Sunday, November 30, 2008

New York City First time home buyer and Investor MUST READ! Know Your Buying Power pt. 2 of 5

The best thing for a buyer in today's market is understand your buying power. Knowing your buying power means more than just having an idea as to what you qualify for and what your monthly payments are going to be.

We always ask during our initial consultation appointment with new buyers what amount of down payment they have. Down payment is so important because it will determine what type of product, condominium or co-op, which is suitable for you. Aside from the amount of the down payment, it is also important to know where your down payment is coming from...such as parents, inheritance, gifting, personal accounts. Some buildings require that you have 30% down, 50% down, or even buy with all cash. Some buildings do not allow parent gifting, or co-purchasers, so this will narrow down what a prospective purchaser should look at.

The overall financial picture is so important when finding the perfect apartment in New York City especially if you are looking into a Co-op. The reason being that each co-op has its own specification for what they look for in a prospective member. Do they allow guarantors, co-purchase, parents monetary involvement, the debt to income ratio and work history. So not only do you have to work with the banks to qualify for the loan, but you have to satisfy the co-ops requirements also.

It's best to discuss your financial conditions upfront so as to not waste time or get excited about an apartment that you would not be able to purchase anyways.
The next major question that I think can confuse a lot of first time homebuyers is what are the differences between a bank lender and a mortgage broker and what are the pros and cons of each? I work with both bank lenders and mortgage brokers so I asked them this exact question and this is what they had to say.
This is the information I received from a mortgage broker...

Working with a Mortgage Broker
More Options working with a Mortgage Broker
When you work with a mortgage broker you have more financial institutions to work with. The broker will research which banks offer the best products that the borrower will qualify for.
When you work directly with one bank you have a loan officer who is hard selling you their products and is not necessarily looking out for the best interests of the borrower.
Banks may change requirements on the mortgage commitment

A mortgage broker is constantly looking at what the bank's requirements are for the borrower and the property that they are looking to finance. When the bank's guidelines change and financing may no longer be viable........the mortgage broker can research the market to find another financial institution to finance the loan.

If you are working directly with a bank and that happens the borrower either has to take what ever new options the bank has to offer or.........go out into the market and start the process of finding financing all over again.

Rates many drastically change after a borrower starts the process
Not often but there are times that after you apply to a particular bank that another bank comes into the market that has much lower rates; ½ point lower. If the new bank's guidelines are ones that work with the transaction and the time parameter still makes it possible that the bank can close when the sales contract requires........the mortgage broker will move the borrower's deal to the new bank.
If a borrower is working directly with a bank and that bank's rates are no longer competitive..........

The borrower now is going to have to determine who has the lowest rates. Time is going to be wastedtrying to find that new bank to work with.
Trying to get the financial institution to grant an exception
When you are working with a mortgage broker they will research which banks are most competitive for the borrower. Sometimes the mortgage the borrower wants is 5% larger than the bank's guidelines or they don't have sufficient credit. A mortgage broker will work towards trying to get the bank to grant an exception or finding other documentation that will satisfy the bank's requirements. Part of that influence, in getting the approval, is the standing that the mortgage brokerage firm has with the bank. If they have a history of having loans in good standing with the bank; the mortgage broker has a better chance of having their request granted.

If a borrower is working directly with a bank they need to know if the loan officer they are working with is in a position to have some exceptions granted. Loan officers at the many banks are not equated with the same credit authority. It is important for the borrower to understand if their loan officer has the authority to get exceptions approved.
Work with a Mortgage Consultant or Banker who has proven experience in this market place
Now is not the time to work someone who has not worked in this industry for many years. In years past borrowers had to be qualified in order to obtain financing. In recent years mortgage brokers and bankers could qualify their borrowers with very little effort.
Now you need someone who knows how to qualify a borrower and the property that they want to purchase.
Debra K. Bedell has been a Mortgage Consultant for over 17 years. She originally worked in the industry when the bank's requirements were very stringent. We have come full circle and those days have returned. It is best to work with a Mortgage Consultant who understands the system and can navigate it.

Working with a Bank
According to my loan consultant at a local Manhattan bank, the best deals are usually at a bank The reason being is because there aren't a lot of confusing add-on fees and middlemen ie. Mortgage brokers, who touch the loan and have to get paid for the work they do. Banks do volume business and make money servicing the loan, not by charging you origination fees.
Brokers don't work with every single bank so if a bank is offering terrific rates on a certain type of loan program they won't have access to it, the consumer will only have access to it through the bank directly. A mortgage broker is not going to tell you what banks they do and don't work with.

In conclusion, whether you work with a broker or a banker you should talk to a professional consultant to talk about your specific needs and goals. Finding someone that listens and gives you the service that you require is what counts.

Is Battery Park City coming to the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

I have been reading a few different articles and on-line postings regarding the development of a specific tract of land on the Upper West Side/Lincoln Square area near the Hudson River. Here are my findings.

Once known as Trump City, Extell Development Co. has finally unveiled their plans for Riverside Center. The plan is said to resemble Battery Park City rather than the West Side and stretches from 59th to 61st St.

The proposed area is currently a couple of parking lots. These parking lots would be transformed into a mega complex of 3.3 million-square-feet. The plan will involve 5 glass towers of residential condominiums, retail space, hotel space, possible movie theatre, possible auto showroom, possible elementary school, parking, and over 3 acres of privately owned open space. The glass towers ranging in heights of 45-59 stories will be designed by Pritzker-winning Christian de Portzamparc. An estimated completion of the project is in 2018.

The plan is still in a development stage needing approval of the City Council and City Planning Commission. When Extell Co gave the Upper West Side Community a preview of its plans there was considerable disapproval.

Being an Upper West Side resident myself and understanding the area involved in this massive project, I think this development would add considerably to the area. There isn't a whole lot going on in that part of the West Side, a lack of restaurants, entertainment, services, subway access. An area based on Battery Park City would be a huge improvement. Riverside Park is a terrific area and the open space of Riverside Center could really pull together that whole stretch.

A lot of the resistance has focused on what community services will be added to support the site. Will Extell develop the schools, community services to provide the needed infrastructure because of the growth of people and families that will be occupying the apartment towers?

Battery Park City is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in New York City and if Riverside Park closely resembled it the aesthetic value of the West Side would improve. I do agree that the infrastructure of the area would also have to be considered and planned for because of the number of people moving into the neighborhood. If done correctly there would be considerable improvement to the Upper West Side neighborhood and would give a lot of first time apartment buyers an excellent place to live. This project still seems to be in the early stages and much back and forth between Extell, the city, and the neighborhood will occur. (photo source: provided by Extell via NYC DCP)

Let me know what you think of this development!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Makes New York City Amazing! The Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade!

So a few days ago I decided I wanted to go see the Macy's Day Parade for the first time. Living in New York City I called the parade hotline wanting to know the logistics of what time the parade started, finished and most importantly what time do people start lining up to see it. The gentlemen said that people start lining up around 5am for a 9am start and about an 11am finish. I didn't know how I was going to convince my girlfriend to wake up that early to see that parade. Luckily we live in the Upper West Side about two blocks from Central Park West, where the parade begins, and it wouldn't be much more than a five minute walk over to the parade route.

So starting yesterday afternoon the floats and balloons start to get blown up and organized outside of the Museum of Natural History. We walked up there around 5pm and it was already a mad-house. The streets were crowded; the police were already directing traffic, people lining up to see the balloons inflated. At that point I knew we would have to get to the parade route early to get a good spot.

So we arrived around 6:15am and already people had staked out most of the spots right next to the police barricades on the street. We found a great spot right at the corner of 68th and Central Park West, a prime spot as far as I was concerned. By 7am there was at least two rows of people lined up and by 8am it was officially packed. The stragglers start showing up and try to squirm their way in front of you, one of my pet peeves. Luckily the weather was great, a clear sunny morning, cold probably in the low 40s.
The parade started at 9am and the floats and balloons started coming down. The marching bands were terrific, saw a few celebrities, and watching the balloons navigate the streets was entertaining. I was entertained the whole way; it was worth waking up so early, and putting up with the cold and huge crowds. Definitely a lot more fun in person than on TV. Can't wait to see it again next year!
I hope you enjoy some of the pictures, Let me know which ones are your favorite!
The Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade definitely makes New York City an amazing city to live in!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New York City First time home buyer and Investor MUST READ!

This is Part 1 in a 5 part series focusing on what a first time buyer or investor should know before they purchase an apartment in New York City and the most common mistakes to avoid.
We will cover- Know What You Are Buying, Know Your Buying Power, Financial Report of the Building, Who is Managing the Building, What's Your Timeframe, and more!

Understanding the Products: (Co-Ops, Condos, Condops, Townhouse)
Buying an apartment in New York City will be an exciting and also daunting experience. Because New York City offers a unique buying experience with many of its own quirks and differences the first step for any New York City first time homebuyer or first time investor is to become well informed and educated about the different real estate products you will be looking at to ensure your experience will be as calm and rewarding as possible.

1. Co-Op:
A phenomenon that's almost unique to Manhattan, the Co-Op Apartment, has been the traditional form of ownership in New York City for the last century. About 80% of all apartments available for purchase are in co-operative buildings. Co-ops are owned by an apartment corporation. When you purchase within a co-op building, you're purchasing shares of the corporation that entitle you, as a shareholder, to a "proprietary lease." The bigger your apartment, the more shares of the corporation you own.
Standard Co-Op apartments:
Board approval is required. You are buying shares of corporation, you are required to put down 20% or more of down payment, there will be a full financial disclosure, debt to income ratio requirement and board interviewing process. Each Co-Op building has their own financial requirements and criteria, some are more flexible than others, such as allowing guarantor, co-purchase, gift money from parents, pied-a-terre, your debt to income ratio, work history, down payment required...

Subleasing a co-op can be difficult. The board of directors will have to approve the prospective tenant subleasing your apartment. Each building will have their own rules regarding for how long you can lease your unit and other criteria.

All prospective purchasers must interview with the Board of Directors. Prior to the interview, prospective purchasers prepare a detailed "Board Package" which usually contains personal and professional letters of recommendation as well as a great deal of personal information concerning income and assets.

Sponsor Co-Op apartments:
NO Board approval is required. These are Apartments that are held as an investment by the sponsor , the original developer who built the building or converted the building to a co-op. Sponsor units command a premium because people who might not pass a board or don't want to go through a board approval process can buy them.

For example, a sponsor unit would be a good choice for parents who want to buy an apartment for a child who is a student. A sponsor unit may be the best apartment for someone who is not working, or only has a short job history. Buyers of a sponsor unit should take note that they will need to pay NY State and NY City transfer taxes, and often the seller's attorney fees. You still have to submit a board package (Homeland Security! The management company needs to know who is moving into their building) and you almost always have to abide by the building's house rules as far as sublet requirements and pets.

2. Condominium:
Unlike Co-ops, you are buying Real Property. You hold title to your apartment unit plus a percentage of the entire project in common with all other owners.
Resale condo apartments:
These apartment units are previously owned. The sellers are individual owners. There is still a monthly common charge similar to the maintenance charge in a co-operative. These charges don't include your real estate taxes and are not tax deductible. They also tend to be lower than in co-ops because there is no underlying mortgage for a condominium building.
There is no board approval process like a co-op, typically you can finance up to 90% of the purchase price and sublet them at will. Condominiums are the number one choice for flexibility. Because there is more scarcity and flexibility owning a condominium there is a premium paid to own a condominium compared to buying a co-op apartment.
New Development Condo apartments:
These apartments are brand new construction or pre-construction. They are being sold by sales agents of the developer. Buying into new construction has its perks such as being able to pick out the best apartment unit that suits your need, particular floor apartment, or apartment built to your specification if you get in early... Some of the disadvantage of new development would be, uncertain on closing date, not able to know exactly what the apartment looks like, the building management track record, and the possible higher closing cost than resale condo apartments.

3. Condop: Co-Op with Condo rules.
The special hybrid of a Co-Op and a Condo, the Cond-op. When buying into a Cond-op, you are buying shares of corporation, as you would be if you were buying into a standard Co-Op, but the major difference is that the policy and the rules of the building will be Condominium rules. These rules would be unlimited sublet policy, able to resale the apartment unit immediately with no board package and interview, investor friendly, a lot more flexibility.

4. Townhouses:
Townhouses are sometimes bought as hey are non-uniform units in certain neighborhoods or streets in New York City that are designed to mimic detached or semi-detached homes. The distinction between dwellings called just "apartments" or "condos" is that these townhouses usually consist of multiple families, usually multiple floors. The price range of the townhouse is usually higher than single unit of condo or co-op apartments.

Which is Best for YOU???
That really depends on your specific situation and what your goals for purchasing are. If you are looking to buy an investment property and rent it out immediately then a condo or condop would give you the most flexibility. Are you a first time buyer who has fallen in love with prewar apartments with their high ceilings, fireplaces, ornate details, well then a co-op will probably be in your future. Are you looking for privacy, a house in the city, more square footage than in a high rise, looking for an exclusive property, a townhouse might be a good option. What type of property is best for you depends on your personal preferences, your financial situation, your long term goals, and many other important factors. If you have just started thinking about purchasing it may be in your interest to contact a real estate agent for a free consultation regarding what type of property in New York City might be right for you.

This is part one in a series centered on first time buyers in New York City, our next post will focus on the next step in your process, KNOW YOUR BUYING POWER!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Me Too Clause

The Me Too Clause

For the last 5 years buying a new development condominium in New York City was a sure fire way of seeing a great return on your initial investment. If you bought in at the early stages of the initial offering, you waited and as the building went up, so did the prices of the available units. So by the time you actually closed on your apartment your exact same unit would probably sell for 10-20% than what you bought it for. This was one of the big reasons why there are so many new development condominiums in Manhattan.

Now that the piping hot real estate market in New York City has cooled off many of the new developments are struggling to find willing buyers to purchase the new product.

A recent buyer said, “Why should I buy now, when condo prices may tumble over the next year?” That’s a great question and this is what some of the developers are doing to handle that objection.

They are adding a price protection guarantee. So if a buyer signs today and if the developer drops prices while you are still waiting to close, you will be guaranteed the lowest price other buyers were able to negotiate.

This “me too clause” is not a universal offer for all developments, but for the developers that are employing this guarantee they are hoping to entice some of these nervous new development buyers who are concerned about the direction of the real estate market in New York City.

I think this incentive will help some of these new development condominiums. If I had a first time buyer purchasing one of these new development condominiums with this “me too clause” I would be very interested to see how the attorney’s write into the contracts how this clause will actually work.

If you are a first time buyer looking at a new development and want to know which buildings are participating in this new incentive, click here and we will email you the new developments that are offering this incentive.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Gramercy Starck Condominium in New York City with Amazing Buyer Incentives

Unlike the rest of the country New York City has just turned into a full scale buyer’s market. We were riding a meteoric rise in prices and now we are in the eye of the storm of the financial market crisis. The New York City real estate market and Wall Street have such strong ties that when Wall Street succeeds a lot of that wealth flows into the real estate market. Now that Wall Street is restructuring itself, a lot of prospective buyers are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens.

I just took a new listing with a very motivated seller and am asking for your advice on what you did to sell your listings in this type of market. The apartment is in fantastic condition, it’s in a brand new building and has barely been lived in. There are 6 other units available in the same building with the exact same layout, but on different floors. We are priced very competitively, and are trying to set our listing apart other than price with different incentives.

Our seller will pay for your moving costs, or they will pay for a year’s worth of your groceries, or help buy down your interest rate. We are trying to think outside the box, inside the box, around the box, destroying the box, throwing the box, anything we can do to expose this property to the highest number of qualified buyers and secure a highly qualified buyer.

To look at our listing click here!

Open House this weekend or call us to schedule a viewing.

What will it take for you to make an offer? What can we do to sweeten the deal?

Let us know!

What Makes New York City Amazing, $801,000 for a Storage Room!

A basement storage room sold for $801,000 in the renowned Dakota apartment building. The Dakota, located on Central Park West, is most well known as the home of John Lennon and still is the current residence of Yoko Ono. The apartments sell for upwards of 10-20 million dollars.Now this was no ordinary damp tiny storage room. The room was about 800 square feet had 20-foot-high ceilings and two windows. There is a bathroom and electricity wired already into the unit. Despite The Dakota being one of New York City’s most expensive and desired buildings there is no common exercise room for the building residents. The new owner of the storage unit was planning on converting the room into a small gymnasium and opening it up to the buildings residents. How altruistic of him!!
Space is at such a premium in New York City that I not really that surprised by this sale. First is the fact that if you can afford a $20 million dollar apartment, an $800,000 storage unit is probably not too much of a stretch in your budget. If you look at the price per square foot it really is not that much in New York City standards. It’s just at $1,000 a sq/ft, some condominium buildings have been selling at $3,000+ sq/ft recently.

I live in the Upper West Side and I walk by the Dakota to go to Central Park. It is an extraordinary building. The location is perfect right at 72nd and Central Park West. The architecture is absolutely eye-catching. You can’t help but check out the building. I’ve never been in any of the apartments in The Dakota, but when I do I will make sure to ask if a basement storage room comes with the unit knowing what one could sell for.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What makes New York City Amazing!

About two weeks ago I was reading an article about Donut Plant. Donut Plant is the promise land for the doughnut lover in all of us. Donut Plant has been featured on the Throwdown with Bobby Flay which Donut Plant won, and has gone global opening stores in Tokyo, Seoul and has plans for shops in New Orleans, Toronto, and Washington D.C. The biggest problem with Donut Plant is its proximity to where I live in Manhattan. I live on the Upper West Side and it’s located in the Lower East Side. So I can’t exactly just stop by and check it out, I have to make a decent size effort to go down there and what happens if I make it down there and the donuts are disappointing. This could make for a disastrous Saturday afternoon.

After a few hours I convinced my girlfriend to make the hike down to the Donut Plant which was exactly easier than I thought it would be. We took the subway and had to walk about 8 blocks, and about 30 minutes later we were there. I had a coconut glazed/coconut filled square shaped donut and she had some sort of chocolate cake donut with chocolate cream injected inside the donut and five dollars ready we were ready to see if the donuts were as all they were cracked up to be from this article. I would say that I was impressed with the donut. It wasn’t as much of a life changing experience as some of the people made it out to be in the article I read, but I was very satisfied. The donut had a unique taste and was very fresh and warm. About ten minutes after we started it was all over and we left the small donut shop.

The 8 block walk back to the subway station took us through Chinatown. What’s amazing about New York City is that just in the matter of a few blocks you can enter a different world. Walking through the neighborhood you see the food vendors, the ethnic grocery stores, all the signs, billboards, newspapers are in Chinese. I went from eating a donut to watching people buy fresh tofu from a street vendor and walking past restaurants with the upside down ducks hanging in the windows. It’s a lively part of town with so much energy running through it.

And then all of a sudden I’m in Little Italy. The neighborhood completely changes 180 degrees and I have a whole new set of cuisines to stare out and set of community to watch. This type of diversity in such close quarters is what makes New York City amazing. My day started out looking to eat a donut, but it turned into a tour of Chinatown and Little Italy.

Buying your first apartment in New York City

Knowledge, Understanding, and Experience

Whether you are brand new or a life long resident, buying your first apartment in New York City is going to be an experience. Hopefully that experience is filled with excitement, guidance, and anticipation of owning your own piece of the Big Apple.

When I begin working with somebody who is thinking or has decided to buy their first apartment the first thing I do is walk them through why buying a New York City apartment is going to be different than anywhere else. Educating the buyer about the difference between a condominium and co-op, board packages, walk-ups, and the jargon used to describe apartments. What’s a junior 4, classic 6, EIK, or a Pullman kitchen? I have a step by step process that will walk them through the first day all the way to the day of closing. Having an understanding of the pros and cons of buying a condominium or co-op is important to understand what the right type of apartment is for them. We have created a workbook for our buyers that acts as a guide to the entire process from A-Z in buying an apartment in New York City. It includes the time line guide for purchasing, questions to ask before purchasing, facts you want to know before looking and purchasing a Co-op, and the services we provide as a buyer’s broker.

I understand what its like to relocate to New York City. The first thing I had to figure out was what neighborhood I wanted to live in. For those relocating to Manhattan that can be a difficult decision. Each neighborhood has a lot to offer, has its drawbacks and its reasons why people love living there. The only way to choose a neighborhood is to go experience it firsthand; go walk the streets, try getting to your work from that neighborhood, go there on the weekends.

We continuously and successfully work with first time home buyers in Manhattan. We understand the importance of educating and guidance. We walk you through the entire process before you step foot into your first apartment. Buying an apartment can be scary and nerve racking; we understand that feeling because we have been there too. We have the resources and knowledge to make your experience a memorable one.

Relocating to Manhattan

Having the unique experience of starting my real estate career on the West Coast in Seattle, WA and now being an agent in Manhattan has given me the ability to help first time home buyer’s relocating to Manhattan.

I grew up on the West Coast in Seattle, WA and started selling real estate once I graduated from the University of Washington. Relocating to Manhattan from Seattle was definitely a culture shock, so I understand what its like to move the big move here. I understand the buying process in a more traditional real estate environment and then coming to an almost entirely different experience buying or renting real estate in New York City.

In Seattle, apartments meant rental apartments. If you were renting, you said you lived in an apartment. In Manhattan everybody lives in apartments, except for the small majority of townhouse owners. In Seattle, I sold my fare share of condominiums, but never a co-op. I wouldn’t even know where to go look for one if somebody asked for a co-op building. When I tell my first time home buyers that when they buy a co-op, they don’t actually own their apartment. Instead, they own shares of a corporation that owns the building they live in, they are a bit surprised at first, but not as surprised when we go look at apartments and they see the compact size of some of the spaces.

In Seattle I owned my own 2 bedroom 1 bath house. I thought my kitchen was tiny, but it was huge compared to the kitchens here. I would consider a spacious kitchen here to be maybe 8x8 with just enough room for two people to be in the kitchen at the same time. A lot of the kitchens in the studio apartments are the size of a closet. Your mini kitchen will include a two burner cook top, the refrigerator you use to have in your room in college, and a couple of cabinets, and a tiny sink. The lifestyle here is to eat out a lot more so the necessity of a full size working kitchen is not as important.

Another aspect of relocating to New York City is getting use to the jargon used specifically describing apartments. What is a 2bd, 2ba, w/d, wfp, eik, CAC, Triple Mint Apartment? The use of triple mint condition is overly used in my opinion. If an apartment has been remodeled recently it means triple mint, if it’s been well maintained it becomes triple mint maintained. The high end property descriptions are fun to read just to see how they create this fantastic beautiful language describing exceptional properties.

Because I have sold real estate in the more traditional setting I understand the point of view of the buyer relocating to Manhattan and what they understand as the conventional real estate buying process. I can bridge that gap to understanding the New York market and facilitate a smooth transition to either buying or renting a New York City apartment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Its Official...The New York City Real Estate Downturn Begins

According to the New York Times, a crack in New York City Real Estate’s mighty armor has finally showed its ugly face. On the front page of the New York Times real estate section states, “ Even though the average price for a Manhattan apartment, at $1.5 million, is higher than it was a year ago, some New York neighborhoods have already started to feel the downward tug that has wrenched the housing market elsewhere in the nation.”

Though this is the first major article stating that a downturn has begun, we have been seeing this for awhile now. Since the credit crisis began about a year ago a lack of buyer confidence has started to grab hold and the once piping hot market began to cool off.

These outer neighborhoods or fringe neighborhoods have showed the first signs of the downturn. Harlem, East Harlem, Midtown West, and Hell’s Kitchen, have showed the biggest year over year decreases.

While the rest of the country has been facing a continued real estate downturn New York City has been the shining beacon of hope seeing appreciation that seemed like it would never end. This run up occurred because of a perfect combination of forces, a few including an easy source of credit from banks, a weak US dollar brought in oversea investors buying condominiums at significant discounts, Wall Streeters were buying properties with their huge bonuses, and the psychological impact that prices were never going to stop going up.

A credit crunch has made mortgages harder to obtain, the Wall Street meltdown is in full effect, and buyers are now watching from the sidelines to see what happens in the short term.

As always, buying Real Estate should be a long term investment, so unless you are selling, you will not know the true value of your apartment. For those people who have a strong need for a New York City apartment, you have entered a buyer’s market. The tables are turned and now you are in the drivers seat. The opportunity to buy fantastic apartments that were once financially out of reach or sold during the first open house will be ripe for the picking.

To view more information about buying in New York City:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New York City pet friendly Buildings

Pet Friendly Apartments in New York City Part I
According to Animal Fair Magazine New York City was chosen as the nation’s pet friendliest destination. According to Animal Fair Magazine, “The Big Apple is not just a tourist attraction for people anymore, but is inviting for their traveling pets too! Animal Fair is proud to present New York City the Pet-Friendliest Destination Award of 2008!”

So if New York City is so pet friendly for tourists why is it hard to find an apartment to rent or buy for the pet lovers who call New York City their full time residence?

Buying or renting an apartment in New York City can be a challenging process. Now factor in owning one or more pets and it can be overwhelming. Every building has a different pet policy, some won’t allow any pets, some will allow only cats, others allow dogs below 40 lbs, others just one dog. So what do you do if you have two 150 lb Great Danes, or if you are moving to the city and you will be bringing with you a 95 lb Rottweiler that’s been a part of your family for 10 years.

What buildings are pet friendly? Am I better off buying a co-op or condominium because I have pets? What buildings allow certain breeds? Did you know that certain New York City buildings cater to dog loving enthusiasts? Where are the most pet friendly dog parks?

If you are buying into a co-op you might have to bring your dog or dogs with you to the interview process so your pets can mingle with the pets of the current owners to make sure they get along. When renting an apartment we help our customers write a cover letter with pictures and description of their pets so the owner or management company can see the pet and get an idea of what type of factor or non-factor the pet may be.

We understand the difficulties with finding apartments that are pet friendly and navigating the maze. We know the buildings that are pet friendly in Manhattan. Contact us Now if you are looking for an apartment for you and your pet!

for more related post visit:
Active Rain Blog
NY Times Article

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Tide is Turning for New York City Rentals

"Why is it so hard to rent an apartment in New York City?" I had a young woman relocating from San Francisco ask me this question just a few weeks ago after we found her an apartment in the Upper West Side. The other statement I usually here is, "I'm so sick of looking for an apartment!" Despite the difficult nature of finding an apartment in Manhattan things might be getting a little bit easier.

As the Manhattan real estate market turns into a buyer's market, many buyers are becoming renters to wait out and see what happens to the market. Typically the summer market for rentals is very hot and properties get snatched up very quickly. Not so much this summer, properly priced units still rented quickly but more inventory sat until the prices adjusted. Now that we are into the fall season the rental market has started to slow down and the holidays now are just around the corner. Landlord are beginning to ease up on rents and offering more room to negotiate.

Many of the major management companies are offering one and sometimes two months free rent for 12-16 month long leases, offering built in gym memberships, and negotiating prices. I find that landlords would rather offer incentives, such as one months free rent, a free gym membership, compared to significantly reducing the rents because when it is time to renegotiate the rents when the leases are up they will be in a better position because the base monthly rents will be inflated. The net effective rent during the life of the lease was considerably less and when the leases are up they will expire in January to March when the rental market is seasonally stronger and the landlord will be in a better position to negotiate a new lease.

Overall this is a good time to be in the market for a rental apartment. Whether you are looking for a walk-up building in the Upper East Side, a full service doorman condominium in Union Square, or a prewar Upper West Side co-op there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate favorable terms and find the perfect apartment.


So you are a First Time Home Buyer!?

This is a great time for the first time home buyer to check out the New York city housing Market for few reasons:

1) there are less serious buyers out there, more time for you to shop around
2) many sellers are willing to hear offers, this is a buyers market
3) qualified buyers who can get a loan, you can make strong offers!

First Time Buyer - Checklist for Financing Your Purchase:

If you are self-employed how do the banks determine your income?
If you are changing jobs and maybe careers……….. can we still show that you are still performing similar work?
If you have a salaried job plus do some consulting work on the side……….can we include that additional income?
If you are employed in the financial industry will a bank look at your bonus to qualify you?

How does the bank determine which scores to work with and what type of scores are required for the better mortgage rates?
Do you have 2 years of credit established with credit cards, student loans, car leases or loans, mortgages or do you use your debit card for everything?
If you use the full amount of your credit lines on your credit cards and home equity lines of credit this can end up lowering your credit scores?

Who does the bank perceive as acceptable to give you gifts for your down payment?
What documentation must your relatives supply to verify that they are giving you a gift?
If your money is in stocks, bonds, mutual funds vs being in money market accounts will the banks calculate your liquidity differently?
401K, have you thought about using this vested equity towards your down payment?

Debra K. Bedell
Preferred Empire Mortgage Company
Loan Officer

Everyone Wants To be a Real Estate Investor!

With the Wall Street and Financial Situations, we have heard that the Manhattan New York City Real Estate market has took a slight dip. That may be good for the buyers out there, vulture buyers in particular, or the amateur Real Estate investors to dive in. But before you decide to make your Real Estate investment move, it is important to plan and ask yourself some important questions...

Why are you investing? The first question a first time investor should ask themselves is what are my reasons to invest in Manhattan Real Estate. Am I looking to buy and hold for the long term and be a landlord, am I looking for a fixer and upper project to flip, do I just want a property to stay at when I’m visiting in Manhattan as second home as we called it 'Pied- a - terred' or because you’re looking for a tax shelter. These are all valid reasons, but each reason will require different strategies in purchasing and resources necessary to have a successful outcome.

Have a plan. Increase your investment knowledge. Take the time to understand your investment options and the pros and cons of each. Investing is a big financial commitment, It is important to understand all the risks involved and perform a significant amount of due diligence before making a transaction. Depending on your exit strategy, how you purchase a New York City property at the beginning can have dramatic consequences. Consulting your CPA and real estate attorney regarding the tax outcomes when you sale is essential to a successful plan. If you are a foreign nationl, you must consult a Real Estate attorney before you start looking to understand the complex tax structure and structure the transaction best suitable to you.

Know when to buy. Is this a good time to invest? That’s a very good question and likely question you’ve probably already asked yourself. Depending on your goals, long term investment, versus short term flip, will have various answers. Obviously, the goal of every investor is to make money. Depending on your reasons for investing will answer if this is a good time to buy. In the current New York City Real Estate market, industry experts are stating that your minimum hold time for property should be 5 years. If you have plans to hold for longer than 5 years you should see a profit on the property.

Know where to buy. This is where the help of a real estate expert can have tremendous upside effect for your investment. Understanding New York City neighborhood you are buying into and more specifically the building that you looking to purchase in is absolutely important. How close is it to the subway, is this building pet-friendly, what type of amenities does the building have, does the building allow shares or conversions, what type of demand long term does the neighborhood have? These are all questions you should be able to answer or your real estate broker should be able to answer for you. Is it New Development, which new development, is it resale condominium units, which seller is most motivated, is it a tenant in place already property, how is the lease structured within the contract?

Who should manage the property? Are you going to be the landlord or is someone else doing it? That could spell additional expenses if you pay someone else to manage your tenants and rentals. But if you’re buying outside of your own neighborhood, you may find that hiring a property manager is the only choice you have.

Don’t get emotional. Buying the property is a huge commitment. The goal is make the biggest return on your investment. Buying or not being because of personal taste should not outweigh the financial situation of each building. Getting that first tenant in the property will be nerve racking, but it’s a financial decision, let the facts do the speaking for you.

How am I going to rent out my property? Renting in New York City is like no other place in the United States. The owner typically depending on the market does not pay the commissions, the renter does. How are you going to advertise the property, what about the leases and background credit checks? How much is the rent, what about security deposits? Having a knowledgeable real estate professional on your side is very important. This is a conversation you should have when you first speak to a real estate professional about purchasing.

Know the basics and the math. You don’t have to have a PhD. in mathematics to understand the math involved in an investment property. Does this property cash flow? What are the after tax benefits? Speaking with your CPA, attorney, and Real Estate professional about the profitability of the property is important.

With these tips, there will still be different factors you need to consider based on your individual situation.
It is important to team up with a Real Estate agent, a really good one, that will able to guide you through this complex housing market and tackle on this lucrative project! To request more information or tips, please contact us today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Champagne of Tap Water

"New York City water is the best in the world. It's the only thing that tastes right to me."

The reason that I found this article so interesting was because I am originally from Seattle, WA. and I always thought that we had the best mountain water anywhere.

When I learned of the passion that New Yorker's had for their very own water I had to learn more.
Like some massive God-given Brita filter covering 2,000 square miles on both sides of the Hudson River, the oak and pine forests, the organic vegetable farms, the muddy swamps and all the other green space in the watershed provide New York City one of the purest, most abundant supplies of drinking water of any metropolis on Earth.

New York's remarkable water depends partly on natural phenomenon: (the gradual slope of New York State towards the city moves water by gravity, not pumping), geology (underlying rock and minerals in upstate soils are ideal for removing pollutants) and lots of rain. The success is human invention too, boasting the longest tunnel in the world and more stone than all the pyramids in Egypt, together moving 1 million gallons of water every minute.

More stone than all the pyramids in Egypt, that sounds impressive.

When Goodfella's Restaurant on Staten Island took first place in the 2007 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas for their Smokin' Goodfella(made with a blend of smoked cheeses, roasted peppers and sweet Italian sausage), they also hauled in their hometown aqua pura. (This was the 4th time they won the competition; although the toppings changed, the water remained the same.)

I have yet to eat this pizza, but I look forward to eating it one day.

When Steve Ross of the Coney Island Bialy and Bagel bakery made his specialties at the 2001 Smithsonian Institute Folklife Festival, he brought 36 gallons of New York's finest.
But interviews with bakers, brewers and food chemists indicate that Gotham's tap can't take credit for the quality of bagels and pizza. "Water is unlikely to be a major factor compared to flour quality and bakers' skill and competition and consumers' demanding standards," writes food chemist Harold McGee in an email. "NYC water is just not that different from most municipal waters."
Even if the water doesn't affect the taste of baked goods, several bakers acknowledge that the relatively neutral pH of the city's water means that, compared to dough made with more alkaline water, dough bearing New York water better lends itself to kneading, including large-scale automated kneading that the bagel and pizza industries depend on. Some experts have said that "New York's water is juicy with notes of clove and a hint of benzene."
I didn't know the scientific makeup of water had so much to do with baking or could be described as juicy with notes of clove and a hint of benzene. I had to go on Wikipedia to find out was benzene is and I'm still don't know how it could be used to describe water.
I do admit that the first New York bagel from H and H Bagel changed what I thought of bagels forever. Despite the great water here, I haven't found a cup of coffee or latte that can compete with a latte from the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA.
So the next time you visit New York, don't order a bottle of Perrier at a restaurant, ask for an iced tap water and know that you are having the Champagne of Tap.
(Source: edible Manhattan)

How is the Market!?

Well that depends! Are you interested selling, buying, or investing? This is the number one question people ask us right now about Real Easte. There is no singular answer. What we do know is that we are continuously working and helping our customers who have specific and real needs to buy or sell property. Relocation, expanding families, downsizing, financial problems, these are the reasons why our customers are buying now.

More frequent communication with sellers is needed. In this market, sellers are counting on professionals to keep them inform as to what is going on with the current market, the activities or sometimes the lack of activity on the market place. Sellers (the motivated) ones are willing to listen to offers, counter offers, and possibly accept less than what they think they can get if it is an ALL CASH buyer. However, I have not yet seen a seller that is willing to sell it at a 'basement fire sale' price.

On the buyers' side, if ones does not need financing, and yes, this is the market that we would consider CASH IS KING...
I think this is a great time to go out there shop around and make aggressive (not necessary low ball) offers.

We have also seen an upturn in rental business. Renters are seeing more and more incentives being thrown their way in the form of reduced rents, free first months rent, other creative offers to attract more activities.