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, UrbanDigs.com, 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

Don’t laugh, but REBNY’s ‘survey’ is a joke

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) released its latest survey results today, unwittingly providing insight into why they don’t merit your attention.

As a member, I’m sure I got an e-mail asking for my participation.  I may even have responded, though I don’t recall.  But any survey that depends on self-selected responses is not worth the bytes it consumes.

What was the methodology?  I have no idea.  What I do know from today’s press release is only this:

The Broker Survey is conducted quarterly and was sent to REBNY Residential Division members in July after the close of the second quarter.

The release begins with the insupportable conclusion Continue reading

Condo prices in May suggest ‘moribund’ market

Data analysis firm Radar Logic says in its newest RPX report that Manhattan condo prices were 6.7 percent higher in May than one year earlier but 16 percent lower than the peak in late 2008.

Referring to a gradual upward trend, the company said month-to-month growth in condo prices in was “de minimis,” suggesting “a relatively moribund Manhattan condo market at a time of year when prices typically rise.”

In May 2009, Manhattan condominium sales dropped to their lowest rate since the beginning of Radar Logic’s 10-year data history. Since then, the RPX Manhattan Condominium Transaction Count has doubled while remaining below its 10-year average.  The firm declared: Continue reading

City’s estate auction nets $1.355 million

The city’s estate auction of five Manhattan condos and a co-op produced winning bids totaling $1.355 million.

However, three of the units went unsold at the event, which took place in the Surrogate Court’s building (left) starting at 11:30 a.m.

Following are the results, which I obtained (while supposedly on vacation) by telephone from Patricia Brown in the office of Public Administrator Ethel J. Griffin of New York County:

  • 570 Grand St., #H1305, co-op, 1,350 square feet, three bedrooms, one and a half baths with monthly maintenance of $1,009. Minimum bid: $540,000, reduced by $40,000. Winning bid: $540,000.
  • 116 Pinehurst Ave., #F53, co-op, 1,094 square feet, two bedrooms, maintenance of $1,138.36 and assessment of $142.74 monthly. Minimum bid: $620,000, a $60,000 reduction. Did not sell for second time and will be assigned to a broker.
  • 204-206 W. 10th St., Apt. 3, co-op, 345 square feet, one bedroom, $634 maintenance per month. Minimum: $325,000. Did not sell and will go on the block one more time at a date to be set.
  • 270 W. 17th St., Apt. 3H, condo, 552 square feet, three rooms, monthly common charges of $550 and annual taxes of $6,300. Minimum: $475,000. Winning bid: $555,000.
  • 550 Grand St., Apt. G12E, co-op, 780 square feet, three bedrooms, one and a half baths, $719 monthly maintenance. Minimum: $260,000. Winning bid: $260,000.
  • 3 Hanover Sq., Apt. 9B, co-op, 562 square feet, $774 maintenance. Minimum: $310,000. Did not sell and will be auctioned again.

The sales of the co-ops are subject to approval by their boards of directors. If they reject the purchaser, deposits are returned and there is no penalty.

As for the turnout, Ms. Brown said there was an “adequate” number of bidders.

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When deal sours, not so fast for returned deposit

Everyone knows that the deposit for the purchase of real estate will be returned to the buyer if the transaction falls apart for reasons specified in the contract.

But the fine print in the boiler-plate language in a typical contract of sale for real estate in New York is well worth reading. Continue reading

A 1BR UES co-op goes on the block July 26

240 E. 76th St. in Manhattan

Advertised as a one-bedroom, one-bath 500-sf co-op, apartment No. 5A at 240 E. 76th St. is headed for a foreclosure auction on Monday, July 26 with a $50,000 minimum bid.

But photographs of the unit on the Williams & Williams auction site suggest that it’s really a studio, at least in Manhattan nomenclature, with monthly maintenance of $725.

The "one-bedroom" unit is to be auctioned subject to owner's approval.

This is not an absolute auction, so the winning bid is subject to the owner’s approval.  That would be the lender. Other requirements: Continue reading

When properties don’t sell, why do asks go up?

The studio in question does have a $1 million view.

Consider a Central Park West studio that was listed in March of 2009 at an asking price of $985,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,204.

Unsold, the co-op was taken off the in August and re-listed with the current broker in September for $950,000.  In January, the maintenance climbed to $2,200.

Last month, the price actually went up, to $1 million. Continue reading

Get those certified checks to bid at city auction

3 Hanover Square

Bidders will have the opportunity on July 29 to win an apartment at the city’s estate auction of five co-ops and a condo ranging from the Financial District all the way up to Washington Heights.

Manhattan Public Administrator Ethel J. Griffin will seek to dispose of the properties, which can be inspected July 13, 15, 19 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.

Two of the properties failed to sell at the last auction, and had the amount of their minimum bids cut, so this is your second chance.  (Should they go unsold this time, the apartment will be turned over to a real estate broker to market.)  They are: Continue reading

Interest heats up for absolute auction of condos

Flickr photo by Capture Queen.

Although I have been writing about real estate auctions for some time, the interest that I have observed in the selling of six condos at 127 Madison Avenue in Manhattan this coming Sunday at the Roosevelt Hotel has been intense.

Hundreds of readers have looked at my posts on the auction, an unprecedented four readers have called me for advice on the sale, and two asked me to represent them at the auction (before I explained to them the hazards that they faced if their bids were accepted). Continue reading

m127 auction has 13 secrets you need to know

It turns out that there may well be plenty you haven’t discovered about the absolute auction of five unsold condos plus the penthouse (subject to the seller’s confirmation) at 127 Madison Avenue, dubbed m127.

One thing the developer hasn’t volunteered in connection with the sale on June 27 at the Roosevelt Hotel is that the company, Cardinal Investments, is facing foreclosure on the building.  A foreclosure motion filed by the Bank of Smithtown is due for a court hearing two days before the auction, according to an attorney quoted by Josh Barbanel in the Wall Street Journal.

Alan C. Polacek, an attorney for the bank, which is based on Long Island, told Barbanel that a court-appointed referee recently put the debt owed by the developer at nearly $9 million.

The newly revealed information – together with an amendment to the developer’s offering plan, financial statements and the purchase contract – suggests a potentially confusing, even financially hazardous, situation for any winning bidders. Continue reading