The Most Expensive Real-Estate in the World

By Robert Frank

Associated Press Monaco

If you think real-estate in Manhattan or San Francisco is expensive, consider Monaco.

The price of real-estate in Monaco — the world’s most expensive locale — is now an average of $5,408 a square foot, according to a report from Citi Private Bank and Knight Frank, the London real-estate firm. Spending $1 million will get you a 200 square-foot closet – presumably without a water view.

The second most expensive locale is Cap Ferrat in the south of France, at more than $4,800 a square foot. That’s followed by London, at $4,534 a square foot, and then by Hong Kong, at $4,406 a square foot.

New York is a relative bargain, coming in at number 17, at more  than $2,161 a square foot (this seems to be a little  high, even for Manhattan). The only other U.S. locations on the top 50 are Aspen, at number 39, with $974 a square foot, followed by Telluride ($760 a square foot) and Miami, at about $580 a square foot.

Here is the list of the Top 10

LOCATION    AVG PRICE PSF

Monaco – $5,408

Cap Ferrat — $4,800

London — $4,534

Hong Kong (houses) — $4,406

Courcheval 1850 — $4,081

St. Moritz — $3,951

Gstaad — $3,701

St. Tropez — $3,600

Geneva  – $2,959

Hong Kong (apartments) — $2,625

Whole Foods, Brooklyn – City Council voting starts soon..

Whole Foods Market Inc. faces a series of City Council votes starting next week to win final approval for construction of a 52,000-square-foot supermarket next to a 140-year-old landmark in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

COIGNET

Eric Haugesag for The Wall Street JournalThe Coignet building today next to the planned Whole Foods grocery site

The new store is planned to wrap around two sides of the vacant Coignet building, the city’s earliest known concrete building, at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street. After expected council approvals, the grocery chain would be allowed within five feet of the old building and wants to have its first Brooklyn store open in 2013.

Built in 1872 for the New York & Long Island Coignet Stone Co., the 2½-story building is the sole survivor of a five-acre industrial park built along the Gowanus Canal in the early 1870s.

The elegant Italianite mansion provided office space for Coignet and subsequent companies, including its longest-running tenant, the Brooklyn Improvement Co., from which Coignet leased the land for its stone works.

“It’s a lonely little building,” said Jennifer Gardner, a researcher at the Gowanus Institute, a local think tank. “To some degree, the plans for that site will limit the opportunity for the [Coignet] building, but also provides a potential draw for people to see it and appreciate it in a different way.”

The building received city landmark status in 2006. Two City Council panels overseeing landmarks and planning will vote next week on whether to reduce the Coignet building’s lot size to about 1,720 square feet from 6,250 square feet, a measure that’s already been passed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. If approved, a full City Council vote on the measure is slated for April 18.

Full Article Here:

CIM, Macklowe submit plans for city’s tallest residential tower

March 29, 2012 06:30PM

Charles Garner, principal at CIM, and the proposed tower at 440 Park Avenue (center)

CIM Group and New York developer Harry Macklowe are making strides toward building the tallest residential building in New York City at the Drake Hotel site at 440 Park Avenue. They filed a plan examination request for the building, one of the first steps towards getting a development off the ground, with the Department of Buildings, according to a DOB filing dated March 26.

The California-based real estate investment trust filed its plans for an 82-story condominium tower for review to DOB, which will check if its plans are in compliance with building code, a DOB spokesperson confirmed, saying an examiner had not yet reviewed the filing. The filing cites the height of the building as 1,397 feet in total, which would make it the tallest residential building in the city; for comparison’s sake, One57, Extell Development’s planned condo tower on 57th Street will be 1,004 feet tall upon completion in 2013 and the Empire State Building, the tallest structure in the city, is 1,453 feet in height.

As previously reported, CIM, (which acquired the site for $305 million last year), and Macklowe plan to erect a slim condo and retail complex designed by Uruguayan-born architect Rafael Vinoly at the site. It is slated to have 128 units and 12-foot high ceilings. The $1 billion project will include a 5,000-square-foot driveway, golf training facilities and private dining and screening rooms, according to previous reports.

Neither CIM nor Macklowe immediately responded to requests for comment.
— Katherine Clarke

Making Architecture Accessible, Pretense and All

 

Is this architecture? (Getty)

To the general public, architecture simply means buildings, maybe the occasional shiny rendering displayed on a blog such as this one or inside the sales pamphlet for an as-yet-unbuilt condo. It might be some Frank Lloyd Wrigh models lining the rotunda of his Guggenheim Museum. For Tina DiCarlo, architecture is so much more.

“The fact of the matter is the general public equates architecture with buildings, so if you talk to them about an architect, let’s say Rem’s Exodus drawings from 1972, if you say that’s architecture, somebody would say, “Well, how, it’s on paper? It doesn’t make sense.” How is a book architecture? How is text architecture? How are Tschumi’s Manhattan Transcripts architecture? It’s just a drawing.”

Ms. DiCarlo hopes to broaden the public’s understanding of What Is Architecture through the creation of The Archive of Spatial Aesthetics and Praxis, or ASAP. Built out of a collection of different architectural materials, from models to manifestos, blueprints to blog posts, she and co-curator Danielle Rago hope to transform the dialogue not only about what constitutes architecture but where it fits into the greater realm of society and culture.

Full Article Here

Landmarked Pier A in Worse Shape Than Originally Thought

By Julie Shapiro, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

BATTERY PARK CITY — The cost of the massive redevelopment of Pier A has ballooned and the project is slated to run behind schedule, as officials have discovered that the rotting landmark is in worse shape than initially believed, they revealed this week.

The overhaul of the 126-year-old landmarked building will now cost taxpayers $36 million, up from $30 million, and the pier will not reopen to the public until at least the middle of 2013, Battery Park City Authority officials said.

“There was a great deal more rot … than we had anticipated when the project started,” said Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the authority, at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night.

“There was a significant amount of water damage, rot and structural deterioration,” she said.

Crews working on Pier A are still continuing to find rot, Dawson said, which means that the work could be delayed even further.

Full Article Here: Via DNAinfo

LaGuardia Terminal Update Sought

By ANDREW GROSSMAN (WSJ)

[010612laguardia] Bloomberg NewsTravelers wait to check in at the Central Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in 2010. The Port Authority is planning to begin construction on a new terminal in 2014.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is eyeing a 2014 start to construction of a replacement for the cramped, outdated Central Terminal Building at La Guardia Airport.

The authority is seeking proposals from private terminal operators, bankers and consultants to finance, design and build a replacement terminal, according to a request for information issued quietly last month.

NYLAGUARDIAmap

Plans are still tentative, and construction might not start by 2014. But the request for information is one of the most concrete steps yet toward replacing the terminal.

“I think the schedule is our best estimate to how the transaction or transactions could fall into place,” said Patrick Foye, the Port Authority’s executive director. “Obviously we’re going to be driven by the suggestions that come in from industry partners.”

The schedule calls for construction to be completed by the end of 2021 at a cost of about $3.6 billion.

Full Article Here: Via WSJ

NJ State Leads Nation in Down-Payment Size

BUYERS in New Jersey have the highest down-payment rate in the country, putting down an average 13.71 percent of the purchase price, according to a new report from LendingTree. That surpasses percentages in cities like Washington, and states like New York, Hawaii and California, though only by tenths of a point. In New York, the average down payment works out to 13.47 percent. The national average is 12.24 percent, for the year ending in November.

Of course, very few borrowers pay the average percentage, which is computed by figuring out the average down payment on conventional loans made by banks and government-insured Federal Housing Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs loans, which have down payment minimums of 3.5 percent.

Countrywide, about a quarter of all mortgage loans are government-backed, according to lending specialists.

Full Article Here:

New York Fracking Rules

By Jim Efstathiou Jr. 

The drinking-water supply for 9 million people in New York City won’t be protected by New York state’s proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, residents and politicians said.

“There is no possible regulation strong enough that you could come up with to prevent that one accident,” State Senator Tony Avella, a Democrat who has introduced a bill to prohibit fracturing, or fracking, said at a hearing yesterday at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. “New York state should never consider this process.”

The state has banned high-volume fracking while the Department of Environmental Conservation weighs rules that would let companies extract gas from shale with the technique. The agency has said it plans to bar the technology within 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) of unfiltered watersheds that provide drinking water for New York City and Syracuse. Final rules may be issued next year, spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in an interview.

Energy producers use fracking, which forces millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand underground, to break up rock and liberate trapped gas. Environmental groups have said the process has tainted drinking water in states such as Pennsylvania, where almost 4,000 wells have been drilled. While New York delays, its neighboring state has enjoyed new hiring and tax revenue, advocates of the process say.

Full Article Here

 

Maintaining Elevator Safety

By Raanan Geberer

If you’re a board member, a manager or just a unit owner of a typical New York City-area co-op or condo, chances are you use an elevator every day, except if you live in a “garden apartment” complex in one of the outer boroughs or the suburbs. We’ve all seen those elevator inspection reports, but chances are that we don’t think about the inner workings of elevators very much. And it seems like the only times that elevators make the news is when something goes wrong, like the time a Chinese-food deliveryman was stuck for three days inside an elevator in a Bronx high-rise.

But if you look at the elevator, it’s a technological marvel, something we couldn’t do without. Like the automobile, it’s a fairly recent development. There have been elevator-like hoist devices throughout history, but in 1853, American inventor Elisha Otis invented a freight elevator equipped with a safety device to prevent the elevator from falling in case a cable broke. This increased the use of elevators. And when, around 1920, New York City finally allowed the use of self-service elevators in apartment buildings, as opposed to those operated by elevator operators, the number of apartment houses built with elevators grew dramatically.

Full Article Here:

Loan limits on the rise for FHA, but not for Fannie and Freddie

FHA loans could become the go-to financing option for homebuyers in New York and New Jersey, but with higher fees.  By Kenneth R. Harney

After a year characterized by grumpy partisan gridlock, Congress came up with a Thanksgiving compromise that could change the mortgage choices of buyers and refinancers in more than 660 markets across the country: It raised maximum loan limits for the Federal Housing Administration while leaving loan ceilings untouched for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In effect, this may make FHA the go-to financing option for borrowers needing loans up to $729,750 — with down payments as low as 3.5 percent — in New York, New Jersey, high-cost areas of California, metropolitan Washington, D.C., and scattered counties in other states, including Massachusetts, Florida and North Carolina. Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-eligible loans in those areas, meanwhile, stay capped at $625,500.

Equally important, the new plan raises the FHA ceilings for purchasers in hundreds of more moderately priced markets. In Hartford, Conn., the limit for FHA is now $440,000 — up from $320,850; Fannie and Freddie remain capped at $417,000. Seattle-area buyers’ maximum FHA loan amount jumped to $567,500, while the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac ceiling remains at $506,000.

Full Article Here:

Planning NYC’s next 50 years: Zoning

New York’s real estate planning gurus tackle the next 50 years of zoning By Leigh Kamping-Carder


Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s comprehensive “Zoning Resolution,” which dictated what types of development could go where.

The rules have undergone changes since taking effect in 1961, but in many ways, they continue to reflect the concerns of a prior era — when the automobile was king, manufacturing a steady source of employment and the Internet a far-off dream.

“We are occupying a social realm that’s different than [what] we constructed 50 years ago,” developer Jonathan Rose, founder of the eponymous real estate firm, said at a conference last month organized by the Department of City Planning, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute of Baruch College.

As the Zoning Resolution passes the half-century mark, the kind of radical revamp that took place in the 1950s is not in the works. But city planners, academics and real estate professionals are crafting proposals that will shape the way developers build in the coming years: unlocking underused land, updating Midtown’s aging office stock, incorporating sustainability, and redefining “mixed-use” in ways that blur residential and commercial districts.

Full Article Here:

Secret Streets: A Map to New York City’s Hidden mewes

Friday, November 18, 2011

mews%20map%20header.jpg

In the 19th century, when the preferred method of transportation was the horse-drawn carriage, the city was full of mews—rows of stables, often with accompanying carriage houses. The mews also frequently had living quarters for servants built above them, and were constructed around a paved courtyard. When, in the early 20th century, automobiles began to replace carriages, the mews were demolished, put to commercial use, or converted into residences. Today, few of them remain, but the ones that do—most of which are protected landmarks—exist as little pockets of seclusion in a loud, bustling city, and, as such, are prime real estate. And, since they’ve all been around for over 150 years, many of them largely unchanged compared to the surrounding areas, they contain quite of bit of history. We put all of the remaining mews we could find into a handy map.

Link Thru Here

Freddie Mac Raises Bar for Refinancing With Home-Equity Debt

By Jody Shenn – Nov 15, 2011 5:22 PM ET

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — Freddie Mac, the government- supported mortgage company, made it harder for some borrowers with second-lien home equity debt to refinance as it released guidelines for its version of the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program.

For a borrower with loan-to-value ratio of less than 80 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based firm will require total housing debt, including second loans, of less than 105 percent of a property’s current values, according to a notice to lenders posted on its website. Previously, there was no cap.

“The rationale is to manage risk better,” Brad German, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

President Barack Obama has said he directed Freddie Mac and rival Fannie Mae to expand their HARP programs to help ease the U.S. housing slump and aid consumers. The companies, which were seized by the U.S. in 2008, are detailing the changes today, after they were announced Oct. 24.

Full Article Here

Triggers for Rejection -Mortgages

The New York Times
By VICKIE ELMER
Published: October 6, 2011

“WE regret to inform you…” Nobody applying for a new mortgage or a refinancing wants to see or hear these words. But last year more than two million people were turned down for home loans, according to federal data, often because they didn’t meet certain lender requirements or because their applications were incomplete or otherwise problematic.

And that number, from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, doesn’t even include those who abandon the often-complicated mortgage qualification process. The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that about half of those who try to refinance and 30 percent of buyers are either denied or drop out.

“A lot of people have credit banged up,” said Michael Fratantoni, the association’s vice president for research and economics.

Lenders’ underwriting criteria have become more rigorous in recent years; some banks have tightened up beyond federal requirements. Here are the six biggest triggers for rejection, according to industry experts.

INSUFFICIENT INCOME Lenders want to make sure you can afford to make the mortgage payments. Someone who earns, say, $40,000 a year need not bid on a $750,000 apartment, unless there’s a trust fund with quarterly payouts or other money available. Also, lenders typically look for at least a two-year track record of income, which could hurt those who may have switched jobs recently. “It’s common to get turned down if you have a gap in employment history over the last two years,” said Erin Lantz, the director of the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, an online loan-matching service.

Full Article:

The Contraption That Wants to Replace Central Park Horses

By EMILY B. HAGER
A model of the faux-vintage electric car that horse advocates say could replace carriage horses in New York, with Ed Sayres, left, and Steve Nislick of NY-CLASS, the group that sponsors the cars.Marilynn K. Yee/The New York TimesA model of the faux-vintage electric car that horse advocates say could replace carriage horses in New York, with Ed Sayres, left, and Steve Nislick of NY-Class, the group that sponsors the cars.

The faux-vintage electric car that horse advocates want to replace Central Park’s carriage horses has classic white-walled tires, running boards, mahogany and an “ah-hoogah” horn.

On Thursday, in a fourth-floor conference room of Manhattan’s Hippodrome — where circus horses once performed — Jason Wenig set a model of it across the table from the car’s sponsors.

“Brass is going to be everywhere, and it’s going to be shiny and beautiful,” said Mr. Wenig, who runs a customized car design shop in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

NY-Class, a nonprofit group that lobbies for the removal of the carriage horses from New York City, revealed the car for the first time on Thursday.

NY-Class, which stands for New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, paid $12,500 to have the two-foot-long lime green model built. It is based on turn-of-the-20th-century cars. Lanterns perch on its sides. Tiny baskets that would carry a driver’s lunch or extra blankets hang from it. Its convertible top rolls back in sections. The car is intended to hold up to six tourists.

Full Article Here

MTA Unveils Weekend Service Map

Sunday, September 18, 2011, by Bilal Khan0

theweekender.jpg
The MTA just rolled out The Weekender, their map for any and all weekend service changes. Nothing groundbreaking, but everyone loves a new subway map to look at! According to their site, “The subway keeps New York moving 24/7, and keeping the subway moving takes maintenance. We do most of that work on weekends, necessitating service changes that can sometimes be confusing. So to help you get where you want to go, we created The Weekender. You’ll find it at mta.info every weekend, starting Friday afternoons.” So, yes, weekend subway service will still be the bane of your existence.
· The Weekender [MTA]

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.”

Full Article Here:

Insuring Your Board’s Decisions

The ABC’s of D&O

By Lisa Iannucci

Good afternoon—and welcome to the board. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to make decisions to better your building. The residents may not like you and, more importantly, may not like those decisions. Nevertheless, keep doing the job you’re doing. In a worst-case scenario, you will be sued. Perhaps more than once. Should anything go wrong, don’t worry; you’re protected by the board’s D&O insurance. Good luck.”

On-the-Job Protection

You volunteer to be on your co-op or condo association’s board. You do your best to help make the right decisions and make your building a great place to live. Unfortunately, one of your fellow residents doesn’t like a decision you made and takes you and the rest of the board to court. They are suing for thousands of dollars—maybe even millions. Your home, life savings and other assets are at risk if you lose.

With stakes like that, it would be virtually impossible for co-op and condo boards to find volunteers if there wasn’t some form of protection from lawsuits resulting from the decisions made by board members in the course of doing their job. Fortunately, that protection exists, in the form of Directors and Officers, or D&O insurance.

Full Article Here:

Art Groups Preserve Chelsea by Buying, Not Renting

It is an all-too-familiar pattern in many communities: artists discover an inexpensive, underdeveloped neighborhood and move in, only to be ousted from the area by soaring retail rents once it catches on in popularity.

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

About half of the units in the Chelsea Arts Tower on West 25th Street are art galleries. The rest of the building’s units are devoted to fashion- and arts-related businesses.

Many argue that it happened in Greenwich Village, and most point to SoHo as the quintessential example of the phenomenon. Now, the same pattern may be occurring in Chelsea, where an explosion of residential development along the High Line is attracting retailers serving new residents — retailers who are now competing for space with the hundreds of art galleries that are the backbone of the neighborhood.

But some real estate experts say Chelsea’s fate may be different, because a healthy number of the neighborhood’s arts businesses had the foresight to buy their gallery and studio spaces, rather than lease them.

“The difference between SoHo and Chelsea is that so many artists, or even art companies or art investors, bought condos in Chelsea, so they actually made investments as opposed to leasing,” said Barbara Byrne Denham, the chief economist at Eastern Consolidated, a commercial real estate brokerage.

“I think that will preserve their spaces, and the flavor of Chelsea as kind of an art mecca,” she said.

Ms. Byrne Denham said there could be as many as 350 art galleries in Chelsea. Enough of them own their space that in a recent report on the commercial property sales market in Chelsea, Ms. Byrne Denham said, “we had to separate them as their own property type.”

“I said, ‘There’s something in this that really stands out: the fact that so many properties sold as art studios, art condos and art buildings,’ ” she said.

Full Article Here:

New Tourism Campaign Puts Focus on Lower Manhattan

The campaign will spotlight downtown's recovery since September 11, 2001
The campaign will spotlight downtown’s recovery since September 11, 2001

Starting next month, a new large-scale tourism campaign will help drive more visitors to Lower Manhattan — spotlighting the area’s remarkable recovery in the nine years since the 9/11 attacks.

Set to begin June 1st, the global initiative will promote downtown neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, museums, and open spaces among local and international tourists in New York City. The campaign will include new tour itineraries, special offers at local hotels, multimedia advertisements, and discounts at shops, attractions, and the new “Downtown Culture Pass.”

Announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week, the NYC & Company-designed campaign is launching in anticipation of a major tourism surge downtown — where the 10th anniversary of 9/11 already is drawing scores of visitors to the World Trade Center area.

“In less than four months time, the eyes of the world will be on Lower Manhattan, as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and open the Memorial,” said Bloomberg. “An important part of the story of 9/11 is how Lower Manhattan has come back in the past 10 years. Today Lower Manhattan is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in New York City. Our new campaign will help ensure visitors from around the world know about that vibrancy and have an opportunity to take advantage of all that Lower Manhattan has to offer.”

Full Article Here:

Chelsea community board approves rezoning around FIT

By Jill Colvin  DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — Members of Midtown’s Community Board 5 endorsed a plan to re-zone the blocks surrounding FIT Wednesday night, despite concerns the new rules would eat up existing commercial and office space in the zone.

The Department of City Planning is hoping to spur development on the blocks south of Penn Station, which was once known as Manhattan’s “Fur District.” Today, the former manufacturing hub is home to a few remaining fur wholesalers, a smattering of small warehouses, and numerous parking lots, with little street life after hours.

The new “M1-6D” zoning designation, which would span West 28th, 29th and 30th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues, would loosen regulations for new residential units to create what they hope will become “a more robust mixed-use, ’24/7′ community,” with more restaurants, services and retail, planners said.

The move in being spearheaded by Edison Properties, which wants to build a new 400-unit development between West 28th and West 29th on an existing parking lot. Twenty percent of the space would be reserved for affordable housing.

But members of Community Board 5’s Land Use and Zoning committee, which met to consider the plan Wednesday night, had serious reservations about the proposal, which was first presented to members at their meeting last month.

NYC Gets Key Willets Point Approval

By Jeremy Smerd May 5, 2011 1:25 p.m.

Late Wednesday, the Bloomberg administration took a significant step toward the redevelopment of Willets Point, Queens. The state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration approved the Economic Development Corp.’s environmental assessment of off-ramps proposed for the Van Wyck Expressway. The city, which has called the ramps essential to the massive Queens project, can now go ahead with a required public review process.

A handful of Willets Point property owners have been trying to halt the 61-acre redevelopment by arguing that the city reneged on a promise not to condemn any land until state and federal officials approved the two ramps. A court hearing next month on that question now appears moot.

“Receiving this approval allows us to overcome a number of procedural hurdles that have threatened to delay this important, job-creating project,” an EDC spokeswoman said in a statement to Crain’s. “Willets Point is now one step closer to becoming a center of economic growth and the site of a historic environmental cleanup.”

Once public comments are received, the city will resubmit its assessment for final state and federal approval.

In the meantime, the city said it will move ahead with the first phase of the project, which does not rely on the ramps. Splitting the project into two phases allowed the city to move ahead without acquiring the holdouts’ private property or getting approval for the ramps, which had dragged on for many months.

Law of Unintended Consequences – Mortgage Shopping

May 06, 2011 11:30AM By Kenneth R. Harney

What if the federal government spent years designing a tool to help consumers shop intelligently for mortgages — comparing lenders’ rates, terms and total settlement costs — but consumers ignored it or didn’t use it?

No need to speculate here; it appears to have already happened. A new survey of 1,000 American consumers suggests that the “good-faith estimate” disclosures that all homebuyers and refinancers receive at loan application to facilitate shopping are not getting the job done.

Federally mandated good-faith estimates spell out the lender’s charges, all anticipated fees for title insurance, escrow and settlement services, plus other key costs. The most recent version of the GFE, released at the beginning of last year, contains space for consumers to take one lender’s estimates and get competing quotes from as many as three others. It also requires lenders to stand behind their estimates — guaranteeing that some of them won’t increase by even a penny at closing, and others won’t increase by more than 10 percent.

Full Article Here: Via Real Deal

Port Authority gets LED makeover

The new lighting design as seen from 42nd and 8th Ave. Courtesy GKD-USA/A2aMEDIA

By the end of June, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be awash in graphics and light when a 6, 000 square foot stainless steel fabric embedded with LED lights wraps its way around the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue.  The technology, known as Mediamesh, was developed by GKD-USA, a collaboration between a German light engineer firm and an American metal fabric manufacturer. The product is only four years old and allows LED imagery to wrap around buildings without disrupting interior views to the outside. But in the case of the Port Authority, the mesh allows exhaust fumes to escape while masking several giant X-trusses, a facade hasn’t exactly endeared itself to New Yorkers.

Full Article Here:

Investment sales volume could rise by 50%

April 12, 2011 12:30PM By Adam Pincus

The first quarter of 2011 saw a steep decline in investment sales in New York City compared to the last three months of 2010, but the dollar volume for the whole year is expected to surge over last year, Robert Knakal, chairman of commercial brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Service, said.

He predicted the total volume of investment sales would jump to as much as $22 billion this year from $14.5 billion in 2010.

“We believe the dollar volume will increase by 40 to 50 percent over 2010 levels,” Knakal said at the firm’s quarterly press briefing at its Midtown headquarters this morning. “We are expecting that the total dollar volume is going to be in the $20 [billion] to $22 billion range.”

But that would remain far below the record $62 billion sold in 2007, he said.

In the first quarter of 2010, there were $3.9 billion in sales citywide, down 30 percent from the $5.6 billion sold in the fourth quarter last year.

Knakal blamed some of the decline this year to a surge in sales in the prior quarter by sellers fearing a change in taxes. But even as the first quarter lagged the previous three months, it was far more than the first quarter one year ago, when just $2.03 billion in properties traded hands.

The increase in property sales was led by office buildings purchases, such as William Macklowe Company and ING Clarion Partners together buying 636 Sixth Avenue for $45.23 million.

The development market picked up as well in terms of volume of deals, but fell in the average price per square foot.

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