Author: NY Living Solutions

Welcome to NYLS, Specializing in New York City & Manhattan Apartment Rentals, Condo & Coop Sales, Short Term Rentals, No Fee apartment Rentals, Luxury Apartments and more. Seasoned with immeasurable and indispensable NYC real estate experience spanning over the course of two decades, Michael Pakula and Andrew Ziff are Partners of NY Living Solutions LCC. Since our inception, NY Living Solutions’ transparent, practical, and professional approach to business has secured our position among the leading firms in the New York Metropolitan area. Our mission is to demonstrate the highest level of integrity, while providing superior service that underscores our commitment to our clients’ needs and budget. With our devotion to personalized service, we pride ourselves on drafting time efficient and cost effective searches, resulting in high quality sales and rentals for each of our clients. We have built our company on the premise of delivering exceptional value-driven service that ensures client referrals and repeat business. Our expert Agents & brokers educate clients on all aspects of relocation, and advise them on the best selections for their lifestyle. We provide comprehensive relocation services to corporations and individual clients and their families. Our all-inclusive service addresses all aspects of our clients’ relocation needs, including finding the perfect property, hiring movers, ensuring utility setup, identifying schools and other important community characteristics, renting furniture (if necessary, arranging cleaning services, etc. We invite you to experience the NY Living Solutions package for yourself.

Are Banks Still Lending?

It’s no secret the global pandemic has changed our lives in ways never imagined.

But what type of effect will this have on the Mortgage Industry?

Will you still be able to get a mortgage?

Who will be affected the most and what should you do to protect yourself?

Which Lenders Are At Risk?

Lenders who swim in the riskier part of the pool are most vulnerable.

Hedge Funds and REITs (real estate investment trusts) have come to dominate the market for riskier, commercial real estate loans filling the void left by Banks after the ‘08 Financial Crisis.  Private Equity firms have recently joined Hedge Funds and REITs in this space.  PE firms, once positioned higher up on the capital stack, have seen their risk tolerance decrease; increasingly concerned about the danger of investing at this point in the cycle.  Still, PE firms are programmed to seek high yields on value-add or development projects, so they morphed into debt platforms that offer high-leverage, super-stretch, senior loans.   This transformation enabled them to cap their last dollar at 80% or 85%, and thus, generate superior risk adjusted returns while limiting their exposure to a lower level on the capital stack.

Hedge Funds, REITs, and PE firms fund these riskier loans with short-term, ultra-high leverage loans from banks.  This enables them to allocate only a fraction of their balance sheet vis-à-vis what they’re actually lending to borrowers.  This high leverage loan structure allows them to enhance their ROA (profitability as a function of capital).

Hedge Funds and REITs have also infiltrated the residential space, providing non-QM financing for those individuals whose documented income does not enable them to qualify for the financing they seek.  These are often referred to as “No Doc” or “No Income Verification” loans and are not subjected to the same regulatory scrutiny as Bank loans.

Unfortunately, these firms are now getting margin calls. The banks lending them money are demanding more cash collateral.  In some instances, they’re being asked to post billions of dollars.  To compound issues, during this most difficult of times, Borrowers have stopped making their payments.  Consequently, shares of the top mortgage REITs have plummeted; some by as much as 55%.  Those that are well capitalized have continued to lend.  But many have put their lending operations on hold and sprinted for the sidelines.

Residential Mortgages

The US has had a record 10,000,000 initial jobless claims in the past 2 weeks and BofA forecasts that figure to triple in the months to come.

Many of these potentially 30,000,000 unemployed folks will not be able to make ends meet.  Many will default on their mortgage payments.

The CARES ACT encourages millions of Americans affected by coronavirus-related income disruptions to seek forbearance on their mortgages.  This means no payments for 3 months, at a minimum.  That, in and of itself, is a great thing for homeowners.  It provides tremendous relief when it’s needed most.  However, there are some unintended consequences.

The companies that service the mortgages must continue to make the payments to investors during the forbearance period.  At the same time, many investors who traditionally purchase Jumbo mortgages have exited the market.  This has caused a liquidity crunch.  These two, concurrent dynamics have culminated into the perfect storm.

Wells Fargo has both ceased purchasing mortgages from other lenders while they tighten their own lending policy with higher FICO requirements, lower LTV’s and the elimination of cash-out transactions.  They have the capacity to lend another $384 billion in loans to consumers and businesses trying to get through the crisis but they’re unable to make those loans due to the asset cap imposed on them by the Federal Reserve in response to WF’s 2016 forged account scandal.  The Bank has asked the Fed to remove the cap in light of current circumstances and the extraordinary demand the Payroll Protection Program is putting on their balance sheet.  The Fed may be forced to comply.

Collectively, this medley of circumstances has dried up demand for jumbo mortgages resulting in pricing compression.  This has pushed rates up (more on this next week).

As a result, many residential lenders have left the lending business.  Those that remain are raising their minimum FICO scores, decreasing their LTVs and progressively weakening pricing on their loans.  Some have even pulled Commitment Letters, something not witnessed since the Financial crisis of ‘08.

What should you do?

If you have a loan in process, ask your lender to send you updated disclosures articulating your terms.  If you have been approved, ask that they send you your Commitment Letter.  Make sure the expiration date of your CL does not fall short of your anticipated closing date.  Ensure your rate is locked!  Finally, talk with your banker.  Make sure everything is ok and confirm there are no surprises (i.e. guideline amendments) coming down the pike.

Fortunately, Citizens is still actively lending and committed to continuing their position as an industry leader.

Since this crisis began, we have honored our Commitment Letters, continued our high volume of closings and have many more closings scheduled in the weeks to come.

Virtual Closings

Over the past two weeks we have managed to get all scheduled closings consummated and funded by seamlessly transitioning to a virtual closing protocol.   Although we were early adopters, acclimating to this new reality on the fly, we have continued our delivery of flawless execution.

If you’re contemplating a refinance, please give us a call as our rates remain extremely low.

If you are in contract to purchase a new home and are seeking financing or are being subjected to a restructure by your current lender or have been told your financing will not be honored, please give us a call.  We will do what we do best – CLOSE LOANS!

Seth J Dolce

Citizens Bank

Mortgage Rates In Free-Fall – Economic Update

By Seth Dolce

Citizens Bank

The Dow is on the rise in early morning trading as the benchmark attempts to pare back losses and the 603 point bludgeoning it endured Friday.

The selloff was rooted in Coronavirus fears and the disruptive economic potential of the virus as well as a waning confidence in the economy.

Chinese Markets continue their plunge Monday as China’s Central Bank injects $174 Billion into the economy in an attempt to stabilize the nation’s financial system.

This medley of concerns is causing money to exit equities and seek safe haven.

With money flowing in, bonds have rallied pushing yields down to the 1.5% mark on Friday, its lowest level since September.  The Benchmark is down 22% so far this year.

Part of the yield curve inverted again Friday.  That marked the second time it has done so in a week, broadcasting what many view as recession smoke signals.  Along with the 10-Year falling, the entire long end of the curve has fallen.  This tells a story of concerns surrounding macro growth.

This concern was echoed by the Fed, which indicated they’ve moderated their stance on growth.

All of this has applied downward pressure on mortgage rates.

These lower rates present a great opportunity for both homeowners and those looking to become one.

Homeowners can refinance and lower their monthly mortgage payment immediately.  In some instances saving thousands per month. Refinancing also makes sense if you have a variable rate mortgage and can lock into a new, longer term. Or reset the clock on your existing term.  Homeowners may also want to pull out money from their home with a cash-out refinance.

For those in the market looking to buy a home, your buying power just increased.  And your monthly payment on the house you were considering just went down dramatically.  Perhaps the new, lower monthly payment now makes that dream home affordable?

If you’re contemplating a refinance or the purchase of a new home and want to see how much you can save with these lower rates, please give us a call.

Will This Refi Opportunity Suddenly End…Or Will Rates Drop Further?

By Seth Dolce – Citizens Bank

U.S. Treasury yields were volatile over the course of the week, as the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China continued to generate uncertainty among investors.  Rates were up early in the week, rallied briefly mid-week and then pared back their earlier gains on Thursday and Friday.  The Dow closed flat after a strong week with traders taking their profits and checking out early for the holiday weekend.

The Euro continued to weaken, roiling markets and foreshadowing lean days ahead for Europe.  The Euro is now down 6% over the past year; a seismic drop for currency.  Brexit fears are anchoring this sentiment, and overall, risk warnings are on the rise.  Compounding matters is the softening of the Yuan, which reached new lows.

Overall, Mortgage rates increased for the first time since July 12th.  As a consequence mortgage applications to refinance dropped 8% with purchase apps falling 4%.

Some folks believe rates have more room to drop and we’re one tweet away from a sub 1.40 10-Year.  Others believe that any type of reconciliation between Washington and Beijing could trigger a Treasury Sell off and force rates to rocket upwards.  If a deal is struck, it would move investors out of treasuries and back to equities; causing a sharp spike in yields on the long end of the curve and pushing mortgage rates materially higher.

With this dichotomy of outlooks we’re advising our clients to ensure their rate is in a position to be locked.  This is achieved by initiating the refinance process but floating (not locking) the rate.  Then, if they see a rate that is compelling or a deal is struck between the U.S. and China and we see a sudden upward swing in rates, we can lock in the rate immediately, ensuring you don’t lose out on this exceptional refinance opportunity.

The Fed Cuts Interest Rates

By Alon Gibely Jex

This past Wednesday, July 31st, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25 basis points (one quarter of a percentage point), this was the first cut since the economic recession in 2008. In general this move was seen as a move to stave off a possible economic slow down in the near future, as for the present, there are additional benefits for those looking to take a loan, specifically a mortgage.

One would expect a drop in the interest rates for a fixed rate 30-year mortgage, as the two, a drop in Federal interest rates and a drop in mortgage interest rates, goes hand-in hand. While currently  the average mortgage interest rate is the lowest it’s been since November 2016, one could expect mortgage rates to drop even lower.

As potential buyer, this is great news since that means an even more competitive mortgage rate, but also as a seller this can be good news since that means that a buyer may be more eager to pull the trigger on a property to take advantage of the low rates.

That being said, everything depends on pricing, it doesn’t matter how low interest rates are, if a property is overpriced, we can expect it to stay on the market for longer than three or four months, and, if that property is overpriced AND expensive (in Manhattan think mid to high seven-figures or more), then both seller and agent are in for a long wait.

Rooftop Hero

By Alon Gibely Jex

While recently the weather has been far from predictable, it’s a (hopefully) pretty fair assumption that eventually it will be consistently warmer, and less rainy, and down here in the Financial District, that means rooftop weather!

With all the tall buildings down here, it can get to feeling sometimes that everything around and above us is just concrete and stone, or glass and steel, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong in thinking that. But, once you get the chance to get atop one of these giant high-rises the perspective switches, and the entire city is laid out before you.

When it comes to luxury residential skyscrapers down here, it’s basically spin and point and you’ve found one, and well, it seems like all of them are offering some kind of outdoor space, and that usually means roof decks. And even when it’s not the actual roof itself, it’s bound to be pretty high up, and with only more buildings going up, and more conversions from office space to living space, there seems to be an endless supply of residential buildings touting the beauty and comfort of their towering open-air territories. The competition is fierce and it seems every building has their own, and while some are higher than others, and some larger, a lot just depends on preference. Really, the fact that the choice exists is enough to convince prospective renters to keep their search limited to the Financial District, Seaport area, Tribeca, and Battery Park City.

At NY Living Solutions our agents all have their preferences; for some it’s all about the views, while others need to have greenery, or a place to grill, and for everyone there is always the back and forth between privacy and popularity. Is it a social scene you’re looking for? Or do you prefer a less popular space with few people around to disturb your meditation?

As far as we can tell though, the type of roof deck available is lower on the checklist when choosing an apartment for prospective tenants; size, price, and location naturally take precedent, but still the need for one seems to be a must for anyone choosing an apartment downtown, especially when it can provide a much needed escape from roommates, or just for additional space to your studio apartment. And as the weather gets warmer, NY Living Solutions expects to hear more from clients about the importance of roof decks in the Financial District, where at times the height of the surrounding streets can make sunlight when walking down the street feel precious.

So we say, get out there, and enjoy living on top of the world! Or at least in a building that has a common space that can make you feel as such, whether that means a luxury rental right in the heart of the Financial District, a co-op in Battery Park City, or a seven-figure condo in Tribeca!

15 Park Row

Skyline1902

Manhattan skyline 1902 – Park Row building at center

by Alon Gibely Jex

15 Park Row! For those of you unfamiliar with this building I need to ask where you’ve been for the past 118 years??? That’s right, completed in 1899, for more than a century 15 Park Row has been an integral part of New York City’s skyline and today it’s still going strong! While presently its impressive twenty-nine stories may seem less so with the proximity to the Financial District and its mammoth skyscrapers, but for nine years after the completion of The Park Row Building (as it was known then) it was the tallest building in the world! That’s right, not just in the Financial District, or Tribeca (neither terms being applicable at the time of course), or Lower Manhattan, or the entire island of Manhattan, or the entire City of New York, or the… well you see where this is going.

Sadly, in 1908 the completed construction of the nearby Singer Building, at 47 stories, took the title of the world’s tallest. If you’re looking for the Singer Building these days though you won’t find it, as it was demolished in 1968 (take that Singer Building!), and these days that space is occupied by One Liberty Plaza.

In the early twentieth century 15 Park Row occupied a portion of Park Row that was then known as Newspaper Row, it being the center of the New York City newspaper industry at the time, and the building even housed one of the first offices of the Associated Press. Other notable tenants over the years include the headquarters of the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit), the original operator of the New York City subway system, as well as most recently the offices and retail space of J&R Music World, the famed New York City music and electronics retailer.

These days the building has been converted to a luxury residential building. In 2001 the top half of the building was converted into residential units, and since 2014, the bottom half, from floors 3 to 8 were converted to residential units as well. Currently there are over 300 apartments at 15 Park Row, and the building is presently working on restoring the lobby to its former early-twentieth century glory, as well as adding some more modern touches like a large gym, yoga studio, a residents lounge and children’s playroom, bike storage, cold storage, and an immaculate roof deck as well. For over 100 years 15 Park Row has and continues to prove itself as a bastion of the neighborhood that surrounds it, whether that’s Tribeca, the Financial District, or whatever they may call it in the future.

This certainly won’t be the only blog about 15 Park Row that NY Living Solutions will bring you, but if you’re interested to learn more about the architecture and history of 15 Park Row then check out the link below to the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Row_Building

Will Britain’s impending exit from the European Union affect the New York luxury real estate market?

It appears that both luxury buyers and institutional-sized investors may soon be choosing NYC as an alternative to London. 


Britain’s economic and political turmoil may prove to be good news for New York’s real estate market as the value of the pound dropped to its lowest since 1985 after the U.K. officially voted on June 23rdto leave the European Union. Sorting through 43 years of treaties and agreements is no easy task, and it may take a full two years for the country to negotiate its withdrawal and officially cease being a member. 

According to Manhattan-based international real estate attorney Ed Mermelstein in a June 2016 article featured on Brick Underground, he’s observed an influx of investors over the last six to eight months choosing New York over London to do business and invest in the luxury real estate market. This may be an indicator that real estate investments were slowing across England even before the “Brexit” issue. New capital gains tax for foreign investors implemented in 2015 and more stringent visa requirements seem to have already created issues for foreign investors looking to live in England.  
 
What could the Brexit vote mean for prospective buyers in the New York market for properties in the million-dollar range? Probably not much as the vast majority of foreign buyers are typically in the market for condos over $5 million. Additionally, foreign investors purchasing in New York typically do not consider co-op’s. 
 
New York Living Solutions, a boutique real estate firm located in Lower Manhattan has access to a multitude of preeminent luxury properties in Manhattan. Our devotion to highly personalized service has resulted in many pleased clients. We look forward to working with you on a time-efficient and cost effective search for your perfect property.  

Rental Incentives during peak summer months in NYC? Sounds too good to be true but it’s not.

New York’s prime leasing season is well under way and there are more choices then ever for prospective renters. Typically, from May through August property owners across New York City have the upper hand as college graduates flock to the city in preparation for their new jobs as well as families gearing up to secure a residence before the new school year. Renters in NYC know all too well to expect higher rents during these summer months, and those that find themselves in the cycle of leasing during the summer are usually prepare for sticker shock.
For the first time in almost four years of growth in the NYC real estate market property owners are having to get creative with incentives like paying the broker fee and offering free rent to attract more interested renters. There are more choices in the market now more than previous years because prices are beyond what most people can or will pay for a rental. Renters looking for a new place to call home this summer have a competitive advantage as they can be more choosy in what they put an application in for. People who may not have ideal credit are getting approved much faster than in past as landlords appear to be more willing to work tenants. While incentives are typically neighborhood specific, certain older rental buildings are also competing by offering their own incentives.
As one of the leading boutique firms in the New York Metropolitan Area, NY Living Solutions specializes in helping renters and buyers navigate the Financial District. NY Living Solutions has access to many no-fee apartment rentals all throughout Manhattan including luxury condominiums as well as new grand opening properties with incredible amenities.

THE LAST NEIGHBORHOOD

(THE ABOVE PHOTO IS THE AREA WHICH IS NOW OCCUPIED BY BATTERY PARK CITY)

Here at NY Living Solutions, we’re continuing our look at the history of the area that we call home, this time focusing on Financial District’s neighboring neighborhood, Battery Park City. While the two border each other, Manhattan’s Financial District and Battery Park City couldn’t be more different. While Financial District is New York City’s first neighborhood, Battery Park City is certainly its last. This 92-acre stretch of land literally did not exist fifty years ago. Aside from that, while the Financial District has long been the home to all things business (and finance of course) in New York City, as well as being synonymous with giant office buildings, Battery Park City has been always equated with residences , lush green spaces, and an almost suburban feel.

Bounded by the Hudson River on the North, West and South, and the West Side Highway to the East, the concept for this tiny (by New York City standards) stretch of space was originally conceived by private firms in the early 1960s who wished to replace the disintegrating piers on Manhattan’s Southwest tip with a landfill (not the garbage kind) to build on. Originally an active port for goods entering and leaving New York City, by the 1950s, the area now occupied by Battery Park City was by then crumbling piers and wharves.

In 1966, Mayor Nelson Rockefeller laid out his proposal for what would later become BPC (Battery Park City), and while the plan for a mixed-use community downtown was of benefit to Nelson Rockefeller’s legacy, coincidentally his plan was of mutual benefit to his brother David Rockefeller who was part of the committee spearheading the development of the World Trade Center.

In ’68 the New York State Legislature created the Battery Park City Authority which still manages the area to this day, and in 1972 construction began on the landfill, using material from the excavation of the neighboring World Trade Center, as well as fill from the Hudson River bed. Although the landfill was completed by 1976, construction on the first residential building in Battery Park City didn’t start until 1980. From that point though, building boomed in every decade, with 23 buildings built in the 80s, 9 more in the 90s, and 11 more being built In the 2000s despite the damage done to the neighborhood by the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Since 2010 another 3 residential buildings have been built, not to mention the newly renovated Brookfield Place, formerly the World Financial Center.

At NY Living Solutions, we not only call the Financial District home, but consider Battery Park City an extension of that as well, and whether that means enjoying Battery Park City’s beautiful parks, or its breathtaking esplanade, BPC offers a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of it’s more active neighbor, the Financial District.

 

The First Neighborhood

 

By Alon Gibely Jex

Since 2005, when NY Living Solutions first opened its doors, we’ve been located in the Financial District. Not only did we get our start here, but so did New York City itself, when the first Dutch traders set up shop in this very same area in 1625. And through the years, the importance of this neighborhood has certainly not diminished.

In 1697, Trinity Church was erected to serve the needs of the growing Protestant community, and the church is still there, albeit in its more recent Gothic incarnation, built in 1846 where it still stands. In the church’s adjoining cemetery lies the remains of Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat and namesake for nearby Fulton street, Albert Gallatin, former US Treasurer and one of the founders of New York University, and Alexander Hamilton, former US Treasurer and revolutionary, who’s currently nearly as popular now as he was when he was alive thanks to the Broadway musical.

The revolutionary roots of New York City’s Financial District don’t end with Hamilton, Federal Hall, located on Wall Street, is where George Washington first took office as the first president of the newly formed United States of America, with New York City as its capital, and Federal Hall housing all branches of its newly formed government. Federal Hall still stands right there on Wall Street, as a museum, with a statue of George Washington in front in honor of the oath of presidency he took in 1789.

Just a few blocks from Federal Hall, on Pearl Street, sits Fraunces Tavern, New York City’s oldest building. This tavern was a flash point for the American Revolution and also the site where George Washington bid farewell to his troops. Fraunces Tavern is now a museum, but still an active bar as well!

Head up north to Beaver Street (so called because it was the site of an active pelt trading market for Dutch settlers) and you’ll run into the iconic Delmonico’s steak house. Started in the early 1800s, Delmonico’s has been serving prime cuts to the people of the Finanicial District for over two centuries.

Many of Delmonico’s most loyal customers are those who work in another iconic building, the home of the New York Stock Exchange. Although Wall Street (so named for the 12-foot wall that was built in 1697 to protect the Northern boundary of a Dutch Settlement situated there) is synonymous with the world of finance, and more specifically, the stock market, the actual home of the New York Stock Exchange is technically on Broad Street. And while the nearby bronze behemoth, the Charging Bull (also called the Wall Street Bull) has only been around since the late eighties, the building on Broad Street has been the home of the NYSE since 1903.

Yes the history of the Financial District is long and illustrious, and this post merely scratched the surface of the birthplace of New York City.  No longer just a center for finance, the Financial District is now home to thousands of people that call New York their home, including us at NY Living Solutions, who have been here for over a decade and can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings to this wonderful neighborhood.

Exclusive Coop for Sale Located in the Trendy Columbia University neighborhood

200 West 108th Street, #14a

$1,250,000 FOR SALE
2 beds 2 baths
Property Type: Coop
Maintenance: $1,827
Pet Policy: Case By Case

Located in the Columbia University neighborhood, Pre-war apartment in excellent condition and a spacious layout.(Approx 1250 sf) high-floor with open eastern and northern exposures. Views overlooking Central Park.

Apartment features pre-war details, a windowed kitchen, Large living room, corner master suite, Spacious 2nd bedroom, 2 full windowed bathrooms, high beamed ceilings and great closet space. This coop has a renovated marble lobby, P/T doorman, new elevators, central laundry, and a live-in super

Just a couple of blocks from Central Park and its many attractions,
Located Close to several subway lines (1/2/3/B/C).

531 Manhattan Ave – Two Family Townhome for Sale

531 Manhattan Ave – Two Family Townhome for Sale

This Harlem Townhome is located just East of Morningside Park and a short walk to Columbia University. This highly desirable location, is home to a well maintained Two-Family.

2nd, 3rd & 4th Floor Triplex: Features – Two Bed / Three Bathrooms, Kitchen, Living Room, Den/Home Office, Three Fireplaces (One on each floor) and two Skylights on the top Floor. This space currently has the only access to the garden, via a spiral staircase off the den.

Garden Level: One Bedroom & One Bathroom features Large Living Room with Open Kitchen, Generous Bedroom with a walk-in closet. Ceiling fans located in the living room and bedroom. The bedroom in the rear of the unit has two west facing windows with garden views. This unit currently has no access to the garden.

Basement: Laundry space for the one bedroom tenant, plenty of dry storage space. This area houses all of the properties Mechanicals: Boiler, Water Tanks (2), and Separate Electric & Water Meters.

Lot Size: 15×80
Building Size: 15×55 – Approx. 4100Sf including basement
Building Can Be Delivered Vacant.
Currently Configured: Triplex (2Bed/3Bath) & One Bedroom (1Bed/1Bath)
Steps to fine restaurants, reputable jazz clubs, shopping centers, bookstores and movie theaters.
Transportation: A, C, D & B @ 125th Street MTA Stop & M60 Bus to
LaGuardia Airport – 2 Blocks Away
Low Taxes

$2,500,000 FOR SALE
4,100 ft²$609 per ft²7 rooms 3 beds3 baths

 

Airbnb Slows Hiring Overseas, Shifts Strategy

Fast-Growing Online Rental Service Is Trying Not to Move Too Quickly Abroad

Airbnb Inc. is trying to avoid becoming another cautionary tale in international expansion.

image

Airbnb, which is run by CEO Brian Chesky, will centralize certain services in a yet-to-be named European hub.

One of technology’s hottest startups, with a valuation of $2.5 billion, the online-accommodation rental service has recently slowed down hiring in its international operation, according to several people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Airbnb, which has about 600 employees world-wide, has also shifted its strategy abroad. The company is assigning scores of employees to new roles and moving to centralize certain services in a yet-to-be announced European hub, these people added.

As a result, several employees—less than a dozen—have decided to leave the company, the company said. The creation of the hub, which may be set up in Dublin, one person said, will require relocation for some employees. Meanwhile, the changes in responsibilities will also require additional training.

A company spokeswoman confirmed the changes to its international strategy and added that it hasn’t made any layoffs in connection with these changes. She declined to comment on plans for a new European hub.

Pressing on the international brakes might seem counter intuitive for the five-year-old San Francisco based startup—a business that is now more global than domestic. But Airbnb and its chief executive, Brian Chesky, is trying to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen other highflying tech companies, like Groupon Inc., GRPN -1.54% which grew hyper-fast abroad early on but faced major difficulties after going public.

Full Article Here:

Via The WSJ

7-Eleven Goes High-Tech – FiDi

 7-Eleven has gone high-tech.

New Lower Manhattan 7-Eleven

The chain’s expansive new Financial District outpost, which sits at the corner of John and Pearl streets, boasts touch-screen ordering, free Wi-Fi, a huge flat-screen TV and even an Amazon Locker — a kiosk where Amazon customers can pick up their online-ordered goods.

The new 7-Eleven opened last week —  just in time to celebrate the chain’s annual “Free Slurpee Day” on July 11 — and looks more like a cafe than a convenience store, with enough space to seat about 25 people.

The Stack: NYC First Prefabricated Building

INWOOD — One of the city’s first prefabricated residential building to come to Inwood is near completion.

The Stack, a 38,000-square-foot, seven-story concrete and steel building, was shipped to 4857 Broadway in 56 separate modules. Placement of the modules started in late June and will be completed Wednesday by an eight-person crew and one crane.

Full Article Here:

Via DNAinfo New York

Introducing Wired City, a New Channel Where Commercial Real Estate and Broadband Come Together

wiredcity logo copy

New York City is inching ever closer to rival Silicon Valley as the epicenter of the tech world—and commercial real estate has to match its pace. With more tech start-ups moving to New York, and requiring high-speed Internet to do their jobs—or at least watch cat videos with minimal buffering—the presence of a broadband Internet connection can transform a pedestrian property into a hot commodity.

That’s why fellow Observer Media property The Commercial Observer has launched Wired City, a savvy new channel that explores the intersection of infrastructure, real estate, and broadband Internet. If you enjoy Betabeat’s coverage of New York’s quest for world domination, we think Wired City will be right up your alley.

Put simply, broadband Internet means high-speed Internet—in other words, anything that’s not that annoying dial-up connection you had around the dawn of the interwebs. It encompasses everything from DSL—which transmits information at a relatively slow six Mbps—to the much-desired fiber broadband, which transmits information at speeds up to 150 Mbps.

Full Article Here:

Via BetaBeat – The Lowdown on High Tech

City Council approves Hudson Square rezoning

Hudson Square

The City Council voted Wednesday to approve the rezoning of Hudson Square in Lower Manhattan. The rezoning will allow developers — including the area’s dominant player Trinity Real Estate — to move forward with several large-scale hotel and residential projects.

As part of the approval process, Speaker Christine Quinn secured a commitment for a vote on landmark status for the adjacent South Village Historic District, according to a statement from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a preservation group. But community activists were concerned that the city did not discuss any landmark designations for sites south of Houston Street, which is home to nearly half of the proposed district.

“The landmarking commitment only covers about half the endangered area and won’t take effect until nine months after the rezoning, allowing developers ample time to knock down historic buildings,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village group, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, two key council committees approved a controversial part of the proposal, which would let developers build 2,000 to 3,000 new apartments — many of them affordable — in the neighborhood. —Hiten Samtani

Domino developer promises bikes, yoga, veggies, books

By Danielle Furfaro via The Brooklyn Paper
Courtesy of Two Trees Management Company
This is what Jed Walentas wants to build on the Domino Sugar factory site.

Here’s one way for a developer to ingratiate himself with the new neighbors.

Jed Walentas, the new owner of the Domino Sugar factory, will temporarily hand over a football-field-sized lot on his massive Williamsburg site for use as an urban farm, bike course, yoga studio, and reading room until the builder gets around to developing the property.

The east end of the Kent Avenue lot between S. Third and S. Fourth streets will be run by community space guru Bobby Redd and will include an all-weather reading room, a community farm headed by North Brooklyn Farms and a green space that will be used for activities including yoga, aerobics, and public events.

“We plan to establish a community green space where all are welcome,” said Redd. “We have had immense success working with the Bushwick community over the past 14 months and we look forward to working together with our new neighbors in South Williamsburg.”

The west side of the lot, which will be run by Jessica Kocher of Ride Brooklyn, will include a practice cycling space for young riders, beginner and intermediate bike tracks, and a pump track, which is a small course set up with bumps, jumps, and berms.

Volunteers from the New York City Mountain Bike Association will oversee the courses, and Kocher said she hopes to get a handful of loaner bikes for children and possibly adults.

“The purpose of this is to have a place to mountain bike in Brooklyn,” said Kocher, who lamented the fact that Brooklyn is the only borough without mountain bike trails. “Personally, we wanted a place to ride.”

Redd and Kocher submitted separate proposals, but Walentas’s company, Two Trees Management Co., merged them together, creating an urban utopia for the fixed-gear, organic-dining set.

“We married them,” said Dave Lombino, director of special projects at Two Trees.

Two months ago, Two Trees announced it was searching for operators to take over the space across the street from the main refinery building while it pushed its new plans through the city’s land-use review process.

Two Trees will not charge the interim operators rent, said Lombino, but they will pay utilities.

The initial agreement with the operators is for one year, and it could be extended, depending on how long it takes Two Trees to get approval and finish the site design.

Walentas has said the company wants to build on the Kent Street lot first, but Lombino said ground will not be broken until late 2014 at the earliest.

“For us, it’s silly to have this site fenced off from the community,” said Lombino. “We want to signal to the community that we are creative and ambitious.”

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.

Full Article Here:

Architecture review: Tootsie Roll conversion brings welcome change to Soho

DDG’s 325 West Broadway will bring condos to former chocolate factory

March 21, 2013 03:30PM
By James Gardner

325 West Broadway project rendering

A particularly ugly part of West Broadway in Soho will soon become unimaginably better. The best thing that can be said for the existing structure at 325 West Broadway, at Grand Street, is that in the days when things were still manufactured in New York City it used to be a factory that produced Tootsie Rolls — those delicious, caramelized confections that we all remember from our younger days.

Now I yield to no one in my reverence for Tootsie Rolls, but that does not obscure the fact that the drab and unadorned building from which so much joy once issued is itself an eyesore, confected out of bare, albeit vaguely caramel-colored, brick.

All of that is about to change: the development firm of DDG has gotten the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to tear down the factory and put up a luxury condominium. DDG revealed new renderings for the project earlier this month. Standing nine stories plus a rooftop penthouse level, the building will have seven units ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet.

The planned building, designed by DDG’s in-house architect Peter Guthrie, consists of a cubic structure clad in a pristine glass curtain wall, covered in a cast aluminum façade screen, with an elegant glass façade at street level, given over to retail and to the building’s lobby, the renderings show. (Beyhan Karahan Architects & Associates designed an earlier plan for the project.)

The results, to be completed in 2015, will look especially good when viewed beside the drab 19th century pile to its left, which could also profit from the strenuous ministrations of a developer.

New Standards for ‘Safe’ Loans

By LISA PREVOST

Mortgages

New federal regulations require mortgage lenders to do what should go without saying: verify that prospective borrowers can pay.

Yet during the housing bubble, many lenders all but abandoned traditional underwriting standards, and the resulting wave of foreclosures has taken years to recede. An “ability-to-repay” rule, adopted last month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and effective January 2014, is intended to protect borrowers from again falling victim to risky lending.

“The rule sets standards for what’s a safe loan and what isn’t,” said Kathleen Day, a spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending, “and it takes away a lot of the tricks and traps that lenders were using to talk people into refinancing.”

Required under the Dodd-Frank Act, the rule prohibits the “no-doc” loans common during the bubble. Before making a loan, lenders must document the borrower’s job status, income and assets, debt, and credit history. Lenders must also calculate a borrower’s ability to pay the principal and interest over the length of the loan. They may not base their calculation solely on the payment due when an introductory “teaser rate” is in effect.

Via The NY Times

Full Article Here:

Manhattan the “New” Brooklyn (Again)?

By
 NEW YORK, NY - MAY 5: A group of musicians play their instruments in a Williamsburg subway station on May 5, 2012 in New York City. Over the past five years, Williamsburg has become a magnet for youthful artists, musicians, chefs, mixologists and fashion designers. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

“It’s exploding with young people and tattoos,” a woman tells the Wall Street Journal today about the Upper East Side.”These hipsters were moving in — you could tell they were hipsters because I used to be one too, so they stand out — and they were moving a mounted moose head into their apartment.” Manhattan, she says, “has the charm that you would want in Brooklyn that is quickly disappearing.” Oh, Lord. The larger point she’s speaking to, supposedly, is that rents in Brooklyn (by which the Journal mostly means Williamsburg) are now high enough to drive young people back to Manhattan. It’s a renaissance or something! We’ve heard this one before.

Full Article Here via The New Yorker

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.

Full Article Here:

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.

Full Article Here:

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.

Full Article Here: