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April 4, 2014

What Does Technology Mean To a Real Estate Business?

"Technology is a great way of connecting with people, but it's also created a super transparent marketplace here in New York City" explains Corcoran's Peter Comitini, and while technology has facilitated unprecedented change in our market, as Peter accurately points out, it's all about what he as an agent can bring to the table that goes beyond just finding a listing online. Hear Peter explain the importance of customer service, and how the internet, and his blog in particular, has truly taken his business international.

April 3, 2014

Robert Shiller on investing in the housing market

I never seem to like this man's opinions, but occasionally find myself in reluctant agreement. Enjoy!

Nobel laureate Robert Shiller talks with WSJ.Money contributor David Wessel about the wisdom of investing in real estate and his provocative proposal to arrest the growth of inequality in the U.S.

Courtesy WSJ

January 22, 2011

I have to pay a higher interest rate because of a delay in closing, who's responsible?

Q&AToday we have a couple of questions answered by New York City based Real Estate Attorney Keith Schuman, about the closing process on your coop, condo, or loft. After the deal is struck, your attorney and broker will work to get it closed. The road is often smooth, but issues can arise. Having the right representation can really help keep a deal on track.

deed and keys

If a Purchaser must pay a loan extension fee or a higher interest rate as a result of a delay in closing, is the Seller liable for these expenses?
Closings are delayed for many reasons. A Seller has no control over how quickly the Purchaser obtains financing or the timing of the Board's review of the Purchaser's application and the Seller is not responsible if the delays cause the Purchaser to incur additional financing costs. Often, closings are delayed because a Seller has exercised its legal right to postpone the closing or a transfer agent is not available. All of this should be properly explained to a Purchaser at the beginning of the process so that a Purchaser understands and is prepared for the possibility of a delayed closing. This is particularly important as it relates to interest rate locks. Purchasers frequently lock in their interest rate prematurely and may incur additional bank fees if they do not understand that closings are commonly delayed.

What Due Diligence should a Purchaser's Attorney Perform?
Prior to signing a contract, the Purchaser's attorney should review the underlying documents relating to the Coop or Condo. For a Condo purchase, the lawyer should examine the offering plan and all amendments; the bylaws, the rules and regulations of the building (sometimes called the House Rules) regarding pets, guests, alterations, repairs, sublet policies and home occupations, the board's minutes and the financial statements for at least the previous two years. Although there are no financial statements or board meeting minutes available for new condominium construction, the offering plan will outline the potential risks for the buyer and describe the closing fees and procedures. For an existing coop or condo, the Purchaser's attorney should review the materials described above and read the Board minutes and interview the property manager. The attorney's role is to thoroughly investigate and analyze the Coop or Condo's underlying documents as well as the physical and financial condition of the building to uncover any serious issues which would be important to the Purchaser to be aware of when making a decision to purchase in a particular building. Of particular importance are potential or current special assessments to raise additional capital, pending maintenance increases, discussions of the need for capital improvements or other necessary repairs to the building, lawsuits involving the building, and quality of life issues with neighbors or neighboring buildings such as problems with noises, odors and leaks.

About the author: Keith A. Schuman, Esq. is the founder of Schuman & Associates, LLC, a full service real estate firm that provides legal services to its clients, through all aspects of their transactions. Keith is a frequent contributor to Contact him at or phone 212.490.0100.

January 7, 2011

What's selling now?

Corcoran Manhattan market reportCorcoran just released the Fourth Quarter 2010 Report on the Manhattan Residential Real Estate Market. You can download the complete report here for free. It breaks down the neighborhood trends for coops and condos, with a look at luxury homes, lofts, and townhouses too. In 2010, buyers took advantage of lower interest rates and soft prices, to trade-up into larger units, and move from rental properties to ownership. The residential luxury market (the highest priced 10% of apartment sales) is on the rebound now in most categories, by both sales volume and value. This market is less sensitive to interest rates, and may be reacting more to renewed optimism— a good sign overall. Additionally, in the commercial investment sales market, companies like Massey Knakal are reporting market wide sales "up substantially over 2009 levels". Some of that represents distressed assets being sold off, but it also means that capital is being deployed again, and the market is finding a new normal. More signs that the recovery is well underway.

It's fair to say that 2010 was a bit of a roller coaster too, with very uneven distribution of sales volume; more properties traded in the second half of the year; summertime was slower than in 2009. I think that market demand is basically holding steady, but have often described the marketplace to colleagues as being "fickle" in 2010.Year over year prices trended upward, yet Q4 compared to Q3 of 2010, showed a mixed bag, with downward pressure on prices evident in some categories. The full report shows the details.

That being said, residential home buyers are expecting better value, being choosy, and taking longer to negotiate & close. Sellers who are realistic on pricing and delivering on value, have had good experiences in making deals. That means a good property, priced well, prepared professionally for showing, and with superior marketing to potential buyers. Brokers widely reported over-bidding on properties where these factors come together, bringing offers to a tipping point.

what's your home worth?
As interesting as the latest sales metrics may be, they are broad indicators of trends. Every property is unique, and can perform quite differently in the marketplace. My job is to help my clients price their homes right, and close their deals. If you're thinking about moving, I can provide an analysis of your specific home's value, free for the asking. Send an email or call (212) 444-7844 for more information. Here are some highlights from the Q4 2010 Corcoran Report:
whats popular? downtown homes still lead the market

NYC apartment sales by neighborhood Q4 2010

Downtown Manhattan remained very desirable. Neighborhoods like the Village, Soho and Tribeca seemed to muster really consistent demand all year. However, overall the Downtown neighborhoods below 34th Street, decreased slightly in market share from last quarter, and one year ago. Upper East Side sales also decreased in market share, from 24% a year ago, to 21%. In contrast, the West Side and Midtown East increased their market share to 22% and 11%, respectively.

buyers trade-up in size, and into home ownership

NYC apartment size sales Q4 2010

Buyers are taking advantage of lower prices and lower mortgage rates. Trading up to three bedrooms, and moving from rentals into a first purchase, are trends I've noticed— confirmed by the year over year numbers. Studios decreased in market share to 12% from 15% a year ago, while One-bedrooms increased to nearly 40% of the market, up from 36% a year ago. Two-bedrooms decreased slightly from 34% a year ago, while three-bedroom and larger residences increased to 17% of the market, up from 15% a year ago.

the luxury market softly rebounds
click charts to zoom in manhattan luxury homes

Manhattan’s luxury market is defined as the highest priced 10% of all co-op and condo sales. These are some of the most expensive homes in the world, and the return of the luxury market is a sign of confidence and strength in the future. These are buyers who are placing substantial equity into their property purchases. Sales volume was up in the second half of the year. Compared to a year ago, median price increased 8% to $4 million while average price per square foot decreased 5% which is attributable to larger apartments trading. Versus Third Quarter 2010, median price declined 2% while average price per square foot increased 6%, to $1,904. Luxury resale condos increased 18% in median price and 9% in average price per square foot versus a year ago while luxury co-ops increased 22% in median price with no change in average price per square foot.

Q4_2010 corcoran report

get the total picture of 2010

Download the complete Corcoran Report on the Manhattan Real Estate Market here. It is compiled with closed transaction info from NYC records with the help of Propertyshark, and Corcoran's own experience as the city's largest residential listing broker. It uses market-wide data based on transactions that closed in the Fourth Quarter 2010 (October 1 through December 31) and compares them to closings that took place last quarter and during the same quarter one year ago. I'd be pleased to answer any questions or comments you may have.

download: fourth quarter 2010 market report

October 2, 2008

Who are the key advisors in buying a Manhattan home?

buying a manahattan co-op or condoThis week real estate Attorney Keith Schuman talks about the core team that you'll need to accomplish your purchase of a Manhattan condo, co-op or townhouse. He lists them in pretty much the order in which they will be involved in the process. My customers often ask me for referrals to mortgage and legal professionals, and I usually provide two or three candidates for them to interview (Keith is often on the list). Asking friends and family is a good way to go too. With respect to legal counsel, make sure that real estate in New York City specifically, is the main focus of their practice, not an occasional sideline. The transactions are extremely complex and different than those in New Jersey or even just north of Manhattan, especially when a cooperative unit is involved. A missing piece of paperwork could cause a closing to be adjourned, creating ripples of problems that would be best avoided. I might add that you will likely rely on the advice of your accountant and other financial professionals, as you evaluate the tax benefits of your purchase of a home.

Successfully placed in contract is 9 West 19th Street
an $8.4 Million loft building in Chelsea/Flatiron

Getting started— key personnel
To begin, you should assemble a team of real estate professionals that includes a real estate broker, a mortgage broker, and a real estate attorney. As with most teams, the stronger the individual players, the more successful you will be in achieving your goal. So choose the individuals who will make up your winning team carefully and thoughtfully.
Real Estate Broker
To find an effective real estate broker who can steer you through the complex maze of home buying, get referrals from neighbors, friends, and colleagues (including your lawyer or financial advisor). You should look for someone with whom you feel comfortable, not anxious and pressured. The broker should specialize in neighborhoods where you want to live, return calls promptly, answer questions readily, and inform you about new listings. Not only will your real estate broker be your conduit to available properties and your aide in negotiation, he or she also will coordinate the activities of the other team members, such as the home inspector and the real estate attorney. By doing your homework to find an experienced broker, you will have someone in your corner that can assist you at almost every step of the transaction— particularly with the selection and comparison of properties and the negotiation of the purchase price or with the preparation of your board package when purchasing a coop or condo apartment. Best of all, there is no cost to you since the brokerage commission is paid by the seller.
Mortgage Broker
To obtain a home loan, most purchasers enlist the help of a mortgage broker rather than going to a bank. There are many advantages to using a mortgage broker rather than applying directly to a bank for a loan. In addition to processing your loan application, the mortgage broker will evaluate your financial situation, pre-qualify you for the loan amount that you can afford, and calculate your monthly loan payments. Mortgage brokers are not lenders (although in some instances, they can act as the lender), rather they arrange and negotiate the conditions and terms of loans from lenders on your behalf. Your satisfaction in the process of buying a home may greatly depend on your relationship with, and the competency of your mortgage broker. If the application, processing and underwriting go smoothly, it can be a simple process. If you encounter problems with your loan, it can turn into a stressful nightmare. A mortgage broker will provide you with a choice of loan programs offered by different banks on a competitive basis. In fact, a mortgage broker can simultaneously submit a loan application to several lenders with only one application fee. This greatly improves the likelihood that you will find the best rate and terms available in the marketplace. Many purchasers have found that going directly to their bank, even if they have a long-standing banking relationship, affords them no better terms and conditions than those offered by a mortgage broker. In addition, a mortgage broker will assist you in preparing and submitting a loan application to a lender (generally more quickly than if you were to apply directly to a bank) and will explain all aspects of the loan process. The mortgage broker’s service is free to the purchaser since the mortgage broker’s fee is paid by the bank lending the funds.
Real Estate Attorney
You should always retain the services of a real estate attorney who is licensed to practice in the State of New York and is experienced in representing home buyers. You need a lawyer because there are inherent conflicts of interest between purchasers and sellers. Once a contract is signed, the rights and obligations of the parties are fixed. The time to consult with an attorney is before you sign any papers.

Prior to signing a contract to purchase a home, your lawyer will perform a due diligence review of the underlying documents relating to the home. For a house purchase, your lawyer will examine the deed, the seller’s title insurance policy and survey (if available), the certificate of occupancy, and any documents that may be recorded against the property, such as easements and restrictive covenants. For a condo purchase, your lawyer will examine the offering plan and amendments, the bylaws, the rules and regulations of the building (sometimes called the house rules) regarding pets, guests, alterations, repairs, noise, nuisance, sublet policies and home occupations, the board’s meeting minutes, and the financial statements of the condominium for at least the last two years. For coops, your lawyer will review the proprietary lease as well as the same documents previously mentioned. Only a thorough investigation and analysis of a house’s underlying documents or a coop’s or condominium’s physical and financial status and history (e.g., number of owner-residents, number of investment apartments, assessments history, construction and repair and major capital improvements, underlying mortgage, lawsuits) will identify any serious problems with the building.

The real estate sales process

Once a seller has accepted your offer to purchase, the seller’s attorney will prepare a contract and send it to your attorney. Your attorney will review the contract with you, explain the conditions and terms contained in the agreement, and give you an estimate of the closing costs. Most attorneys will negotiate with the seller’s attorney to include an additional rider to the contract containing terms that further protect your interests in connection with the purchase. Once all of the terms of the contract are agreed to, you and the seller will sign the contract. Your attorney should send a copy of the signed contract to your mortgage broker who needs the document to process your loan application. After you receive a commitment from a lender to make a loan to you (the loan commitment letter), your attorney will review its terms and will explain any conditions contained in the commitment letter. Your attorney also will order a title report (for a condo or house purchase) or a lien search (for a coop purchase) after the contract is signed in order to examine the title to the property and to ensure that any liens or encumbrances against the property are removed at, or prior to, closing. If you are purchasing a house, your attorney will schedule the closing as soon as all title conditions have been cleared and you have obtained clearance from your lender to close the loan. If you are purchasing a coop or a condo unit, you also will have to wait until you have obtained approval of your purchase application from the coop corporation or condominium board. As soon as all the necessary approvals have been obtained, your attorney can schedule the closing with the seller’s attorney, the lender’s attorney, and the building’s managing agent. Your attorney will prepare a preliminary closing statement containing a breakdown of checks required for the closing and will attend the closing with you to explain all loan and closing documents that you will be required to sign. After the closing, your attorney will provide you with a final closing statement and copies of all documents that you signed at the closing.

About the author: Keith A. Schuman, Esq. is the founder of Schuman & Associates, LLC, a full service real estate firm that provides legal services to its clients, through all aspects of their transactions. Keith is a frequent contributor to Contact him at or phone 212.490.0100.

related posts:
tips on shopping for a home
What are the actual differences between townhouses, coops, condos and cond-ops?
What are the income tax benefits of owning a home
When should I buy a home?

September 25, 2008

Consumer sentiment poll

Here's an unscientific poll about how people might feel about the short term prospects of Manhattan real estate. We have had an exceptionally strong real estate market here for the several years, but we are not immune to market forces. I'm basically an optimist about our city. The crisis is one of momentary confidence, not of fundamentals. What do you think?

continued »

September 24, 2008

What are the actual differences between townhouses, coops, condos and cond-ops?

The Manhattan real estate market has forms of property ownership which includes fee simple, traditional townhouses; but the vast majority of housing stock are apartments with forms of ownership which include 'co-ops', 'condos' and 'cond-ops' which are sometimes misunderstood. For example, it is possible to have a coop or condo unit within a townhouse style property. Each form of ownership has different opportunities, rewards and risks, so discuss them with your broker at the beginning of your search. Real Estate Attorney Keith Schuman takes us back to the basics here, by defining the major types of residential property, as part of his series about purchasing a home in New York City.

continued »

September 19, 2008

economic meltdown averted?

This has been just a flabbergasting week of news, with the global financial markets showing unprecedented volatility and fragility. Clearly the current administration's narrowly focused dogma of deregulation and tax cuts as the answer to wealth creation, has lead us to a cataclysmic failure; and a government intervention which so far benefits those most responsible for the failure. The fate of the ordinary homeowner who may be facing foreclosure remains largely unresolved and has been virtually unspoken about this week.

continued »

July 23, 2008

What are the income tax benefits of owning a home?

Real estate Attorney Keith Schuman posts the next part of his guide to buying a co-op, condo or townhouse in Manhattan. He discusses the tax deductibility of interest, maintenance, second home mortgages and other considerations when purchasing a home.

continued »

June 25, 2008

A guide to purchasing a Manhattan home

There is a rich inventory of available homes, relatively low mortgage rates, and a return to a more balanced market between buyers and sellers. A little bit of horse trading is possible again— this may be the best time in years to think about buying. Is it a resale or a new development? The type of home and it's location are highly personal choices which an astute broker can help you navigate and negotiate. Once you've found that Manhattan home you love, and have an accepted offer, you will need a Real Estate Attorney to handle one of the most complex transactions possible. This is the first in a series of posts which will be of particular interest to home buyers. It’s a guide to purchasing a home in New York written by Real Estate Attorney Keith Schuman, to provide an overview of what you will need to know to finance and purchase a coop, condo, loft or townhouse.

continued »

May 19, 2008

Is it a good time to buy in Tribeca?

s some of you know, I've been a Tribeca local since 1995. Another long-time resident and friend, who's kids go to PS 234 with mine, sold his loft last year, and has been leasing a place in the neighborhood instead. He's one of several people I know who sold and moved into a rental, in part because they believed the sales market had "peaked". These are folks who had built substantial equity over time in their properties. He sent me an email asking about the market. Here's my response, and a more detailed analysis on the downtown landscape for buyers.

continued »

March 12, 2008

What's the difference between a purchase agreement and a purchase application with a co-op apartment?

I recently sent a first time buyer that I'm working with, a purchase application for a co-op apartment that we have an accepted offer on. The buyer asked for clarification about the difference between the purchase agreement and the co-op's purchase application. It served as a reminder to me that every individual's real estate transaction is a very unique, important, and sometimes confusing experience. As a broker it is important to relay the basics for those who may have never been through it before. I took the time to explain in probably greater than necessary detail, and thought an excerpt of my response might be useful for those contemplating their first co-op purchase.

continued »

January 9, 2008

80-20 is out. What will co-ops gain from the new rules?

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 contains a provision which specifically affects co-operative housing by changing the criteria to qualify for co-op status known as the "80/20 rule". The rule used to mean that co-operative buildings were required to get 80% of their income from tenant-shareholders, and could not show revenue of more than 20% from other sources, like collecting commercial rents on retail or office space in the same building. Under the new law almost all NYC co-ops look like they will qualify under one of these new criteria.

continued »

January 2, 2008

Capital gains exemptions on a primary home sale

Happy New Year! Please welcome once again Barbara Corcoran answering questions about avoiding capital gains on the sale of a primary residence and more, in an excerpt from 'Ask Barbara' in the New York Daily News

continued »

November 6, 2007

Utilizing the value in a home's equity

We again welcome Barbara Corcoran with a Q&A on how to best utilize the equity in a home from her column 'Ask Barbara' in the New York Daily News.

continued »

October 1, 2007

Buying a luxury condo: the Vertical Living interview

Vertical Living's Contributing editor Kim Fredrick interviewed me about buying into a new development. That interview follows here in its entirety and has some good advice in it; as does the very nicely crafted piece she wrote for the first issue called 'Small Promises' in which I'm quoted. I'm pleased indeed to have been asked to comment on a subject that I've written about before. In fact, I learned a couple of weeks ago that my post about closing costs in new developments, is being excerpted and included in the next edition of New York Real Estate for Salespersons, one of the textbooks for the NY State Real Estate licensing exam; it was also a Carnival of Real Estate. These are a few nice and unexpected validations, of the connection with the audience and the growth of my blog, which has been public for just under a year now.

continued »

September 24, 2007

Ask Barbara

Today we welcome a Q&A from special guest and real estate diva extraordinaire Barbara Corcoran from her column 'Ask Barbara" in the New York Daily News

continued »

August 28, 2007

How are disclosures different for co-ops and condos?

In Manhattan about 80% of the owned residential housing market is co-op. Condominiums are probably less than 20 %, with townhomes as a small group of select, boutique properties. Purchasing any of them involves some sort of application process. It can be as simple as a request for information between principals in a townhouse transaction, to full finacial disclosure co-op board packages with a rigorous process requiring an interview with a Board of Directors.

continued »

July 15, 2007

Spending green, saving green

An "energy smart building" is an accolade that can be used in promoting properties to prospective buyers, and something which some developers are seeing as a way of adding a layer of distinction to their projects. Is a real consumer preference toward energy efficiency beginning to take shape? I thought that I'd put a poll out to ask readers how they felt about this emerging aspect of real estate purchases.

continued »

June 25, 2007

Buying: When is it time to call a lender?

You need to have realistic expectations about what sort of buying power you have. When ready to get serious about buying a home, you'll need to take the next step and have a candid dialog with a mortgage professional about how much borrowing power you have, based on more finely tuned details.

continued »

May 27, 2007

Opinion poll: What are the best ways to green your home?

Can you help with an opinion poll about greening your home? With the first LEED certified residential condo developments being built and marketed right now, it is a moment in which the market is answering if this is an important issue for consumers with the very biggest purchases of their lives.

continued »

March 27, 2007

We have seen a new condominium development with a tax abatement. What does that mean?

We've seen a new condominium development which has a real estate tax abatement. What does that mean?

continued »

February 27, 2007

Many of my friends have taken ‘interest only’ loans. I am starting to wonder if I should consider one as well?

Many of my friends have taken ‘interest only’ loans. I am starting to wonder if I should consider one as well?

continued »

February 5, 2007

I am putting 10% down on my new apartment. Is that going to cost me more money?

I am putting 10% down on my new place, I've heard that will that cost me more. Why?

continued »

January 17, 2007

I'm expecting to recieve a nice bonus this year; can it be used to lower my monthly mortgage payment?

I%m expecting a nice bonus, can I use it to lower my mortgage payment?

continued »

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