NY Economics

Loans for a Niche Market

The New York Times By LISA PREVOST

If interest-only loans were issued too freely before the foreclosure crisis, their availability now is restricted to a privileged few.

A staple of the jumbo market, interest-only loans continue to be used by affluent borrowers to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere.

In particular, people in the financial services industry who derive most of their compensation from yearly bonuses commonly rely on interest-only loans to keep their mortgage payments manageable the rest of the year. “Then they take some of that bonus and pay down their mortgage each year,” said David Adamo, the chief executive of Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, Conn. “And their monthly payment then also goes down.”

Thus, interest-only loans have evolved into a financial tool, and no longer a means to affordability.

Freddie Mac stopped backing the loans in 2010 after suffering big losses; as a result, fewer lenders offer them. Those that do have strict qualifying standards. Lenders generally require that the borrower have at least 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Determination of ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.

Additionally, “a lot of lenders will want to see assets to cover as many as 24 months’ worth of principal, taxes and insurance payments,” said Richard Pisnoy, a principal of Silver Fin Capital, a brokerage in Great Neck, N.Y.

Interest-only loans are primarily adjustable-rate products with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. Available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms, they “are generally done for 10 years so there’s no payment shock in the near term,” said Tom Wind, the executive vice president for residential and consumer lending at EverBank, a national lender based in Jacksonville, Fla.

Interest rates are usually an eighth- to a half-percentage point higher than on fully amortized jumbo loans. After the fixed term is up, the mortgage re-amortizes, and both principal and interest are due.

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Lowest stabilized rent increase in decade infuriates landlords, tenants

Rent Guidelines Board Chairman Jonathan Kimmel (credit: DNAinfo)

The Rent Guidelines Board voted last night on the lowest rent increases for the city’s 1 million-plus stabilized rent units since 2002, the New York Daily News reported, and no one’s happy. Landlords claimed the increase, totaling 2 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent for two-year leases, wouldn’t cover rising costs and property taxes. But tenants advocates argued that any increase was unaffordable considering the current economic climate.

Landlord representatives wanted 5 percent and 9 percent increases as property taxes rose 7.5 percent in the last year. Joe Strasburg, president of the landlord’s Rent Stabilization Association group, said the inadequate increases would hurt small property owners, in particular, as many of those buildings are exclusively rented to stabilized renters that already pay well below market rate.

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New York Restores Apparel Sales-Tax Break on Items Under $110

By Elizabeth Ody – Mar 28, 2012 2:04 PM ET

Those shoes you’ve been eyeing at DSW Inc. (DSW) will cost you less starting April 1 when New York state raises the sales-tax exemption to $110 for clothing and footwear purchases.

Shoppers will get a break from the 4 percent state sales tax as well as a 0.375 percent Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District tax. In New York City, purchases under $110 have already been exempt from the city’s own 4.5 percent sales tax which makes a total of 8.875 percent or about $8.88 in savings on a $100 item.

“You can’t split a suit in half,” to meet the exemption, said Wayne Berkowitz, a partner and head of the State and Local Tax Group with Berdon LLP in New York. “If you’re buying five items and they’re all under-$110 items, you’re good.”

The full tax exemption returns after a more than one-year hiatus when it was amended to help close a state budget shortfall. From October 2010 to March 2011 there was no relief from the state sales tax or the commuter surcharge. Those breaks returned for items of less than $55 in price from April 2011 through March.

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Co-op / Condo Group Sets Rally to Support Tax-Fairness Bill

Tax Revolt 2012:  By Frank Lovece

It’s a rite of spring, but this year the composer is Stavisky, not Stravinsky. With the New York City Department of Finance issuing its annual property-tax assessments, State Senator Toby Anne Stavisky is again attempting to level the playing field for co-ops and condos. A Queens activist group has thrown its weight behind the measure — urging board members from all boroughs to join in supporting a law to treat co-ops and condos like residential property, and not, as now, higher-taxed commercial real estate.
March 30, 2012 — The value of your co-op or condo is flat compared to last year. It might even be down. In fact, unless yours is one of those multimillion-dollar apartments that always seem to flip for millions more, your place almost certainly hasn’t seen any great increase in its value.Which makes 20- to 50-percent increases, which Bob Friedrich of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council (PCCC) says the New York City tax department is assessing several Queens co-ops / condos this year, all the more difficult to understand.Except, not really. But whether it’s fair or not is another story.

“It’s counterintuitive that a condo unit you bought for 10 percent more than you could sell it for today has gone up in value,” admits Dept. of Finance spokesman Owen Stone. “But if the rental market is moving up, you’re still going see an increase in the value of your home.”

When a Home Is Not a Home

By “home” he means “co-op or condo,” not single- and two-family homes and townhouses. That’s because under New York State’s Real Property Tax Law Section 581, co-ops and condos are assessed as if they were “comparable” income-producing commercial properties — i.e., rental buildings. And rents generally tend to go up, regardless of what the sales market does.

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New York City’s Bike Share Will Be 10,000 Strong, Stretch from UWS to Crown Heights

The city has been in the thrall of a bicycle backlash for the past year, after the city’s Department of Transportation ran lanes through the East Village, Upper West Side and, most controversially, along Prospect Park West, which led to a lawsuit filed by neighbors living on the thoroughfare.

Things seem to be finally calming down—the lane lawsuit was defeated, recent polls have put bike lane support north of 60 percent—but how will the city react when the Department of Transportation and its love-her-or-hate-her Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan roll out a massive bike sharing program across Manhattan and Brooklyn next summer?

Comprising roughly 600 stations with 10,000 bikes, the scheme will, according to two people briefed on the plans, stretch from the Upper East and Upper West sides down to the tip of Manhattan and over the bridges into Brownstone Brooklyn, reaching as far as Greenpoint and Crown Heights. “The whole point is it needs to be dense,” a city official told The Observer. “It needs to serve a lot of different trips in order to be viable.”

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Cuomo taps Kenneth Adams to lead ESDC

The president and chief executive of The Business Council of New York State Inc. will leave to take on the same title at the Empire State Development Corp.

By Daniel Massey

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday nominated Kenneth Adams, who has headed the state’s top business organization for the past five-plus years, to lead a restructured Empire State Development Corp.

“With Ken Adams as president and CEO, the Empire State Development Corp. will fuel New York-based innovation and create jobs at home while helping to transform the state into a world-class center for business and new ideas,” Mr. Cuomo said, in a statement.

Already, Mr. Cuomo had appointed Leecia Eve as senior vice president and counsel to the agency and Paul Francis to the newly created role of director of agency redesign and efficiency. He is still looking for a chairman, who will focus on upstate issues. The governor said the appointment of Mr. Adams is part of his plan to change the leadership structure of the agency that directs the state’s economic development strategy. Mr. Adams succeeds Dennis Mullen.

In his new role, Mr. Adams will work closely with Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy to create 10 Regional Economic Development Councils across the state that will compete for funds. He will also serve as commissioner of the Department of Economic Development.

“Ken knows doing business in New York can be like swimming upstream, but now he is in a position to change the tide,” said Kevin Burke, chief executive of Consolidated Edison and chairman of the board at The Business Council of New York State Inc. “Business leaders know and trust him, and for good reason.”

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