Family Condo Value in UES

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 28th, 2006 03:17 PM

nyc real estate

A: If you are looking to buy a new family home in New York City and you have the following criteria: Must Be Condo, Must Be Close To Central Park, Must Be Pre-War, Must Be At Least 2,400 Sq. Ft, Must Have At Least 3.5 Baths, Must Have Outdoor Space, Must Have 24HR Doorman; you are probably having trouble finding anything of value under 3M! Not anymore. Check out this 10-Day old listing!

Check out this snapshot of a 3BR/3.5BTH Pre-War Condo on 153 East 87th Street. It is 2,400 Sq. Ft. Duplex (Note: Duplex's always seem smaller than straight units) + 600 Sq. Ft. Private Terrace! Marketed By Katie Rosenberg of Warburg Realty.

nyc real estate

UrbanDigs Says: Without having seen this apartment I would think the main reason this property is being discounted is because of the high monthlys. For 2,400 Sq. Ft. you are paying $3,755/Month between maintenance + Taxes. If you read my post on maintenance: The Hidden Devil you would know that the Monthlys divided by the Total Size comes out to a figure of 1.56 (fairly high). Ideally, using this formula you want to find an apartment whose #'s bring in a a figure of 1.0 or under; although that is not always the case. The higher this figure goes the more the asking price MUST be lowered to compensate for affordibility. Graph is Below! That is what this broker is doing and explains the lower asking price. For those with the luxury of a stable high paying job who are in the market for this type of apartment, definitely check this one out!

maintenance EVALUATOR

nyc real estate


Say Goodbye To City Noise

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 28th, 2006 08:53 AM

nyc real estate

A: Passing this one along. Thank you to Carol Taxon of Corcoran for bringing me this tip for everyone out there that is tired of New York City Noise. CityQuiet.com focuses on installing QUIET WINDOWS that supposedly reduces City Noise by up to 95%. A great tip for any homeowner on a heavily trafficked avenue, especially if you are looking to sell; buyers want quiet!

CityQuiet's Product Features Include
:

According to the website, CitiQuiet will fabricate and install a custom Interior Soundproof Window to mimic the existing window, in style and function. It is also noted that the simple installation does NOT require any construction or alteration to the existing window.

Current styles of windows that can be soundproofed are shown below.

nyc real estate

*NOTE: I would love to hear some feedback from anyone that has actually used this company. Carol Taxon has mentioned that she heard nothing but good things about CityQuiet, but I personally have never used them!


New Home Sales Slows

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 27th, 2006 11:20 AM

A: January report shows that New Home Sales dropped by 5% from December levels, with 20% more homes on the market than the year before.

Hmmm, I wonder if the rise in new homes inventory is a result of developers and pre-construction investors unloading their holdings in highly speculative markets across the nation? Read my Stop The Dice: Developers Set To Square Off post I wrote last month on the 'scaling back' news that was coming out back then.

According to David Seiders, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders:

"There's been a definite upswing in the inventory level for some time," said Seiders. "The months supply was held steady by a pretty strong sales pace. The big reason for the big uptick in months supply is the slowing sales pace."


In addition to more inventory and slowing sales, the report also showed an increase in 'time on the market' for new homes:
But even the reports' figure on median time it took for completed homes to be sold rose to 4.5 months from a median of 4 months throughout 2005, a number that wasn't affected by the warm January weather.


Just another sign of a softening housing market. Nothing to worry about here as this report shouldn't be too much of a surprise. However, one item that should be noted is a report from the Home Builders on cancelled orders:
Home builders have reported an increased number of orders for new homes being cancelled in recent months, raising concerns that buyers who were looking to real estate for an investment rather than their own housing needs are pulling out of the market. Such cancellations could put downward pressure on prices in some formerly hot markets.
It is becoming clear that investors and speculators that have helped power the housing boom in past years are looking elsewhere for investments. This dwindling supply of buying pressure could pick up its pace down the road resulting in a further slowing of housing price appreciation in highly speculative markets such as Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, & Phoenix.

~ Home Sales: Is the market glutted?


Housing Bubble Explained: On a Napkin

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 27th, 2006 09:28 AM

A: Check out this post I saw on Matrix today. It references a post by Dr. John Rutledge on his Rutledge Blog that was written back in Spring of 2005, but as pointed out by Jonathan Miller, has relevance today.

Key point
:

A drop in interest rates will make a permanent increase in housing prices but, over time, the growing housing stock will mitigate some of the price and construction pressure, which means the initial burst of activity, and possibly of price, are likely to moderate somewhat over time.

Leading To Conclusion:
So interest-rate induced housing inflation is largely a one-time event. It is not property inflation. It is not a housing bubble.

Housing inflation, as opposed to one-time increases in home prices, happens when there is a continuous increase in demand caused, for example, by systematically inflationary monetary policy. We do not have that today.

There were good reasons why home prices increased over the past two years. But don't get caught in either the trap of believing they will continue to rise, or that there is an unavoidable housing bubble. Prices will be relatively flat over the next year.


So far he is dead on!

~ Genius on a Napkin: Housing Boom Phase Diagrams
~ Geek Think: Housing Boom Diagrams


Hot in NYC: Fireplaces Coming Back

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 27th, 2006 08:50 AM

nyc real estate

A: In Sunday's NY Times there was an article titled Fire: The New Granite, reffering to the increase in demand for fireplaces in New York City apartments and townhouses! Thinking back over the past year or so, I have to agree as I recall a few of my clients specifically telling me that they MUST have a fireplace.

The article starts out:

A Dusting of snow is falling outside, and the family is gathered together in the living room around the warmth of a crackling fire.


Ummmm...paints a nice picture doesn't it! You can see the appeal of the fireplace which apparently is making a big comeback these days; so much so that developers are starting to use fireplaces as an added selling point in their projects. A few developments that have jumped onto the 'fireplace bandwagon' include 170 East End Avenue, 21 East 96th Street, The Stanhope, & The Remy.

I would assume this is more for Townhouse owners, but if you are a homeowner looking to install a fireplace in your apartment (obviously has to be building compliant), check out Jealan Fireplaces. WHY use Jealan if I've never used them before and do not know anyone that has, you think quietly to yourself? Here, this is what they say on their website:
Jealan has furnished and installed Majestic fireplaces for builders for over 30 years. We are one of the few "fireplace specialists" in New York City certified by the Hearth Products Association. We are authorized by the manufacturer to install their products in compliance with New York City building codes and provide warranty service.


If you are a buyer, check out these 1BR apartments across New York City that offer you either a wood or gas burning fireplace!

Upper East Side
: $975K - 929 Park Avenue Marketed By Judith Durham of Stribling

Murray Hill: $829K - 67 Park Avenue Marketed By Richard Silver of Corcoran

Upper West Side: $699K - 336 Central Park West Marketes By Deborah Straubinger of Eychner Associates

Upper East Side (photo above): $1.48M - 70th St & Lexington Ave Marketed By Beverly Goodwin of Sotheby's Int'l Realty

If you are looking for something in a different neighborhood or price range, drop me a line and I'll try to help!



~ Fire: The New Granite
~ Jealan Fireplaces


UrbanDigs in METRO..!

Posted by urbandigs

Fri Feb 24th, 2006 11:05 AM

A: If you can, pick up a copy of the METRO today and go to the Blogarithms section (Page 8) written by Paul Berger. UrbanDigs is featured in this week's column!

Blogarithms is a weekly column written by Paul Berger to bring attention to the best and brightest New York City weblogs that you probably didn't hear of yet!

nyc real estate

For those of you who read my blog, you know that I do my research and try my best to educate New Yorkers on the overall state of the housing market in Manhattan by writing about tips for buyers, tips for sellers, and a macro view on where interest rates are most likely headed. We have a weekly Mortgage Report on Tuesday's from Steven Maasbach, info from Sales Manager Brian Legum on OH Activity, and some tips for sellers from my colleague Brady Titcomb.

I hope you both enjoy and learn from the posts written in this blog and don't be shy to tell a friend or two who might be interested in buying or selling a property in New York City! Maybe they can find something here to apply to their own needs! Your comments are always appreciated and don't hesitate to SUBMIT A TIP if you have your story to tell! Thanks!

~ Paul Berger's Blog


FSBO Checklist: Check it Twice!

Posted by urbandigs

Fri Feb 24th, 2006 07:15 AM

nyc real estate

A: So you decided to sell on your own and save the commission that brokers charge to mass market your property. Here is a checklist of items you should follow in order to maximize the marketability of your property, since your listing will NOT be circulated in the brokerage community.

**Important FSBO Note: Most qualified buyers do not have the time or the experience to find and then assess value as they prepare to buy a new home. I know that my clients not only rely on me to send them price reductions and new listings as they come in, but also to help them analyze a property's current asking price and to asess value so that they can negotiate the best possible purchase price. A good strategy is a must before you place that first bid! As a FSBO listing, your property will NOT be disclosed to brokers' clients since there is no incentive being offered to the broker for bringing in the buyer. In essence, a FSBO is only marketing their property to about 30% of the buyer pool; so you must do so effectively!

FSBO CHECKLIST


1. Prepare your apartment for showing: This includes any planned renovations, mass cleanups, putting away personal photos and jewelry, and putting into storage all x-large furniture that clutters the property. A clean and spacious apartment is a sellable apartment!

2. Price your apartment: Go to PropertyShark.com and find out what the last comparable (same line or unit type) sale was in your building and surrounding buildings. If you own a Co-op, then ONLY look at recent Co-op sales in your immediate neighborhood. Add on some value for renovations, views, light, and lower monthly's if you have them.

3. Take Quality Pictures: Pics sell! You will need high quality pictures of your apartment for NY Times online ad and the showsheets that you will design.

4. Design Showsheets: It doesnt have to be pretty but it helps if it is! A showsheet should include the building and contact information, apartment details, monthly expenses, a brief description, building amenities, and some pictures of the apartment and floorplan. Leave these out for buyers to take as they come to view your apartment.

5. Write A NY Times Online & Print Ad: Think about this for a little while before sending the print ad in (deadline is 6PM Wednesday for Sunday Print). You must separate yourself from the other ads out there so be sure to advertise your apartment's most desireable characteristics. These will include outdoor space/balcony, park views, W/D in unit, great light, etc..In the end a 4 or 5 line ad must include the building and apartment #, your contact info, apartment features, and Open House information! **Setup the Open House at a time when you get the MOST natural sunlight!

6. Get ready to be hounded!: The first few calls you will receive will probably be from brokers asking how they can assist you in selling your apartment. Try not to get frustrated as this is how brokers make their living! Instead, be prepared with a "...thanks for your call but I am not talking with brokers at this time" skit.

7. Run an Open House: Its always best to run an Open House on Sunday (early afternoon) and Monday (late evening). Again, be sure your place is clean and not cluttered with furniture and personal junk. Buyers must be able to see the space they might be buying! Keep showsheets and sign up sheet out and ask buyers to sign in as they arrive. If you want to go the extra mile, put an apple pie in a warm oven about 30 minutes before the open house; it will make your apartment smell delicious! Some flowers always helps too (not too much though!).

8. Real Estate Attorney & Building Doc's: Assuming you priced your apartment to market value and spend your marketing dollars in the NY Times, you should get a reasonable offer. When you accept an offer have your real estate attorney send over the contract of sale, offering plan, and 2 years building financials to the buyer's attorney for review. Expect a signed contract and 10% deposit back within 5 business days.

This is a quick guide that ALL sellers should review before deciding to bypass a broker and sell as a FSBO. Remember, selling as a FSBO will never fully market your property as buyer brokers will not be bringing their clients to your listing. So, be sure to price aggressively and prepare well in advance before your first showings!!

GOOD LUCK!


Buyers Alert: In-Building Competition Helps

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 08:13 PM

A: One side effect of a cooling housing market is that there will be competition amongst property or equity owners of the same building. Depending on the 'urgency to sell' factor there could be some good buying opportunities here as sellers lower their price to get the most activity in the building.

Its one of a seller's more painful headaches. Here is how it happens:

You spend a month planning your selling strategy and renovating your apartment. You place your ads, you take your pictures, you design your showsheets, and you start the showings. A few weeks later another 1BR in your building comes on the market asking $50K less than you. And all you can think is, "...ARGHH!! Now I have to lower my price".
Well you don't have to lower your price right away but you might have to at some point down the road to get a deal done. Savvy buyers should use any in-building competition to their advantage by putting pressure on the seller of the higher priced unit during negotiations.

Here are a few buildings that have some like units for sale at the same time, putting even more control into the hands of the buyers!

245 East 93rd - Astor Terrace Condo

Apt: 22A
# Beds: 1
# Baths: 1.5
Size: 967 Sq. Ft.
Price: $850,000
Marketed By: Rachel Melniker of Corcoran

Apt: 25J
# Beds: 1
# Baths: 1.5
Size: 960 Sq. Ft.
Price: $795,000
Marketed By: Sara Waisman of Elliman


301 East 79th - Continental Towers Condo

Apt: 7P
# Beds: 1
# Baths: 1
Size: 700 Sq. Ft.
Price: $765,000
Marketed By: Nancy Marshak of BrownHarrisStevens

Apt: 19D
# Beds: 1
# Baths: 1
Size: Aprox 700 Sq. Ft.
Price: $700,000
Marketed By: Angela Rapoport of Corcoran

Apt: 19E
# Beds: 1
# Baths: 1
Size: Aprox 700 Sq. Ft.
Price: $725,000
Marketed By: Angela Rapoport of Corcoran

Just a few to give you the idea. The next time you go out viewing apartments and find a building you really like, ask your broker if there are any like units for sale. If so, you may be able to negotiate a better price as the sellers compete with each other!


When an ARM is a Good Idea?

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 11:06 AM

A: Taking out a short term ARM mortgage product can be a great option if you know for sure that interest rates are going lower and/or you will be selling/refinancing before the ARM expires.

NOTE: You should NEVER take out a short term ARM product to rationalize buying a property in order to get your monthly payments into the range of your own affordability. If you are thinking about doing this you should realize that you are buying a property you CANNOT AFFORD, and taking out a ARM loan to make the payments lower. Its a short term fix that leads to a longer term problem!

Check out The Money Store's ARM vs FIXED RATE Calculator and see what the difference will be between these two mortgage products! If you intend to live in your new home for the next 7-10 years, it would be wise to go with the 30 YR Fixed loan product and buy a property that fits in with your financial budget.

nyc real estate

Something to keep in mind: An ARM product is a good idea if you know that interest rates are declining and will be lower when the ARM expires. Right now, we have 1-2 rate hikes ahead of us and then a pause. How long the pause will last is too early to tell right now. In addition, the bond markets did experience a brief inverted yield curve recently which historically speaking is an indicator of a looming recession. Should this actually occur down the road (say 1-2 years from now), the Fed will be forced to LOWER RATES to help stimulate the economy. A short term ARM would be a good option in this scenario as interest rates will most likely be lower when the ARM expires putting you in a better position to refinance!




What is a Pied-a-Terre?

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 08:33 AM

A: In terms of NYC real estate, a pied-a-terre simply refers to the idea that you will be using an apartment as your second home or for temporary lodging.

The reason this is important is because there are a lot of people out there that would like to buy an apartment in Manhattan for that very purpose. The problem is that if you plan to get more space for your dollar via buying a Co-op instead of a Condo, chances are there will be some type of board policy restricting the use of the property as a pied-a-terre. Co-ops usually restrict the use of a property as a pied-a-terre to protect the corporation against possible future distress of the seller (since a 2nd property is more of a financial strain and the most likely asset to be liquidated in hard times).

But how will the board know I plan to use the apartment as a pied-a-terre? Co-op boards have gotton very smart these days with the housing market booming as it has over the past 4 years. To protect their own interests, a co-op board will most likely ask you to submit:

1. Last 2 YRS Tax Returns
2. Last 2 Pay Stubs
3. Complete Financial Analysis of Assets & Debts (w/ Hard Copy)
4. Bank Statements
5. Letter from Employer
6. Letter from Bank

etc..

If the booard sees that you own another property that is listed as your primary residence on your tax return, they will begin to question your intended use of the apartment. Even if you cover your tracks and answer their questions perfectly at the board interview, you still can get a Board Rejection and lose the deal.

The important thing to note is that Co-op boards are representative shareholders of the private corporation. They can pretty much do what they want to protect their own interests as long as they are not discriminating; and even that it is very hard to prove in a lawsuit.

If you plan on using your property as a pied-a-terre in New York City, than do 1 of 2 things:

1. Buy a Condo
2. Find a Co-op that allows Pied-a-terres


...you will be restricted if you can only afford to buy a Co-op, so be sure to do your homework first and see if the board policies meet your needs before submitting any offer and starting the transaction process!


Greenwich Village Doorman Studio's Under 350K

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 11:20 AM

A: So you want to live in Greenwich Village and you require a Doorman with a budget of 350K. Thought it wasn't possible? Think again!

I found 2 Studio apartments in Greenwich Village that are in doorman buildings and still under 350K! For those of you in the market for this location and price range, be sure to check these out!

175 West 13th Street


# Beds: 0
# Baths: 1
Size: N/A
Maint: $668
Asking: $338K
Marketed By: Michael Johnson & Tami Solomon of Corcoran

nyc real estate




101 West 12th Street


# Beds: 0
# Baths: 1
Size: 400 Sq. Ft.
Maint: $590
Asking: $340K
Marketed By: Linda Partland of Corcoran

nyc real estate


Both of these units have been on the market since September of 2005 and both were originally priced at $359K and lowered to what you see now. So, there may still be some negotiating room available (something to keep in mind should you go for it). Good Luck!


MBA: Mortgage App's Increase

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 09:23 AM

nyc real estate

A: Never forget that media outlets take on housing is lagging since articles are based on data collected in the previous weeks or months of the housing industry. I've already spoken on the need for a Buyer Confidence Index to get a more real-time assessment of the current state of the housing industry for local markets. Nevertheless, the MBA reported today that U.S. mortgage applications increased for the first time in 4 weeks!


The article goes on to say:

U.S. mortgage applications increased for the first time in four weeks as a rebound in demand for loans to purchase homes more than offset a decline in refinancing, an industry trade group said Wednesday. The MBA's seasonally adjusted purchase mortgage index -- considered a timely gauge on U.S. home sales -- rose 4.3 percent to 408.7 from the previous week's 391.7, which was its lowest level in more than two years.


Recall that UrbanDigs.com reported on the surge in mortgage activity on February 1st, as Steven Maasbach of Manhattan Mortgage Company (who does a weekly Mortgage Report here on UrbanDigs) spoke of seeing mortgage applications double in the past few weeks.

If you want to stay ahead of the game, especially for housing in New York City, be sure to check back here for future updates on mortgage app's filed by Steven Maasbach and OH activity reports by Brian Legum.

~ MBA: Mortgage Applications Increase

Technorati Profile


Fed Minutes: Inflation Still A Concern

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 21st, 2006 06:07 PM

nyc real estate

A: Thank you Steven for pointing out the Fed Minutes and CPI data coming out this week. If you want to be a wise investor you must learn some of the essentials to what the fundamentals are telling us and where monetary policy is likely headed. Right now it looks like we got at least 1, possibly 2 more 1/4 point hikes coming.

According to the minutes:

"Although the stance of policy seemed close to where it needed to be given the current outlook, some future policy firming might be needed" to keep inflation and the economy on an even keel.


My very last post about this topic had me at about 75 - 25 in favor of another rate hike at the next fed meeting on March 27-28th. I'm also at about 50 - 50 right now for the meeting after that for a final rate hike. The data that comes out over the next few months will certainly dictate whether a 2nd rate hike is needed. I don't envy Bernanke now that he took over the helm because he is being faced with a housing cooldown, economic upturn, and signs of inflation all at the same time.

Historically, the fed seems to 'overshoot' on rate hikes and overdo it, so to speak. Its important to note that rate hikes take aprox. 6-10 months to take full effect leaving the fed to analyze data that has already occurred and NOT data that is yet to come from previous rate hikes!

~ Fed Leaves Door Open to Interest Rate Hike


Mortgage Report: Week of Feb 20 - 24th

Posted by steve

Tue Feb 21st, 2006 02:09 PM

According to new Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke:

"The economy looks positive and stable".
For the week ahead we have two news items that will dictate where the market will go:

1. Fed Meeting Minutes - gives detailed comments made by the Fed members as to their thoughts on the status of the economy at the last meeting.

2. Consumer Price Index - measures inflation at the consumer level.

If these two releases show signs of inflation it's possible that bonds will spiral downward again and rates may increase once again.

If the news indicates that inflation is contained, bonds may continue to climb higher causing home loan rates to improve slightly.

For a more detailed analysis on mortgage rates and where they might be headed please contact me.

Steven P. Maasbach
The Manhattan Mortgage Company



Website maintenance

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 21st, 2006 12:57 PM

UrbanDigs.com will be undergoing a complete overhaul starting tomorrow morning. So for the next day or so please excuse the site's temporary downtime and/or misaligned tables as the new site is completely integrated.

Thanks!


High End Blues: 111 East 85th Street

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 21st, 2006 08:40 AM

nyc real estate

A: The latest in the high end blues saga brings me to 111 East 85th Street Cooperative where a sprawling 2,600 square foot 3 Bedroom / 4 Bathroom property is now asking $3.05M.

There are many growing families out there living in Manhattan that absolutely must be close to central park and be in a good school district (PS 6 in this case) at the same time. Buying a 3+ Bedroom Condo that is at least 2,600 square feet with these requirements could put you back a good $4-5M or so; check out this 3BR/4BTH Condo on 1049 Fifth Avenue asking $5.395M and almost 3x the monthly's. So, when a 3BR/4BTH Co-op between Park Avenue & Lexington Avenue on 85th Street gets a price chop of almost $500K, buyers in this market should know about it and take a trip over to check it out!

111 East 85th Street; Apt. 16DE


Size: 2,600 square feet
Maint/CC: $2,484
Price Per Sq. Ft.: $1,173
Originally Priced at $3.5M, Reduced to $3.05M on 2/14/2006

Price Reduced: $445K
Marketed By: Robin Foxx of Halstead

nyc real estate


Why NYC Will Lag In A Slowdown

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 20th, 2006 10:33 AM

nyc real estate

A: Amid all the housing bubble talk and numerous new blogs devoted to discussing the impending crash of the housing market, I feel it is important to briefly discuss why New York City Real Estate differs from other speculative markets across the country; such as Miami, Los Angeles & Las Vegas.

1. Business Capital of the World: New York City is the business Capital of the world. A place where fortunes are made every day! The amount of money that is being made by the people who work in this city is astounding! Even Dog walkers can pull in over $100K a year, pure cash. Between the financial mega-twins of the NY Stock Exchange & NYMEX, countless law firms, hedge fund and real estate trusts, and thousands of other small to medium sized businesses this is where you go to make big money. There will never be a shortage of people looking to live and work in Manhattan. The #'s are just too big. With that said, there will ALWAYS be demand for New York City housing.

2. Real City-Lifestyle: This city is huge with so many different neighborhoods that offer its own unique culture and feel. Almost every type of personality out there can find some part of Manhattan to feel comfortable in and call home! With the best restaurants in the world serving every type of meal imaginable, to the museums, parks, & broadway shows the fun in this city never ends! What other city is as diverse as NYC both in activities and its people; guess that's why they call this city the Melting Pot!

3. 75%of New York City is Co-op: This is a biggie when looking at home ownership in New York City. 75% of the city is made up of Co-op's. As we all know, Co-ops are private corporations that sell stock in the company rather than real property (as Condo's are) when a transaction takes place. We also know that Co-ops have board policies that restrict who can and cannot buy and live in the building. The reason is that the current shareholders of the company (the building itself) must protect their interests by limiting the type of person that buys into the corporation. With these restrictions in place, buyers must meet financial and personal guidelines to be approved by the board. Financially a buyer of a co-op usually needs to show a stable job, high salary, and siginificant liquid assets. Personally a buyer of a co-op must show that he/she intends to live in the unit, not use the unit as a pied-a-terre, and follow guidelines for subleasing. While all co-op boards have their own set of guidelines (some tough, some more lenient) the fact that NYC is mostly co-op puts a blanket of protection over the housing market here in whole. The reason is that it protects against speculators buying and/or someone buying that really can't afford to buy. Markets such as Miami and Las Vegas are ripe with speculators leading to a much more unstable housing market in a slowdown.

4. Speculative Markets Hit First: Continuing from above, most would agree that in a slowdown the highly speculative markets will get hit first and the hardest. Again, markets such as Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles, & Las Vegas are ripe with speculation and investors buying with the intention of flipping. As the housing market cools down and buyer demand dries up, these speculators are forced into a very tough situation where they will be competiting with each other to sell their holdings. I am NOT saying NYC is immune to a slowdown, rather just pointing out that NYC doesn't have the level of speculation that other markets do.

5. Manhattan is an Island!: No big surprise here. There is a shortage of land available to developers here in New York City. Sure there is talk now of Governors Island and Roosevelt Island, but its not the same. Manhattan is an island and livable space is hard to come by. With the restriction on supply and the never-ending source of demand, housing in New York City will always hold its value more than most cities!

So, what does this all mean? It means that NYC real estate is simply more valuable than real estate in other cities across the US. As prices in the city come down, buyers will be there to scoop up the value before someone else does! Its hard to think that other cities have as deep a buyer pool as New York City does. For the long term investor who intends to buy and live in their NYC apartment for the next 15-30 years, disregard ALL talk of a housing bubble and all the blogs out there talking about a housing crash and know that you are buying in the best city in the world!


Bidding War? In Today's Market?

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 16th, 2006 10:23 AM

A: What happens when you have a 235K exclusive for sale in the Upper West Side? A bidding war thats what!

YOU BETTER GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR AND SEE THIS STUDIO AS BEST & FINAL DEADLINE IS TODAY AT 5PM!!!

nyc real estate


Marketed By: Joshua Nathanson with Corcoran


Hanging Tough: Housing Starts Soar

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 16th, 2006 09:16 AM

A: The pace of homebuilding soared in January topping all analysts forecasts, as the real estate market hangs tough in face of a slowdown.

The Census Bureau reported that housing starts hit an annual pace of 2.28 million homes in January, compared to just under 2 million homes in December.

Building Permits (a sign of builders' confidence) were expected to fall to 2.07 million but instead jumped higher to 2.22 million in the month of January. This leading indicator shows that builders' overall were confident with the current state of the market as they filed for new development.

While this affects the rest of the country more than it does for New York City, it is a pleasant surprise that could lead to some psychological relief after months of negative media on the housing slowdown.

~ Housing Starts Highest Since '73


Preforeclosure Sale at Rupert Towers

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 16th, 2006 08:38 AM

A: Ahh a glimpse into the future perhaps? Take a look at this Preforeclosure condo sale at 1623 Third Avenue, Apt. 17AB.

Get 8 full rooms at a price of 1.795M, down from the below listed 1.95M ad, and get a 4BR/3BTH condo at Rupert Towers in the UES. Monthlys seem a bit high though at $2,550/Month as this apartment seems to be about 1,900-2,000 sq. ft. or so from a quick look of the floorplan. Dont forget that as the costs of monthly's go up (maintenance + taxes), the eventual selling price must correct to compensate for the decline in affordability! Check my post on evaluating the Monthly's and its relationship to the asking price!

nyc real estate

In New York City there is a shortage of family sized apartments (3BR/3BTH+) leading to these units getting a premium over say a 1 or 2 bedroom property. If you MUST have a condo and you MUST have 4 Bedrooms & 3 Bathrooms in a Pet Friendly, full-time Doorman building this might be a good opportunity for you! I wish I had the exact square footage so I can calculate what this property is asking per square foot.


BuyMyApt.com? This FSBO takes charge!

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 15th, 2006 04:04 PM

nyc real estate

A: I saw this comment on Curbed.com today by Julie. Julie is selling her apartment on her own and reserved the domain www.buymyapt.com to help market her property! After a quick call to the owner for the OK to help in her marketing efforts, here it is. Good Luck!


301 East 22nd Street: OH Sunday 12:00 - 3:00PM

ASKING: $699,000
SIZE: 725 Sq. Ft.
MAINT: $933/Month (Low?)

nyc real estate

After some quick investigating I found this one in same building whose seller is using the services of a broker, yet is listed 80K cheaper? Taking into account renovations expenses, I'm wondering what is wrong or different with this unit than the above FSBO?

301 East 22nd Street; Asking 619K; 1BR/1BTH; Marketed w/ Bellmarc


I guess we can throw that 'brokers don't bring anything to the table, they just add on 3-6% to the asking price as their fee' talk now!

More ACTIVE comps for this Gramercy neighborhood:

1. 235 East 22nd; Asking 645K; Elliman

2. 305 East 24th; Asking 600K; Halstead


~ One Main DUMBO: Buy From Owners, Save 50K (comments)


Confirmed: More Rate Hikes Coming

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 15th, 2006 01:49 PM

nyc real estate

A: New Fed Chief Ben Bernanke's first meeting with Congress wasn't a big surprise to the Digs man! For those who read my macro-economic posts in the INTEREST RATE section, you shouldn't be surprised either!

Few would argue that with a fed funds rate of 5.00%, we are at 4.5% now, mortgage rates will be higher than they are now and housing prices MUST come down to compensate for affordibility.

Bernanke on Housing
: "... a leveling out or a modest softening of housing activity seems more likely than a sharp contraction ..."

UrbanDigs Says: If you are in the market to buy keep in mind that there now is slight time pressure on you since rates will be going higher over the course of the next 3-6 months! If you are in the market to sell, keep in mind that you may have to lower your asking price as rates begin to rise! Sellers who have been waiting to list their property for sale should probably consider listing sooner rather than later as buyers face higher rates down the road!

~ Bernanke sees more hikes coming


What is Zillow.com Doing?

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 15th, 2006 10:13 AM

170eea.jpg

A: As I browse Inman Blog today I noticed a birdie sent in a tip that Zillow.com is at work registering for a real estate license in every state!

I guess that Hot Property article containing an interview with Rich Barton wasn't that accurate:

--He's hoping brokers will be Zillow's customers, not its competitors. "If we succeed," he said, "brokers will use Zillow as a marketing vehicle."
Its interesting that Zillow is doing this. What type of real estate license is Zillow going after? Employing Brokers License? Standard Agent/Salesperson License? I would think the former so that they can then change the landscape for FSBO's by offering discount commissions to agents that work for Zillow.com?

WHY DO YOU THINK ZILLOW IS DOING THIS?


~ Inman Blog
~ Zillow.com: How Scared Should Brokers Be?


Expect More Rate Hikes & Lending Regulation

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 14th, 2006 03:07 PM

nyc real estate

A: As the economy continues to show signs of strength the general consensus right now continues to favor another 1/4 point rate hike at the next Fed meeting; the first for new chief Ben Bernanke. In fact, from what I'm hearing from old trader friends is that the rumors at the Chicago Board of Trade bond pits are already pricing in a 1/4 point rate hike for the next meeting, and leading to a final 1/4 point rate for the meeting after that. This would bring the Fed Funds Rate to 5.0% and definitely have an affect on housing as money gets more expensive to borrow.

How does this affect you? Well if you have been putting off buying for the past several months waiting for a slowdown, you may want to apply some time pressure to yourself as you might be faced with a double-edged sword.

On one hand, as rates rise housing prices should be flat to down to compensate. On the other hand, as rates rise it gets more expensive to borrow money when you can lock in a lower rate right now.

Its a tough call because anything can happen between now and the next fed meeting, but this consensus usually is pretty accurate as the new fed chief Bernanke is NOT going to want to mess around with 'The Street' and create an environment of uncertainty which nobody likes. One sign that may convince Bernanke to only raise rates 1 more time is that inflation indicators Oil & Natural Gas have corrected; especially Natural Gas which is now at a 1 year low! Wow, I wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of a trade in that pit at NYMEX!

The Low Down: Expect a 1/4 rate hike at the next meeting and possibly one more after that! Plan accordingly!

Part II of this story is about future regulation (read my previous post) the federal government is working to put in place on lenders in an attempt to protect homeowners from ill-guided and very riskly loan products; such as a COSI loan or other Negative Amortization loans (this is where unpaid interest gets added onto the principal increasing your total loan balance; NOT a good thing!). Past CNN Story.

While Im not sure what regulation will be be enforced or when it will be introduced, I do know that it's immediate effect will be a negative one on housing strictly due to the limiting of lending options that will now be available to homebuyers. However, in the end it sets a more stable housing environment that will be healthier in terms of long term growth!

~ Fed's Bies warns on mortgage, real estate lending


Psychology of a Distressed Seller

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Feb 14th, 2006 01:23 PM

nyc real estate

A: I'm listing this under BUYER TIPS because as a buyer in a slowing housing market you can look for the signs of desperation that may lead to a great buying opportunity for you.

Its always sad to see a distressed homeowner put into a position where they have to sell their property fast and at a loss. However, this is how savvy real estate buyers make a great investment and build wealth for themselves even in a cooling housing market such as one we are in now.

To do this, lets do a make believe psychological analysis of a distressed seller whose life is being affected by the fact that he bought a property he couldn't afford (something that happens often as buyers let emotion take over financially sound decision making). Let the session begin!

Shrink: Why are you selling?

Seller: I bought way more property than I can afford and being a homeowner is actually draining my savings accounts. I have 3 months of savings left, when I used to have over a years worth.

Shrink: When did you buy and what did you buy?

Seller: I bought a condo, because I would never pass a co-op board, and I bought it a year and a half ago. I paid 600K for it and now there is a similar unit for sale in my building for 565K and its not selling.

Shrink: Is your job stable?

Seller: Yes, but I am currently spending about 50% of my monthly income on housing expenses. After taxes, living expenses, credit card payments and bills I am losing money each month!

Shrink: How are you holding up emotionally?

Seller: Im a Mess! I am worried all the time. I asked my parents if I can borrow some money but they have none to give me; now they are worried too. I fight with my girlfriend ALL the time. I have to sell this place before it tears my life apart!

Shrink: Your personal relationships have suffered because of this home purchase?

Seller: Unfortunately it has. If I bought something I can afford I wouldn't be in this position. It was a very costly mistake and one I'll never do again. I have to sell this place, even at a loss, and get my life back on track.

Shrink: Is this stressful environment affecting your work production?

Seller: No, thank god. Im still doing very well at work. It's almost as if I know that if I work harder and better, than I might be able to get a raise and stay here. But I know thats wishful thinking.

Shrink Diagnosis: While this bad investment is more a product of bad timing of the market, it was your fault that you purchased a property that you cannot afford. The fact that you are aware of this and at peace with it as a decision you made, is very important. Your personal life and your relationship with your family is the most important thing in your life, with your work relationship and production being a distant second. I would like you to sell your apartment immediately (obviously at a loss) and if that means pricing it lower than the other similar unit in your building, than so be it. We must do something now and end the downard financial spiral that has resulted from this ill-guided investment, and save your relationship with your family, significant other, and most importantly your perception of your own self. Can you do this?

Seller: Yes I think I can. I know there is some tax write off for a Capital loss so its not going to be that bad. I just want to get my life back.

Shrink: Then make it happen! Be happy there is no medical or mental illness at play here. This is strictly a result of your personal financial situation and is fixable.

While this is an exaggerated session, it is not unlikely! In fact, it is a circumstance that affects a lot of homeowners every year and is a direct result of people acting on emotion and buying something they WANT rather than something they can AFFORD! This distressed seller will have to sell and sell fast! Some signs that a buyer should look out for to pinpoint a distressed or needy seller could be:

1. Property first listed BELOW the last comp or similar unit currently ACTIVE in same building. In other words, the seller is NOT 'testing the market'!

2. Price reduction in first 30 days! Keep your eyes open for this. If a property reduces its asking price in the first month than chances are the seller needs to get rid of it fast!

3. Multiple OH's in 1 week period. If a seller holds 3 Open Houses in 1 week (Sunday, Monday, & Wednesday) chances are they are pushing the marketing limits for general showings and want to sell quickly.

4. Property on Market Forever. While the seller may not originally been in distress, if a property has been on the market for 8+ months and still has not sold, the seller must be frustrated and getting more ancy. They can easily become a distressed seller and accept an offer much lower than they originally had in mind!


Mortgage Report: Week of Feb 13 - 17th

Posted by steve

Tue Feb 14th, 2006 12:46 PM

Retail Sales, Manufacturing and Housing figures are to be released this week. Traders are looking for some news to work with and home loan rates may be volatile. For the past two weeks interest rates have been creeping up and if the news of the week is economically stong and positive, home loan rates will continue to increase. Remember, it will take some pretty dismal news for Bonds to improve and home loan rates to drop. Please email me with any questions you may have at smaasbach@manhattanmortgage.com.

-Steven


1BR for $150,000 in Upper East?

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 13th, 2006 11:38 AM

nyc real estate

A: ATTN: Investors looking for sub $150,000 1 Bedroom in Upper East Side with tenant in place! This is a 3 Day Old Listing!

Take a look at this sponser unit 1BR apartment that measures 600 sq. ft. (is it really 600 sq. ft.?) that is new to the market and listed for $150,000. maintenance is a bit high at $847/month but long-term tenant is already in place; you must call brokers for exact rent roll!

This one should go FAST!

CONTACT INFO AT ELLIMAN:

nyc real estate


Marketing Square Footage: Be Careful Not To Lie

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 13th, 2006 10:43 AM

nyc real estate

A: This is a post for FSBO's and the brokerage community on how I feel about those who lie or round up in their marketing packages about a property's total square footage. Yes, a very specific post! I think it is a 'self-defeating' practice whose day is up, and if a client asks you to do this you should display your professionalism and refuse the exclusive.

It is such a different market out there right now than it was a year ago, and everything about how you market a property needs to be given a second thought to attract and eventually appease buyers as they come to your open houses and showings.

Maybe I'm wrong (and if so I would love to hear from you why), but in a market where the "power" or "dynamic" has shifted more into the hands of the buyers, we as brokers should ROUND DOWN the square footage instead of rounding up or flat out lying.
I went to a showing last week with my clients to view a 3BR, 2BTH property that was said to be 1,600 square feet. I tell you this apartment was closer to 1,450 square feet, tops!

Why? Why do it. The look on my clients' faces of disappointment and frustration was clear from the moment they walked in. There is no way these people will even consider placing a bid when they were blatantly lied to. It also makes me look bad because my clients count on me NOT to waste their valuable time. The brokerage community must acknlowedge that buyers are smarter these days and have been on the sidelines viewing properties without bidding for them for months now. They know how big a 1,600 square foot apartment should look after seeing 12 of them already!

Buyers have more control now than they did a year ago! If anything you should advise your client to agree to under-estimate the square footage a bit and let buyers be 'pleasantly surprised' when they come for a showing. After all, happy buyers are more likely to submit an offer!

UrbanDigs Says: If the apartment is listed between 400-450 square feet in the offering plan than list it at 400! If the apartment is between 450-500 square feet in the offering plan than list it at 450! Use this strategy all the way up to high end listings too for as long as the overall market is flat and make buyers happy when they show up.

For Example: An apartment listed at 738 sq. ft. in the offering plan should be listed at 700 on the website and print ads. An apartment listed at 986 sq. ft. on the floorplan should be listed at 950 on the website and print ads.


Housing Cooling: Gold from Straws?

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 13th, 2006 09:54 AM

nyc real estate

A: In a recent CNN Money article questioning whether housing is headed for a 'big chill', Mortgage Chief Scott Simon at California bond house Pimco says, "...One of the reasons we think this market will start to run out of gas at some point is that you've essentially created as much gold from straw as you can from this financial alchemy." Story.

Well now! Like the natural gas traders and oil traders of the past 3 years haven't made tons of gold on these booming markets; although natural gas has corrected big time. Is housing really headed for a similar correction as natural gas, or the NASDAQ swandive? Only time will tell.

Lets shift to California for a momment. California's Orange County doesn't have an omnipotent real estate God, but they do have Gary Watts. Mr. Watts is an economist and broker (35 Years) in Mission Viejo and doubles as a spokesman for the O.C.'s Association of Realtors. He is widely recognized for accurately predicting both the housing crash in 1989 and then the housing rebound in 1996. When asked whether the current slowdown is just seasonal or something more, he replies:

Gary Watts insists it is not. His assurance stems from the O.C.'s strong economic underpinnings. Its 3.2 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in the state. And last year the area ranked fifth in job growth nationally. But Watts's favorite indicator is housing inventory. Orange County has only about a two-month supply (compared with the national average of five months).


Back to Pimco's Simon now for an analogy on our current housing situation:
"Housing is like a giant supertanker," says Pimco's Simon. "It took a while after they lowered rates to really speed up, and it will take a long time to slow down."


I happen to agree with Simon on this one. There has been a lot of wealth created over the past 4 years and I think its about tapped out. Looking forward, we really haven't seen the full effect of Greenspans 14 consecutive rate hikes yet. As I previously posted, it takes a good 2-4 weeks for a rate hike to funnel down into mortgage rates, and another 6-8 months to see the rate hike's full effect on the overall economy. Now that we are very near the end of the rate hike campaign (with 1 more rate hike looking more likely), only time will tell how long it will take to slow this tanker down!

~ A tale of two markets


To Rent or Not To Rent?

Posted by urbandigs

Fri Feb 10th, 2006 04:51 PM

A: Read this post I saw on Matrix today about whether you should write your check to a mortgage lender or a landlord.

Its always a tough question and one that should be answered based upon your OWN financial situation. Lets go over the facts and then the figures of owning your own home first before trying to answer the RENT or BUY question.

FACTS IN OWNING:

1. There are Tax benefits to owning a home.
2. You are building wealth for yourself in real property value (condo) or equity value (co-op).
3. You will have something to sell in hard times.
4. Owning is NOT for you if you plan to move in the near future.

FIGURES IN OWNING:

1. Its expensive to own your own home when the housing market has boomed for the past 4 years; Monthly Payment will include MORTGAGE + maintenance + TAXES!
2. Property taxes may RISE raising your monthly payment.
3. Money is MORE expensive to borrow today than it was over the past few years.
4. There is a 'shrinking' difference between the total cost of owning and the rental price of like apartments in NYC. Owning is still more expensive than renting but when you calculate in the tax savings of owning, the gap is closing.

If stocks have a P/E ratio to evaluate value than housing should have a owning/renting ratio to evaluate owning a home vs. renting.

Lets look at a 1BR in Murray Hill that is about 750 sq. ft..

132 East 35th Street: Listed By Richard Silver of Corcoran

TO OWN: At 25% Down and a interest rate of 5.875%, this apartment will come to about $2,968/Month.

TO RENT: To rent a similar unit in Murray Hill my sources say it would cost about $2500 or so; give or take a few hundred for better location and building. Here is a Craigslist Listing.

My thoughts:

It seems to me that the combination of the slowing housing market combined with rising rents is leading to a better BUYING market when you crunch the numbers and take into account tax benefits. Therefore, the formula for whether you should BUY or RENT falls onto the answer to these 2 questions?


1. Do you have a secure job making enough money to put aside 1/3 your monthly income to housing payments?

2. Do you have enough liquid assets to cover the down payment + closing costs, and still have some money left over to cover 6-8 months of housing payments?

If you answered YES to both of these 2 questions then you should BUY now.

If you answered NO to any one of these questions, then you should RENT now.


~ Build Them & They Will Go Rental

~ $2,495 1BR in Murray Hill on Craigslist


Zillow.com Launches BETA

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 8th, 2006 01:30 PM

170eea.jpg

A: Thanks Tony for the note as Im working from the mountains here in New Paltz. Zillow.com launched their BETA site in the wee hours of the morning and it looks to be favoring a home valuation model of content. Not sure how urban residents will valuate individual apartments in their building, but 'house' owners certainly will find this data useful as they check to see what their homes could be worth relative to their immediate neighborhood
.

So my original thoughts on the Zillow model were way off!

I haven't had a chance to fully browse the site and the other services they offer, but I did do a quick search for my parents home on Long Island, which brought up a satellite image of the area and price tags for their house and others around it.

Zillow.com Info on Meadowrue Lane in East Northport, NY

You can zoom in on each house for a popup box of info. When you click on the house details, you get a quick 1 Year chart showing the valuation increase or decrease in the last 12 months. Other info provided includes the lot size, type of residence, heating type, year built, etc.; although right now this data seems to be lacking (not uncommon for a BETA site).

I also noticed Google Ads and a Banner ad on the site. Strange to see that on such a highly publicized beta launch from a guy like Rich Barton, but I guess they need to capitilize immediately on any revenue opps that present itself during BETA testing.

More details to come when I get back into town!


Floor Resurfacing Before You Sell

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 6th, 2006 01:25 PM

nyc real estate

A: As I prepare my apartment for sale, I must weigh the cost and expected return on investment when it comes to what renovations to do and what not to do. In a sellers market its always good to renovate the kitchens, bathrooms, and floors and then bump up your asking price when you go to sell. However, in a market where the 'power and control' has shifted closer to buyers, you must rethink this strategy. In my case, its best to save money and do the floors only.

P.S. As I leave to get this work done I will be unable to post to UrbanDigs.com. I will continue to post when I get back!

What renovations to do and not to do is a call that really depends on your own unique financial situation. If you have tons of money and time to 'test out' the market as you sell, then I will tell you to go ahead and renovate the kitchens, bathrooms, and floors before you list your property for sale. But if you have limited funds and would like the apartment to sell within the first few months, I think it would be best to minimize your renovation costs and then lower your asking price to bring in more activity.

One can easily spend $15,000-$20,000 renovating a kitchen and another $10,000 renovating a bathroom. In total, you are spending about $25,000 and going through the headache of 1-2 months of contracting work. By adding this cost to your asking price when it is NOT a sellers' market is dangerous because ultimately the buyer has to come to terms with the style of renovations you had done; i.e. A buyer would ask themselves, "...Am I paying for renovations that I really like? Will I have to re-renovate?"

To resurface your hardwood floors will cost you about $2 a square foot. With a nice Sedona Red Miniwax Stain and 3 coats of water based poly, I know that for $2,250 my hardwoood floors are going to look much different when I come back on Thursday! I hope!

Look at the picture above of my hardwood floors now. They are 18 years old, never been refinished, and have absolutely no luster or shine to it whatsoever. In a word, they are 'Lifeless'! How can I ask top dollar for my property and expect to excite buyers as they come to my Open House when the floors look so glum? For the cost of $2,250 the work I'm having done should change all of this!

Now I dont know how it will come out as I chose the lowest of the 3 estimates I got, but I will certainly write a post on this when I return Thursday with Before & After pics.

With a brand new fully re-surfaced floor (sanded down ---> stained ---> 3 coats of poly) I know that the moment buyers open the door they will be greeted with a beautifully shiny floor that just makes the whole apartment look so much better!

UrbanDigs Says: In a slowing market where buyers have at least the same control as sellers, DO NOT spend top dollar renovating your kitchen and bathroom and expect to profit from the work done! The buyer may not like the work you did and could very well submit an offer that takes into account the time & money to re-renovate to their own taste! Instead, spend less money and fix up the things that are in need the most; i.e. furnish the closets, resurface the floors, and paint the walls and baseboards!


My Time w/ Streeteasy.com CEO Michael Smith

Posted by urbandigs

Mon Feb 6th, 2006 09:15 AM

170eea.jpg

A: I had the pleasure of spending an hour with Streeteasy.com CEO Michael Smith last week to see the man behind the recently launched New York City Real Estate search engine.

First and foremost, Mr. Smith made his position clear:

"We entered this market knowing there would be competition, and we are executing on a clear strategy that will lead to a service that is very different than what we see in the market today. We care about the buyers of New York City real estate who use this site and we are here to stay."


The company is funded and has the minds of some very experienced
internet engineers behind the scenes working to make the most
efficient solution for buyers of New York City real estate as well as
realtors. As far as future web services, all I know is that
Streeteasy's employees are hard at work analyzing the metrics behind
its users' behavior so that new tools can be designed that actually
improve a visitor's experience.

On a refreshing note, they are not building something in the hopes of
being acquired and have very strong feelings on building a product
that works, and works well. Use the site and you will see what I
mean; by the way the BETA site you see now is the result of only 2
1/2 months of programming work (you get the idea of the skill level
of this Streeteasy team).

Streeteasy has already been approached by many small to medium sized
brokerages, and several large brokerages seeking to get their
listings included in the systems database. While they are integrating
many of these, they also know the value of good content and are not
about to let the Joe Shmo's take advantage of their 30+ rules that
were set up for data inclusions. These rules are well thought out and
were put in place to assure that the site's users are getting the
best data possible. The mantra is clear: Good data means a
good product!


The site gets about 15,000-20,000 page views a day from about 1,000+
unique visitors. Mr. Smith did go on to tell me that the number of
first-time visitors a day is shrinking; a good sign that tells him
the number of return visitors is rising! He also went on to tell me
that they already sent over approximately 40,000 referral clicks to
local realtors since their BETA launch!

In regards to the web presence of Trulia.com or the coming of
Zillow.com, Mr. Smith is not worried. Instead he said that he felt
that the presence of strong companies was a very good sign, and that
"consumers will ultimately benefit from the innovation that
comes from competition",
and that there would likely be
several different business models which would succeed.

With respect to generating revenue, advertising is expected to be the
main source for now. However, who knows what will come in the coming weeks as Streeteasy's search technology continues to evolve.

UrbanDigs Opinion: Don't underestimate Mr.
Smith and his team at Streeteasy.com. With a passion for changing the
world and solving problems, the CEO of this startup is putting his
all into building something that will greatly enhance a buyer's
experience with New York City real estate and the services
surrounding it. He is focused and determined to get the system
working the way it should be for New York City before expanding to
any other market. He is on the right track.


More Interest Rate Hikes Likely

Posted by urbandigs

Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 11:19 AM

nyc real estate

A: Unemployment rate hit the lowest level since 2001 as employers added 193,000 jobs in January. In addition, Hourly Wages rose 7 cents to $16.41, a 0.4 percent increase that suprised analysts who were expecting a 0.3 percent rise. Story.

What does this all mean for housing? Everything! As the economy gets stronger via more jobs created and higher wages, the Fed and new chief Ben Bernanke has to take on a tightening stance with interest rates to make sure the economy doesn't grow too fast too quickly. So what is he to do? Raise rates!

To combat inflation indicators such as the price of gold and oil, and to thwart off a growing economy in terms of unemployment and hourly wages, the fed is likely to raise rates 1 more time to cool things down.

In my last post on the latest 1/4 point rate hike by Greenspan in what was his last meeting as fed chief, I estimated the chances of another rate hike at about 50/50. I would revise that consensus upward now, leaning more towards another rate hike at the next fed meeting; the first for Ben Bernanke.

By pushing rates higher one more time, the feds funds rate will hit 4.75% which will result in lending rates rising across the board. It won't happen right away, as it usually takes a few weeks for the rate hike to funnel down to mortgage rates. But with another rate hike bringing the fed funds rate to 4.75% looking more likely, it will put more pressure on the housing markets as money gets more expensive to borrow for future homebuyers.

The ripple effect of rising interest rates on housing is simple to deduce:

Rates Rise ---> Borrowing Costs Become More Expensive ---> Housing Get Less Affordable ---> Asking Prices Come Down To Compensate


~ Unemployment rate lowest since 2001


Citi-Habitats Signed Contracts Up 10%

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 02:44 PM

A: For the month of January Citi-Habitats is UP 10% in New Sales Contracts Signed when compared to January of 2005!

I've said it over and over again! Media's take on housing is lagging NOT leading! I already wrote how we need a more leading indicator for NYC housing by gauging Buyer Confidence. The numbers don't lie and I'm sure the other big firms are seeing a similar pickup in activity over the past 3-4 weeks.

Expect to see the media outlets start to cover the activity pickup in the coming weeks, leading to increased buyer confidence; at least psychologically. What is not known is what sectors of the NYC housing market are picking up the most. I would expect the lower end; the studios and 1 bedrooms are getting more active as I still see the high end experiencing price reductions.


Corcoran.com Facelift

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 02:06 PM

nyc real estate

A: Check out the new look of Corcoran.com!

In an attempt to spur the housing market in NYC, Corcoran has introduced a new website face! I can feel the market picking up already!

Not sure about new features as Im yet to browse the entire site, but it certainly is a bold new look!


More High End Blues - 115 East 87th

Posted by urbandigs

Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 09:46 AM

nyc real estate

A: The latest in the High End Blues legacy brings me to 115 East 87th Street, Apt. 12BC. Nestled between Park Avenue & Lexington Ave, this large 4 Bedroom apartment just broke UNDER $1,000/Per Square Foot!

As is described on the website listing of Pat Palermo & Lili Gross of Corcoran:

The Carnegie Tower is a full service building with strong financials and friendly staff. The building has a garage, storage, a large windowed Laundry Room on 5th Floor, plus a 5th Floor Outside Deck area wrapping around the building which includes a separate play area for children. Located between Park & Lexington Avenues, steps from Central Park, NYC's major museums, Carnegie Hill boutiques, just one block from the Express Subway stop (#4,5&6), several private schools, and it's in the P.S. 6 School District!


Latest word on the price reduction at 115 East 87th Street:

Apt. 12BC
On the market since 9/26/2005
Reduced from $2.795M to 2.595M to 2.350M 2 Days Ago!

Reduced $445K!
Marketed By: Pat Palermo & Lili Gross of Corcoran

This 2,400 sq. ft. apartment is now priced at $979 a square foot and with reasonable monthly's represents quite a value to me. The seller seems 'ready to go' and props to both brokers for aggressively cutting the price at what seems to be the perfect time as the housing activity in NYC starts to pick up. If you are in the market for a 4BR apartment in a good location in the Upper East Side, be sure to go to the Open House this Sunday, February 5th from 2:30-4:30PM!

For perspective compare this listing to another BC line (also 2,400 sq. ft.) in the same building that is up for sale:

Apt. 25BC (Sponser Unit)
On the market since 7/13/2005
Reduced from $3.5M to 3.199M

Reduced $301K!
Marketed By: Leah Goldfarb (scroll down for actual listing); Contact # 212-696-7105

This unit is priced at $1,333 per square foot which reflects the actual value being offered by Apt. 12BC.


New York City Falls To #27 Priciest City

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 1st, 2006 03:21 PM

A: What are we going to do? Should we move? For one thing I'm certainly not moving to Oslo, no offense! Expect NYC (still the most expensive American City) to come back though as the housing cooldown wave makes it's sweep across Europe. Story.

nyc real estate

On a side note, for the first time in a generation Tokyo no longer ranks as the most expensive city in the world. Oh how the mighty have fallen! They are now #2 in the world with Osaka right on its tail. Vegas odds have Osaka moving into the #2 spot next round at 20-1. Whose taking bets?

~ Oslo beats out Tokyo as priciest city


Mortgage Applications Rise for Third Week

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 1st, 2006 02:15 PM

nyc real estate

A: According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications are up for the third week in a row as a decline in long-term rates to a 3 1/2 month low fuels rise in interest; Story.

The report included that 30 YR fixed mortgages, excluding fees, averaged about 6.04%, down 0.03% from the previous week.

When I do a Bankrate.com query to find 30 YR Fixed Mortgages in the New York Metro area, the system tells me that the lowest offered rate is 5.84%; with an average of 0.62 discount and origination points. THAT IS LOW! Here are The Results of this search.

According to Steve Maasbach of Manhattan Mortgage Company,

"...I have personally seen applications in my office double over the last three weeks. Business is certainly picking up..."


You heard it here folks from the front lines. With the recently posted OH Activity Report and now these comments from the lending side, it looks like New York City housing is definitely starting to pickup. However, the extent and depth of the pickup is not known at this point, so I'll be sure to analyze what sectors of the overall housing market in NYC is picking up the most.

~ Steve Maasbach, Manhattan Mortgage.com


E 86th St. New Development

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Feb 1st, 2006 09:41 AM

nyc real estate

A: As seen on Curbed.com, here is a preview of what is to come on the corner of 86th Street & Lexington. This project is being developed by Extell Development Company.

Reports are that the developer is in talks with a major bookseller and clothing retailers to lease out the retail space. With Barnes & Noble on 86th between 2nd & 3rd, I would expect Borders to be the new bookseller. As for clothing retailers we already have Banana Republic, Gap, Victoria Secret, Ann Taylor, Bebe, and Club Monaco right around there. So what is to come is surely to be a big name.

As reported in the NY Times:

Construction is expected to begin this year...On Lexington Avenue, the Extell Development Company plans to demolish the tenements to develop a glassy L-shaped building that will fill the block between 85th and 86th Streets and extend east along the south side of 86th Street, occupying about a third of the block. The project will contain about 150 condominiums (some with as many as five bedrooms) and 20 rental apartments.


~ Successors to Sauerbraten and Strudel on E. 86th
~ Gentrification Arrives at a Crossroads in Yorkville