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A look at buyers and sellers

A look at buyers and sellers

A snapshot of how buyers and sellers are reacting to the bleak economy — and to each other

 

 By Lauren Elkies

The bleak economy and credit crunch have claimed their share of victims in the New York City real estate world, but under the surface they have also shifted the foundations that buyers and sellers became accustomed to when the market was peaking.

This month, The Real Deal offers a series of stories about how buyers and sellers in the five boroughs and in the surrounding suburbs are dealing with one another and with the new financial terrain a little over a year into the crunch.

While prices have softened in some neighborhoods, first-time buyers are having more trouble than ever securing mortgages and getting a piece of the action (see Amid mortgage woes, first-time buyers seek solutions).

As their purchasing power has decreased, the pace of sales of the smaller units they tend to buy has slowed, creating a pileup of inventory. In Manhattan, there has been a sharp drop in sales of studios and one-bedrooms this year.

Meanwhile, some buyers fear more foreclosures could result in a growing number of vacant buildings, particularly in fringe areas of the city, which could contribute to an uptick in crime (see Watching for broken windows).

Experts weigh in on whether the so-called “broken windows theory,” which suggests that crime increases in areas of neglect, will play out in places like Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and other neighborhoods with high foreclosures rates. Crime, of course, can put a damper on the appeal of a neighborhood and depress prices, driving away potential buyers.

In more prime areas, foreign buyers, who have been capitalizing on the weak dollar and propping up sales activity in the city, are now starting to pull back. As the dollar has started to rebound (at least a little), brokers say those with primary addresses in other countries are finally starting to hesitate and wait for deeper price cuts (see Fewer foreign clients buying).

On the seller side, market conditions and anxiety about the economy are causing some to drop asking prices to increase their chances of a sale, and prompting others to take their listings off the market altogether and wait until the market swings back (see Sellers feeling the pressure).

Even buildings are being put through the wringer. Co-ops have long put potential buyers through a rigorous board approval process. But now, lenders are turning the tables on them and more closely scrutinizing their books.

And, whether at a co-op or condo, gentrification continues to cause tension between existing board members and new residents, especially when the newbies push for expensive cosmetic upgrades for the building (see New buyers clashing with the condo board).

In the Financial District, the credit crunch has translated into fewer buyers at open houses (see Open house traffic hits wall in Financial District). And in the South Bronx, it has put activity on hold. The difficulty in securing cash has made it harder for small investors to buy into the area and stymied new residential development and rehabs there (see South Bronx buzz fizzles).

Beyond New York City, in suburbs like Westchester and Nassau and Fairfield counties, foreclosures on the rise are helping depress the overall market for sellers (see New York City’s suburbs slip).

And in parts of New Jersey and Long Island, there’s a real estate domino effect taking hold for so-called “trade ups” (see Trading up slows down).

Experts told The Real Deal that some sellers looking to unload their “starter homes” are out of luck, in large part because the buyers they need are unable to secure mortgages. And, until they pull their equity out of their homes, they don’t have the money to become buyers themselves.

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And the Winner is ???

A reader writes, “It would be interesting if you guys did a reader survey on which NYC apartments have the most attractive women. I know it sounds silly, but somehow my friends and I had this discussion, and consensus seems to be that 2 Gold and Rivergate have tons of eye candy. I was also impressed with the quality of women at luxury condos like the Millennium in Battery Park City, 15 Broad, and Trump World Tower.” Great idea! But no love for the fellas? Folks, your suggestions for buildings with the hottest tenants (male and/or female) in the comments, please. Perhaps we can set up some sort of pageant. [CurbedWire Inbox]

Congrats to Financial District luxury-rental megatower 2 Gold Street for being named by the Curbed readership as the Manhattan building with the best-looking tenants. Rockrose’s gift to sunbathing 20somethings (and the dudes/dude-ettes who love them) beat out strong challenges from rental buildings like Soho Court, 88 Leonard Street, and Rivergate, and condo buildings such as The Orion and 15 Broad Street. See you on the roof deck, brahs!

Hoboken Weathers the Market

Published: June 22, 2008
HOBOKEN was often held up as the prime example of the booming real estate market, and now it appears that the city is showing that it can hold its own in a down market, too.

A rendering of 800 Madison, part of the Upper Grand development.

Average sales prices are still increasing for downtown condominiums in Hoboken, although most asking prices are open to negotiation these days, as several developers acknowledged in interviews.

Developers say that their new buildings are still selling out, if somewhat slower than in the past. (One that didn’t, the Velocity, suffered from construction delays and questions about its site near city housing projects, and switched to a rental building late last year.)

The Web service Streeteasy.com reports that waterfront properties continue to command premium prices about 30 to 35 percent above those on Hoboken’s west side, a former industrial area that was nearly unimaginable as a neighborhood only five or six years ago.

But development on the west side is continuing, fueled by interest from buyers and renters, developers say.

The Tarragon Corporation is completing its sixth residential building in the neighborhood at its eight-square-block Upper Grand development. The company now has four condominiums and two rental buildings there, and will soon break ground on the west side’s first high-rise condo.

William Rosato, Tarragon’s president, acknowledges that the market on the west side has cooled over the last two years. “It used to be that if we asked $500,000 for a condo, five buyers were standing in line to buy,” he said. “Now, if you ask $500,000, people wait to come in and begin a negotiation.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Rosato added, “Prices are holding pretty strong, as is the pace at which we sell.”

Benjamin D. Jogodnik, a vice president of Toll Brothers who runs its City Living division, said the company had sold more than 400 high-end condominiums at three Hoboken developments since late 2005, when the statewide residential market began to deflate.

There are only a handful of units left at one of those developments, Harborside Lofts, a 116-unit building with balconies and rooftop terraces. The terraces were sold separately, at prices that reached $225,000.

Mr. Jogodnik said the second buildings at both the Hudson Tea and Maxwell Place complexes are approaching completion. Both developments have had steady sales, with Maxwell Place now about 95 percent sold.

Toll Brothers is also building 10 “maisonette” town houses at Maxwell Place. The town houses have the Hudson River outside their doors, and lots of glass facing the view.

The town houses are priced about $1 million above other high-end apartments in Hoboken. The asking prices range from $2.5 million to $3.8 million, for houses that range from 2,300 to 3,800 square feet of space.

No marketing has been done since the town houses became available last fall, and work on the pier outside the windows still obstructs the view of the river from most of the unfinished condos.

“But we have sold four,” said Mr. Jogodnik. “Four in six months, at these kinds of price points, in this market? I’m O.K. with that.”

Bargaining is taking place at all price points for condos old and new, according to statistics from Streeteasy.com. While the average price of a two-bedroom apartment in Hoboken has increased 9.4 percent since the beginning of the year — to $634,917 — more than half of the two-bedrooms currently on the market have had their original asking prices reduced, by an average of 5.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the average price for a one-bedroom unit has dropped 9.3 percent since January — to $420,797 — and 40 percent of those units now on the market have had their asking prices reduced, by an average of 3.3 percent.

There are relatively few three-bedroom units in Hoboken, most of them penthouses, but the average price is up by 3.3 percent, Streeteasy.com reported, to $882,943.

More of the negotiating is occurring on the west side than on the waterfront, Streeteasy.com indicated. About 88 percent of the two-bedroom units listed on the inland side have reduced prices, taken down by an average 7.4 percent.

Still, new high-end developments keep springing up.

The Vesta Group, a developer of boutique condo buildings in TriBeCa and Chelsea in Manhattan, has just begun marketing a 16-unit project on Observer Highway on Hoboken’s south side.

Vesta is promoting the building as Hoboken’s first with video doorman technology, which allows deliveries of groceries and packages while the apartment dweller is out. Vesta is selling two- to four-bedroom units for $690,000 to $1.47 million.

Marketers of this building and others are stressing Hoboken’s walkability, and the fact that schools, shops and retailing are close at hand.

There is one residential amenity that Hoboken has been conspicuously lacking, however, ever since the last movie theater closed in 2005.

But last week, Tarragon, in partnership with Clearview Cinemas, broke ground on a five-screen theater.

Frequently Asked Questions…

When a Landlord Won’t Return a Security Deposit

Q

I moved into an apartment on a one-year lease. Thirty days before the end of my lease, I gave notice to vacate and requested, in writing, the return of my security deposit and interest.

I moved out on March 2 and have yet to receive a check or a notice stating that the landlord was keeping the deposit. There was no damage to the apartment, so I expect the full deposit to be returned. They are not returning my calls.

What should I do? 

A

Dov Treiman, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said the tenant had two possible paths to pursue. “First, the tenant may bring a case in small claims court or, for very large security deposits, in the regular part of the New York City Civil Court,” he said.

“Second, the tenant may file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.”

Mr. Treiman said that pressing the case in small claims court or Civil Court could prove very frustrating, because it could entail several appearances in court.

Also, the landlord will frequently be represented by a lawyer, and the tenant typically will not be. While not always the case, the lawyer could use various tactics to delay the case or to wear the tenant down in hopes of forcing him or her to give up.

Even if the tenant wins in court, Mr. Treiman added, he or she would then have to turn over the judgment to a city marshal to have it enforced, a process that can also be time consuming and somewhat expensive.

On the other hand, the consumer fraud bureau of the Attorney General’s Office is very interested in these cases and in getting them resolved quickly. “They have tremendous power to coerce landlords to return the security deposit, but will only do so if the deposit has not been returned for more than 30 days after the tenant moves out,” Mr. Treiman said.

The Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection is at 120 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. The toll-free consumer help line is (800) 771-7755.

http://realestateqa.blogs.nytimes.com/

Sex and the City – The Real Estate Episode

Real estate of Sex and the City

The Sex and the City movie is everywhere! The HBO series included some fabulous shoes, but at Trulia, we’re more interested in the fabulous real estate. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda each had distinct personalities, and the housing to match. Here’s a look at some great properties listed on Trulia that would surely be approved by the girls of Sex and the City:

• Carrie – When we last left Carrie, she was enjoying the single-girl lifestyle in a brownstone apartment in the Upper East Side. This classic brownstone with modern upgrades priced below $800,000 might make a great first home purchase. The private outdoor patio looks like a great spot for an evening cosmopolitan – or two!
• Samantha – This sleek condo a few blocks up from the Meatpacking District has Samantha all over it. The modern interior with huge windows and great views has the sexy look that would appeal to her uninhibited sensibility. (And the glass shower door doesn’t hurt, either.)
• Charlotte – Nothing but a classic Park Avenue pad for her! This beautiful Park Avenue co-op has the traditional, sophisticated look that Charlotte embodies.
• Miranda – The only one to move outside of Manhattan, Miranda would enjoy the extra space that comes with this Park Slope home. Its backyard is great for a family, and a second unit in the house could either be rented out as an investment or used for overnight visitors from Manhattan.

Fri, Jun 6, 2008

Real Estate News

(http://www.truliablog.com/)

Jersey City vs. Manhattan

Jersey City vs. Manhattan

Median price for a condo in a new development in downtown Jersey City: $579,900

Median price for a condo in a new development in Manhattan: $1,475,000

Average price in Jersey City: $640,864.

1br: $539,304
2br: $656,795
3br: $1,231,666

Average price in Manhattan: $2,184,928.

Studio: $891,441
1br: $1,020,626
2br: $1,992,638
3br: $3,751,874

Prices come down to help move new projects

Condos on the chopping block

 

 By Lauren Elkies

As sales have slowed and inventory has grown, developers are clamoring to move new development condo units, many by adjusting prices.

Price cuts are outpacing price increases, and prices appear to be falling on the whole in the two most active boroughs for development, Manhattan and Brooklyn, particularly in Harlem and much of Brooklyn.

The Real Deal compiled a project-by-project and neighborhood-by-neighborhood breakdown of price changes among listings where there were price fluctuations during the past 90 days. Data was provided by StreetEasy, the home listing and data Web site. Listings excluded resales.
The data showed that 54 percent of Manhattan listings that saw a change in price had dropped their prices in the three months, and 64 percent of Brooklyn properties that had fluctuating prices cut theirs.

Although the actual average price changes in Manhattan were about three-and-a-half times more than the changes in Brooklyn, where there are more fringe neighborhoods and sales prices are lower, the average net price change was comparable at -$15,362 in Manhattan and -$14,516 in Brooklyn.
While the data show some price drops, Andrew Gerringer, managing director of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s development marketing group, said that the developers he is working with are negotiating, but not by not slashing prices.

“Developers are offering brokers more commission and paying closing costs,” he told The Real Deal.

Although not all brokers readily acknowledge developers are adjusting prices, and the StreetEasy research is limited, (because it only covers a three-month period and the number of price cuts need to be considered relative to the initial prices), the data provide a glimpse into how market conditions are affecting pricing. The data was also impacted by big price cuts at a single development, which could affect totals for an entire neighborhood.

MANHATTAN

Manhattan held up fairly well over the three months ending May 15 with slightly more condo price decreases than increases. There were 178 increases with an average change of $146,483 and 208 decreases with an average change of $153,864.

Of all submarkets in Manhattan — Downtown, Midtown, Upper West Side, Upper East Side and Upper Manhattan — only the Upper East Side, the most expensive market in terms of the average price per listing ($4.1 million), was in the black in terms of a net price increase ($106,436), meaning that on the whole, developers raised their prices more than they lowered them, StreetEasy determined. Percentage-wise, the Silk Stocking District also had the most price increases (27) relative to decreases (11).

“The Upper East Side, on a valuation basis, has not spiked as much as other popular and trendy neighborhoods, so it has a little more headroom for pricing,” said Jorden Tepper, executive director of sales at Century 21 NY Metro Fine Homes & Estates.

Downtown Manhattan, which has a new development inventory that almost matches the size of all the other submarkets combined, saw the most price increases of all submarkets with 88, despite concerns about an inventory oversupply, particularly in the Financial District. A couple of projects contributed to the steep total, including River Ridge condos with 13 increases (and three decreases) and Tribeca Summit, also with 13 increases (and three decreases). As a result of a few large markdowns, the average net change, however, was -$18,128.

Upper Manhattan fared the worst in terms of the number of price reductions with 75, compared to only 14 increases. Harlem had 52 price decreases and six price increases.

“People who wanted to be on the Upper West Side were getting priced out and went farther north,” said Sofia Kim, vice president of research at StreetEasy. So developers started building aggressively to meet demand. At the same time, current market conditions are putting pressure on prices in fringe outlying neighborhoods including Harlem.

“All fringe neighborhoods are suffering,” said Darren Sukenik, an executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “These fringe neighborhoods were successful in an inappropriately manic-driven market two years ago.”

Of 29 Manhattan neighborhoods, more than half saw negative net changes.

After Harlem, Chelsea had the most price drops with 18.

“With Tribeca and Soho’s stunning condo lofts coming to market month after month, Chelsea no longer has the allure it once did,” said Jeffrey Tanenbaum, a vice president at Barak Realty. “Not to say Chelsea is passé, but it no longer is the most exciting flavor of the month.” Tribeca saw 19 price increases and five price decreases. Soho was split with four increases and four decreases.

But in a testament to the allure of a good project, there were 22 price increases in Chelsea.

The greatest price cuts Downtown were in the West Village, where three changes brought the average net price change to -$2.2 million. The price decreases included the $2.5 million price slashing of Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi’s duplex from $32 million to $29.5 million and the $4 million cut in price at Hudson Blue at 423 West Street.

BROOKLYN

The majority of Brooklyn’s 23 neighborhoods saw overall price drops. Prices were slashed at 183 units with an average price decrease of $42,195. There were 103 listing increases averaging $34,660.

In the popular and increasingly saturated new condo market in Williamsburg, where the market varies by area, there are bound to be price changes.

“Williamsburg is definitely a hotbed of activity so you’re going to have more competing developments,” said Kim of StreetEasy.

Williamsburg was home to the greatest number of units with price changes (104). Developers raised prices 64 times and lowered them 40 times. The majority of the price increases were at Northside Piers. Without that project, the area would have done poorly with 40 price decreases and only 11 increases.

Northside Piers, a Toll Brothers project marketed by Halstead Property, had 53 price increases — four units at the project had as many as four price changes — in the three months, with an average price change of $40,302, StreetEasy data indicate. Although increases might seem strange considering Toll Brothers reported its eighth-consecutive quarterly decline in revenue last month and might want to sell units quickly at lower prices, prices were too low from the start, said a broker who has worked on the project.

“Northside was the first tower ever in Williamsburg,” said William Ross, a director in new development marketing at Halstead, and former director of sales for the Brooklyn office. As such, Ross said the team did not how to accurately price the units. “We did the best we could,” he said.

The majority of the 180 units in the building have had price adjustments, Ross said. Last April, Halstead reduced the prices of 35 units in the building, all large units with unimpressive views, by an average of 12 to 15 percent, or $65,000 each. “We found out the larger units that don’t have views didn’t sell until we did the decrease,” Ross said.

The numbers for Clinton Hill (24 price reductions and three increases) and Park Slope (18 decreases and zero increases) were pretty weak, but some brokers attribute the price drops to developers trying to push the neighborhood boundaries.

As the boundaries of Clinton Hill and Park Slope expand farther away from main transportation lines, so do price reductions. Homes in the heart of Park Slope and along brownstone row in Clinton Hill are selling well, said Tom Le, vice president and associate broker at the Corcoran Group in the Williamsburg office. But projects on the outskirts are on shakier ground. Too many developers do not create the right product in the right location, Le said.