.

But the conveniences are manifold; I’m sure that I don’t have to enumerate them for you.

I got to wondering what percentage of buildings Continue reading

Out and About: Our usual spring thaw is running late

(Flickr photo by wvholst)

As wintry as it is, this is the time of year when we expect the housing market to begin to warm up. When it comes to real estate, the spring thaw starts early, especially after the Super Bowl.

According to the superb data provided on my friend Noah Rosenblatt’s Web site,, inventory in Manhattan is up from a year ago.  But sales are lower–and trending lower at this moment.

The number of actively listed apartments fell to 6,427 on Jan. 22, 2010 as opposed to 7,211 on the same date this year.  As for the volume of sales at some stage prior to closing, there were 2,056 on Jan. 22, 2010 versus 1,881 this year.

The decline in sales activity largely seems to explain Continue reading

Out and About: Don’t be fooled with a conversion

There is nothing like a gut renovation. (Flickr photo by Asturnut)

There is a 16-story building on West End Avenue in the low 70s that has undergone conversion from rentals to condos, a situation fraught with issues that I have explored from time to time.

Among the issues: How long will it take for the conversion to be completed? How deep are the developer’s pockets?  How will lingering tenants and ongoing construction affect the ambiance of the 1924 building? How certain is the quality of future work?

When I asked the listing broker three different ways how many of the units were occupied by owners, she told me that approximately 60 percent had that status, a healthy proportion indeed.  Yet Continue reading

Welcome to the housing market’s darkest days

Pounding rain assaults Brisbane (Flickr photo by Burning Image)

No, I don’t mean that sales and prices are plunging.  We’re entering that period when you’ll see fewer new listings, fewer open houses, not so many names on sign-in sheets and more properties going temporarily off the market.

We are entering the dark days.

It’s the holidays!

You can argue both sides of the coin of whether it’s a good idea Continue reading

Sealed-bid auction set for two luxury penthouses

43 West

Two duplex penthouses with terraces and views of the Hudson River from an eight-unit building are to be auctioned via sealed bids that are due Dec. 8. The reserve prices were not disclosed.

In the a former 1920 rental building now called West 43, at 552 W. 43rd St., between 10th and 11th avenues, the condos are being marketed as a closeout auction Continue reading