Property Grunt

Friday, March 30, 2007

What about Manhattan? Part 2

I want to thank everyone for responding to my entry. Even the ones that were more interested in snarky comments than strong arguments chocked with information.

Tom Acitelli, the Serjeant at Arms of the real estate section of the New York Observer, alerted me of a column that he had written several weeks ago about the Sub Prime Crisis in relation to New York City. In his email, he has stated to me that a sub prime crisis occurring in Manhattan is practically impossible because of the way Manhattan real estate works.

In Manhattan, though, the number of sub prime mortgage originations remains negligible. The prohibitively expensive housing here means less potential buyers and tighter reins on those who do make the sales cut. If you’re going to get a hefty loan for a $500,000 studio, you’re going to have to have good credit—or be backed up by someone with such (paging Mom and Dad).

But even if a buyer has good enough credit to get a loan for the typical 10 percent Manhattan down payment as well as a mortgage, co-op boards, which serve as gatekeepers for much of the borough’s for-sale housing, might still reject a buyer with shaky credit.

In short, in Manhattan, subprime mortgages aren’t common because they can’t be common. The system’s evolved to one favoring those with good credit or a lot of liquid money.

“Most of the borrowers in Manhattan are well-qualified,” said Jeff Appel, a senior vice president at Preferred Empire Mortgage Company.

Tom's article does shed a bit of light on Manhattan's stance on the Sub Prime Crisis and I do recommend that every one read it. However it has raised another question.

Wait for it.


OOOOOOOOOH. Grunt. Will you please s**t the f**k up? Is this what you do in your spare time?

Just bear with me folks. Just for a moment. Remember this part from Tom's article?

In short, in Manhattan, subprime mortgages aren’t common because they can’t be common. The system’s evolved to one favoring those with good credit or a lot of liquid money.

“Most of the borrowers in Manhattan are well-qualified,” said Jeff Appel, a senior vice president at Preferred Empire Mortgage Company.

I have witnessed this system in action when I saw one buyer who had an impressive portfolio of assets. But the board turned the buyer down due to the buyer's rather small salary and the fact the buyer was a bit snooty during the interview.

In order to get past the board you better have the goods. That means your finances have to be impeccable, especially if you are dealing with a co-op. A condo, you have a little more wiggle room.

But as Tom pointed out you need either good credit or a lot of liquid money. Some people have one or the other. But not everyone has both. Which leads me to my next question. What if having good credit and liquid money isn't enough?


Whoa, whoa. Just wait a second. Please bear with me. The evidence that Tom has presented is an airtight argument that Manhattan will not be affected by a sub prime fall out.

But that doesn't mean Mahattan is out of the cross hairs of the overall mortgage crisis. Like I have said before. A mortage is a mortgage. Sub prime or not. If you can't keep up with the payments, well then you are f**ked no matter how much money you make.

This article from Reuters points this out.

"Everyone's looking at subprime. The rock they aren't looking under are the adjustable rate mortgages and teaser rates and low money-down loans," said Mark Kiesel, a portfolio manager for Pacific Investment Management Co., the world's biggest bond manager. "It's going to affect prime as well."

Kiesel said he sold his Newport Beach, California, home for more than $1 million in May last year after the property appreciated more than 20 percent in two years. He believes delinquencies and defaults will rise, weighing down most of the housing market.

California, with 3,384 foreclosures of higher-scale homes since December, is leading the nation, followed by Florida and New York, according to RealtyTrac. The MBA doesn't track foreclosure data by home value.


Josh Rosner, managing director at investment research firm Graham Fisher & Co., says the growing numbers of foreclosures outside the subprime market is just the start.

"To define the problem as a subprime problem is short-sighted," Rosner said. "It's really seeing the tip of the iceberg as the iceberg."

As Tom stated before, you either have good credit or lots of liquid cash in order to survive in Manhattan. But will that be enough for those people who took the ARM option or those funky jumbo loans? As this article has pointed out, it isn't just the little guy getting squashed. The big bosses are getting slammed too.

Sheriff Leo McGuire presides over foreclosure auctions in Bergen County, New Jersey, where the bidding for a home reached $1.2 million last June -- a record for one of the wealthiest counties in the nation.

Homes sold on the auction block for as much as $852,000 this month -- more than quadruple the median home price in the United States. County officials believe they are close to setting another record soon.

This is Bergen f**king County which is the Chappaqua of New Jersey. People run here in droves for the school system and the community. It is a far cry from Newark. Yet their getting their asses kicked in right now.

Grunt. Stop acting like an alarmist dumbass.

Folks, all I am doing is raising these questions. Even with co-ops being vigilant in who gets into their buildings, there are still alot of condos out there. And as I have said before, Manhattan is insanely expensive even for doctors, lawyers and other professions that are known for their high salaries. There is a multitude people out there who have made other non-traditional arrangements for their financing in order to buy a piece of the Manhattan dream. Will they be able to sustain themselves through the end of days? Or will they be hearing these words?

"It's sad. It's just an awful feeling," she said. "You hope that you can come up with a financial plan to help people remain in their homes, but sometimes it's not the best thing for them."

These days, her calendar of eight counseling sessions a day, 40 a week, remains full. Increasingly, she offers different advice than devising financial plans to save her clients' homes.

"If they can't afford it, sometimes the best thing for them is to walk away," Guzek said.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What about Manhattan?

It looks like Jonathan Miller was on the money when he said that the sub prime mortgage crisis was going to dominate the headlines. Wherever you go there is some report about how the sub prime mortgages are f**king up the program. Even Bernanke’s calming words weren’t enough to build confidence in the stock market in fact it appears it just freaked them out even more.

Curbed and Gothamist have also jumped on the sub prime mortgage band wagon and are focusing on two articles in the Daily News and New York Times regarding foreclosures and the sub prime market.

What I do want to ask is the question that has not been answered, in fact it hasn’t been raised by the local media which is “Where is the data on Manhattan?”

From what I have heard in the media there has been a lot of talk of new developments, the market softening and there has been reports on foreclosures in the Manhattan area. But I have yet to year any reports about the sub prime effect on the Manhattan. market For the love of mike, we have data on Newark. But what about this island called Manhattan?

Whether it is sub prime, interest only, ARM or fixed rate, a mortgage is a mortgage is a mortgage. Sub prime doesn’t just apply to single family or two family homes. So I will not accept the excuse that sub prime only deals with certain types of homes.

Manhattan is obscenely expensive and during the height of the market it was even hard for people with high incomes to get the money together to buy an apartment. So there must be a significant segment of the population that had to go through more creative means to acquire a mortgage. So I would not be surprised some buyers exercised the sub prime option.

I am not trying to pull an Oliver Stone, but I suspect the Manhattan data does exist and we haven’t seen it as of yet it might be for the following reasons.

1.Manhattan is the flagship of the real estate industry. While the rest of the country is crashing and burning, Manhattan is still holding its mud against forces of the real estate correction. If there is evidence that Manhattan is in the same position as Queens and Brooklyn, there are might be fears that it might set off a panic.

2.There maybe some developers who aligned themselves with lenders who could prepare sub prime mortgages in order to entice buyers to purchase something they couldn’t afford. Perhaps some of them do not wish to be exposed or perhaps there are some developers who are relying on sub prime to pull them through.

I accept the possibility that sub prime mortgages do not exist or are very rare in Manhattan. It might be a class issue where sub prime mortgage are considered to be gauche. Also co-ops are very particular about their requirements, looking over a buyer’s mortgage and determining whether the buyer could keep up with the payments. So mortgage brokers might steer their buyers away from them.

So, let’s end the speculation and clear the air. I think we all have a right to know how bad or good things for the sub prime market in Manhattan. Or that if the sub prime market even exists in Manhattan.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Roll Call: The 300 Edition

We Spartans have descended from Hercules himself. Taught never to retreat, never to surrender. Taught that death in the battlefield is the greatest glory he could achieve in his life. Spartans: the finest soldiers the world has ever known.

Spartan King Leonidas

The reason why I bring up this quote is due to an incident that occurred in San Diego. According to Inman news Trulia and Zillow showed up at the Prudential Real Estate show when they were told to pack up their s**t and leave.

This all occurred just before the doors were about to open. According to Inman they determined the following reasons why this occurred.

Both companies booked exhibit booths and flew execs to the show only to be told to pack up and leave before the doors opened. Trulia COO Sami Inkinen said his company was told they weren't welcome by none other than eRealty founder Russ Capper, because Trulia competes with the exclusive agreement Prudential has with Yahoo! Real Estate (Capper and Yahoo! wouldn't comment).
That agreement puts Prudential brokers' listings on Yahoo! Real Estate, then makes their agents pay referral fees when they close a deal using a lead generated through the arrangement. Trulia and Zillow let (beg?) brokers to send them listings and they don't charge them fees (unless they want to buy ads).
Ironically, Capper -- who ended up as president of Prudential's e-commerce subsidiary, Prudential Real Estate Services Co., after Prudential bought eRealty for its technology -- seems to have made the transition from the outsider shaking up the establishment to defender of the status quo.

Being badass motherf**kers as they are, Trulia brushed it off as the cost of doing business.

This is really unprofessional and childish on part of Prudential and eRealty and someone should be held accountable for their actions. Not only only should Trulia nd Zillow have their registration fees returned but they should also be reimbursed for traveling costs and issued an apology.

Hey. It’s your f**king party, you can do whatever you want but you should have refused them entry the moment you received their checks and not waste their time. I would like to think this was an oversight on part of the organizers of the event but I would not be surprised that this was done on purpose as a way of flexing their muscle.

If Prudential and eRealty think by taking the Xerxes approach that their competitors will get on their knees, they are sadly mistaken.

Zillow and Trulia are the 300 and just because you have an army of Persians on your side means absolutely nothing. They have already proven to be quite a formidable force in a very short time. Acting in this manner is not going to stop them. It will just motivate them to give you a one way ticket to the smackdown hotel.

Here’s the thing. The online real estate business model is one that has no barrier of entry and if you think you have dominion over this model then you are setting yourself up for a Battle of Plataea.

There are a multitude of real estate sites out there and there will be more to come. Some will fall and some will blow their competitors out of the water but you can be damn well sure Prudential and eRealty is going to have to do more than just play bouncer if they want to be considered a serious player in the field.

I think Obi Wan Kenobi says it best.

Darth Vader: Your powers are weak, old man.
Obi-Wan: You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

Of course I think this direct quote from Bad Boys sums it up what the consequences will be if this douchebaggery continues.

Marcus Burnett: He steals our s**t, kidnaps Julie, shoots at my wife. Oh, we beatin' him down. We beatin' him DOWN!

Here’s the rundown from Gothamist about an incident that occurred last week.

A 17-year-old Catholic school student tells the Post she was beaten on the B82 bus for looking "Chinese." Marie Stefanie Martinez, who is from the Philippines, says that when she boarded a bus last Friday, a group of black teenagers laughed at her and refused to let her pass - and then they pulled her hair, opened her book bag, and punched her in the mouth.

To add insult to injury when she asked the bus driver for help, his response was “go talk to a priest.”

I would like to present a series of points to the parties involved.

Mayor Bloomberg
Get this sh*t under control now. If you want these areas to gentrify properly and bring more tax revenue to the city then insuring the safety and well being of any rider, regardless of race, creed or color is imperative. If it means putting cops on buses for a period of time, fine. Just make it clear this type of bulls**t will not be tolerated.

That bus driver needs to be made an example of. I realize he has a hard job but I have no doubt there is a set of directives that he needs to follow in these situations. And I am sure religious advice is not one of them. Also I recommend that the MTA does not ignore or spin this situation. Take care of this girl and her family. If you don’t, well I have three words for you. Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The attackers
I am not here to lecture you because if are unable to figure out that what did was wrong at this point in your life, well it would be a waste of my time. I would like this opportunity to give you a quick history lesson about the Filipino people. Besides Imelda Marcos and nursing, the Filipino people are also well known for being excellent knife fighters. When I mean excellent, I mean being vicious as f**k. One particular Filipino art is called Eskrima and the female practitioners have a reputation of being better than the men.

I bring this up because the next time you spot a Filipino women on a bus (or “Chinese looking” since you idiots are too f**king stupid to tell the difference.) I would advise you to let her pass and leave her alone. Because if you mess with the wrong woman, you could end up with an impromptu face lift.

Please do not mistake my words as concern for your safety. You are just flotsam in the sewer of life and you are just going to waste taxpayer dollars if you require medical attention.

Marie Stefanie Martinez
I implore you to forgive these people. I realize this is something very difficult to ask of you considering the trauma you faced but as a friend of mine pointed out, forgiveness is actually a selfish act since you are not helping your transgressors but yourself. Any hostility or fear you harbor against these people will only prevent you from moving on and in the end these people will have just compounded your pain. I also ask that you do not hold their ethnic origins responsible for their actions. They obviously do not represent the best of their race.

However, I encourage you to utilize the legal system to its fullest and pursue justice. This type of element is best suited in Riker's Island.

For young girls to act in this manner simply displays their own insecurities and helplessness. It is a shame that at such an early age that they are imprisoned in their own hell and mistake violence as their refuge. What they do not realize is the path of violence will only lead to their own undoing.

They will always be alone, for who would want to associate with such venomous people? This cycle of pain they inflict on others will end very, very painfully for them once they tangle with someone who is bigger, stronger and is unaware of the concept of compassion.

Marie, love your family and love yourself, be a good person and study hard. You have a bright future ahead of you but only if you let yourself have it.

Below are some announcements.



DATE: Thursday, March 22, 2007: 5:30-6:30 pm

PLACE: Center for Architecture, 563 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY

SPEAKERS: Shaun Donovan, Commissioner, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

David Burney, Commissioner, NYC Department of Design and Construction

Joan Blumenfeld, President, AIA New York Chapter

A VIP reception will mark the opening of an exhibition highlighting the first juried competition for sustainable and affordable housing in New York City. Known as the New Housing New York (NHNY) Legacy Project, the competition emerged from a collaboration between the NHNY Steering Committee, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the AIA New York Chapter, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Enterprise Community Partners, and the Center for Architecture Foundation. The initiative is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a 10-year $7.5 billion plan to build or preserve 165,000 affordable housing units citywide.

A design jury -- consisting of prestigious architects, housing experts, and community officials -- chose five finalists who received NYSERDA stipends to be used towards the creation of full development proposals. The exhibition will feature presentations by these five finalists, including the Phipps Rose Dattner Grimshaw winning team.
The winning proposal, titled “Green Way” or “Via Verde,” will be built on a 60,000 square foot city-owned brownfield in the South Bronx. The project will consist of 202 residential units as well as retail and community spaces, and parking. Residential space will range from high-rise apartment buildings to mid-rise duplexes and townhouses. Approximately half of the units are designated for low-income households, while the remainder will be available to moderate-and middle-income households.


Official Sales Event: Florida Real Estate Expo Held at Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel,
135-20 39th Avenue, Flushing , NY
March 23, 2007 12pm-6pm [Broker event only]
March 24, 2007 10am-5pm [Consumers]
March 25, 2007 10am-5pm [Consumers]

( New York , New York , March 14, 2007) Century 21 NY Metro, (C21NYM), a full-service residential rentals and sales brokerage announced today they have partnered with Tampa ’s Premier Realty Advisors, (PRA), the sales and marketing team for Pointe Development properties, to provide exclusive sales of three Tampa condominium developments to the NYC community. Pointe Developers offers affordable and attainable housing for the Tampa , Fl market. C21NYM, in coordination with PRA will bring this offer to NYC first-time home buyers, second home buyers and investors.

“This was a great opportunity for us to expand our customer base in the New York area through a unique partnership arrangement,” said Mike Simon, president, C212NYM. “PRA has a product that appeals to a customer prominent to New York that Century 21 can effectively reach though its marketing and referral channels.”

“Pointe Developers has given us the opportunity to market and sell affordable housing in Tampa , FL. After great success in the Tampa area, we are extremely excited to offer this same housing to New York and New Jersey residents,” says Jane Kinen, president, PRA.

The official sales to the NY community will begin on March 24th at the FL Real Estate Expo to be held in Flushing at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel. The Event will run for three days, with the first day being exclusively for the brokerage community.

C21NYM will be selling homes in three development complexes, all of which are priced $100K-180K and are in Tampa, FL. Bay Pointe Colony is conveniently located in New Tampa, just minutes from the University of South Florida , providing the perfect home for students and families alike. With easy access to I-275 and I-75, residents will enjoy a short commute to Tampa International Airport , Downtown Tampa and area beaches. One and two-bedroom apartments range from 624-812 sq ft.

Amenities include: two pools with barbeque area and gazebos, lush landscaping and a lake, a new 2,000 sq. ft. clubhouse with plasma T.V. and party area, a controlled-access community, a new state-of-the-art fitness center. IPod-smart homes, new cabinetry, fixtures and hardware, new plush carpet and ceramic tile throughout , new appliance package, washer/dryer connections, private yards per plan and new A/C unit and water heater in every home.

Palmera Pointe is a 20-acre community, also in Tampa , offering eight different floor plans ranging in size from one-three bedrooms. Amenities include: three pools, fully equipped business center, high-speed internet, state-of-the-art fitness center, clubhouse with bar/kitchen/billiards, trellis-picnic areas and manicured gardens with connecting courtyards.

Stone Creek Pointe is also in Tampa and offers four floor plans ranging in size from one-two bedrooms, from 718-1060 sq. ft. Amenities include: Resort-style pool with cabanas, sundeck and gas grill poolside, state-of-the-art fitness center, meditation garden clubhouse with plasma TV, kitchen and party area, tennis court, enclosed balcony or screened patio, washer/dryer connections, and is pre-wired for high-speed Internet and cable.

· To find out more about any of these properties contact C21NYM or visit:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grunt Punch

Remember this scene from Pulp Fiction?

Warning this clip is NSFW! There is cursing and blood.

The second time I saw this in the theater I laughed my f**king ass off until the next scene with Quentin Tarantino's dialog about self storage for African-American corpses. It was funny the first time I saw it, but for some unknown reason I found it, drop a load in your pants, hilarious the second time around.

Those of you who are Dr. Who fans will remember the episode "Girl in the Fireplace" which entails the good Doctor dealing with psycho androids, time traveling windows and a doomed love affair. Not only did this episode cement my confidence in David Tennant, but when I saw this episode, my heart was on the edge of breaking. I felt that this was one of the greatest love stories I had ever seen and could kick the Notebook's ass any day of the week.

I bring these anecdotes to simply display my personality, which is that I am kind of, well, some would say weird but I would like to think of myself as eccentric. As some of you may notice I have a demented sense of humor that frequently pops up in my entries. I also display a strong sense of passion for issues that are off the beaten path. Sometimes it rubs people the wrong way and I get into scuffles in my blog.

Now I am usually able to handle myself, however, I noticed in recent entries I was off my game, particularly with the comments to this entry.

I am not trying to excuse my behavior but that week I was quite sick and was stressed out. Therefore had no desire to engage in a full contact fight of words. Which was why my response was short and blunt.

Those who comment, even the negative ones, deserve better then just being called a douchebag. The fact they made the effort to respond to my word shows that I must respond not in kind but with thrice the will I can give out to them. And I will take this moment to make up for this mishap.

You are truly the epitome of chicken little. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling..." Dude, get over it. Every sign that things are not perfect is not a sign that the big crash is coming.

Of course not. But when you find blood in the toilet, your bedroom flooded with flies and whispers from the dark saying to get out, these might be signs that your house might be haunted. The same goes for the markets whether they are housing or stock. If you see a series of warning signs then you should be on your toes.

If you read my read entry properly which obviously you did not because of your lackluster response, I didn’t simply just make this up or in your words bullsh*t”. What I did was what any respectable journalist would do, which was to get the story. When the Dow dropped to its knees faster than J Edgar Hoover at a Scissors Sisters concert, I immediately went out and nailed down as many sources as possible. The sources I have cited are onesI find quite credible because of their background and I have full confidence in what they present to the public.

Real estate does not move the market all by itself. everyone on the street has known about the subprime problems for weeks...that was NOT the main cause of yesterdays selloff.

You are completely wrong about everyone knowing about sub prime weeks ago. They knew about sub prime loans years ago. What some of us did not realize was how bad it was going to be and when the s**t was going to the fan. Just look in the New York Times archives for the last 4 years and they will spit out articles detailing. Here’s a sample.

Stop crying wolf, because all you do is lose credability. It's a market(housing or stock)...they go up and down. Thats how it works. Do you sell houses like this? You tried this bullshit on me as a client, you would end up short one potential client.

Crying wolf, you f**ktard, is the act of creating false alarms for one’s own entertainment. Nothing in that entry was false. In fact I was beyond honest. What you mistake as amusement is my f**ked up sense of humor. If you read my blog you would know that by know that I can be pretty demented. You are correct in stating that real estate goes up and down, the question I seek to answer is how low are we going to go and what will be the repercussions of this drop? As for my credibility, (that’s how you spell it) I am a blogger. Our kind doesn’t give a s**t about what people think of us.

As we are learning now, real estate is creating movement in the stock market and not in a good way. And once again, this is more evidence that you did not even bother reading my entry because if you did you would have seen that I provided other reasons besides real estate why the market is getting entering rough waters.

Please, get over yourself and your end of the world worries keeping you up all night...come up with something a little more realistic..

You are correct sir/madam/hermaphrodite I am quite concerned about this situation. From what I have been reading and learning, I am very wary of what the future holds for all of us. I remember my first recession, which happened during the early 90’s. It was a very sobering experience. If this isn’t realistic for you then you have been watching way too many episodes of Top Model.

Now below was the response I received after I called this reader a douchebag.

it was bad enough you tore into the stock market falling news like a kid on christmas morning, as if this correction somehow proved all your nay saying right. but actually-nothing has happened to the NYC market. not yet...of course the bottom could fall out-and if/when that happens feel free THEN to say "i told you so". but the stock market going down doesnt actually prove you right at all.

all that was bad enough...

but to call a poster on your own blog a douchebag?

im taking you off my favorites list.

that's just sad.

(and i wasnt the original poster--im actually a regular reader who has always enjoyed your blog)

First all of you even think that what happened to the stock market was Christmas to me, then you must have spent some scary ass holidays with your family. I disagree that this correction (your word not mine) proved me right in anyway. What occurred that day at the stock market indicates that we have to be on our guard and to ignore the implications would be pretty stupid and financially suicidal.

You need to understand. It’s not about I told you so. Some serious s**t is about to go down. I mean really epic, Ten Commandments f**ked in the head type of insanity. Now it appears we pretty much have a fair grasp of the causes but we are not sure when and where it will occur. In that entry all I was doing was promoting awareness. We need to be on our toes because if a top notch Bear Stearns analyst can get caught with his pants down, then who is to say it won’t happen to us?

As for the NYC market, I am still on the fence. Will the demand to live in New York City be enough to cushion the market? Or will the dead cat bounce theory come true?

I am sad too that you have taken me off your list. But you are always welcome to come back.

Then the original angry commentor decided take another swing at me..

I AM the original poster. So what you have links to back up your garbage ass theories. Everyone can find stories written by bears to support there reasons why the markets will go down.

I can say the same thing about that anyone who views the market being overrun by the bulls and find reasons that the markets will go up. And I do read these “garbage ass theories” (your term not mine) of people who think that the markets are on their way up.

The fact is, incomes are up, rates are historically low, credit is have NO idea about what you are talking about.

What I find interesting about your statement is that you have provided no evidence of backing this up. Now, I can easily neutralize what you have presented, but instead I will give you the chance to provide proper evidence backing up your claims.

I'm waiting.

You make bloggers look just another guy sitting around in his underwear trying to pass his stupid biased opinions off as journalism...what a joke.

Uhh, bloggers always look bad, even when they are doing good so whatever I write won’t affect that perception either way. A journalist gets paid. I don’t collect a dime from my blog. As for my underwear, please keep your perverted fantasies to yourself.

You probably believe your own garbage, and have been renting for the last 5 yrs. Good luck with that.

I am not sure how those two statements are related but if being cautious is believing in garbage, then I guess I would be home at Fresh Kills. And yes, I still rent because I have an amazing deal and thank you for your wishing me luck.

As for me being a douchebag, give me a time and a place and we can meet to see what kind of douchebag i am.

So you do admit you are a douchebag! Please don’t take this personally, but since you are a douchebag you probably will, I make a habit of avoiding douchebags. However I would make an exception to meet with you. How about we meet next Monday at noon? There is a building at Park Row right across City Hall that would be ideal. Since I don’t know what you look like, I suggest you wear something that will make you stick out of the crowd. I suggest a black ski mask and a shirt that says “Die pig die”. In fact as soon you walk into the lobby you should announce your arrival by screaming “Jihad, jihad, holy war!”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stoner Surprise

He has removed the afro wig and sunglasses to reveal himself to the world. Congratulations! I wish you the best of luck Brownstoner.

In all honesty, there are times when I want to drop the facade and pull a Peter Parker. However, there I have a set of loose ends that I need to tie up before even thinking of doing that.

Until that day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


No. I am not attending the Real Deal 3rd Annual New Development Forum at Lincoln Center. I am in the process of cleaning up the mess when the plumbers came in to fix a leak in my ceiling. More on that later.

Remember my entry on the Corcoran Exodus? Well it has been confirmed by the Real Deal Via Curbed. That those brokers pulled a power play.

Ex-Corcoran agents form new group at BHS
Less than eight days after their move to Brown Harris Stevens, four former Corcoran brokers have announced the launch of their new partnership.

The newly formed partnership includes Wendy Maitland, Erin Aries, Wilbur Gonzalez and Reid Price, who have brought along 14 former Corcoran brokers with them to Brown Harris Stevens as part of their residential team. The new marketing group, not yet officially named, will take high-end, design-driven new developments from conception to completion, says Maitland, one of the four managing directors.

According to Gonzalez, the group has half a billion dollars' worth of new developments that will begin sales in the next 30 days, including 33 Vestry Street, known as V33, and One York Street in Tribeca.

I wouldn't be surprised if they have taken over one of the downtown offices for themselves. I am curious to see Pam's counter move.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Roll Call: The "what the f**k is up with this weather ?"edition

Greetings folks, I hope all of you are well and keeping warm. Let's get started.

Jonathan Miller give the complete rundown of media coverage of the housing market ranging from the economy and the sub-prime black hole.

Curbed has announced that they are seeking interns. Listen up you fresh faced college kids. If you want a a great start to your resume and be able to land those ultra competitive media gigs, then join the Curbed Army. Not only will you learn to kick ass and take names, Lockhart Steele has a ton of brand name recognition. Obey me and go.

Barry of the Big Picture gives tips on undouching a douchebag broker. Barry, still waiting your response.

On the far side of the pond Property Day has been bought out.

14th March 2007, London/Amsterdam - PropertyEuro BV, the research and
publishing firm that publishes the magazines PropertyNL and PropertyEU,
today announced the acquisition of the assets of the London-based Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2003, PropertyDay is a meta news site that offers property
professionals up to 750 daily news articles from 109 sources across 32
countries. The news is aggregated by proprietary systems which are
developed in-house. Information is distributed through the website and
through daily news updates.

"PropertyEU provides information for cross-border development,
and investing in the English language. With we extend
PropertyEU´s growing arrays of products with free daily updates from
practically every country in the world, a fantastic new service for
our readers, " said Wabe van Enk, Founder/CEO of PropertyEuro.

"PropertyDay is a concept with strong growth potential in the field of
online communication and advertising." said Henk Fieggen, Publisher of
PropertyNL and PropertyEU. "This acquisition extends our reach beyond
Europe and instantly establishes us as a player in the global property
news market in which the company has not previously competed."

"This acquisition marks the
beginning of an exciting new era of growth for PropertyDay," added
Thissen, Founder of PropertyDay. "We look forward to extending our
services to readers and advertisers as part of PropertyEU and to
build out our technology platform. Readers should expect some major
improvements during the course of 2007"

Amsterdam-based PropertyEuro has established PropertyNL as the
authoritative source of commercial real estate information In the
Netherlands. Based on PropertyNL´s winning formula the company also
publishes PropertyEU, a multi-format cross-media information package
European real estate professionals. More information can be found at

Congratulations! I hope it is enough money to keep you in fish and chips.

Kyle from Hall PR has alerted me of Andre Kikoski's latest architectural creation. Who is Ander Kikosk's? I don't know but it seems he designs really expensive restaurants and has an obsession with the asterisk.

No. No that asterisk.


New York, New York

Commissioned by the well known pastry chef, Pichet Ong, this 680 SF dessert bar / restaurant is part of a newly emerging restaurant genre. Bringing the accomplished cooking that earned him fame with Jean-Georges Vongerichten to an intimate 34-seat venue (14 at the bar, 20 at the banquette), Pichet Ong's goal is to create a physical environment that reflects the playfulness of his inventive sensibility and references the visually appealing and whimsical nature of his food.

Our design solution, which is inspired by Pichet's creations, also makes subtle allusions to his childhood in Thailand , Hong Kong and Singapore . For instance, the geometry of his tilted panna cotta with shaved pears inspires a dramatic canopy that defines and accentuates a "stage" where Pichet will cook for his guests nightly. His fondness for subtle Asian references is evidenced in the palette of pale woods, green tea and shimmering gold and colored mirrored surfaces.

The patron's experience is one of luxury and intimacy. Seated on soft leather banquettes, eating award winning food off of fine china, patrons are never more than arms reach away from the celebrated chef who is preparing each and every dish right before their eyes.


The Dessert Bar, Open Kitchen & Bar

Clad in a softly illuminated textured skin of sesame spiced wood, architectural bronze, and topped with an ash wood dining surface, the Dessert Bar is a central design element at P*ONG. The spectacle of Pichet preparing food is complimented by the metallic gold resin counter on which he places finished dishes before they are served. Overhead, a dramatic tilted plane is punctuated by a random patterning of green tea and raspberry mirrored discs that have been etched with acid. These glowing dots are complimented by strategically placed down lights.

The wall behind the open kitchen and adjacent bar is clad in a carefully-composed

asymmetric pattern of clear and acid-etched horizontal mirrors that intermittently reflect the materials, colors, and textures of the space itself. Resin shelves, also in green tea and raspberry, will showcase exotic drink infusions created by Pichet.

The Undulating Banquette

Opposite the Dessert Bar is a large wall clad in Calico Ash wood veneer. As the wall bows and flexes to create a dynamic form within this space, it is animated by a asymmetrically composed series of recesses. Suede-lined, internally-illuminated horizontal recesses, in green tea and raspberry colors showcase antique teak and ivory mah jongg game pieces. Shimmering squares of gold bronze mesh, dance across the wall. Guests sit at a custom ultra suede and leather banquette that follows the flex of the wall, and dine on ash wood tabletops. Above, ultra suede clad acoustic panels will soothe the feel of the space. Throughout, simple track lights, concealed in the flanges of the steel beams overhead, will cast a soft glow on the space, and dramatic accents on the tabletop.


The visual themes and color palette of this intimate dining room are carried into the bathroom as well. Pale green glass mosaic tiles shimmer across the walls and are complimented by a wall of the Calico Ash wood and a playful gumdrop shape light fixture.


Sesame spice wood, by Oberflex imported from France

Metallic gold aggregate resin countertop by ALKEMI, Renewed Materials LLC

Calico Ash Wood wall by MDC

Suede Fabric by Wolf-Gordon Inc.

Antique mah jongg pieces supplied by Pichet Ong

Mandarin Bronze Mesh (Gold Fabric) by GKD Metal Fabrics

MR16 Lighting at Dessert Bar by RSA Lighting;track lighting by Jesco

Acid-etched mirrored Glass discs and wall mirrors by Carvart Glass

Waterglass mosaic tiles by SICIS

Castore Suspension pendant by Artemide

Norman Foster washbasin by Duravit

128 year old oak floor

Paint by Pratt & Lambert

Andre Kikoski Architect creates imaginative architecture with an uncompromising level of service. Their mission is to pursue a functional elegance in every project regardless of scale. Each project benefits from a concise idea that is conceptually clear and faithfully executed on time and within budget. They understand the importance of working within the context and character of each project but also aim to be innovative and to create lasting value.

The firm was recently named as one of "Ten Young Firms to Keep an Eye On" by the AIA New York Chapter magazine, Oculus, and one of "The New Garde of Ten Designers To Watch," by New York Magazine. The firm has received a Nomination in the James Beard Foundation Awards for Outstanding Restaurant Design, as well as a Lumen Award for Lighting Excellence and the Edwin Guth Memorial Award from the International Association of Lighting Designers.

Japan still denies the existence of the Comfort Women, which were women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II so that horny Japanese soldiers wouldn't rape their own women.

This is an important issue because there is a slight chance that China might be more flexible with those U.S Securities in exchange for declaring Eminent domain over Japan in order to turn it into a museum to commemorate the Rape of Nanking since the Japanese government are having such a difficult time remembering their own actions during World War II.

Think this is far fetched? America needs China more than Japan and at one point they are going to be forced to choose sides. I am not putting the odds on the Tojos because this will be one soccer game they most likely not work in their favor.

Besides, among other things, Japan still hasn't accepted responsibility of using American soldiers as slave labor in World War II. Perhaps a museum can be set up in Japan for them too for the atrocities that committed against them as POWs.

Keep warm and stay safe!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

4 Horsemen leaving

The Real Estate broke the story that the 4 Horsemen were departing. Then Curbed delivered a double whammy with news that it appears that about 15 brokers are including the 4 Horsemen.

I have information that indicates that at least one of the 4 is striking out on their own. And she's a real material girl.

Overall, these developments confirmed some unconfirmed chatter that I heard in the past couple of months concerning BHS. According to what I heard on the wire there was a change of command in the Tribeca and Village office. Prior to that change, the Village office was undergoing renovations and expanding the space and the Tribeca office was undergoing a very successful baptism under fire in the Tribeca market. However, according to the wire there was still a significant number of seats that needed to be filled. And an empty seat is an unprofitable seat. So I would not be surprised that the oligarchs of BHS issued an ultimatum to bring in new blood. Overall, I think this is a win-win for all parties involved.

Pam Liebman

This is a woman who has had to fill the enormous shoes of one the most famous brokers. Everyday she goes to work is a reminder of her predecessor. Now adding to the pressure cooker is some of her best brokers jumping ship. However I don't think Ms. Liebman is dropping a load in her pants over this. In fact I think she is relieved that this drama is now over.

In the world of real estate sales, the closer is the king. That means they can pretty much demand anything they want and do what they want. I have been a witness to some very nasty behavior from brokers and they were able to get away with it because of the money they brought into the company. I also know some brokers who are lavished with more ad space and the authorization to form a team because of the money they bring in.

Pam Liebman was quoted saying

"Sometimes issues come up that make it better for the brokers and the company to part ways," Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman told The Real Estate on Monday afternoon. "In this case, that's the path we chose to take." (Ms. Liebman was using the royal we.) "They're good brokers, we wish them well."

Translation: Money. Basically she had a group of Richard "Ricky" Romas who were either demanding more money or more resources or maybe it was the other way around where Corcoran was making demands that cut into the 4 Horesmen's development deals as suggested by one commentor. On top of that there was probably a lot of egos clashing.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think any less of these brokers or Pam. Let's face it. When you bring in $200 million in sales and have high profile celebrity buyers working with you, you are going to have a very strong sense of yourself. And when you are Pam Liebman who was selected to be the heir of the one the biggest real estate firms in Manhattan by the legend who created it, you are not going to bring a knife to gunfight, you are going to bring to a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, a full platoon of the Crimson Guard and lay waste to everything in your path.

What these brokers did by leaving was clean house without having Pam doing the dirty work. Now Pam is free to replenish her ranks with a new roster of brokers. In other words she's George Steinbrenner and Corcoran is the Yankees. Within her own company there are tons of brokers who probably felt they were in the shadow of the 4 Horsemen and with them gone, this is an opportunity for them to shine. There is also probably a slew of brokers from other companies banging down the door to have the Corcoran name.

And let's not forget Corocoran's own farm team Citi-Habitats. They have proven to be quite a scrappy company despite the fact they work with less resources than the average Corcoran broker and are often viewed by some brokers as the McDonald's of real estate. Let's not forget how profitable McDonald's is.

In fact I would not be surprised that Citi-Habitats returns to the days when Andrew Heiberger sold the company. Corcoran did a lot of cherry picking at Citi-Habitats during that period and it is possible that Pam goes back to harvest to a the Citi-Habitats orchard. I wouldn't be surprised to see Pam Liebman having dinner withUrban Digs .

The new kids on the BHS block.

These brokers will cruise and schmooze with talk of why they left Corcoran and why BHS is such a better company and what a great opportunity it is. When they pitch to potential buyers and sellers they will crow about how BHS has a better marketing division and how the BHS listings database is so much more superior to taxi. This new sheen is something they will wear proudly because the buzz of their leaving is going to attract a lot of attention which is what a broker wants.

I once heard a mortgage broker refer to Brown Harris Stevens brokers as "looking half dead." which I think she was referring to their demographic. I thought this was amusing coming from her since the only reason why she had wrinkle free skin was due to the gatling gun full of botox blasted into her face.

There are some who view Corcoran brokers as being young and firm in comparison to Brown Harris Stevens. Therefore these new Corcoran brokers will have an advantage over their indigenous colleagues. DON'T YOU BELIEVE IT!

First of all, Brown Harris Stevens has been around a lot longer than Corcoran and that itself says a ton about the company. If you think these Brown Harris Stevens brokers will simply lay down to the conquering heroes of Corcoran, you are dead wrong. There is a multitude of BHS brokers who have a higher closing rate than the new guns coming in, so don't make the mistake of perceiving them as a Shelly

And some of them maybe farther in their years, but they have no qualms of ripping off Heather Mills' prosthetic leg and beating you with it in order to get an exclusive.

In the beginning, I predict that there will be some tension in these offices particularly with seating arrangements. Most likely some of these Corcoran brokers will be placing their muscular asses in the seats of the desks that were formerly occupied by BHS brokers creating a displacement of sorts. "Who moved my cheese?" will be the question of the day.

All this change and tension will result in a galvanization of the BHS. Why? Because everyone has something to prove. The new blood have to prove that they are substance and not just hype. They did not get to this position by riding on the coattails of the Corcoran machine and that they can succeed in a different environment. Brown Harris Stevens brokers will be jerked out of their comfort zone because now the enemy is within their camp. They have to prove to themselves and others that they are relevant in what they do and they can succeed. Especially those who have lost their stature and have no choice but to fight tooth and nail to regain it. In other words, the oligarchs of BHS have lit a proverbial fire under the asses of all their brokers.

What if the Rolling Stones and N'Sync merged forces for a concert tour? Would it be good or bad? I don't know but it sure as hell would sell a lot of tickets. It appears this is the formula that BHS is following. Let's see what happens in a year.

Monday, March 12, 2007

From bad to oh we are so f**ked: Part 2

Gretchen Morgenson gives the sitrep of the sub prime mortgage industry that is on the edge of going TARFU for not only for Wall Street but for the the economy. Here’s the rundown.

Crisis Looms in Mortgages
On March 1, a Wall Street analyst at Bear Stearns wrote a surprisingly upbeat report on a company that specializes in making mortgages to cash-poor homebuyers. The company, New Century Financial, had already disclosed that a growing number of borrowers were defaulting, and its stock, at around $15, had lost half its value in three weeks.
What happened next seems all too familiar to investors who bought technology stocks in 2000 at the breathless urging of Wall Street analysts. Last week, New Century said it would stop making loans and needed emergency financing to survive. The stock collapsed to $3.21.
The analyst’s untimely call, coupled with a failure among other Wall Street institutions to identify problems in the home mortgage market, isn’t the only familiar ring to investors who watched the technology stock bubble burst precisely seven years ago.
Now, as then, Wall Street firms and entrepreneurs made fortunes issuing questionable securities, in this case pools of home loans taken out by risky borrowers. Now, as then, bullish stock and credit analysts for some of those same Wall Street firms, which profited in the underwriting and rating of those investments, lulled investors with upbeat pronouncements even as loan defaults ballooned. Now, as then, regulators stood by as the mania churned, fed by lax standards and anything-goes lending.
Investment manias are nothing new, of course. But the demise of this one has been broadly viewed as troubling, as it involves the nation’s $6.5 trillion mortgage securities market, which is larger even than the United States treasury market.
Hanging in the balance is the nation’s housing market, which has been a big driver of the economy. Fewer lenders means many potential homebuyers will find it more difficult to get credit, while hundreds of thousands of homes will go up for sale as borrowers default, further swamping a stalled market.

“The regulators are trying to figure out how to work around it, but the Hill is going to be in for one big surprise,” said Josh Rosner, a managing director at Graham-Fisher & Company, an independent investment research firm in New York, and an expert on mortgage securities. “This is far more dramatic than what led to Sarbanes-Oxley,” he added, referring to the legislation that followed the WorldCom and Enron scandals, “both in conflicts and in terms of absolute economic impact.”
While real estate prices were rising, the market for home loans operated like a well-oiled machine, providing ready money to borrowers and high returns to investors like pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds and other institutions. Now this enormous and important machine is sputtering, and the effects are reverberating throughout Main Street, Wall Street and Washington.

When they all saw the profit margins from subprime mortgages, every institution that had reserves carpet bombed the industry with as much money as possible. I figured something was up when I began to hear chatter about other institutions liquidating their real estate holdings.

Already, more than two dozen mortgage lenders have failed or closed their doors, and shares of big companies in the mortgage industry have declined significantly. Delinquencies on loans made to less creditworthy borrowers — known as subprime mortgages —recently reached 12.6 percent. Some banks have reported rising problems among borrowers that were deemed more creditworthy as well.
Traders and investors who watch this world say the major participants — Wall Street firms, credit rating agencies, lenders and investors — are holding their collective breath and hoping that the spring season for home sales will reinstate what had been a go-go market for mortgage securities. Many Wall Street firms saw their own stock prices decline over their exposure to the turmoil.

If Wall Street is betting on the housing market to a pull a Lazarus act, well they might as well bet on the Red Sox winning another world series. Possible but highly unlikely.

The Bear Stearns analyst who upgraded New Century, Scott R. Coren, wrote in a research note that the company’s stock price reflected the risks in its industry, and that the downside risk was about $10 in a “rescue-sale scenario.” According to New Century, Bear Stearns is among the firms with a “longstanding” relationship financing its mortgage operation. Mr. Coren, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Bear Stearns is considered to be one of the most elite and badass investment banking firms in the world. These are people who do not easily exercise the cut and run option. They will look at every option and table and through hell or highwater they will stage a comeback.

Scott, if you are reading this, keep your head up. I know being in this situation really sucks ass but s**t happens. I mean its not as if you doing blow off the t*ts of a stripper at Scores while you were doing your analysis of the situation. From reading some of your interviews you are obviously someone who knows what they are talking about.

Others who follow the industry have voiced more caution. Thomas A. Lawler, founder of Lawler Economic and Housing Consulting, said: “It’s not that the mortgage industry is collapsing, it’s just that the mortgage industry went wild and there are consequences of going wild.
“I think there is no doubt that home sales are going to be weaker than most anybody who was forecasting the market just two months ago thought. For those areas where the housing market was already not too great, where inventories were at historically high levels and it finally looked like things were stabilizing, this is going to be unpleasant.”


Like worms that surface after a torrential rain, revelations that emerge when an asset bubble bursts are often unattractive, involving dubious industry practices and even fraud. In the coming weeks, some mortgage market participants predict, investors will learn not only how lax real estate lending standards became, but also how hard to value these opaque securities are and how easy their values are to prop up.
Owners of mortgage securities that have been pooled, for example, do not have to reflect the prevailing market prices of those securities each day, as stockholders do. Only when a security is downgraded by a rating agency do investors have to mark their holdings to the market value. As a result, traders say, many investors are reporting the values of their holdings at inflated prices.
“How these things are valued for portfolio purposes is exposed to management judgment, which is potentially arbitrary,” Mr. Rosner said.
At the heart of the turmoil is the subprime mortgage market, which developed to give loans to shaky borrowers or to those with little cash to put down as collateral. Some 35 percent of all mortgage securities issued last year were in that category, up from 13 percent in 2003.

Looking to expand their reach and their profits, lenders were far too willing to lend, as evidenced by the creation of new types of mortgages — known as “affordability products” — that required little or no down payment and little or no documentation of a borrower’s income. Loans with 40-year or even 50-year terms were also popular among cash-strapped borrowers seeking low monthly payments. Exceedingly low “teaser” rates that move up rapidly in later years were another feature of the new loans.

The rapid rise in the amount borrowed against a property’s value shows how willing lenders were to stretch. In 2000, according to Banc of America Securities, the average loan to a subprime lender was 48 percent of the value of the underlying property. By 2006, that figure reached 82 percent.

Mortgages requiring little or no documentation became known colloquially as “liar loans.” An April 2006 report by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, a consulting concern in Reston, Va., analyzed 100 loans in which the borrowers merely stated their incomes, and then looked at documents those borrowers had filed with the I.R.S. The resulting differences were significant: in 90 percent of loans, borrowers overstated their incomes 5 percent or more. But in almost 60 percent of cases, borrowers inflated their incomes by more than half.

A Deutsche Bank report said liar loans accounted for 40 percent of the subprime mortgage issuance last year, up from 25 percent in 2001.
Securities backed by home mortgages have been traded since the 1970s, but it has been only since 2002 or so that investors, including pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds and other institutions, have shown such an appetite for them.
Wall Street, of course, was happy to help refashion mortgages from arcane and illiquid securities into ubiquitous and frequently traded ones. Its reward is that it now dominates the market. While commercial banks and savings banks had long been the biggest lenders to home buyers, by 2006, Wall Street had a commanding share — 60 percent — of the mortgage financing market, Federal Reserve data show.
The big firms in the business are Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and UBS. They buy mortgages from issuers, put thousands of them into pools to spread out the risks and then divide them into slices, known as tranches, based on quality. Then they sell them.

The profits from packaging these securities and trading them for customers and their own accounts have been phenomenal. At Lehman Brothers, for example, mortgage-related businesses contributed directly to record revenue and income over the last three years.

The issuance of mortgage-related securities, which include those backed by home-equity loans, peaked in 2003 at more than $3 trillion, according to data from the Bond Market Association. Last year’s issuance, reflecting a slowdown in home price appreciation, was $1.93 trillion, a slight decline from 2005.

In addition to enviable growth, the mortgage securities market has undergone other changes in recent years. In the 1990s, buyers of mortgage securities spread out their risk by combining those securities with loans backed by other assets, like credit card receivables and automobile loans. But in 2001, investor preferences changed, focusing on specific types of loans. Mortgages quickly became the favorite.
Another change in the market involves its trading characteristics. Years ago, mortgage-backed securities appealed to a buy-and-hold crowd, who kept the securities on their books until the loans were paid off. “You used to think of mortgages as slow moving,” said Glenn T. Costello, managing director of structured finance residential mortgage at Fitch Ratings. “Now it has become much more of a trading market, with a mark-to-market bent.”

What some real estate gurus do is that that buy a bundle of crappy properties and then they stage a big meeting where suckers gather around to see the no money down dance. What happens is that these bolos end up purchasing properties for no money down and think they got a great deal. But instead what they have is a property with an insane mortgage. But here’s the punchline. What these real estate gurus do is that they bundle up those mortgages and sell them to a syndicate while they pocket the money. What the syndicate does is trade the mortgages. It is also very similar to tax liens.
But it is sort of like a game of passing the hand grenade. What everyone is doing is trading a hand grenade. The last thing anyone wants is a default because that means they need to sell the property in order to collect any money on it. The mortgage is obviously more valuable if they are collecting a consistent profit from it. However if something happens where the owner defaults on the mortgage, then the pin is pulled and then it becomes a race against time for someone to dump it onto someone else.

This is what has been basically happening with all of these mortgages on Wall Street which are now most likely in the possession of the Chinese.

The average daily trading volume of mortgage securities issued by government agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for example, exceeded $250 billion last year. That’s up from about $60 billion in 2000.

Wall Street became so enamored of the profits in mortgages that it began to expand its reach, buying companies that make loans to consumers to supplement its packaging and sales operations. In August 2006, Morgan Stanley bought Saxon, a $6.5 billion subprime mortgage underwriter, for $706 million.
And last September, Merrill Lynch paid $1.3 billion to buy First Franklin Financial, a home lender in San Jose, Calif. At the time, Merrill said it expected First Franklin to add to its earnings in 2007. Now analysts expect Merrill to take a large loss on the purchase.

Just like Citi-Habitats, Julia B Fee and Corcoran, the people who have come out ahead are the ones who sold out ahead of the game. Sound familiar? During the dot com boom, a lot of people made mad money by simply selling out and cashing in on their stock. These lenders were smart to sell out and leave someone else holding the bag.

Nevertheless, some investors wonder whether the rating agencies have the stomach to downgrade these securities because of the selling stampede that would follow. Many mortgage buyers cannot hold securities that are rated below investment grade — insurance companies are an example. So if the securities were downgraded, forced selling would ensue, further pressuring an already beleaguered market.

“There are delayed triggers in many of these investment vehicles and that is delaying the recognition of losses,” Charles Peabody, founder of Portales Partners, an independent research boutique in New York, said. “I do think the unwind is just starting. The moment of truth is not yet here.”
On March 2, reacting to the distress in the mortgage market, a throng of regulators, including the Federal Reserve Board, asked lenders to tighten their policies on lending to those with questionable credit. Late last week, WMC Mortgage, General Electric’s subprime mortgage arm, said it would no longer make loans with no down payments.
Meanwhile, investors wait to see whether the spring home selling season will shore up the mortgage market. If home prices do not appreciate or if they fall, defaults will rise, and pension funds and others that embraced the mortgage securities market will have to record losses. And they will likely retreat from the market, analysts said, affecting consumers and the overall economy.
A paper published last month by Mr. Rosner and Joseph R. Mason, an associate professor of finance at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, assessed the potential problems associated with disruptions in the mortgage securities market. They wrote: “Decreased funding for residential mortgage-backed securities could set off a downward spiral in credit availability that can deprive individuals of home ownership and substantially hurt the U.S. economy.”

It appears that this is far from over. There is a possibility that we can ride the storm if the economy is able to hold its own but it looks everything is up in the air. All of this eerily reminds me of the boom when everyone put their money in those stocks and we know how that movie ended.

One thing I do know for sure is that the distressed properties market is going to explode. There are going to be a lot of dumpster diving in the real estate industry.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Roll Call: The arctic wind edition

Greetings folks, it has been a long week for the Grunt dealing with sleep deprivation, cold weather and moving.

So here comes the roll call.

Alison Rogers sounds of with her diary of a Real Estate Rookie with her interview with a financial planner. I recommend you read it while it is for free since Dick Bellmer, a financial planner, gives the rundown on how to pick a financial planner and why it is important especially those in the real estate industry.

This guy is a straight shooter all the way. You can tell from this quote.

Rookie: Given the season, one last question about taxes. A lot of us work from home a lot; is claiming a home office an audit flag?

Bellmer: I'm not sure I would call it an audit flag; I don't think any of us know what the audit flags are. But you do want to make sure you have t's crossed and your i's dotted. From my perspective, anything having to do with the IRS, you learn what the rules are and you play by them. Don't have a home office and then try to deduct

It appears that I was wrong about the sub prime mortgage fallout. It seems that not all of us are in deep s**t. Yes. You heard me. Apparently for on segment of society this sub prime mortgage meltdown is the best thing ever. They are hedgefunds.

According to the NYT

Some hedge funds have made a killing. Paulson & Company, an $11 billion hedge fund in New York, had such a strong belief that the subprime market would fall apart that it started two funds last summer concentrated solely on expecting such a collapse. Paulson’s Credit Opportunities Funds, now with more than $1 billion, were up 67 percent for February and about 82 percent for the year to date. A spokesman for Paulson declined to comment.

And this is how one master of the universe pulled it off.

In May 2005, Mr. Burry decided that the housing market was overheated. Credit had been overextended and the appreciation in home prices had the earmarks of a bubble. He placed a bet that the subprime market would collapse.

To do so, he used credit derivatives to short — bet against — subprime mortgage tranches that are part of mortgage-backed securities. The derivatives were essentially insurance against a default, so he would make money when subprime started to deteriorate.

Mr. Burry ultimately entered into eight credit derivative agreements that effectively shorted the riskiest parts of subprime mortgage pools issued in 2005. That investment, which looks smart today, hurt the performance of the overall fund as the subprime market continued to hum.

Through the first nine months of last year, Scion Value Fund and the Scion Qualified Value Fund were down 16.4 percent, with a big chunk of that loss coming from credit derivative positions, some tied to mortgages and others related to corporate bonds, according to a letter to investors. The fund ended the year down about 17 percent, most of which was attributed to the credit derivative positions.

Yet at the end of the third quarter, Mr. Burry still had faith in his trade.

“Never before have I been so optimistic about the portfolio for a reason that has nothing to do with stocks” he wrote in his third-quarter letter to investors, referring to the credit derivative positions. The letter was confident — bordering on cocky —suggesting that others players jumping into the market would pay for being late to the game.

Feels the dot com boom all over again.

And right now, I would like to say goodbye to old friend.

I eagerly await your triumphant return. Which I know will come because as is the way with Marvel, nothing ever stays dead. Even if it takes a half a century.

And Joe Quesada, you suck for leaking the story to the media before the rest of the fans could get their hands on that issue. You would have gotten alot more money from the fans if you had leaked it to the retailers first and then let the media know the next day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Don't f**k with Craigslist and Speed dating for renters

Craig Newmark just alerted of a new development in his battle with rental agents abusing Craigslist.

Several New York rental brokerage companies are under investigation by the city for deceptive online advertising practices. The brokerage companies confirmed their Internet advertising records were subpoenaed recently by the city agency responsible for consumer protection. Although the Department of Consumer Affairs confirmed the subpoenas, it would not reveal the number or identity of the companies.

I am curious to see which brokerage firms have been subpoenaed. I have my suspicions but I will keep them to myself. I have been covering the the Craiglist Wars for quite awhile and I have to admit this could become quite nasty but unfortunately it was overdue.

One of my favorite real estate websites unleashed another titan onto the rental universe. Jeremy Bencken of Apartment Ratings has recently launched Tenant Market According to their blog

“Tenant Market helps landlords find their ideal tenant fast by flipping the rental market and allowing landlords to search, filter, and contact renters.”
Just think of it as speed dating for renters and landlords.

As I have stated before in a previous entry regarding the outsourcing of rental brokers, this is just another step leading to the point where rental agents will be out manned and outgunned. However it will lead to more choices for consumers.

Happy trails folks!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Roll Call: PR and Racisim

Greetings folks, it's Friday and I am exhausted.

This week Kelly Kreth has hit the big time by being featured in the Real Deal. In this article they talk about her successful real estate PR firm and becoming famous throughout the UK. All this from her blog.

Urbandigs has a great entry on why lower rates might be a bad thing.

Remember my rant on the Chinese and why it is a really bad idea to make racist remarks against them because it will just piss them off and they will end up destroying us all with our mortgage debt?

Well I found these two articles that display the cultural sensitivity of Asian people.

The first is an article from California about Korean Americans organizing a protest over a comic book published in South Korea that features anti-Semitic images.

One comic strip in the book shows a man climbing a hill and then facing a brick wall with a Star of David and a STOP sign in front.

''The final obstacle to success is always a fortress called Jews,'' a translation says.

Another strip shows a newspaper, magazine, TV and radio with the description: ''In a word, American public debate belongs to the Jews, and it's no exaggeration to say that U.S. media are the voice of the Jews.''

Cooper, who learned of the book from bloggers in Seoul, said some of the cartoons ''echo classic Nazi canards'' by ''recycling various Jewish conspiracies.''

Y'know, I was wondering why there were so many Hasidic reality shows on television.

The second article comes from the San Francisco where it appears even the power of John Singelton has its limits.

A genius by the name of Kenneth Eng has dubbed himself an "Asian Supremacist" and has a column in Asianweek magazine called "God of the Universe."

Anyway Mr. Eng wrote a series of column with the theme of hate involved. They included
"Proof that Whites Inherently Hate Us." and "Why I Hate Asians."

But he really kicked the hornet's nest when he wrote "Why I Hate Blacks". One of the most brilliant passages featured in his diatribe was the following

"In high school, I only remember one black student ever attending any of my honors and AP courses. And that student was caught cheating."
If you want to read the full column go to this link. It is just more evidence that this guy is really asking for it.

My point in presenting these two stories is to show that you do not have to be an obese lesbian or a group of poseurs from Brooklyn to be insensitive or racist towards other cultures and nationalities.

Asians are not a monolithic group that share a general consciousness. In other words they are not the borg. They can be caring, generous, honest, deceptive and downright despicable. Some are stupid, some are smart and some are in between. Some are good and some are evil. Some just don't care. Why? Because they are human beings. Unfortunately, ignorance and racism is part of the package of the human condition.

And I would like to end it off with this press release from the Center of Architecture. Good night folks.

Center for Architecture

Exhibition and Programs Schedule

Winter – Spring 2007

Exhibitions Currently on View:

School Buildings – The State of Affairs

January 15 - March 24, 2007

Today's educators require flexible spaces that can satisfy multiple functions and future demands and they are in need of spaces that enhance modern teaching as well as a student's personal development. Communities request to share facilities and services, and changing social patterns require new services at schools. In response, architects design schools that feel, look and function differently, having become learning and community centers. It's a new architecture for a new education. This exhibition illustrates this process and the schools that have been built in the course of it. It contains 31 examples of recently built or designed schools from Zurich Switzerland along with examples from Finland , Germany , the Netherlands , Scandinavia, and Austria . It facilitates a dialog among educators, architects, and the community, strikingly similar to the efforts than have been made in New York over the past few years. It will make for an interesting and fruitful dialog.

The current exhibition is organized by:
AIA New York Chapter Committee on Architecture for Education, Umberto Dindo, AIA, Chairman ETH Zurich / Center for Cultural Studies in Architecture (CCSA), Martin Schneider, scientific associate, dipl. arch. ETH Zurich The exhibition is a site-specific presentation of a traveling exhibition originally organized by: ETH Zurich / Center for Cultural Studies in Architecture (CCSA), City of Zurich Building Authority , School and Sport Authority, and the Zurich University of Teacher Education. Exhibition Underwriters:
Credit Suisse, City of Zurich , ETH Zurich , Department of Architecture

Schools of the Future — US Case Studies

January 16 — March 17, 2007

What is the relationship between pedagogical visions and spaces for children? This question is pivotal to understanding good school architecture. Currently there is widespread emphasis on innovative approaches to education that reflect a more personalized conception of learning than prevailed during the 20th century. This exhibition presents a selection of significant school designs from across the US .

Organized by: Ria Stein, Berlin ; Texts by Mark Dudek, London ; Design by Oliver Kleinschmidt, Berlin The exhibition is based on the book Schools and Kindergartens — A Design Manual by Mark Dudek, published by Birkhauser Verlag AG

Exhibition sponsored by: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Visual Echo

January 12 — March 10, 2007

This interactive light installation acts as a meandering ribbon of light by remembering the colors visitors wear. While also recording the rhythm and frequency of visitors, the ribbon transforms the viewer's perception of space. Using cutting edge LED tiles, this work by Jason Bruges Studio demonstrates exciting new potentials and questions how light, space and color can interrelate in architectural space.

Organized by: The AIA New York Chapter in partnership with the Illuminating Engineering Society, New York Section (IESNY), the International Committee AIA New York Chapter, and the Royal Society of the Arts

Exhibition Underwriters:
Color Kinetics, SKYY 90

Going Public 2: City Snapshot(s) and Case Studies of the Mayor's Design and Construction Excellence Initiative

October 6–March 3, 2007

Two-part exhibition celebrating public projects in New York City . City Snapshot(s) is the second installation of the Center for Architecture's inaugural exhibition showcasing recent and newly proposed public architecture, art, engineering and landscape projects submitted by open call. Highlighting the efforts of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to enhance the city's built environment, Case Studies of the Mayor's Design and Construction Excellence Initiative will focus on seven projects and look at how the NYC Department of Design and Construction is redefining what public architecture can be in the twenty-first century. Together, the two installations document the scope, quality, and diversity of public work in New York City .

Curator: Thomas Mellins
Exhibition and Graphic Design: TRUCK product architecture

Organized by: AIA New York Chapter

Bovis Lend Lease; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; FXFOWLE Architects; KPF

Forest City Ratner Companies; National Reprographics, Inc.; Rose Brand; W Architecture and Landscape Architects

The LiRO Group

Special thanks to:
Office of the Mayor, City of New York ; New York City Department of Design and Construction; Center for Architecture Foundation; The Thornton-Tomasetti Group

Upcoming Exhibitions:

New Housing New York

March 19 to June 16, 2007

Power House illuminates the people, projects, and public policies that fuel the affordable housing landscape in New York City . As New York City 's first juried design competition for affordable, sustainable housing, the New Housing New York Legacy Project (NHNY) is generating creative, replicable approaches to urban development. The exhibition focuses on the NHNY competition and sets it within the context of the city's efforts to preserve and development sustainable, financially viable residences for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. The show's emphasis is on the future of housing in the city, as represented by the competition winner, Phipps Rose Dattner Grimshaw (Phipps Houses / Jonathan Rose Companies / Dattner Architects / Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners), the four finalists, and the development mechanisms put in place by Mayor Bloomberg's 10-year New Housing Marketplace initiative and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Building on the 2004 New Housing New York Ideas Competition, the 2006 two-stage contest will result in construction of the winning design on a 40,000 square-foot Bronx site, which is valued at $4.3 million and was donated by The City of New York.

Curator: Abby Bussel
Exhibition and Graphic Design: Casey Maher

Organized by: AIA New York Chapter, New Housing New York Steering Committee and the City of New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development with the additional support of the Center for Architecture Foundation and the AIA New York Chapter Housing Committee

Exhibition Underwriter: National Endowment for the Arts

Making Housing Home

Photographs with residents of New York City housing developments

March 22 — June 2, 2007

This photographic exhibition explores how people inhabit housing to create homes in two of New York City 's affordable housing developments, each of which were developed to provide good homes for all. Because units of housing are in essence homes for families, this project takes an interior look at what architecture can allow and support, to afford the crucial process of making space for oneself within designed spaces and housing markets. If social housing reflects the social covenant of our society, what is it to which every citizen is entitled? What does it take for a life to flourish and can a building help or hinder this process? What becomes of designed spaces once they are inhabited?

An Installation by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani

Exhibition underwriters: Related Apartment Preservation, 42nd Street Development Corporation, Barbara Stanton

Organized with: Center for Human Environments , Housing Environments Research Group, The Graduate Center , CUNY

2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards

April 9 — July 7, 2007

A showcase of the 2007 award-winning projects in three categories-Architecture, Interiors, and Projects. Selected from hundreds of international, national and local submissions, these projects spotlight the extraordinary achievements in architectural design excellence happening in New York City and around the world.

Exhibition and Graphic Design: Graham Hanson Design

Organized by: AIA New York Chapter and the AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Committee

Benefactor: DIRTT

Patron: HOK, Microsol Resources, F.J. Sciame Construction

Lead Sponsor: Columbia , Langan, Mancini Duffy, Richter + Ratner, Syska & Hennessy

Bentley Prince Street
Mechoshade Systems, Inc.
New York University School of Continuing & Professional Services: The Real Estate Institute
Perkins + Will
Swanke Hayden Connell
The Thornton Tomasetti Group

NY 150+: A Timeline
Ideas, Civic Institutions, and Futures

April 9 — June 23, 2007

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the American Institute of Architects in New York City , the AIA New York Chapter will feature an exhibition charting the transformation of the city and the profession from 1857 through the present and into the future. Genetic lines tracing the founding of the institute will intersect with various democratic and social movements and the architecture of New York 's civic structures.

Curator: Diane Lewis

Organized by: Organized by the AIA New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture Foundation

Exhibition Underwriters: IBEX Construction; NRI; Trespa

The exhibition is supported in part by an Arnold W. Brunner grant from the AIA New York Chapter

Additional support is provided by: Peter Schubert, AIA; FXFOWLE ARCHITECTS

Studio@theCenter: Lighting Design

June 7 — August 4, 2007

This exhibition will highlight the work of 12 students from the High School of Art and Design that are taking part in the Studio@theCenter design intensive after school program. Studio@theCenter is designed to give high school students maximum exposure to one area of design through interaction with design professionals who serve as program mentors and instructors. Over the course of eight guided and open studio sessions students will: develop an understanding of the field of lighting design, visit a lighting factory and showroom, visit buildings where lighting plays a significant role in the design and feel of the building, and design and create their own functional lighting prototype.

Organized by: The Center for Architecture Foundation

Sponsored by: IESNY


Building Connections: 10th Annual Exhibition of K-12 Design Work

June 28 — August 11, 2007

The Center for Architecture Foundation's annual exhibit of K-12 explorations into the built environment showcasing models and drawings from Learning By Design: NY, a school based residency program, as well as work from its youth programs at the Center for Architecture.

Organized by: The Center for Architecture Foundation

Upcoming Programs & Events:

Adaptations: The Berkeley Lecture Series, View from the West Coast

Thursday, 03/01/2007, 6:30–8:30pm
Professor Lisa Iwamoto's work focuses on connecting conceptual design to fabrication. Iwamoto is Principal of IS.Ar IwamotoScott Architecture, a practice formed in partnership with Craig Scott in 1998. Honors and awards include Metropolis Magazine "Next Generation" Award runner-up; Architectural League of New York Young Architects Award: Material Process; and I.D. Magazine's Design Award. The firm's work has been featured in publications such as Architectural Record, Competitions, and the New York Times.
Organized by: UC Berkeley
Sponsored by: Ryan Associates, The Architect's Newspaper, Helfand Architecture, Pasanella Klein Stolzman and Berg, Ronnette Riley Architect and the Center for Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place (Directions)
Member Price: Free for Center for Architecture, AIA New York Chapter, and UC Berkeley Alumni
Nonmember Price: $15
CES LUs: 1.5
More Info:

MIT's House _n Future; a Lecture by Dr. Kent Larson

Monday, 03/05/2007, 5:30–8:00pm
Kent Larson, Architect and Director of MIT’s House _n Research Consortium, will present a new “open source” model for residential design, fabrication, and technology integration where: (1) Buildings are disentangled layers of integrated assemblies, (2) Manufacturers agree on interface standards and become tier-one suppliers of customized components, (3) Builders become assemblers, (4) Architects create design-engines to create thousands of unique environments (playing a role on more than a tiny percentage of new housing), and (5) Customers (home-buyers) become "innovators" at the center of the process by using sophisticated design interfaces and receiving personalized information at the point of decision. He will also discuss a series of prototype homes his research group is building, and a unique living laboratory called the PlaceLab.
Speaker: Dr. Kent Larson, Architect and Director of MIT's House _n Future Project
Organized by: AIA NY Housing Committee and AIA NY Technology Committee
Sponsored by: ABC Imaging
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: free
CES LUs: 2, CES HSW: 2
More Info: Reception, 5:30; Program, 6:00


Shadow Play
Family Day@the Center

Saturday, 03/10/2007, 1:00–4:00pm
With shoeboxes, flashlights, and some great ideas, we’ll create small shadow box theatres and shadow puppets. Create a short play on the spot and take your theatre home to share with your friends!
Organized by: Center for Architecture Foundation
Sponsored by: Illuminating Engineering Society of New York
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: $10 suggested donation per family
Telephone: 212.358.6136

Urban Design and Film Making - a lecture by Robert Nesson

Monday, 03/12/2007, 6:00–8:00pm
Robert Nesson, documentary film maker, is also on the board of Interlock Media, a non-profit organization that produces media on the environment and human rights. Its mission is to support informed empowerment at the grassroots and community level by producing educational mediaworks; by carrying media techniques and technologies to the community level; and guaranteeing that production is an inclusive and diversified process.
Organized by: AIA NY Planning and Urban Design Committee
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15
CES LUs: 1.5

Schools of the Future – Claire Weisz and Roger Duffy discuss innovative school designs

Monday, 03/12/2007, 6:30–8:00pm
Claire Weisz, Weisz + Yoes Studio and Roger Duffy, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill present schools they designed and built, talk about collaborative processes and what defines innovative school design. What is the relationship between pedagogical visions and spaces for children? What are the goals and how can they be achieved? A panel moderated by Ria Stein, Birkhäuser Publishers will discuss these questions.

The exhibition Schools of the Future — US Case Studies is on view at the Center through March 17, 2007. The exhibition and program are based on the book Schools and Kindergartens — A Design Manual by Mark Dudek, published by Birkhauser Verlag AG.
Speakers: Claire Weisz, AIA, Principal, Weisz + Yoes Studio and Roger Duffy, AIA, Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Moderator: Ria Stein, Senior Editor Architecture, Birkhäuser Publishers
Organized by: Center for Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: free
CES LUs: 1, CES HSW: 1
More Info:

The Gil Oberfield Memorial Lecture

Thursday, 03/15/2007, 6:30–8:00pm
Tsao & McKown will present their work and ideas on the theme of SERVING CONSCIENCE.
Speaker: Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown
Organized by: AIA New York Chapter Interiors Committee
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Member Price: $10 Center for Architecture and AIA members
Nonmember Price: $15
CES LUs: 1.5, CES HSW: 1.5

Made in Germany : 4 Modern Membranes

Saturday, 03/17/2007, 9:30–11:30am
In the last decade, rapid developments in the engineering of the synthetic materials for lightweight enclosures have been pioneered in Germany, where a close “Bauhaus-like” collaboration between material scientists, material fabricators and engineers and architects have resulted in new innovations in membrane structures, resulting in a the realization of unique membrane applications that are only recently being attempted in the United States. This program will discuss in detail some of the most innovative projects completed within the last three years and the technical innovations that made them possible.
Speakers: Tim Hupe Project Architect of the Herzog & de Meuron’s Allianz Arena, Munich which uses a sophisticated double-skin membrane with programmable integral LEDs. Hupe is currently designing the Durban 2010 Soccer World Cup Stadium, and the new Singapore National Stadium. Tim Hupe is also the Architect of Documenta 12 in Kassel , Germany this upcoming summer.

Speakers: Bernhard Franken, Architect, Franken; Michael Stein, Structural Engineer, Schlaich, Bergermann and Partner LP, Stuttgart / New York . Stein specializes in Long Span Cable Net Membrane Roof Structures, both in Hamburg and Frankfurt .

With an overview of current technological innovations in membrane structures by Werner Preusker, PVCplus, Bonn .

Moderated by Craig Konyk, architect, New York .;
Sponsored by: Vinyl Institute, USA and the Center for Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: free
More Info: 212.683.0023 x121

The London Plan comes to New York City

Tuesday, 03/27/2007, 6:00–8:00pm
Debbie McMullen, the head of the City of London 's so-called "London Plan," will present some of her office's newest work, with a specific look at the comparison between NY and London . It has been suggested that London has much to teach New York , and that it would be in our city's best interest to learn about their newest policies and priorities (particularly in the case of congestion pricing, climate change, and livability).
Organized by: Forum for Urban Design
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15
CES LUs: 1.5, CES HSW: 1.5

Brandism Series: Strategy as Brand

Wednesday, 03/28/2007, 6:00–8:00pm
Strategy as brand is the creative response of critical architectural practice to the demands of a fast-paced real estate market that demands instant recognizibility paired with a maximum of built volume. Architecture is molded by a force field of economic interests, which might include the impact of existing restrictions such as zoning laws, building codes, and other regulations pertaining to market forces. Eliminating any notion of forced aesthetics, architecture becomes a compliant entity that is entirely subject to the impact of existing restrictions. Economic and regulatory constraints are no longer viewed as impediments to artistic invention but to the contrary, as essential information for the production of an architectural project. As architecture is stripped of all symbolic and formal significations, strategic research drives the production of different scenarios, which in turn inform the specific relationships among form, program, and event. The diverging interests of different parties—which include the city, the developer, and the end user—are translated into data that, in turn, inform the shape of the building’s envelope. Entailing a morphological transformation of contextual forces into a spatial composition, the resulting architecture presents a creative synthesis of diverging forces.

The series continues:
Tuesday, April 24 - Signature as Brand
Wednesday, May 23 - Brand as Sustainability
Wednesday, June 27 - Beyond Cool

Speakers: Michael Buckley, FAIA, Director of Columbia University Program in Real Estate Development; Robert F. Fox Jr. AIA, Partner, Cook + Fox; Kenneth Lewis, Associate Partner, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill; Michel Mein, Executive Creative Director, The 7th Art; Chris Sharples, Partner, SHoP Architects. This panel will be moderated by Susan Szenasy, Chief Editor of Metropolis Magazine.
Organized by: Anna Klingmann and AIA New York Chapter
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15
CES LUs: 1.5
More Info: 212.583.0023 x121

THINK New York : A Ground Zero Diary

Thursday, 04/05/2007, 6:00–8:00pm
With some distance, taking a look at the process which led to the selection of a master plan for Ground Zero offers insights into how obstacles confronting planners, builders and civic agencies today can be addressed. THINK New York : A Ground Zero Diary tells this story. In his lecture, Rafael Vinoly uses the book’s timeline narrative as a springboard for exploring future opportunities to clarify the priorities and strategies needed to bolster the new life emerging in Lower Manhattan .
Speaker: Rafael Vinoly and Roman Vinoly
Organized by: AIA New York Chapter
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15

New Housing New York : Panel Discussion with Winning and Runner-up Teams

Monday, 04/09/2007, 6:00–8:00pm
A presentation of the New Housing New York Legacy Project winning and runner-up proposals. This panel is presented along with the New Housing New York exhibition, Power House, which illuminates the people, projects, and public policies that fuel the affordable housing landscape in New York City .

As New York City ’s first juried design competition for affordable, sustainable housing, the New Housing New York Legacy Project (NHNY) is generating creative, replicable approaches to urban development. The exhibition focuses on the NHNY competition and sets it within the context of the city’s efforts to preserve and development sustainable, financially viable residences for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. The show’s emphasis is on the future of housing in the city, as represented by the competition winner, Phipps Rose Dattner Grimshaw, the four finalists, and the development mechanisms put in place by Mayor Bloomberg’s 10-year New Housing Marketplace initiative and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Building on the 2004 New Housing New York Ideas Competition, the 2006 two-stage contest will result in construction of the winning design on a 40,000 square-foot Bronx site, which is valued at $4.3 million and was donated by The City of New York. Exhibition is on view at the Center for Architecture, March 19 to June 9, 2007.
Speaker: Team representatives -TBD, Commissioner Shaun Donovan, and Commissioner David Burney
Organized by: AIA New York Chapter, New Housing New York Steering Committee and the City of New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development with the additional support of the AIA New York Chapter Housing Committee
Sponsored by: National Endowment for the Arts
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: Free
More Info:

AIA NY 2007 Design Awards Luncheon

Wednesday, 04/11/2007, 11:30am–2:00pm

The annual Spring Design Awards luncheon. Award recipients are recognized during the luncheon, an event that ultimately brings together 700 leaders in the design world to honor exceptional achievements in design excellence in the three categories: Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Projects.

Organized by: AIA NY Chapter
Location: Gotham Hall , New York City
Contact: Vanessa Crews , 212-358-6108 or
More Info:


FamilyDay@theCenter: House + Home

Saturday, 04/14/2007, 1:00–4:00pm
Have you ever though about living on a boat? In a spaceship? Or even just having a bedroom of your own design? We will explore the exhibition on New Housing New York, a sustainable and affordable housing project under development in the Bronx . Then you will have the chance to flex your creative muscles and design your own dream house or apartment incorporating elements of green design.
Organized by: Center for Architecture Foundation
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: $10 suggested donation per family
Telephone: 212-358-6133
More Info:

Brandism Series: Signature as Brand

Tuesday, 04/24/2007, 6:00–8:00pm
Signature-branded buildings, instantly linked to the prestige and aptitudes of their authors, transform the star-power of the architect into a material commodity. Thus, buildings are signature-branded to achieve a competitive edge and communicate the status of their owners and occupants. A signature style is achieved through repeated, unique gestures and motifs occurring throughout the body of an architect’s work until the relationship between an architect and particular material qualities become eternally inseparable. While signature architects have emerged as hot commodities, they sacrifice the ability to stray too far from established expectations. The continued use of star architects produces an architecture that is apparently less risky for investors, but also less and less evocative of a sense of place. Can architects maintain innovative and creative practices in light of economic pressures that encourage facsimile? In New York , notable architects like Richard Meier, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava have been hired for commercial projects in increasing number, with their innovative designs raising the bar for new development while helping to sell units.

The series continues:
Wednesday, May 23 - Brand as Sustainability
Wednesday, June 27 - Beyond Cool

Speaker: Susan Grant Lewin, President of Susan Grant Lewin & Associates, Daniel Libeskind of Studio Libeskind, Richard Meier, FAIA, of Richard Meier & Partners, Architects, Stanley Perelman, Managing Principal of JANI Real Estate, and Berndt Schmitt, Robert D. Calkins Professor of International Business at the Columbia Business School.
Organized by: Anna Klingmann and the AIA New York Chapter
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15
CES LUs: 1.5
More Info: 212.683.0023 x121


FamilyDay@theCenter: Landscapes

Saturday, 05/12/2007, 1:00–4:00pm
Come on down and bring your shovels! Across the street from the Center for Architecture, we’ll be transforming a section of the LaGuardia Place greenway into a Children’s Garden. Learn about landscape design and participate in the planting of this garden.
Organized by: Center for Architecture Foundation
Sponsored by: Friends of LaGuardia Place
Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place
Price: $10 suggested donation per family
Telephone: 212-358-6133
More Info: