Condo and coop inventory in Manhattan at near all-time lows

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415 E 85 3EF - SOLD 415 E 85 #7CD - SOLD 800 RSD #2E - SOLDWith current inventory at near all-time lows (as of the time this is being written, there are fewer than 6,000 units on the market. We typically average around 12,000 units on the market at any given time.

Anyone who has been following the market for some time (5+ years) will not be surprised to know the current market state (very robust) nor the fact that the market is very both seasonally and economically cyclical.

First the current market. I have been saying for the past six months that the overall Manhattan real estate market is strengthening, and all the latest data just confirms this reality. Just go to the first open house for a new listing. It will lilkely be their only open house. If priced right, new listings are garnering mulitple bids, many over the asking price, and many all-cash with no contingencies. Wow! What a difference a year can make. So, prices are up (as much as 20% from the 2009 lows), inventory is way down and confidence in the housing sector has surged.

The segment of our market with the most dramatic change, at present, is the market consisting of homes of at least two bedrooms and two full bathrooms in just about any neighborhood in Manhattan. Since many apartments were converted into smaller studios and one-bedrooms to reflect the demographic shift in the 70’s & 80’s when families moved to the suburbs, the city now has many small apartments and very few big ones. To add to the problem most new construction is heavily focused on the very high-end buyer, leaving very few options for middle-class families.

The market is crazy at the moment. I have had clients lose a number of “bidding wars”. I have also had clients who have won their “bidding war”. When my clients and I visit an Open House, it is not uncommon for us to have to wait to get into the apartment while people ahead of us are leaving the apartment – to make room for others to enter. I have been dealing with buyers who are frustrated with the lack of new homes coming to market. The market is now, clearly, better for sellers than at any point since 2007.

Counter to what one might think, despite the “seller’s market” most buyers are concerned that if they don’t get in now they will miss the opportunity and not have the equity needed to purchase in the future. Most buyers who require financing are wondering how long rates will stay this low for mortgages. My crystal ball broke in 2008!

Did I also mention seasonality above? Spring is here, and that typically means more buyers, more inventory, and a run up to the Summer months. Well, the buyers are here, but the new inventory is not. The simple rule of supply and demand tells us that prices will continue to rise a bit, until inventory (supply) catches up to demand.

In case you are woindering what a typical cycle is in Manhattan: The 1st Sunday of the new year (January) hits and suddenly people start to think about their housing situation and how this year they are going to sort things out. What should we do? Let’s stop paying rent and look to buy. Web traffic to our listings jumps dramatically in early January (versus where it was from Columbus Day to New Years). The talk about annual bonuses enters the fray, usually further fueling the housing market (or at least a segment or two of the market). The market activity builds and builds over the first few months of the year as new inventory comes on from sellers who waited and buyers are out in force. This culminates in the strongest period for (closed) sales volume which is April, May and June. Being driven by warmer weather, approaching the end of a school year, and people motivated to sell and buy before the next school year, the Manhattan housing market is typically giddy at this point. Normally, the Spring market slows down drasticaly by 4th of July weekend. Unlike other places, the NY summer market is much slower than the Spring market with people away or otherwise pre-occupied. Things then tend to pick up again from Labor Day to Columbus Day, or Thanksgiving if the weather remains nice.

I did say that the market is also affected by economics, too. Low interest rates and local employment numbers effect the market. In general, economics it is driven by the laws of supply and demand. At present, we have a decreasing supply of apartments and demand increasing. In large part (a couple of) years of pent up demand, low mortgage rates / cost to finance, and a huge increase in buyer confidence are driving the market, upward.

Suffice to say: We need apartments to sell. I have sold all of my listings and am eager for new ones to help satisfy market demand. Can you think of anyone you know who may be interested in selling their home? Please refer them me so I can help them save time, net more money and reduce the stress of the process.

Lee can be reached at (347)829-9996.

New York Housing Market May be Seriously Disrupted


I sent this note to my New York elected officials. I would ask that you do the same regarding Guidance on Private Transfer Fee Covenants,(No. 2010-N-11): 415 E 85 Exterior Cherry Blossom for web

The proposed Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) guidance that would prohibit Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac from buying mortgages on property that have a private transfer tax fee agreement, or a “Flip Tax” as it is known in New York, would seriously disrupt the stability and efficiency of the city’s housing market.

The New York City condo and co-op housing market has operated with a flip tax for some time.  In one study, it was reported that more than 50 percent of the co-ops in New York City have a flip tax. In many cases, the flip tax is paid by the seller and is a percentage of the seller’s profit.

This tax has bolstered the capital reserve fund of numerous buildings thereby funding critical and necessary capital improvements, including facade work which ensures public safety. These improvements have benefited the residents of these buildings and the surrounding neighborhood.

In New York these fees are going back to the property for the benefit of the building and its occupants, not to the building developer.  These fees typically fund building maintenance, the repair and replacement of building systems, and additional building wide improvements that benefit the residents. FHFA is principally concerned with the private transfer fee covenant when the project developer, or their designated third-party receives the proceeds, not when the fee goes to improve the operation of the building.

We urge you to drop this current proposal which would harm New York City’s housing market. In my opinion, condos and co-ops in New York City are sounder investments for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a result of a building’s healthy reserve fund which in most cases has been funded through flip and transfer taxes.

Lee can be reached at (347)829-9996.
Apartments in Manhattan

Mortgage purchases up, refis down as tax credit expiration approaches: MBA

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The rate of mortgage applications for the week ending April 23 decreased 2.9 percent from the previous week on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey. But while the overall rate of mortgage applications declined, this was largely due to a drop in refinancings, not a decline in demand for new mortgage purchases, the report says. The MBA’s purchase index increased 7.4 percent, as the homebuyer tax credit expiration approached, while the refinance index dropped 8.8 percent. The average interest rate on 30-year mortgages stayed relatively flat, increasing to 5.08 percent from 5.04 percent week-over-week. TRD

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Doormen Union Strike Averted

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I am pleased to report that the Realty Advisory Board (RAB) and Local 32BJ reached an agreement just past midnight last night. The agreement, ratified by the RAB and subject to ratification by the Union, appears to be a fair and reasonable settlement. Over the four year agreement, building service workers will receive an increase in wages averaging 2.16% per year.  The total package will average 2.92% per year. The agreement calls for protection to owners from unexpected future cost escalation for health benefits.  For the first time, Management has now transferred the risk of extraordinary regulatory or inflationary increases in benefits to the Union.  This was not part of the previous agreement. In addition to this important change, the agreement calls for a significant reduction in the health benefit cost starting in 2012. The projected reduction will cover a significant portion of the wage and benefit increase over the four year agreement.
I want to thank Howard Rothschild, President of the RAB, lead negotiators Charlie Dorego, Eric Rudin, Jeff Brodsky and our lead attorney Paul Salvatore for the time and effort required to achieve this fair and positive agreement for all parties.

Steven Spinola – President, REBNY

NYC Doorman Building Worker Strike Deadline Tonight (as reported elsewhere):

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Buildings throughout NYC are preparing for a doorman building strike. Residents are being issued security passes and strike packages and signing up for volunteer building duties. Negotiations between the Realty Advisory Board and local 32BJ have resumed this morning. The contract covering 30,000 building workers expires tonight at 11:59 pm. The union has been running ads featuring doormen and porters. Robocalls featuring actress Cynthia Nixon have been calling apartment residents urging them to stand with building workers.

New Yorkers who live in condos and coops receive their building financials annually. The building financials include operating budgets and staff salaries. Most shareholders and condo owners are aware of what the building staff gets paid excluding tips and perks. The last strike by building workers was in 1991 also during a recession. A strike not only disrupts “the quality of life for NYC apartment residents. It will affect real estate closings, Open Houses and move-in and move-outs.

Let’s hope a strike is averted!

What do you think? Should anyone be asking for a raise in the midst of a recession?

Financing and Appraisal Contingency and Why They are so Important

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If you ever find yourself buying or selling a home anywhere in or around NYC, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Putnam or Dutchess Counties, be sure you have a knowledgable real estate attorney who knows how to best protect your interest.

While my wife and I recently lost on a bid we had for a home in Rockland County, I learned something very important. You see, any attorney my wife and i would choose to work with understands the need for a strict financing contingency and appraisal contingency. Why is this important you ask? Well, for anyone putting down more than 20%, a lender / bank might approve your mortgage even if the home or property does not appraise at or above the contract price. Typically lenders will lend up to 80% loan to value. So, if you put down more than 20%, a lender/ bank may still approve your loan even if it appraised at less than the contract price – as long as the lender / bank is not lending you more than 80% of the home’s appraised value.

Since my wife and I felt the home we liked was way over-priced and would not appraise anywhere near the asking price, after having our “reasonable” offer rejected we offered to allow the seller to name their price for the contract. We told them that if the house appraised at or above the contract price, we would be bound by the contract price. If however the home appraised for less than the contract price we would pay 5% less than the appraised value. This forces a seller and their broker to think before they price a home for sale. We found out that the other offer they had included a 40% down-payment. I had a conversation with a very knowledgeable Rockland County broker, I was told that they had never seen a local real estate attorney ask fro an appraisal contingency, not even a basic one that say if the home does not appraise we are out of the contract and get a full refund of our deposit. Needless to say, I was shocked. Being in real estate now for 8+ years and having owned and invested in real estate I thought every real estate attorney would protect their buyer clients with a strict financing contingency and appraisal contingency.

If you find yourself needing a knowledgeable real estate attorney, do not hesitate to contact me.

Visit Manhattan Apartments, for your Manhattan and Riverdale real estate needs.

The website owned and operated by Lee Presser, a New York State licensed real estate salesperson associated with The Corcoran Group and member of The Real Estate Board of New York. The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of The Corcoran Group. This website is not the official website of The Corcoran Group or its affiliated companies, and neither The Corcoran Group nor its affiliated companies in any way warrant the accuracy of any information contained herein. Any product and/ or services offered for sale on this website shall not be considered an offer to sell such goods and/ or services in any state other than New York. Information on this site is not intended as legal or financial advice. I operate a business practice that supports fair housing.

Rockland County Above the Curve?

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So here in Manhattan and Riverdale buyers and sellers of residential real estate, namely coops, condos, townhouses and some 1-4 family homes have come to realize that the market is down from the highs of 2007, and many minds are meeting and agreeing on price. In some cases, this is being helped by the potential $8,000 home-buyer’s tax credit, which is in play for all properties sold for less than $800,000 that are in contract by the end of April and closed by the end of June, 2010.

So why is it that Rockland County, NY feels they are different than every other local in the country? Pam and I have been looking for our house in the burbs, and the Rockland brokers, who admit that sales volume is way down, insist on taking over-priced listings and then appear to encourage their sellers to hold firm. One Rockland broker told me median home prices for the county are down just 2.4% from the 2008 highs. I find it difficult to believe that home prices in Rockland continued to climb in 2008, given that just about everywhere else in the tri-state area prices peaked in 2007. I think brokers in Rockland County feel good just having listings . I guess someone needs to remind them they are hired to sell those listings, and doing so means you must give your clients, the sellers, honest advice, and sometimes the truth hurts a bit. One real issue I see is that many Rockland brokers are in denial about their home prices because if prices in the county are down it means that their own home is worth less. Perhaps they feel if nothing sells for less than what they believe homes should sell for then the market has not declined? Why would anyone want to work with a broker who is not honest with them?

I provide my clients with detailed financial analysis of a home’s and/or apartment’s value, and can peg a selling price usually to within in 1-3% of my financial analysis. some intangibles may skew some a tad bit higher or lower.

While no one can predict what will happen after March 30 (supposedly when banks will begin to raise mortgage rates because they may have to begin to portfolio loans), buyers and sellers alike in Manhattan real estate are finding that now is the time to  buy or sell a home. Remember that prices need to fall nearly 10% to offset a 1% increase in mortgage rates. Borrowing $100,000 at 5.25% (30 yr fixed) will cost the borrower $552.20, while borrowing $90,000 at 6.25% will cost the same borrower $554.15. Since many experts predict that mortgage rates will climb to over 7% this year, unless you believe home prices will fall 20% if you plan to have a mortgage, now is the time to buy.

If you know anyone who is looking to buy or sell in Manhattan or Riverdale, have them contact me.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


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