Property Grunt

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Map of Bubbles

I caught this from Inman about PropertyShark's new feature that displays "areas with a drop in the number of sales and areas with a drop in the value of sales."

I emailed Kelly Kreth who is there PR rep to get the rundown and she sent me this nifty link.

She stated the following.

"The idea behind the map is that it looks for areas by zip code that have a decrease in quarterly sales price and a decrease in the number of sales transaction, each being a 'bubble'. Then on the maps it notes areas of single or double bubble trouble."

Propertyshark has recently rolled out their maps for San Francisco and according to Inman, the rollout will continue for New York in February and Los Angeles in March.

This is a huge development since it means that buyers and sellers now have more information at their disposal to determine the condition of their individual markets. Which I am sure brokers are just simply thrilled about.

I am very curious about the Manhattan Bubble map, because even with a softening market Manhattan has been able to hold its own and it would be interesting to see which areas have fared better than others.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Douchebag Brokers

The New York Times sheds some light on douchebag brokers and boy did this give me flashbacks.

For instance.

Erik Serras, a sales agent at Pari Passu Realty in Manhattan, said another agent recently stood outside an open house that Mr. Serras was holding just to hand out his business card. “It was the equivalent of ambulance chasing, and it sheds a negative light on the industry on the whole,” he said. “There are just too many untrained agents out there doing things that are unethical and unprofessional, and once a client is exposed to that, the damage is done because it’s easy for people to generalize.”

I also had a similar experience.

And we do have our trust issues.

To start with, brokers are salespeople, so buyers with suspicious minds would naturally suspect brokers of trying to sell them something they don’t necessarily want or need. But brokers also admit that some real estate agents help to perpetuate stereotypes with classic bait-and-switch schemes and by putting their own desires to close a deal over a client’s best interests. The fact that brokers themselves sometimes find it hard to trust one another only compounds the level of suspicion in real estate.

Real estate brokerage is akin to the X-Files. Trust no one. Brokers also have trust issues with buyers and sellers. I remember one instance where I was accompaning another agent for a showing. When we got to the apartment, his key wasn't working. We had no idea why and the appointment had to be cancelled. Later on I heard from the agent some horrible news. For whatever reason the seller was dissatisfied with the exclusive agent and switched her services to another broker and changed the locks. Of course she didn't bother letting the original broker know. Perhaps she thought that brokers were soulless beasts who didn't deserve any consideration.

I have been in many a situation where I have ran around town showing apartments to buyers and then one day I get an email stating their thanks for my services but then telling me to f**k off because they found something else on their own. I have a policy of taking responsibility for my mistakes and unfortunately I made many. But in these instances where I got f**ked, I worked my ass off for these people and gave the best possible service. I am not saying that the grievances the people in the article are not meritorius, all I am saying is that what goes around, comes around.

Another instance when a broker might appear to be evasive is at an open house. When brokers hold open houses, they represent the sellers, but they also routinely use the events as an opportunity to pick up other clients. So if a potential buyer walks in and doesn’t seem right for that particular apartment, the broker can offer to help the buyer find something else. But under the unwritten rules of the game, the broker does not have to disclose whether there are any other open houses in the same building, particularly if the events are being held by competing firms. These kinds of situations can easily lead to mistrust on the part of sellers and buyers alike.

Any broker who does this is an idiot. If the open house takes place in a doorman building, the first thing the customer is going to ask is there any other open houses taking place. What a good broker will do is make that visitor their own buyer then tell that buyer about the open houses in the building and have them sign in as their broker. I have never tried that but I am not surprised if brokers have done it.

Sometimes, even when a transaction provides a happy ending for everyone, a buyer can still be left with lingering doubts about the broker and his or her motives.

Take Rob and Lauren Mank, who are now happily living in an Upper West Side apartment they bought last year. Mr. Mank said they had no qualms about their agent, a buyers’ broker, until final negotiations, when she pushed them to offer the full asking price, which would have meant raising their bid by $45,000. They ultimately went up by $35,000 and got the apartment because two competing buyers did not raise their bids.

“I felt like it was very high pressure and her loyalty to us was compromised by her desire to do the deal,” he said. “It left us with a bad taste.”

But Ms. Mank said she didn’t believe there was any malice involved and noted that without a crystal ball, there is no way of knowing if they could have gotten the apartment for less.

“Maybe you’re always going to want to blame someone for some infraction because you’re always going to feel taken advantage of in some way,” she said. “It’s a delicate and intimate situation because it’s your home and it’s your finances — the whole thing is just so fraught.”

What may have happened was that the buyer's broker found out the other competing bids were staying firm on their offers and that a window of opportunity existed for her buyer to get an accepted offer. Or a deal was made between the two brokers. Who knows?

Managers at real estate agencies say that the only way to minimize misunderstandings is to train new agents to be highly professional and to establish and enforce industry standards. To that end, the Real Estate Board of New York has established a list of 17 resolutions aimed at addressing ethical questions in residential real estate.

The resolutions cover issues as basic as the definition of an “exclusive” and the need to have backup brokers available when the exclusive broker is not available. They also try to cut down on typical broker squabbles by declaring it improper to foist a business card on someone else’s client and asserting that brokers should give co-brokers and their customers at least 20 minutes’ grace time if they’re late for an appointment.

Diane Ramirez, the president of Halstead Property and a governor of the real estate board, said, “Some of these things may seem silly, but it creates a framework of proper decorum.”

The board and its policies have evolved to make it clearer that “we are an industry that works for our sellers and buyers, and that should be our primary goal,” Ms. Ramirez said. “That’s the only way to dispel the distrust that comes in, not because it’s earned but because of what our reputation may have been.”

The real estate board also has an ethics committee that handles complaints filed by brokers against other brokers. Stephen Kliegerman, Halstead’s executive director for development marketing and a former chairman of the ethics committee, said the committee handles only a handful of cases each year, but he added that most complaints do not get to the board because agency managers tend to resolve complaints among themselves.

One of the biggest current complaints involves brokers who post listings on their Web sites for the exclusive properties of other brokers. “They’ll advertise a property they don’t represent, or sometimes the property doesn’t even exist,” Mr. Kliegerman said. “So when the buyer calls, it’s a bait-and-switch — the broker knows nothing about the property and winds up trying to take them to something completely different.”

He said the ethics committee is developing a new resolution to deal with the problem. “This kind of thing happens daily, and it taints the consumer’s impression of the entire broker community,” he said.

There are only three requirements to become an agent which are 45 hours of classes and two tests. That's it. When an agent is hired by a brokerage it is usually through networking or the brokerage is a mill where they suck up as many agents as possible and through attrition they weed out the weak ones.

Currently real estate brokerage is one of the few industries, at least in New York, where background checks are not conducted on new agents, which is ironic considering the fact that agents are privy to very sensitive information on buyers and sellers. It is not just enough to have more training but to have a system set up so that it scares off the douchebags from entering the field in the first place.

If you you want to make a real effort to weed out the undesireables then you need to beef up standards. Make the tests harder and require brokerages to be more accountable for their agents and add more stringent standards for their agents to adhere to. Unfortunately these changes will only occur when a complete fubar occurs in the industry and brokerages need to take action in order to avoid any intervention from the government.

There is only one sin you can committment in brokerage is not closing deals. I have seen brokers throw tantrums and threaten others in their office but they have gotten away with it because the enormous amount of money they bring to the company. Even with new standards and accountability it all comes down to money.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Watching it all very closely.

Yesterday I caught Jonathan Miller of the Matrix on Morning Call on CNBC. he was debating with Adam Koval of Socketsite about whether condo prices are the best way to gauge the housing market. Check Jonathan's entry who will give you the blow by blow. My opinion is that are a variety of variables that affect the market and simply looking at the condo index just doesn't cut it.

This was actually the first time I ever seen Jonathan on television and it was quite informative. I think that CNBC will be calling upon Mr. Miller more often in the near future, especially with the way this market is going.

Speaking of which, I would like to present two articles on the housing market.

The first one is from the New York Times.

January 26, 2007
Sales of New Homes Plummet in 2006
Filed at 10:43 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of new homes plunged in 2006 by the largest amount in 16 years as the nation's housing industry suffered through a sharp contraction after five boom years.

However, there have been some signs that the steep slide in housing may be coming to an end. For December, new home sales were up 4.8 percent, the second strong monthly gain after a 7.4 percent rise in November.

While those increases were better than expected, analysts cautioned that they were influenced by unusually warm weather in those two months.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes totaled 1.06 million units for all of 2006, down 17.3 percent from the all-time high for sales of 1.28 million units set in 2005.

After setting sales records for five straight years, sales of both new and existing homes suffered sharp declines last year, and that has caused ripple effects throughout the whole economy.

Last year's plunge in new home sales was the biggest drop since a 17.8 percent drop since the recession year of 1990. Sales of existing homes fell by 8.4 percent to an annual rate of 6.48 million units, it was reported Thursday. That was the biggest decline in the sale of previously owned homes since 1989.

The median price of a new home sold in 2006 was up by 1.8 percent from 2005 but that price gain was far lower than the 9 percent jump in new home prices in 2005.

New home sales were up in all parts of the country in December except the West which posted a 4.4 percent drop. Sales rose by 27.3 percent in the Northeast, 26.6 percent in the Midwest and a much smaller 0.3 percent in the South.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported that orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose in December by the largest amount in three months, led by a huge jump in demand for commercial aircraft and the biggest increase in orders for cars and trucks in more than two years.

New orders for durable goods rose 3.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted total of $221.9 billion. The gain followed a 2.2 percent November increase and was the strongest showing since an 8.7 percent September advance.

Orders for commercial aircraft surged by 26.5 percent, reflecting the sizable 212 plane orders that Boeing Co. booked during the month. There also were gains in a number of other industries, providing evidence that manufacturing is working its way through last year's economic slowdown.

The auto sector, which struggled last year with rising gasoline prices and stiff foreign competition, saw a 6.8 percent rise in orders for vehicles and parts, the biggest one-month gain since August 2004.

Excluding transportation, orders for durable goods posted a solid 2.3 percent increase, the best showing in this category since last March and much better than analysts had been expecting.

For all of 2006, new orders rose by 7 percent, a slight slowdown from an 8.6 percent increase in 2005. Orders had risen by 6.9 percent in 2004 after having fallen in 2002 and 2003 as the country was struggling to emerge from the 2001 recession. Manufacturing was the hardest hit sector in the last downturn.

Economic growth slowed to a lackluster 2 percent in the July-September quarter, raising concerns that the steep slump in housing could trigger an outright recession.

However, in recent weeks a number of reports have shown the year ended with stronger-than-expected activity, easing worries about such a general slowdown.

The second is from Yahoo.

New US home sales rise by more-than-expected 4.8 percent

New US home sales rose by a more-than-expected 4.8 percent in December, the Commerce Department reported.

Sales came to an annualized clip of 1.120 million, comfortably ahead of the 1.050 million sales pace expected on Wall Street. The agency revised up its estimate for November sales to 1.069 million from 1.047 million.

Despite the better-than-expected December sales pace, sales for 2006 slumped 17.3 percent -- the sharpest decline in annual sales since 1990 -- to 1.061 million homes.

The median price of a new US home fell 1.5 percent from a year earlier to 235,000 dollars in December, the department said.

After booming for years, the US housing market cooled sharply last year, sparking concerns about the health of the wider economy.

These are two articles that were filed today and are reporting on the same subject. Yet they have very different headlines and perspectives. So what the hell is going on? Why are we having this glass half full/glass half empty scenario.

I could probably go on about a media conspiracy or some type of payola is going down. But as a student of media it comes down to one thing. People. Media, particulalry news is not a science. It is an art. All the stories that you see splashed on the news whether it is tabloid fodder or political reporting gets chooped up, digested, edited and repolished before it is presented to the public. Whenever a news story is being put together, the staff presenting has to figure an angle, a perspective. Sometimes its more than just the facts. It is a process that works, unfortunately it does have its flaws.

That is why I recommend that you do not take news reports, blogs or any other type of information at face vlue. Even those of great authority.

And remember, the media is made up of people, and people by nature are not perfect.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Roll Call

The Grunt had an absolute blast working with Curbed Senior Editor
Joey on a Curbed piece about Broker Douchebaggery. Joey, you are the man. Let's do it again.

This is a great article on noise in the East Village. between a bar owner, the residents who live above her and the community board.

There is the one quote from Ms. Millstone that I found amusing.

"I’ve tried to have an avant-garde element,” said Ms. Millstone, who holds a master’s degree from the School of Visual Arts. “I was nostalgic for a period I never actually experienced, the early ’80s, when there was a thriving art scene in the East Village.”

Ms. Millstone, if you really want to experience the 80's in the east village, throw in some crack heads, street crime and a ton of urban blight. In other words, move to Baltimore.

Also you made a critical error in opening up a bar in the East Village because this area has gone through a ton of gentrification.

Joyce Cohen introduces us to Richard E. Waits who is a nomad specializes in dancing, acting and bohemian. Joyce covers his hunt for a new place after having a insane roommate who is late with the rent.

Richard ended up using a broker and what I found interesting was the manager;s perspective of the fee.

The fee was $2,000, Mosaic’s minimum, even though it usually charges 15 percent of a year’s rent ($1,395 in this case). So few low-end rentals are available that typically “you’ve got to get creative in finding the apartment or making the deal happen with the landlord,” said Brian Dusseau, a manager at Mosaic Properties. Also, “if people can afford to pay our fee, we know they can afford to pay that rent every month,” he said.

I have experienced the flipside which is that the client has only enough money to pay for the 3 months of rent to hold onto an apartment.

Richard was ecstatic to the point that peopel thought he bought.

When he broke the happy news to his restaurant regulars, they thought he had bought an apartment. After all, “this is a hot section of town,” he said. “I was like, ‘No, I didn’t buy, I am renting.’ We are not dealing with the same reality.”

No truer words were spoken.


Below are a ton of press release that have been sent to me. The first is from the American Institute of Architects for the first Juried competition for sustainable and affordable housing.

The last two are from Kelly Kreth. The first one is about Century 21's new feature on their website called MyPlace. It has nothing to do with MySpace so place your uncensored photos elsewhere. The second one is Propertyshark's new golddigging feature which allows single women to find a sugar daddy.




NEW YORK, NY, January 17, 2007 – New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan and Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, 2004 President of New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY), today announced Phipps-Rose-Dattner-Grimshaw (PRDG) as the winning architect-developer team of New York City’s first juried design competition for affordable and sustainable housing. The competition, known as the New Housing New York (NHNY) Legacy Project, emerged from a collaboration between the NHNY Steering Committee, HPD, AIANY, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Enterprise Community Partners to encourage the integration of sustainability and design excellence with affordable housing. Located in the South Bronx, the competition site was a 60,000 square foot vacant lot that consists of City-owned property and a legally abandoned rail right-of-way. Currently valued at $4 million, the site will be sold by the City to PRDG for a nominal fee in exchange for the design and construction of a mixed-use development that includes affordable housing for New Yorkers of low-, middle-, and moderate-incomes. An exhibition of the winning team’s proposal will be on view March 22 – June 16, 2007 at the Center for Architecture. The exhibition will highlight how the project functions as a replicable model for sustainable affordable housing in New York City and other urban communities.

Comprised of The Phipps Houses, Dattner Architects, Jonathan Rose Companies and Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, the PRDG team presented a proposal, referred to as “Green Way” or “Via Verde”, that will consist of 202 residential units, in addition to retail and community spaces, and parking. The proposed development incorporates a range of residential spaces, varying from apartments in a tower to duplexes in a mid-rise to townhouses. The development is organized around a multi-functional garden that begins at street-level as a courtyard and plaza, and spirals upwards through a series of programmed, south-facing roof gardens that end in a sky terrace. The gardens will be used for fruit and vegetable cultivation, passive recreation and social gathering, and provide storm water control and enhanced insulation. Phipps Community Development Corporation (CDC) plans to expand its green market in East Tremont and community-supported agriculture collaboration with Just Food and will use Via Verde’s plaza for a neighborhood green market or organic food co-op.

The PRDG team said, "We are pleased and honored to have been selected by the New Housing New York jury to work with HPD to help develop a next generation of housing that is affordable and green. We are inspired by a great vision to create places that are environmentally and socially responsible, but to do it within the constraints of affordable housing budgets and important community input. One of the great pleasures of this competition was combining so much great thought from knowledgeable individuals, yet coming together as a team: we became a community so that we could design a community!"

As proposed, the Via Verde will consist of both rental and homeownership units affordable to households of four earning from $28,360 up to $92,170 or $19,840 up to $64,480 for a single household. Approximately half of the units are designated for low-income households and the other half for moderate- and middle-income households. The development will consist of 139 rental apartments with twenty-five percent of the units affordable to households of four earning up to $56,700 or up to $39,700 for a single household. All sixty-three of the homeownership units will be affordable to households of four earning up to $92,170 or up to $64,480 for a single household. The proposal assumes that the rental units will be funded through a combination of the Housing Development Corporation’s (HDC) New Housing Opportunity Program and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and that the homeownership units will use HDC’s Affordable Co-op program and New Market Tax Credits. The Via Verde development is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to build or preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years, the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history.

“We believe this unprecedented competition will raise the level of design sustainability and serve as a beacon for affordable housing across the city. Given the incredible response the competition received, and the innovative proposals the jury reviewed, the competition presents a real opportunity to change the future of affordable housing,” said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan. “We hope that PRDG’s proposal will serve as a prototype for future affordable housing developments built nationally and internationally.”

Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, 2007 President of the AIA New York Chapter said

“New Housing New York is a remarkable collaboration between architects, government, and the private sector. It is exactly the kind of initiative that illustrates how we, as design professionals, can have a positive and concrete impact on the future of our city. Hopefully, the process we have developed through this project will impact planning and construction beyond its realization and help us rethink how we can design sustainable affordable housing throughout New York.”

By incorporating sustainable material choices, efficient mechanical systems and renewable strategies, Via Verde will aim to achieve gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that provides a standard of what constitutes a "green building". Mechanical systems will include enhanced ventilation to apartments and individual control of heating and cooling. Sun screens will shade the south and west facades and each unit will include high performance windows. These energy efficient features will reduce utility bills for tenants, increasing affordability, and help improve indoor air quality.

“The overall competition and the quality of work that went into these proposals provides a snapshot of the innovative building construction going on in New York State,” said NYSERDA President and CEO Peter R. Smith. “Through NYSERDA’s New York Energy $martSM Multifamily Building Performance Program, we are encouraging many more developers, architects and others in the building industry to design and construct their properties to the ENERGY STAR standards. NYSERDA continually works to illustrate that high-quality, healthy, and energy efficient housing can also be affordable."

The NHNY competition was first announced at the Center for Architecture in June 2006. In response, thirty-two architect-development teams submitted qualifications to the design jury, which consisted of prestigious architects, housing experts, and community officials, including Enrique Norton, FAIA, Principal, TEN Arquitectos, David Burney, FAIA, Commissioner New York City Department of Design and Construction, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., and Shaun Donovan, HPD Commissioner. This past September, the jury chose five finalists to submit full development proposals. Each of the finalists received NYSERDA funded stipends to create their proposals. In addition, Enterprise provided two grants totaling $30,000. Both grants went toward operational support, which included the launch the competition’s website, support of the judging process, an environmental report, and the preparation and installation of the exhibition at the Center for Architecture.

The five finalists chosen by the jury were as follows:

BRP Bluestone Rogers Marvel

Developers: BRP Development Corporation and The Bluestone Organization

Architects: Rogers Marvel

The Legacy Collaborative

Developers: The Dermot Company, Nos Quedamos and Melrose Associates

Architects: Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP) and Kiss + Cathcart (K+C)

Phipps Rose Dattner Grimshaw

Developers: The Phipps Houses Group and The Jonathan Rose Companies

Architects: Dattner Architects and Grimshaw

seg Full Spectrum Hamlin Behnisch studioMDA

Developers: seg, Full Spectrum and Hamlin Ventures

Architects: Behnisch Architekten and studioMDA

WHEDCo Durst Cook+Fox

Developers: Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCo) and Durst Sunset LLC

Architects: Cook+Fox Architects, LLP

When reviewing the five proposals and selecting the winning team, the judges considered specific design and development criteria including economic and long-term environmental sustainability, innovative design quality and replicable financing that leverages private and public subsidies.

“The impetus for the New Housing New York design competition came out of a desire to leverage the unique culture of innovation present in New York to address the issue of affordable housing in a concrete way. The continued commitment of many volunteers, guided by the conviction that architecture has both the ability and responsibility to look beyond the expected, has been crucial in bringing the NHNY Legacy Project to this stage,” said NHNY Steering Committee Co-Chair Tara Siegel. “The involvement of neighborhood residents in the South Bronx has helped define the goals for the project, and with their continued input, we believe that it will be something all New Yorkers can be proud of. We hope to see aspects of this project replicated both in New York and across the country as the quality and potential of affordable housing continues to be addressed in innovative ways.”

“We congratulate the winners and all of the participants in the New Housing New York Legacy Project, who have proven that affordable housing, innovative design and sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive,” said Jim Himes, Director of Enterprise’s New York office. “Enterprise is pleased to have supported this project as part of our commitment to making green affordable housing the norm, a commitment exemplified by our national Green Communities initiative to finance and build thousands of environmentally friendly homes for low-income families. We hope that this winning project will inspire others to expand the boundaries of what is possible in sustainable affordable housing as well.”

Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts Jeff Speck said "The National Endowment for the Arts is honored to be supporting this important project, and I am personally encouraged by the competition's focus on marrying high design to the practical demands of providing shelter to those who need it most."


Department of Housing Preservation and Development

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation’s largest municipal housing development agency and is implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. The New Housing Marketplace Plan is the largest municipal affordable housing effort in the nation’s history. HPD also encourages the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards.

AIA New York Chapter

The AIA New York Chapter, the oldest chapter of the American Institute of Architects, founded in New York City in 1857, is dedicated to three goals: public outreach – engaging and interacting with the public about architecture and the built environment; professional development – helping architects to be the best at what they do; and design excellence – improving the quality of design and advocating environmental conservation and sustainability. As part of the Institute’s celebration of its sesquicentennial projects around the country are being implemented to give back to the community. The New Housing New York Legacy project is one of these projects.

New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
NYSERDA is a public benefit authority created in 1975 by the New York State Legislature. NYSERDA administers the New York Energy $martSM program, which is designed to support certain public benefit programs during the transition to a more competitive electricity market. Some 2,700 projects in 40 programs are funded by a charge on the electricity transmitted and distributed by the State's investor-owned utilities. The New York Energy $martSM program provides energy efficiency services, including those directed at the low-income sector, research and development, and environmental protection activities.

Enterprise is a leading provider of the development capital and expertise it takes to create decent, affordable homes and rebuild communities. For more than two decades, Enterprise has pioneered neighborhood solutions through public-private partnerships with financial institutions, governments, community organizations and others that share our vision. Enterprise has raised and invested $7 billion in equity, grants and loans and is currently investing in communities at a rate of $1 billion a year. Enterprise’s New York office is the city’s leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing for low-income people. Since 1987, Enterprise’s New York office has housed over 59,000 men, women, and children, developed more than 21,000 affordable homes, and committed almost $1.4 billion in equity, grants, and loans to community development projects across the city.

Visit to learn more about Enterprise’s efforts to build communities and opportunity, and to meet some of the half a million people we have helped.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts -- both new and established -- bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit

For more information on the New Housing New York Legacy Project, please visit:


New Technology Puts an Unprecedented Level of Control in Hands of Consumers

( New York , New York , January 17, 2007) CENTURY 21 NY Metro, a full service residential rentals and sales brokerage has launched a new feature on their web site that puts an unprecedented level of control in the hands of buyers and sellers. Recognizing the consumers’ demand for greater transparency of information about properties, Century 21 New York Metro is giving its clients access to data and resources that were previously not even available to agents in many firms.

Now clients can have access to the same information their agents do. In most of the country access to information regarding inventory, the buying and selling process and marketing efforts is available to all parties. However, in NYC, access to this type of information is traditionally less forthcoming.

MYPLACE is a free service available exclusively at that offers buyers and renters the ability to closely track properties that they may be interested in. Sellers have a rich set of tools that give them detailed, up-to-the-minute feedback on how effectively their property is being marketed

Sellers/Owners can log in to an account set up by their agent from any computer to check on the status of their sale. This data gives unprecedented transparency to the seller/owner, including the ability to:

· Track property search activity.
· Track property views.
· Track email correspondence and open house attendees.
· Obtain profile of interested visitors.
· Use many other qualitative and quantitative analytical features.

For Buyers/ Renters can set-up multiple saved searches and:

o Receive email notifications of new matches to their search criteria.
Track changes to specific properties and receive email notification of price changes and other key criteria.
o Share saved results.
View up to 5 comparable apartments side-by-side.
o Contact an agent via email or Instant Message for more information.
o Sign up for agent and/or company mailings & newsletters.

“We view My Place as the next step in the evolution of providing the customer with access to the real-time information they are demanding and doing it in an agent-friendly way,” says Mike Simon, president, C21NYM. He adds, “Now both the Agent and their customer have access to the same information, which makes the communication and timeliness crucial to real estate transaction even more efficient. ANNOUNCES NATIONWIDE MAPS TO FIND WEALTHY SINGLES
Real Estate Data Provider Offers Neighborhood Maps to Target Areas of Rich, Single Men and Women

New York City, January 15, 2007 –, the premier real estate data site, announces ‘Singles’ maps that highlight pockets of rich, single men and women in major cities throughout the United States, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Seattle.

The ‘mash-up maps’ display neighborhoods that are color-coded based on the average income and availability of single men and women in an area. So for example, women looking for high percentages of single men with incomes over $100,000 might try the Upper West Side of Manhattan or the area between Pacific Palisades and Malibu in Los Angeles. To find wealthy single women, the Madison Park area of Seattle and Miami Beach look promising.

To view any of the singles maps, go to:

“While the rich singles maps are obviously helpful to identify a dating pool of successful and available singles by neighborhood, these maps collectively are also very useful to anyone looking to develop new real estate projects, open a store, hire employees, or do business in neighborhoods with substantial buying power,” said Matthew Haines, founder of

“Using, a single woman could quickly locate a neighborhood with an abundance of wealthy single men, one which also has low crime, good schools, and appreciating home prices, making her next move an informed decision rather than a random one” said Ryan Slack, chief executive officer, “The map was initially created as a ‘gift’ for our publicist, Kelly Kreth, a single woman living in Manhattan. Once she saw it she realized its huge potential to help other singles throughout the country and we rolled them out nationwide.”

“While the idea started out almost as a joke, when my client,, presented it to me, I realized its value for other singles. I actually did meet a man from an area highlighted on the map as having an abundance of rich, single men, and while the relationship did not work out, the map helped me find an area of my neighborhood that would have suitable men to date,” says Kelly Kreth, president, Kreth Communications, publicist to

For real estate professionals and investors, offers other maps with zoning, foreclosures, price per square foot, air rights, nearby toxic sites, construction permits filed, and more. The site also provides extensive reports for every property, including building details, ownership information, police reports, school district info, recent sales prices, photos, property values and comparable sales, as well as ‘for sale’ and foreclosure listings.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Putting a price on a dying view

Views, especially in Manhattan play a piviotal role in the real estate market. Just one window or lack therof can make the difference of whether an apartment will go up or down in value. But how much can a once prestine view that has now been rendered impotent by a development impact the price of an apartment?

That very question has been raised by a reader who is experiencing the slow painful death of a view. Below is the question which has been edited to protect the identity of the reader.

We live in an UES apartment on a very high floor. We have several views, one of them being South which is currently phenomenal. I have floor to ceiling windows where I can see the Chrysler Bldg, Citicorp Bldg, Bloomberg Bldg and Empire State Bldg. After this 45 story bldg comes in, this part of
my view will be blocked.

Do you have any guess (%) how much money this view
blocker will cost us?

Below is my response.

Thank you for reading my blog. You are correct that this new development will have an impact on the value of your home. However how much of an impact depends primarily on the state of the market. About a year or two ago, pieces of crap were flying off the shelves because of the lack of inventory on the market. There was a one bedroom that I used to show and it was a complete rip off at 400k. Not only were the views horrible but it was practically next to the FDR and it was in horrible condition. But people were coming in droves because it was the cheapest thing on the market at the time and some sucker decided it was a great deal buy it.

Please do not think I am inferring that your home is a piece of crap. From your description it sounds like you and your wife live in a very lovely home.

Also it is a question of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. For some people that development will make their eyes bleed. For others who have had a brick wall in front of them for most of their natural lives, that development is not a bad thing. But then again you will have to see after the development is completed to determine how much of an eyesore it will be for you.

Unfortunately I am unable to guess how much of hit you may take. My best recommendation is to talk to an appraiser since they could probably present you with an educated guess.

This generous reader has given me permission to present his question to all of you.

Do you have any guess (%) how much money this view
blocker will cost them?

Bear in mind this is no ordinary view. We are talking Southern Exposure which is the most coveted compass point of all of Manhattan and a line up of the creme de la creme of the Manhattan Skyline.

All are welcome to participate!

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Craigslist Wars: Counter Attack!

It appears that Craig Newmark has struck a critical blow in the Craigslist Wars.

Craig sent an email to alert me of a recent development in the NYC rental market.

Hey, you know that customer service at craigslist has been pursuing bad apartment brokers in NYC for a few years.

After an investigation by the NY City Council, the Department of Consumer Affairs is now getting very aggressive regarding deceptive ads posted online by brokers.

We've been helping 'em out, being careful to protect the rights of the accused.

I figure that is both a "surge" and an "escalation".

Next... working with the NY Department of State, which regulates broker licenses.

Those of you who think that this is just a dog and pony show to make the public feel better, you couldn't be more wrong. If the Department of Consumer Affairs is unable to make a dent in the rental douchebaggery then Craig will roll up to Albany and knock on Spitzer's door. Once Craig lays down the evidence in front of our esteemed Governor, Spitzer will have no choice but to provide the impetus for DOS to start pulling licenses. Remember who are Governor is folks. He has eagerly gone toe to toe with those in the finacial sector and other Even if he pisses off the wrong people, he has to entact quick and harsh measures because anything less would create the impression that he is a paper tiger.

Of course DOS probably has their hands full dealing with redlining and steering however dealing with bait and switch artists is simply a matter of strangling the rooster to scare the monkeys.

If DOS is just as aggressive with dealing with bait and switch artists as they are taking down agents who engage in redlining and steering then don't be suprised to see news reports in the next couple of months of DOS suspending or revoking licenses. Rental season is going to so much fun.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stronger winds

In my last two entries I presented my perspective on the state of the Manhattan market and the conflict of what is occuring nationwide. My intuition maintains the stance that the winds are shifting towards a signifigant downturn and it was furhter fortified by this link.

In a nutshell, any rebound that occurs in the housing market won't be enough and the housing market has not fully recovered and in fact has just begun its enfilade upon us.

The Great Jonathan Miller, who I know all of you are going to be seeing at Real Estate Connect, talks about the national housing rebound that acted as viagra for brokers, sellers and Wall Street.

But Miller begs to differ.

Housing market hopefuls were uplifted by the Commerce Department’s 3.4% increase in purchases of new one-family homes. In fact, I grew annoyed because new home sale stats are very misleading and to place hopes on a housing rebound based such a flawed statistic, is a waste of energy.

Translation: You have to be kidding me.

You can understand Miller being so perturbed once he pointed this fact.

In fact NAHB estimated that in November 2006, cancellations constituted 38 percent of gross sales, compared with 26 percent in November 2005 and about 18 percent in the first half of 2005. This means that 150k to 200k homes are being counted that never got built.

This all presents an interesting scenario because if it is truly the case that housing market has only begun to crash and burn, will Manhattan be able to hold its own or will it eventually fall like the rest of the markets?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A deviation of sorts.

I spotted this on Inman

Existing-home sales lose ground in New York
November activity declines by double digits from 2005 level
Thursday, January 04, 2007

The buyer's market in New York state continued in November as sales and prices of existing single-family homes fell for the third straight month, according to preliminary data accumulated by the New York State Association of Realtors.

There were 7,802 existing homes sold in November, down 13.8 percent from the November 2005 sales total of 9,053. November's activity fell 11.1 percent from October's sales total of 8,775.

So while Manhattan hold its own the rest of the state begins to crash and burn reflecting the overall national trend.

So what does this all mean? There are many places in the great state of New York that are just as comparable to Manhattan in price and amenties. Westchester County alone is considered to be one choice areas to live in. Why is it that they are getting hammered and Manhattan is not?

Also what does this mean for Manhattan? Is this a sign for things to come? Is Manhattan next on the bubble hit list? Or does foreshadow Manhattan's new role as the light in the darkness of a housing recession?

And why is discrepancy occuring between Manhattan and the rest of New York housing market? Are we getting the complete picture of the Manhattan market or is there some type of culinary conspiracy taking place within the confines of the real estate community?

I'm just asking.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Today Curbed rolled out its links of residential reports for the 4th quarter. And although there are differences amongst them, overall they agree that the market is holding its own. Jonanthan Miller has been gracious enough to present a thorough list of links on the reports.

There are probably some of you out there expect me to dine on some crow tonight, but I am not. I still think we are in for some major as the winds change and I still think that for some of us out there things are going to come crashing down.

I once had a conversation with a prominent individual in the real estate world. This was somone who was the real deal, no pun intended. Nnot only did he have the academic credentials but he had a ton of experience to the point that he could hold his own in a knife fight with Donald Trump.

When I told him that I was interested in becoming a real estate investor, the expression on his face turned polar. He made it clear to me that real estate is a great business but it is subject to changes that can occur on a dime. As he put it.
"When the pendulum swings, it swings very hard."

Perhaps what they are calling the soft landing is actually the pendulum shifting its direction.

Let's see what happens in 6 months.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why this is bad: Dollar getting kicked to the curb

Happy New Year Good People! I hope all of you had a safe and wonderful New Year. And with a New Year comes new developments.

The first development is a new series I call "Why this is bad". In this series I will present topics of interest and welcome you all to participate in a discussion of why this topic is a bad thing. Feel free to use comments or email me.

In my travels in real estate, I find that I have learned a tremendous amount just from talking to people and I would like to take this opportunity to involve more of you in my blog.

The first topic will be the ever powerful euro. According to the New York Times, that aftera series of night stands, the Central Bank is slipping out of bed with the dollar and cozying up to the euro.

Countries with large holdings of dollars in their foreign-exchange reserves are showing a new willingness to dump the dollar in favor of the rising euro.

The latest to make a major move is the United Arab Emirates, which joined Russia, Switzerland, Venezuela and others late last month when it shifted a chunk of its reserves into euros.

There have also been ambiguous signals from China about a possible pullback from the dollar, and recent word from Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, that it would prefer to be paid in euros rather than the usual dollars for its oil shipment.

So feel free to comment and email. Feel free to also express your opinions if you disagree with my perspective.