Professional inspections routine. . . elsewhere

No, this inspector is not checking out avocados. (Flickr photo by nikkigomez)

I don’t often waste my breath advocating a professional home inspection here in Manhattan.

That’s the opposite of what I did with each one of my clients in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

Yet the benefits of an inspection are no smaller here than elsewhere, even though the vast majority of properties is sold “as is.”  Not once in the D.C. area did the professionals fail to discover defects, suggest things to monitor and provide maintenance advice.

Nor, I should say, are inspectors infallible. Continue reading

NY1 segment aims at red flags in real estate sales

This image from Jill Urban’s NY1 segment shows neither her nor me.

Real estate reporter Jill Urban of NY1 interviewed me last week about the ways buyers or sellers can cause trouble before a contract is signed.

We also discuss what either party can do when sensing a problem.  I hope you enjoy viewing her short piece on red flags in real estate.

I know I enjoyed participating and finally meeting Jill, with whom I have several mutual friends in the business.

The clip is only two minutes long and includes one of those friends, lawyer Ron Gitter. I’ll have much more detail about the issues in a future post.

Tomorrow: Thanks, Rodney

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The Big Apple: Citywide stats improve. . . a bit

VOWs prove useful to buyers searching for new homes

Brokerage firms are getting into the digital game themselves, creating a “virtual office Web site” or VOW.

These are sites operated by brokers that enable clients to search for most of the available properties in a particular market, not just the firm’s exclusive listings, according to the New York Times.

While brokers have mixed feelings about whether these sites are worth the investment, the emergence of the VOW is yet another sign that once tightly guarded listing information has finally been set free in New York.

Dollar value of citywide sales climbs from Q1 to Q2 as seasons change, but sales activity slips 4 percent below one year earlier

The total dollar value of New York City’s residential sales transactions jumped 13 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to Continue reading

The Big Apple: CPW sale turns tidy profit. More!

She who hesitates hardly is lost

Mildred Furiya bought her townhouse in Brooklyn for $16,000 in 1966 with a cash gift from her father. Now she plans to list the dwelling for approximately $1.895 million.

A sale at that price would represent an 11,744 percent increase over 45 years — or an annual return of about 11 percent, says the New York Times.

Numbers cruncher says he’s bullish on Manhattan

Manhattan just doesn’t behave like the rest of the country Continue reading

The Big Apple: Flip tax, prices, big sales, more

Look for more or expanded flip taxes in co-ops

A growing number of co-ops are considering creating or expanding flip taxes as they struggle to replenish reserve accounts depleted by rising costs.

A survey commissioned by Habitat magazine found that close to two-thirds of responding co-op boards already have in place what’s colloquially called a flip tax — formally, a “transfer fee.”

Of the 186 co-op boards responding to the survey, more than 129 charge some kind of transfer fee or administrative fee paid by the seller of an apartment when the unit is sold.

“A couple dozen of our buildings may be looking at the issue,” says Dan Wurtzel, president of Cooper Square Realty, which manages 400 properties.

Once a co-op board decides to consider a flip tax, there seems to be broad agreement about what type to institute. “Two percent of the total sales price of an apartment seems to be the number that everybody likes,” according to property manager Gerard J. Picaso.

An Upper East Side mansion that went begging for 7 years finds a buyer at last

A 13-room townhouse at 870 Park Ave. originally listed for $23 million in 2004 finally has found a new owner. Continue reading

The Big Apple: Many brokers express optimism

Renting out your apartment entails pitfalls that can be avoided by knowing them.

Once you rent out your apartment, you create a “landlord-tenant” relationship with your renter.

That relationship is governed by a set of very specific (and technical) laws enacted by New York State and New York City, notes blogger and real estate lawyer Ron Gitter, who is a friend of mine.

Those laws tend to favor your tenant, but the “Landlord-Tenant Part” of the Civil Court of New York City does offer a judicial forum, albeit not necessarily a speedy one, for resolving issues that can’t be settled by mutual agreement between the parties.

Condo owners need to consider an array of business related issues before they enter into a lease.

Firm’s analysis has New York City surging ahead of most others in many categories a decade and a half from now

Cities are regaining their previous glory, according to MicKinsey Global Insight, with New York poised to lead the pack. Continue reading

Fannie, Freddie ideas could change our world

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may seem like distant galaxies, light years from our world as we know it.

But the proposals last week by the Obama administration to phase them out could have a profound affect on all buyers and sellers as early as this year.

To be sure, a proposal is a long, long way from congressional action, and self-interested parties such as the Mortgage Bankers Association already 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: 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