The High Road: Me and my shadow are plenty

And THIS is my frisbee. (Flickr photo by Grozz)

You find them everywhere, salespersons in boutique clothing stores, in auto showrooms and, of course, in properties looking for buyers.

When it comes to real estate, they may represent either buyer or seller.  But the biggest offenders are those on the listing side.

They trail you like dogs hungry for the treats in your hand, eager to point out everything about the apartment or townhouse that’s good and hopeful to distract you from any defects.

“This,” they might say triumphantly, “is Continue reading

Officials set minimum auction bids different ways

Surrogate's Courthouse in Manhattan, site of public administrator auctions.

Auction aficionados are well aware that each of the public administrators in the city’s boroughs holds auctions usually three or four times a year to unload properties of owners who died without a will.

Every time I publish a post about an upcoming auction along with the minimum bids, I can count on Internet chatter to the effect that the apartments and townhouses going on the block don’t add up to bargains. To commenters, the minimum bids invariably seem too high.

I got to wondering how the public administrators decide on the minimum. Continue reading

The Big Apple: Prices double over 10 years. More!


The 2010 Manhattan real estate market shows marked improvement from the doldrums of 2009, with prices twice as high as a decade ago, according to 10-year apartment and townhouse market reports.

The median sales price of Manhattan co-ops and condominiums in 2010 was Continue reading

The Big Apple: Will there be too FEW condos? More!


As the market plods along in a slow but steady recovery, brokers and developers are saying the city will soon face a shortage of new development projects.

Last year, through November, the city issued permits for only 10 new residential buildings, for a total of 505 new units. That’s 95 percent fewer apartments, either condo or rental, than for the same period in 2008, when permits were filed for 9,448 units in 147 buildings, according to census data. (The number of units had dropped to 1,203 in 31 buildings in 2009.)

Starting in 2012, after most or all the new projects that were stalled or delayed have finally sold out, the supply of new apartments will take a decided dip, and prices for all apartments could start to rise significantly again.

“Once we work through the existing inventory and there’s nothing new coming on line,” President Kelly Mack of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group told the New York Times, “there’s going to be a major shift in the market. Prices may start going up significantly in 2012 in anticipation of the shift in inventory.”


Co-op and condo owners Continue reading

Gee, no one knows that square footage is an issue

(Flickr photo by Biking Nikon PDX)

Every now and then, I’m surprised by the New York Times.

Last weekend’s Real Estate section caught me off balance as well.  The newspaper of record hauled out a dried up chestnut to devote its lead story and more than a full page to the matter of calculating square footage.

If you don’t know by now Continue reading

The High Road: How many brokers count right?

How many rooms do you see?  What would a broker say?

Granted you are more likely to worry about the amount of square footage in a co-op, condo or townhouse than the precise number of rooms when judging the price.  But room count is neither irrelevant nor debatable in the eyes of the New York City Administrative Code.

Nor is it acceptable–legal or ethical–for a broker to misstate the number of rooms–either because of ignorance of the definition of a room or because of a desire to inflate a property’s characteristics.

Generally, a room must have minimum dimensions of Continue reading

Do you enjoy the sight of sausage being made?

This co-op in the west 60s is attractive and, below $600,000, pretty well priced. But notice its placement next to the entrance and essentially in the living room.

Some time ago, perhaps years, I wrote that kitchen trends inevitably change.

We can walk into a property and immediately classify that room as a product of the 60s, 70s, 80s and so on.  I predicted that the era of stainless steel and granite soon would end.

Apparently, I made the suggestion prematurely, though I am certain that, in time, I will be correct.  You know, like a stopped clock.

I also believe that open kitchens Continue reading

Square footage is the bane of everyone’s existence

One of the city’s biggest brokerages recently advised its agents and associate brokers to stop providing square footage with their listings.  The action followed a horrific spike in lawsuits claiming that the numbers were overstated.

Floor plan of an apartment for which the total square footage appears in the listing but without a disclaimer. The floorplan itself provides caveats.

While it’s true that there are those brokers (and any number of individuals in other situations) who will exaggerate size intentionally for the obvious reason, it is equally true that automatically generated measurements can be wrong: garbage in, garbage out.

That’s because Continue reading

Do you really need to live in such a big place?

(Flickr photo by hoyasmeg)

When I was a real estate broker in the D.C. area, I would check out the open houses of what came to be known as McMansions.

Wandering from room to room, many filled with couches and comfortable chairs, I would wonder how the residents decided where they would sit, what they would do differently in one lushly decorated chamber or another and why they needed such a big house.   In Manhattan, too, I often have the same thoughts as I visit  townhouses and sprawling apartments.

My former business partner in D.C. invariably chuckled at my vocalized comments, which were tinged with indignation, even contempt, in a world of rampant poverty–not that I haven’t been a practitioner of conspicuous consumption myself as well.

What has brought such experiences to mind was an article by Susan Rosenbloom in the New York Times, who explores whether living large makes folks happy.

As unlikely as you may think a real estate broker would take such a position, I firmly believe that buyers should think twice about how big a residence they really need. Continue reading

PSO is an acronym some buyers better learn

Post-settlement occupancy can result in an unwelcome tug-o'-war between seller and buyer. (Flickr photo by tj.blackwell)

The technical term is post-settlement occupancy, or PSO.

In all those syllables is a basic situation: Sellers remain in the property after the buyers complete the purchase. Ownership has changed, but occupancy has not. Yet. (It is the opposite of another kind of PSO–pre-settlement occupancy, about which I wrote a couple of weeks ago.)

You easily can imagine some of the reasons that sellers might make the request, e.g.: Continue reading