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March 12, 2012

The New York Times covers my apartment hunt

Chris Leggatbuying a manahattan co-op or condoIt was a real privilege to be covered in the New York Times last week. The Hunt columnist Joyce Cohen covered my nearly two year apartment search for Dr. Christopher Leggat. After one deal went sour at the Victoria in The Village, we closed nearly a year later on an apartment at the new development Tempo on East 23rd Street, that he loves. We searched a corridor of Manhattan accessible to the PATH trains that stretched from Battery Park City to Greenwich Village, Gramercy Park and Chelsea. Outstanding client relationships are truly the way that an agent's real estate practice grows. Few things impact one's life as much as buying property. It involves a lot of local knowledge, market research, and number crunching, Chris appreciated that my experience in evaluating those things created real value for him in the process. I'm fortunate to have great clients like him.

see the article in the NY Times »

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.

June 4, 2009

I'm ranked in the top 2% nationally!

Peter Comitini is ranked in the top 2% of real estate agentsheadroomI learned this week that I have been once again ranked in the top 2% of my company's real estate agents nationally! NRT is the parent company of The Corcoran Group, CitiHabitats, Sothbey's Real Estate, Coldwell Banker, and Century 21— with over 54,000 agents. It is always gratifying to be recognized for producing results, but this citation is even a bit sweeter. The point is made in the testimonial letter below by NRT President and CEO Bruce Zipf; "Your achievement is even more impressive given that your high-level of production occurred during what many now feel was the most challenging quarter of our professional lifetime. You have truly proven that you are the best of the best." Indeed, since the financial crisis blew up at the end of 2008, I've been cited consistently as a top producer, and as a member of Corcoran's elite 'Multi-Million Dollar Club'.

click image to read the testimonial letter

Bruce Zipf citation letter May 2009
In my business, I can only succeed when my clients do. What it actually reflects are the successful outcomes that they have experienced. A number of sellers I've represented had been on the market previously with others. I was able to engage buyers with a visibly superior marketing and sales process for their homes, and closed the deals for them. I negotiated for buyers who's focus was to take advantage of improved home prices and low mortgage rates. We got deals that would not have been possible three months earlier.

Negative stories about the housing market are still abundant, even as glimpses that the worst may be over, begin to show. I believe that this accomplishment shows that while the marketplace sets up a general operating environment, the details of any individual deal are subject to professional knowledge of a much more granular nature. One should certainly consider what the Case-Shiller Index lumps together about single family home prices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; but what does that mean when you want to buy a condo on Reade Street in Tribeca? Success is always possible.

May 25, 2009

Summertime to negotiate your best deal?

Manhattan real estate price negotiability

click chart to enlarge
source: Corcoran Group, April 2009, contacts signed

(above) Price negotiability, April 2009: This chart shows that we are negotiating substantial price discounts for buyers, after asking price reductions on many properties. The largest spreads are for three bedroom or larger units. Condo buyers have been able to generally negotiate larger discounts than co-op apartment buyers, which usually come to market as less expensive than condominiums.

Manhattan buyers market reportIn Manhattan, as the weather heats up, the market traditionally cools off a little. That creates opportunities for buyers as offers are often a bit more scarce, and traffic slows down, due to vacations and the weekend migration out to the east end of Long Island. Summertime could be the best time in several years to negotiate for a new home. Conditions for buyers are ideal:
  • Even with discounted asking prices, price negotiability is unusually high for the Manhattan market (see chart)
  • The median price of all properties (condo + co-op) are down 26% in April 2009 from a year earlier.
  • Mortgage rates are at historic lows, with interest well under 5%
  • Inventory remains high, creating an excellent selection of homes for buyers in all price categories
coming to grips with shifting realities
I wrote about the disconnection between buyer's and seller's points of view earlier in the year, when the first quarter report was released: "owners who want to sell are not yet embracing the new realities of the market... Buyers, on the other hand, can be dire in their predictions about the market, fueled in part by negative press and blogs that irrepressibly look for the worst case scenarios." Consumer confidence is substantially up since then. The first quarter was characterized by a lack of transactions, little moved. They remain substantially off from a year ago, but company wide we experienced a greater number of contracts signed in both March and April. This corresponded with both price reductions and the greater degree of negotiability off asking prices that sellers are beginning to conceded to, as the chart here shows. It acknowledges more of an an acceptance by some sellers of the market's state—a psychological adjustment that manifests itself in done deals. Buyers and sellers are beginning to find common ground, albeit not without a bit of haggling over price.

I've represented buyers for the past few months who have gotten great deals, and they have all taken considerably longer to negotiate than usual. I've done deals in Manhattan and Brooklyn, in new developments and resale properties. In more than a couple of instances, multiple offers were present, but the other buyers, convinced that no one was going to buy, were surprised to find out that they had lost the deal. Just because it's a buyer's market doesn't mean that aren't other buyers who recognize value too. It is where having a reliable agent's guidance can be crucial. It feels just as bad to loose the property that you have your heart set on, in any market. Those who did have the common sense to follow my advice, digest the data that I presented, and close the deal, I believe will find that they purchased at, or very near to the bottom. More importantly, they purchased when the confluence of factors cited above allowed them to get a home that they love and are able to afford.

why wait?
Waiting for prices to drop drastically further? Low rate mortgages have contributed recently to the market's affordability, and may well help cushion the downward trend. Apartment inventory, although high, appears to also be stabilizing due to a virtual halt in new development project starts. Consider that a purchaser of a property at $650K, putting 20% down and borrowing $500K at an interest rate of 4.75% will pay $2608 monthly on a 30 year fixed mortgage. If rates rise just 1.75% to 6.50% (a rate we've seen within the past year, and still very low historically), the payment would increase by 17% to $3160 monthly. The property would have to be reduced by another $90K or about 14%, just to achieve monthly cost parity in this scenario, even more for it to be any better of a deal. How likely is that? Moving forward, the unknowns about the economic recovery, how long it will take, and how inflation could put upward pressure on rates, are sure to be a point of debate. But for a person looking to cut a great deal now, live in the property, and hold it for several years, there is little reason to hesitate.

Sellers holding out for an unrealistic price, need to understand that the market has spoken, and every week on market unsold is working against them. Interest rates increasing, and a little more downside in prices are likely in my opinion; but the ultimate timing of these factors is very hard to see with certainty. Sellers need to get ahead of the curve now. Feel free to call or comment with any questions.

related items:
April 2009 Inventory and negotiability report (pdf 420 kb)
Market snapshot, April 2009
First quarter 2009 Manhattan market report

May 22, 2009

Obtaining a mortgage for your apartment purchase

mortgage for a Manhattan homebuying a manahattan co-op or condoIn this post, Real Estate Attorney Keith Schumann discusses and defines some of the basics about obtaining a mortgage to purchase your co-op or condo. I recommend speaking with a mortgage professional to my new customers at the very start of their search. Mortgages are complex products which deserve careful consideration. Customers need to fine tune their understand of monthly costs, alternative scenarios, and properly target a price range for their purchase. Your real estate broker, mortgage professional, Attorney and CPA are all advisers who can help you to understand them and their tax benefits for your particular situation. It is always a good idea to ask your lender for a pre-qualification letter; which is usually done as a complimentary service. This is not the same as a loan commitment. It does say, in general terms, that that based upon an initial conversation, you would qualify for a loan. As we engage in making an offer, it becomes an instrument which re-enforces the quality of it; and helps set the stage for serious negotiations.

If you are like most purchasers, you will want to borrow a large portion of the purchase price for your home by obtaining a loan. Prior to entering into a contract to purchase a home, you should contact a mortgage broker or lender to obtain pre-approval for financing. Next to finding a home, the loan application process will be the most time-consuming task in purchasing a home. By selecting your mortgage broker or lender, completing a loan application, and assembling and submitting the financial documentation required for the loan package prior to signing a contract, you will gain the following advantages:
  • You will know how much you can borrow, so you will not waste time looking at properties you cannot afford.
  • You will have an advantage over other purchasers when you make an offer, since the seller will know you are qualified to get a loan and can close quickly.
  • You will save time on closing your loan, because you already have assembled the required documents.

There are many loan programs available for financing a home purchase. You should be familiar with the important differences between the various types of loans available to get the one that is best for you. The type of financing you choose will make a big difference in your ability to afford the home you wish to purchase as well as with the ultimate financing costs that you will assume.

Differences Between a Coop Loan and a Mortgage Loan
A purchaser financing the purchase of a coop apartment will apply for a loan specific to coops. Cooperative financing is different from other types of housing loans because you do not get a mortgage in the traditional sense of the term. Since you will be buying shares of stock in a corporation that owns the building rather than the real estate itself, you will be pledging your stock in, and proprietary lease with, the corporation as collateral for the loan. In effect, you will be getting a loan to buy the shares and to obtain a proprietary lease to live in the designated coop unit. At closing, you will sign a promissory note (which evidences the debt) and a security agreement which pledges the shares and the proprietary lease for the apartment as collateral for the repayment of the loan and will give the lender the right to take back the apartment in a foreclosure action if you fail to repay the loan. Prior to closing, your lender’s attorney will file a UCC-1 Financing Statement in the county clerk’s or register’s office to place a lien on the coop shares that you will be purchasing.

A buyer financing the purchase of a condo or a house will obtain a mortgage loan. When you obtain a mortgage loan, the property you will be purchasing is pledged to the bank as collateral for the loan. At closing, you will execute a mortgage note that evidences the debt and contains a promise to repay the loan, a mortgage that pledges the condo or house as collateral for the repayment of the loan, and other loan documents that set forth the terms of the loan. After the closing, your title company will arrange to record the mortgage in the county clerk’s office in the county where the condo or house is located.

Types of Loans
While there are many loan products available to a home purchaser, the best home mortgage loan is the one you can afford for as long as you plan to own your home. Affordability varies with the types of mortgage loans. In the rush to make an offer on a home, you might not think that you have time to spend sorting through the many options and loan products available. Taking the time to consider the different types of loans can pay great dividends. If you consider only the variables of interest rates and your monthly payment, you could pay thousands of dollars more than you should over the life of your loan. Examine the various types of loan products available for financing the purchase of a home. Also, be aware that many coop buildings have limitations on how much you can borrow for the purchase of the residence. Most coop buildings do not allow a loan in excess of 75 to 80 percent of the purchase price. There are no such restrictions on condos or private homes.

Generally, monthly home loan payments will consist of principal (the amount of the debt to be repaid), interest (the fee, based upon a percentage, charged by the lender for lending the money), and in the case of condos and houses, real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance. The principal amount of the loan that will be repaid is reduced over time with each monthly payment of a portion of the principal.

Common Loan Products
Historically, fixed rate loans were the most common loan product. There are, however, some basic loan products, and many variations on each product as described below:
  • Fixed Rate Loans. The interest rate is set before you close the loan and remains the same for the entire term of the loan. With each monthly payment, you repay a portion of the original loan amount (the principal) plus interest. With a 30 or 15 year fixed rate loan, the monthly payment will repay the original loan amount completely by the end of the loan term. Loans with a repayment schedule are called amortizing loans. The amount of interest plus the loan repayment is called the debt service payment.
  • Adjustable Rate Loans. Also known as adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), these loans differ from fixed rate loans because the interest rate and the monthly payments move up and down as market interest rates fluctuate. Most ARMs have an initial interest rate period during which the borrower’s interest rate does not change followed by a much longer period during which the rate changes at preset intervals. Interest rates charged during the initial periods generally are lower than those on comparable fixed rate mortgages. Most adjustable rate mortgages have fixed rates for the first three, five, seven, or 10 years, followed by rates that adjust annually thereafter. Borrowers will have some protection from exceptional changes in the interest rate because ARMs come with rate caps. These caps limit the amount by which ARM rates can adjust. The most common caps are period rate caps – which limit the amount by that an interest rate can rise in any given year – and lifetime caps – which limit how much the interest rates can rise over the life of the loan.
  • Interest Only Loans. An interest only loan allows you to pay just the interest on the loan for a set period, often the first 5 or 10 years. You do not have to pay any principal during that time. When the interest only period is up, the interest rate is adjusted to the prevailing market rate, and the monthly payments will increase as you begin to pay the principal over the remaining term of the loan. You always have the option of making more than the minimum payment and having it applied toward the principal. You can use an interest only loan to free the cash that would otherwise go toward paying the principal and invest the cash where it can theoretically bring a better rate of return.
  • Negative Amortization Loans. A loan that allows negative amortization means that the borrower is allowed to make a monthly mortgage payment that is less than the interest actually owed during that month. The result is that the outstanding balance of the loan is actually increased rather than decreased as with loans that amortize (reduce) principal. Editor's note: This form of loan has largely disappeared as the credit crisis has unfolded because of it's toxic effects; see this recent news article for more.
  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). You may be able to obtain a second loan if you want to borrow more than eighty (80%) percent of the purchase price. A HELOC loan may be obtained with your primary lender or with a different lender. The interest rate on a HELOC loan generally changes monthly and is tied to the prime rate.
Financing Terminology
When you are deciding which loan product to choose, you should be familiar with the following loan terms:
  • Amortization. The process of paying the principal and interest on a loan through regularly scheduled installments. The majority of each payment is applied toward interest owed initially. The later payments on the loan are increasingly applied toward the principal.
  • Principal. The sum of money you borrow from the bank.
  • Interest. Expressed as a percentage called the interest rate, it is the fee that the lender charges you to use the money you borrow.
  • The Term. The period of time for which you borrow the money. Most loans are either 15 or 30 years.
  • Rate Lock. An agreement with your lender whereby your lender agrees to give you a specific interest rate if you close your loan within a specified period of time. Rate lock periods generally run from 30 to 60 days and may be extended for an additional fee paid to the lender. Generally, the longer the term of the lock-in period, the higher the interest rate. It is important to remember that there frequently are delays in closings. This is particularly true when purchasing a coop apartment, since board approval is required before you can close. In addition, a seller has the right to postpone the closing date beyond the date in the contract if he or she is not able or ready to close. You should consult with your attorney before locking in your interest rate so that you do not prematurely lock in your rate.
  • Escrow. A special account that a lender uses to hold a borrower’s monthly payments for monthly real estate taxes and insurance.
  • Equity. A determination of the value of a property after existing liens are deducted.
  • Points. A percent of the loan amount. One point equals one (1%) percent of the loan amount.
  • Discount Points (also known as the Loan Origination Fee). A fee that you can pay to your lender to lower your interest rate. Generally, for each point you pay for a 30 year loan, your interest rate is reduced by 1/8th (0.125) of a percentage point. Lenders offer various rate and discount point combinations.
  • Application and Processing Fees. Fees charged for evaluating, preparing, and submitting a loan application to a lender.
  • Conforming Mortgage Loan. Any loan that is at or below the amount that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can purchase or securitize in the secondary loan market. Your mortgage broker or loan officer can tell you what the current loan limit is.
  • Federal Funds Rate. The interest rate that banks charge each other on overnight loans made between them. These loans generally are made so that banks can cover their daily cash flow and reserve requirements. The rate is determined by the supply and demand of the funds.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The nation’s two federally chartered and stockholder-owned mortgage finance companies. These banks do not provide loans on a retail basis. They instead purchase and/or securitize loans made by other banks. Since these banks are directed by their charters to serve moderate- and middle-income families, they have loan limits on the purchase or securitization of mortgages.
  • Jumbo Mortgage Loan. A loan for an amount exceeding the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limit. A loan in excess of this limit is considered a jumbo loan and generally carries a higher interest rate.
  • Loan to Value Ratio (LTV). The money borrowed relative to the value of the property. An LTV of eighty (80%) percent means that the loan amount equals eighty (80%) percent of the value of the property.
  • FHA Loans. The federal government, through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), helps low and moderate income families to become homeowners by providing an insurance program that encourages lenders to make loans to borrowers who might not be able to meet conventional underwriting requirements by insuring the lenders against loan defaults.
  • Primary Residence. A home used as one’s primary residence will qualify for a lower interest rate than one used as second home.
  • Prepayment Penalty. A loan which requires that the borrower pay a fee to the lender if the loan is paid off in full or in part before the term of the loan expires.
  • Underwriting. The determination of the risk a lender would assume if a particular loan application is approved. Ability and willingness to abide by the mortgage loan terms as well as the value of the property involved are factors in the underwriting analysis.
  • Appraisal. An appraisal is performed on behalf of a bank in the process of evaluating a borrower for a mortgage. The purpose of an appraisal is to determine if the price you are paying for the home is justified by recent sales of comparable properties. The property’s market value must meet the bank’s requirements.

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:
Putting together the pieces of making an offer
Reasons to buy an apartment in Manhattan in 2009
Tips on shopping for a home
Who are the key advisors in buying a Manhattan 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?

March 13, 2009

A snapshot of today's Manhattan residential market

This week The Corcoran Group issued an update to last quarter's data with a 'Market Snapshot' based on Corcoran's contract signed data in Manhattan, in January and February of 2009. It helps to give us some insight on what is actually happening in the market at the moment. The snapshot confirms that it is a good time to be a buyer in Manhattan; and that when pricing hits a certain perception of value, deals will get done.

continued »

March 3, 2009

First time homebuyer tax incentive for 2009

I've had a couple of people ask me this week about the new tax credit on a first time purchase. This is a sweetened incentive for first time buyers, or if you have not owned a home since 2005, that increases the credit from $7500 in 2008, to $8000. More significant is that the new credit which is part of the 'American Recovery and Reinvestment Act', , will not have to be repaid if a buyer holds the property for three years or more. The previous version of the tax credit had to be paid back. This is not anything that will cause people to run out and buy a condo in Manhattan, but the government kicking in a few bucks can't be a bad thing either if you are moving out of a rental, and buying your first home before the end of November. This is part of the Obama administration's stimulus package, and a step in the right direction. All home purchases involve a host of transactional, moving, and home improvement costs, so these dollars will likely be funneled right back into the local economy. One bedrooms are actually where most of the activity in the market is right now and this will be of benefit to a few of my customers. You should check with your accountant or financial adviser for more info about if your purchase will qualify. Here is a Q&A that the NAR recently distributed about it:

continued »

February 8, 2009

Putting together the pieces of making an offer and the contract of sale to buy a Manhattan home

We're getting back to basics today with a post that first time buyers will find very helpful. Real Estate Attorney Keith Schuman reviews for us the process of 'going to contract' on a home in New York City. He defines the terms and contingencies which you'll need to think about and negotiate. Speaking of negotiation, that usually starts with someone like me advocating for your interests. Its a long post, with a lot of information. Made even longer by my intro commentary about the marketplace.

continued »

January 6, 2009

Reasons to buy an apartment in Manhattan in 2009

Every marketplace offers opportunities for someone. People have been taking a wait and see attitude with their investing and spending since September, so it will come as no surprise that with it, New York real estate has experienced a slowdown in the last quarter of 2008 too. It will contribute to a very different marketplace in 2009 than we've seen in several years. It may be somewhat counter intuitive, but if 2009 is the year where the market catches its breath, it is also where buyers seeking value are able to get what they seek. Here are five reasons why.

continued »

December 31, 2008

That resilient New York City

Harvard economist Edward Glaeser focuses on the historic resiliency of New York City in hard economic times, which he attributes to its ability to attract talented people, and the density in which we live. He puts his faith into the free exchange of ideas and the process of reinvention through innovation.

continued »

November 10, 2008

tips on shopping for a home

We join real estate Attorney Keith Schuman for some lawerly tips on the shopping and decision making process. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

continued »

October 6, 2008

Corcoran's Manhattan Real Estate report shows price increases, but a more challenging market ahead

The third quarter Corcoran Report on the Manhattan Real Estate Market shows that the overall median price of Manhattan apartments are up 10% since a year ago as Manhattan real estate continued to out perform the national housing and capital markets. Yet, the report also tells us about rising inventory and slowing property sales, giving us important information to adjust buying and selling strategies to meet what clearly seems to be a changing economic landscape. Download your copy of the third quarter 2008 Corcoran Report here, and read on for my take on how to best use this data.

continued »

October 2, 2008

Who are the key advisors in buying a Manhattan home?

This 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.

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 »

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 »

April 28, 2008

Its a real estate market!

The Manhattan market has been interesting recently. It is hard to characterize it as either a buyer's market, or a seller's market. Its just a real estate market, and a more balanced one than in the last few years.

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 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 »

December 20, 2007

Manhattan real estate continues to defy gravity

"Last month, the number of closed sales just about matched the number closed in November 2006, and prices were considerably higher, but roughly flat compared with the prices in the previous quarter, according to a review of sales records filed with the city."

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

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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.

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August 24, 2007

The SmartMoney TV interview on buying a home

The folks at SmartMoney TV asked me to comment on camera about common mistakes when buying a home. I'm captured speaking with my hands in this video titled "Avoiding Mistakes Homebuyers Make".

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