Property Grunt

Friday, November 30, 2007

Westside Yards Proposals Public Viewing

American Institute of Architects New York Chapter; Architectural League of New York; Design Trust for Public Space; Fine Arts Federation; Friends of the High Line; Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; Municipal Art Society; New York New Visions; Regional Plan Association present Proposals for the West Side Rail Yards

Monday, December 3, 2007

6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

The Great Hall, Cooper Union

7 East 7th Street

New York City

Free admission, no reservations required

Even in an era of large-scale real estate ventures, the proposed development of the West Side Rail Yards is an enormous undertaking, with equally enormous implications for the future of New York . On October 11, 2007, five developers submitted responses to a Request For Proposals issued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for development of both the Eastern and Western Rail Yards, the largest undeveloped tract of land in Manhattan . Zoning on the overall site allows 12 million square feet of combined residential and commercial development; the RFP also requires that space be allotted for a public school and community and cultural organizations. The MTA expects to select a developer for the site in the first quarter of 2008; after conditional approval by the MTA board, the selected proposal will proceed through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

On Monday evening, December 3, representatives of the design teams for the proposals will present their schemes in a public program co-sponsored by a group of architecture and civic organizations. This is the first public program at which these proposals will be presented.

Architectural teams and developers are as follows: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Field Operations, Thomas Phifer and Partners, SHoP Architects, Diller Scofidio and Renfro, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, Handel Architects (Brookfield Properties LLC, developer); Steven Holl Architects (Extell Development Company, developer); FXFOWLE and Pelli Clarke Pelli (Hudson Center East LLC and Hudson Center West LLC, joint venture of Vornado Realty Trust and The Durst Organization, Inc., developer); Kohn Pedersen Fox, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Arquitectonica (The Related Companies, developer); Murphy/Jahn Architects, PWP-Peter Walker and Partners (TS West Side holding, LLC, joint venture of Tishman Speyer and Morgan Stanley, developer).

Proposals are currently on view in an exhibition presented by the MTA:

Public Viewing of Rail Yards Bid Proposals

335 Madison Avenue (northwest corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 43rd Street )

Across from Grand Central Terminal

Daily 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., through December 14

Barb Steffen

Communications Coordinator

AIA New York Chapter/ Center for Architecture

I recommend you all go, not just to be heard but to educate yourself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Justice is served!

They posed as wealthy apartment buyers, but turned out to be an upscale version of Thelma and Louise who pilfered diamonds and furs from luxury Manhattan pads.

Jessica Joyner, 39, and Jennifer Jones, 33, who both live in swanky upper East Side digs, were nabbed after being chased from an open house they were allegedly attempting to rip off, cops said Sunday.

The devious duo, who look more like preppies than perps, were charged with petty larceny, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, and were to be arraigned today.

Cops believe Joyner and Jones have been pulling their bogus-buyer scam since early October, dressing in designer duds to fit in as elite real estate browsers.

Joyner, a divorcee, even drives a 2003 Jaguar XJ8. She lives in an E. 94th St. apartment and owns a $645,000 home in the Hamptons.

Her former mother-in-law, Mary Cannon, expressed shock last night when she heard of the arrest.

"I haven't seen her for a long time," Cannon said of Joyner.

Joyner had been a vice president for a global information, technology and marketing firm with offices in Washington and New Jersey.

On the company's Web site, she boasts of having 15 years' "experience negotiating, managing and promoting affinity relationships with Fortune 500 companies." She also claims to have once owned her own consulting company, ICMG.

Jones, previously of Southampton, L.I., recently moved into a rent-stabilized apartment on E. 75th St., where neighbors have complained of her littering the courtyard with cigarette butts.

Cops said that while touring the multimillion-dollar apartments, one woman would distract the real estate agent while the other swiped everything she could get her sticky manicured fingers on.

Cops said a broker recently caught them in the act and yelled, "What are you doing?" when he saw them clearing shelves during an open house.

Sources said Joyner and Jones bolted from the apartment, but the broker raced after them, getting the license plate number of their getaway car.

Using the plate number, cops tracked down one of the women, who gave up her partner, police said.

Joyner, a blond with a horsy smile, and Jones, a sexy brunette, allegedly stole with discriminating tastes, police said.

They are accused of taking handbags, a Tiffany clock, earrings, diamond rings, clothes, a wallet, a Coach backpack and even a fur coat.

The pair hit ritzy apartments on both the East and West sides of Manhattan, ripping off at least five high-end addresses.

Among the buildings they targeted were 14 E. 96th St., 4 E. 82nd St. and 2373 Broadway, where they allegedly stole a diamond eternity band.

It is shocking enough that one of them wasn't a drag queen, but these are women of means. I would never justify theft, but it appears that these women who have no need to rip people off. I hope they throw the book at them.

And in other news about douchebags getting what they deserve.

Brooke Astor’s only son and one of her former lawyers have been indicted on criminal charges stemming from the stewardship of her financial affairs and the handling of her will, according to people who were briefed on the situation.

Her son, Anthony D. Marshall, 83, and the lawyer, Francis X. Morrissey Jr., have been told to surrender to authorities today, those who were briefed said.

A Manhattan grand jury has been hearing evidence from witnesses since mid-September, following an investigation by the district attorney’s office into, among other issues, the management of Mrs. Astor’s fortune by Mr. Marshall as well as Mr. Morrissey’s role in the signing of a third amendment to her 2002 will.

The exact charges against the two men, who have been partners in a theater production company, were not known late yesterday.

Prosecutors were believed to be investigating millions of dollars in cash, property and stocks that Mr. Marshall obtained over the years in his role as steward of his mother’s finances

They say blood is thicker than water. But Brooke Astor had a f**king tidal wave backing her up which is going to smash her son.

I have nothing but contempt for this man. Brooke Astor was an amazing woman who sought to only give to others and her son treated her like his own private ATM machine. In her final days she was nearly doomed to live them out in a wretched lifestyle. Fortunately this is a woman who not only made friends but kept them.

I have no idea what possessed this a**hole to do what he did. From what I have read and know about this class of people, pretty much everything is within their reach. Maybe he had a rotten childhood. I don't know. He had enough money to get a good therapist.

Even if he goes to jail, I don't see him staying very long. Unfortunately.

But I do know that once he breathes his last breath, he is going to have a lot to answer for.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lien on me

He’s got your back!

My next series of entries will focus on the areas of foreclosures, liens and the other big bads associated with the imploding real estate market. I am kicking off the series with an interview with real estate lawyer Aaron Shmulewitz.

Mr. Shmulewitz is partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman. His resume includes representing more than 250 co-op and condo board and his duties include general counsel, building mortgage refinancing and all aspects of corporate representation.

I came across Mr. Shmulewitz when he was featured in the New York Sun article about the rising number of condo fee defaults and he was quite gracious in allowing to be interviewed by me on the subject of condo liens. It is common knowledge in real estate that you need a good lawyer to represent your wants and needs. They can save you a ton of time and money in taking the appropriate measures and avoiding mistakes.

One of the most valuable skills a lawyer can have is to be able to break down legalese into bite size pieces for the layman to consume. You will see that Mr. Shmulewitz clearly demonstrates his mastery of that particular skill set.

Before I begin, Mr. Shmulewitz reminded me that all of his responses are based on New York Law. In other words, unless you are looking for legal information in the area of New York Law, you should seek out legal resources that correlate to the state where your questions originate. In other words, if you have a question about Cincinnati city law, talk to a lawyer who practices in Ohio.

What is the legal definition of a condo lien and what does the process entail in filing a lien? What is the difference between a lien and a lawsuit?

A condo lien is a formal notice filed against a condo unit, creating a public record that a stated sum of money is due to the condominium from this unit; the filed lien prevents the unit from being sold. The lien is recorded by the City Register or county clerk. A lawsuit is a suit filed in court by which the condominium seeks to have the court force the unit owner to pay money to the condominium. A lien can be followed by a lawsuit, or a lawsuit can be filed without a lien having been recorded.

As a lawyer, what are your duties in representing the condo board? What are the challenges in working with the board on a lien?

In general, to do what is necessary to protect the interests of the condominium. If a unit owner owes X dollars to the condominium, the lawyer should make sure that a lien is properly recorded reflecting that debt.

What is the difference between a condo lien and a tax lien that is filed by a town?

A tax lien is superior to a condo's lien. In other words, if a unit is foreclosed upon by the city or a mortgagee, the real estate taxes will always be paid, but the amounts due to the condominium might be wiped out.

The sale of tax liens are a billion dollar a year industry. Can you buy and sell condo liens in New York City?

Theoretically you could, but it's not done.

You stated that in the article that you have seen a 25% rise in defaults. Is this the highest you have ever seen in your experience? Do you think it will get worse?

It's not the highest I've seen--things were much worse in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I think that things will get worse now before they get better. People who get into default situations on their condo mortgages are also likely to default in their condo payments.

In regards to the rising number of defaults, are there any trends to indicate whether these are owner occupied or investor units?

Not that I'm aware of. I would think that the trend would be of owners (regardless of whether they occupy or are investors) who either over-leveraged, or took out adjustable rate mortgages whose rates are now being reset for the first time.

If an owner is defaulting on condo fees, there is a strong possibility that they are unable to afford the mortgage payments. What happens when the bank and the condo are both foreclosing on the property? Who is the first in line to get paid? Which party has more leverage?

Under New York law, a first mortgage takes priority over a condo lien. Should a first mortgagee foreclose on its mortgage, it wipes out the condo lien unless the foreclosure sale yields a sale price higher than the amount due to the bank. A second mortgage is subordinate to a condo lien.

Once the foreclosure goes through, does the condo board hire a broker to sell the property? What are their options in liquidation?

Should a condo wish to foreclose on a lien, what usually happens is a public foreclosure sale which is attended by multiple bidders. It is very likely that one of the bidders will be the successful bidder--the condo board almost never becomes the owner of the unit.

In the article it is stated that liens are usually settled out of court but that is now becoming progressively difficult. Why is that?

I think because people who are defaulting to their condos are also defaulting to their mortgagees--they are simply walking away from their obligations.

What do you recommend condo board do to protect themselves from condo fee defaults?

Since condos generally do not have a right of approval/disapproval of prospective purchasers (but only have a right of first refusal), condos generally find it hard to screen out potential payment problem purchasers (unlike co-ops). Some condos nevertheless require some sort of escrow from an incoming purchaser (like twelve months of common charges) to act as a "security deposit" should the purchaser ever go into default. However, should the matter ever be litigated, I think that it is unlikely that a court would uphold the right of a condo to require that, unless the condo's bylaws authorize it. Since there is relatively little that a condo can do to screen out or prevent potential payment problem purchasers, the only thing that a condo can really do once a default occurs is to act as quickly and aggressively as possible. Do not delay.

Are they (the board) allowed to discuss the matter in public?

Yes, it's a public document.

What should a condo board look for in a lawyer?

Experience, responsiveness, practicality.

What is your craziest story in filing a lien?

Don't really have one; sorry.

Once again, I would like to thank Mr. Shmulewitz for doing this interview. Those of you who have more questions for him or seeking legal counsel please go to his firm’s website.

Friday, November 23, 2007

God Help Us Indeed

********* year reunion, God help us

Host: Class of 19**
Location: Some sports bar near Penn Station

When: Saturday, November 24, 8:00PM

Alternatively titled, "Help our class president get his deposit money back."
$50 will get you three hours of open bar (beer & wine) plus appetizers. We'll be in the Greene Room, on the main level. You can pay at the door.

PLEASE we need your help in notifying all of our classmates. While we're trying to respect everyone's privacy, you can safely assume we do NOT have everyone's email address. Forward the info, and invite others via evite. THANK YOU!

Answers to your questions: Yes, spouses are welcome (children too, but then we'll probably question your judgement), you pay at the door, Class Officer and Class President organized this, yes, sometimes, yes (if you ask nicely), 15, no, and not in a million years.

This is the Evite for my high school reunion and after reading it I had to laugh at the irony. You see, we had our prom at the Waldorf and now we have been reduced to paying 50 bucks for beer and wings at a sports bar near Penn station. It probably indicates how stressed everyone is financially, therefore our president is trying to make it as cost effective as possible.

In terms of the timing of our reunion and the run and gun approach of setting it up, my guess is that they choose the weekend after Thanksgiving since that was probably when most of the class would be in the area or maybe they were counting on people not to show up at all since most of us are still recovering from the trauma of the Thanksgiving holiday.

When our first reunion came around, it included personal phone calls to alert classmates of the reunion which I never responded to. I think what probably happened this time was that our fearless leader and his administration completely forgot that the reunion was this year. For whatever reason, all the class officers bailed on him except for one who was courageous enough to assist him on the task. I suspect the following reasons why the rest of the class officers are not helping out:

1. They are freaking out over mortgages they can't pay for.

2. They are afraid of other people silently judging them for their current station in life.

3. They only became class officers to put it on their college applications and that position has outlived its usefulness.

4. They are really successful and rich and it would be really depressing to associate with people who are less successful than they are.

For whatever reason our commander in chief also reported in a previous announcement that his attendance for this soiree was tentative. Which would be understandable since he works in finance and his company is under a ton of pressure. Any reason preventing him from hosting the event would probably be work related.

A friend of mine once described my relationship to my high school class as love/hate. And he is correct. I love to hate my high school class. However I do keep in touch with some friends and there are a select group of people that if I were to meet them on the street I would definitely talk to them. This would include my class president who I voted for and was the first Asian American to ever been elected and the person who is assisting him who I have known since kindergarten. They are both are very nice people and I do think of them very highly.

But if I were to see a bus load of the douchebags from my class going off a cliff, I wouldn't bat an eye.

I guess the best way to sum up my high school experience and high school would be the following.

This was definitely not my high school.

This is probably a more accurate depiction of my high school.

And this is how I felt throughout my 4 years.

In a nutshell I was grateful that my high school career ended in 4 years. Apart from facing the wrath of puberty, insecurity and being unhappy, some of the cliques in my high school were vicious as hell and the only time they acknowledged me was to insult me other than that I was ignored. And I did not just get grief from them, I had some friends who treated me as their personal punching bag. Needless to say, I am friends with them no longer. I think what really made me angry was that I was not someone who sought out trouble yet I seemed to be a magnet for it. In other words my high school class and my experience was completely normal.

The only distinction we have to the other graduating classes is that we were one of the last classes to be able get limos for our prom. Now all classes are required to take a bus to the prom after the year the entire high school showed up wasted at the homecoming dance.

Since graduating from high school I have run into some of these idiots and the funny thing is that they still revert to their roles in high school. What these f**ktards have not realized is that I am not the same person that I was in high school which I am more than happy to remind them. So if they were to insult me at a reunion, I would respond verbally in kind. Of course with their fragile egos in danger of cracking, they might cross the line and something like this could happen.

Or this.

Most likely this would happen.

The majority of my class are either lawyers, former lawyers or law school drop outs which would make an altercation a legal nightmare. Also health insurance is very expensive these days even for my classmates with high incomes and we are getting older. It is just not worth the trouble to get into a fight and besides I am not looking for one either. You'll notice that I even edited the information in the Evite to protect their privacy despite the fact I could care less about some of these people.

So I am maintaining the my streak for abstaining and I am sure they won't even notice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Better Tomorrow

This is how cool you have to be.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the foreign buyers invading New York City and they have been touted as the next big thing since the Wall Street Bonuses. With the weak dollar the international community have been flocking to New York City for bargains. Already the streets of Manhattan are flooded with tourists with wads of cash buying luxury items. Travel agents are even advertising weekend trips to Woodbury Commons in London.

Real Estate is no different.

This enthusiasm for Manhattan real estate isn’t felt by just a few enterprising foreign buyers. Real estate brokers say that they are seeing more sales to foreign buyers than ever before and that these buyers are helping to fuel the Manhattan market.
The increase in demand comes as a new tide of high-rise condominiums is hitting Manhattan. Buyers from other countries who don’t have credit histories in the United States or who do not intend to use their apartments as primary residences have historically had trouble passing muster with co-op boards. But condos pose no problem for foreign buyers, and they often find that buying in Manhattan is less expensive than buying a comparable house or apartment in cities like London.
Jonathan Miller, an executive vice president and the director of research at Radar Logic, estimates that foreign buyers have bought about 1,000 newly constructed or converted condos in Manhattan in the last 18 months, which is about a third of the condo sales in Manhattan in that period.

They are even hitting Florida.

To the degree that the market has held up, it has been helped by eager foreigners, checkbooks in hand, who are still showing up and often paying cash. A survey last year by the National Association of Realtors found that the number of foreign buyers in Florida had dropped significantly from 2005. But of those who bought, 29 percent paid cash. Only 8 percent of domestic purchasers did. More than 10 percent of the foreigners bought homes for over $1 million.

So the broker community is good to go right? Nothing to worry about here, since those buyers will just line up at your offices. I disagree. If brokers will really want to haul in the big profits from the foreign invasion they need to take the initiative and stage a pre-emptive strike.

That means traveling to the buyer’s country and acquiring buyers on foreign soil. Why? Once those foreign arrive in New York City, they will have already procured a broker at that point and have no need for your services. Brokers that cater to foreign buyers already have a network that consists of friends, family and colleagues that funnel them leads. They can afford to sit back and wait.

If you are a broker who is Chinese and speaks fluent in Mandarin, you are wasting your time if you are not ass deep in Shanghai.

The United States has more billionaires than any other country: 415 by the last count of Forbes magazine.

No. 2, and closing fast? China.

A year ago, there were 15 billionaires in China. Now, there are more than 100, according to the widely watched Hurun Report. Forbes has documented 66.
Unlike America's rich, China's are hardly famous, even here. Bill Gates and Warren E. Buffett are known around the world. But Yang Huiyan and Robin Li?
Yet, who they are, and what they decide to do -- or are allowed to do -- with their money and newfound influence will have political and economic consequences in China and probably far beyond, analysts say.
''They could start buying companies in the U.S.,'' Chang Chun, an economist at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, said. ''They have so much influence.''
Thanks to the capitalist stock mania sweeping the Communist mainland, Chinese private and state-owned companies issuing stock for the first time are becoming the most valuable companies in the world -- at least on paper -- often overnight.
On Tuesday,, one of China's biggest Internet companies, had a blockbuster stock offering, raising nearly as much as Google and soaring 193 percent on its first day of trading.
That came after the debut on Monday of the state-owned energy company PetroChina on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Its market valuation ran up to more than $1 trillion, topping that of any company in history.

When you get to Shanghai with that 100 grand book yourself the best suite in the best hotel you can find and begin to stage a hearts and minds campaign for wealthy Chinese buyers.

You need to target the areas where the rich congregate, whether they are bars, restaurants, and golf clubs. If you have a family member or friend that can make introductions, even better, if not, you might have to hire a power broker who can give you access to these circles of wealth.

So now what do you do? This is where the 100 grand comes into play because you are going to be generous with that money to the point of night sweats. That means buying expensive dinners, drinks, trips, gifts and perhaps other pleasures that the Pope might frown on.

You are going to focus on businessmen with families and are going to ingratiate yourselves to their wives because in Chinese culture they are ones always running the show. Get the women on your side and the men will follow.

One thing that you are not going to do is sell real estate. You heard me.
You are not going to try to push an exclusive or ask them to be their broker. What you are going to sell is opportunity. What you will talk about is how amazing China has become and you will tell them they are so lucky to be rich in a time when the dollar is so weak and the Yuan can go so far in America. And even though America has fallen from the economic hierarchy, it just a lull for now, for one day it will come back on top twice as strong.

Inform the wives that the opportunity to prepare for their children’s future is at hand. Buying an apartment for the children will prove quite useful if their children decide to move to Manhattan for school or work. And if they don’t, then they can always sell or rent it out.

They will ask you questions and pick your brain. Be generous with your answers and show your knowledge but restrain yourself from helping them too much.

The most important thing is to make the impression that you are the mack, the go to guy, the Chow Yun Fat of brokers. You can blow 100 grand in shanghai because it is chump change that you can make in a day as a broker.

After leaving, make sure to exchange contact information and maintain relationships online and send expensive gifts during the holidays. Make sure they remember you. If you pull this off you are going to get an army well qualified who have gobs and gobs of cash.

I predict in the next couple of years there will be an exodus of wealth from China and this is one reason why.

But many analysts argue that there is nothing underlying the skyrocketing values, or that the obscure finances of the companies make it impossible to know their true value. And if China's stock market is a bubble, the new billionaires will disappear as quickly as they rose.
''A lot of people are surprised at how fast this has happened,'' said Jing Ulrich, an analyst at JPMorgan. ''But this is the power of the capital markets. A lot of people's wealth is based on newly listed companies.''
After a nearly decade-long bear market for Chinese stocks, investors here are in party mode. The Shanghai Stock Market is up nearly 400 percent in two years. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is shattering records.

There will be those who will be smart enough to sell before everything goes pop and decide to get the hell out of dodge. And considering the stability of the government, it would not be all that surprising if we see another brain drain. Those people are going to need a place to live or at least a place to store their cash. That is where you come in.

Doing this is not for the faint of heart. Your looking at a major investment that you may not see a return on for quite awhile, if at all. But if it is done right you will be swimming in huge commissions for at least next 5 years.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Douglas over at True Gotham has posted pictures of those douchebags who were stealing from his exclusive.

Here is something interesting about this thief.

Good news, bad news. The good is that we FINALLY have the surveillance video from the Open House that was robbed this past Sunday. The bad news is that they aren't nearly as clear as we had hoped but they are good enough to alert the industry and the public to this duo of thieves who have apparently hit at least (probably more) 5 open houses since October 21st. Note the brunette fixing her wig in the elevator. My agent who caught them in the act is almost certain that the brunette is a man in drag. The blonde was a bit smarter than her partner as she was careful to not show too much of her face on the video. She seems to be a real woman too.

Here's the blonde.



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red Alert ended

Crisis is over. Systems back on line. Let's hit those ATMs.



Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

This is a very disturbing report from True Gotham regarding a robbery from an open house.

Yesterday, Sunday, 11/12, one of my Upper West Side properties was robbed during an open house. My agent caught one of the 2 women in the act and when confronted the 2 women panicked, dropped most but not all of what they had stolen and dashed out of the building. One of the women ran into the bathroom when caught, relieved herself, cleaned herself with a bath towel, threw it in the bath tub and ran out of the apartment pushing past my agent and suggesting she would sue him if he touched her.

Upon inspection of the apartment by both the police and the sellers, merchandise (jewelry, etc) and prescription narcotics (with other people’s names) from other Upper West Side robberies was found stashed around the apartment. It appears that when they were caught, they panicked and began leaving this merchandise so that it wouldn’t be discovered on them should the police catch them. So it is likely that someone else was victimized yesterday and may not even know it yet. They haven’t yet been caught but we have very clear video of these two women on building security cameras. To that end, I will be providing all of you with these images upon receipt so that sellers and their agents can be aware at your future open houses. I will also be providing a contact number for the precinct that responded to the scene.

In addition to this just being a disgusting experience, the thieves did get away with the seller's diamond eternity engagement ring and another heirloom ring that her grandmother had left her. It's a violation that no one should have to experience but fortunately no one was hurt.

I remember one open house I did, the seller was convinced that somone had stolen one of his credit cards. The broker I was working with at the time was pissed at me, but it was not as if I was being negligent. A ton of people had streamed in and I was the only one on site

In the end it turned out it was all a mistake on part of the seller. He found the card. However, he was a cool guy and he apologized for his actions.

The amount of agents needed for an open house depends on the the size of the apartment and what type of building it is.

If you have a one bedroom co-op with a doorman you are looking at a 3 person team. One to cover the lobby and bring buyers up, and two agents, one in the living room and one to cover the bedroom area. If you have a studio, you can get away with one agent.

The smartest thing that Douglas did was to have a two man team to watch over everything. From what he described, he took the proper actions which was to let them go and let the authorities handle it. As much as it would have been pretty cool for the agents to apprehend these a**holes, a melee would have ensued and would probably have resulted in physical injury and damages to the apartment.

I am very angry that these two degenerates committed this crime. A seller places a great amount of trust in their broker to conduct an open house and anyone entering the premises should act in a respectful fashion.

As soon as those pictures come on line, I am posting them and hopefully these criminals can be caught.

Noah over at Urbandigs has relaunched his site and it looks better than ever. Like True Gotham, he has made an effort to differentiate himself from the rest of the brokerage community and it has paid off. I highly recommend checking it out.

Oh yea, those of you interested one those hunger striking dumbasses passed out. The irony is that she is not a Columbia student. She is from the Barnyard.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

In the end....

NSFW for language.

In the end, its really not worth it.

Police finally cracked the case of the murder of Linda Stein. And guess what? It was her assistant Natavia Lowery.

Gothamist and Curbed have some background on the story.

Despite being a successful broker to celebrities, Ms. Stein was not the most pleasant person to deal with. But what do you expect from a scrappy Jewish girl from the Bronx who managed the Ramones? Carol Brady? Apparently her abrasive ways was a key factor in her death.

"Lowery told detectives that Stein was 'verbally abusive' to her the day of the murder, using profanity and derogatory language." Plus: "She also said Stein blew marijuana smoke in her face before she snapped and hit Stein six or seven times with a yoga stick, Kelly said."

However Ms. Lowery was no saint herself.

Citing friends of Ms. Stein, The Daily News reported that the real estate broker might have met Ms. Lowery when the younger woman worked as a secretary at the Rogers & Cowan public relations agency in Manhattan.

The News, citing unidentified sources, reported that Ms. Lowery had been arrested in December on misdemeanor charges of identity theft and petty larceny — and that Ms. Stein did not know about the arrest

Everyone is probably wondering why didn't they do a background check on Ms. Lowery in the first place? Because unlike other industries, real estate brokerage does not engage in background checks. All they care about is your closing rate. In fact a background check is not even required to get a license.

However, I think after this incident, some brokerages will push for background checks on new personnel.

Nasty brokers are nothing new. I know since I have met a lot of them. In fact all workplaces filled with douchebags is a concept as old as time. It sucks when you have to work with one, it sucks even more when you work for one.

Nearly a lifetime ago, the Grunt worked in a certain segment of the media industry and thought he had a dream job. That was until he met his co-workers who were probably the biggest bunch of douchebags he had ever met in his life. In a nutshell, they made his life a living hell. Now the Grunt wasn't perfect. He made his mistakes, but these people were the most manipulative back stabbing bastards he had ever met in his life and they got away with doing a ton of bulls**t in the workplace.

The Grunt also did not take very well to this particular area of the media industry as he thought he would and decided to take his chances doing something else.

One of the great truths the Grunt has learned from that experience is that douchebags are everywhere. There is just seems to be a completely unending supply of a**holes who's prime directive is to cause grief for others whether it is justified or not. No matter where you go, they pop up.

I am not saying Ms. Lowery was justified in her actions. Now, I am sure everyone wants to take a 2 by 4 to the skull of every f**ktard who messed with them, but if we did that, we would be extinct. But what she did was absolutely deplorable.

As much as we like to, we can't control people, but we can control ourselves and our actions. Remember, she only had to deal with one crazy person, I had 5 people who treated me like a punching bag. Did I do anything insane and start inflict blunt force trauma on these people? No. Because it is just a f**king job. And I also realized I did not want to become like these people. It is not easy taking the high road mind you and was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. It sure as hell did not make it easier when these pieces of trash mocked me as I left. But to stay and fight in an industry that I had no desire to be in anymore wasn't worth it. And it was especially not worth taking any type of action resulting in being incarcerated.

All she had to do was say it was her last day and leave. Now Ms. Lowery has to face a life without freedom and when it is her time to leave this plane of existence, she will need to answer for her actions to a higher power.

I am a big believer in karma because I have witnessed karma in action to others and experienced it myself. Karma is vicious as f**k, especially if it develops over a long period of time. It can be a Kerikesque kick in the balls or it can be very subtle. In my opinion it is when the comeuppance occurs under the radar that it is the most heart breaking and painful to the afflicted party because they have no idea what is going on until it is too late.

Pick a cliche and I will prove it to you. There's the star high school football player who could make the girls swoon with a smile was able to smack freshman around while the principal looked the other way or the hottest girl in your class who used to make the thinnest girl feel fat and was more than happy to point out the flaws in the weak and helpless whether they were real or otherwise.

The high school football star is now the star of the sports bar. Resting the one of many beers on his enormous belly that was once a six pack of hard abdominal muscles. Trying to relive past glories while watching football games on television and trying to impress the ladies with his fossilized tales of victory.

The popular girl is also at the same bar. She is very popular with the bartender because she keeps ordering drinks so that he will talk to her. Her once beautiful looks have given way to wrinkles and sagging skin.

All those years of partying, drinking, smoking and doing drugs have taken their toll on these two fallen idols. They all wonder the same thing.

"What happened to my life?"

It is a moment of sweetness when you see a person get karma smacked. Especially one that was in the years of the making. There is simply no way to describe it other than pure utter bliss. But it gives way to a very sour taste because the realization sinks in that this can happen to you. There are no differences between the both of you. What befalls them can befall you. The most important thing you realize is that you can become a better person as long as you make an effort not to walk their paths.

Ms. Lowry would have had the opportunity to experience this epiphany, if she had realized that Ms. Stein was a woman who was desperately attempting to hold onto her lifestyle the only way she knew which was to fight tooth and nail. If she felt that she could not deal with Ms. Stein then all she had to do was walk away.

As for those people that made my life a living hell, from what I hear they haven't really amounted to anything. Do you know why? Because they are nothing to me. For all I know they are hanging out in the same sports bar.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Swiftboat Kramer

There is always the WWE.

I found this on the Business & Media Institute website. Apparently Jim Cramer was having a hissy fit over our esteemed Attorney General.

CNBC's Cramer: New York AG Cuomo a 'Communist'

The best place to get details on Cuomo's new mission is from Jonathan Miller.

Jim, stop being such a little girl. Andrew Cuomo is doing his f**king job. Some serious s**t went down during the last couple of years involving certain parties in the banking and appraisal industry and now they are paying for it.

Don't blame him for destroying the lending market, these numbnuts were doing a fine job destroying it on their own before the Attorney General entered the picture. Remember, investors aren't running away because of Cuomo, they are running away because of the results of some very bad and unethical decision making.

Jim, after you recover from your caffeine induced brain seizure, swing on by to my main man Jonathan Miller. Recently he sold his company to Radar Logic and as you see the result speaks for itself.

Still don't get it? Well, as you can see, Jonathan is riding high on his success and yet do you see him in Cuomo's cross hairs? Hell no. Why? Because he is a straight shooter. When the clock hit High Noon he was one of the few appraisers who were willing to suck it up and do his job, even if it meant losing out on a surplus of profitable deals. In other words, Jonathan Miller is not a douchebag. That is why people are now running to him in droves because they know his word is bond.

So be a man and use that Goldman Sachs acquired intellect of yours and examine this entire situation again and you will realize that certain parties in the industry need to take responsibility for their actions.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I have a headache

Just eat. It is not as if anyone is taking you seriously.

First we have nooses, swastikas and an insane Iranian and now this at Columbia.

Columbia Students On Hunger Strike

Six anonymous students at Columbia University have gone on a hunger strike to protest the administration's attitude and position on a number of issues, including Columbia's plans for West Harlem/Manhatanville, a series of hate crimes on campus and lack of an ethnic studies program.

So these geniuses decided to take it upon themselves to have themselves a hunger strike. And they are doing it ANONYMOUSLY.

Although I do not have an Ivy League pedigree, I do know that in order for a hunger strike to be effective, the participants need to expose their identities. Not only to publicize why they are on this strike but to also prove to people they are not chowing down on Chipotle. Also the Hunger Strike, like all forms of protest is a visual act. You can't just say went on a hunger strike. There needs to be evidence of what you have done. Also it shows a lack of commitment. My take is that these kids do not want to risk jeopardizing their futures as the next generation of yuppies

What has led to these extreme measures? Apparently they were slighted by their president.

8:24 PM StudentStriker: So the thing is there is a "why we strike" statement [reproduced after the jump- ed.] and this statement is a collection of the strikers' personal feelings. It is a culmination of individual statements, not to put us on the same level of prisoners who are without rights, expressions, food, or freedom. However, there is the sentiment that if all things were relative, students are in a way robots of this school.

The idea is, the core curriculum is so beautiful and so empowering, a social tool and a social weapon, so we should use it to make intelligent citizens and reform it with input from current events--such as the 5 hate crimes in less than a month. But the administration oppresses idea likes this or ethnic studies or expansion.... and they [the ideas] are literally put into a vacuum. We have had meetings with Bollinger where he outwardly doodles flowers on the demands

No joke.

He has walked out on meetings with students. He has rolled eyes at students. It is really quite disgusting

Of course he walked out you. He probably was thinking to himself. "Oh my f**king god, I can't believe I actually let these idiots into this place. They can't even properly conduct a protest in a coherent manner I need to fire my admissions department."

No wonder Columbia is considered to be the safety Ivy League amongst high school seniors.

And if you haven't heard yet, the market took another beating.

Markets Jolted by Oil Surge and Worries Over Slowdown

Stock markets plummeted and the dollar sank to a record low against the euro today as investors worldwide grew skittish over rising oil prices and the prospect of a substantial economic slowdown in the United States.

Just for fun. Adult Language.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Roll Call: S**t hits the fan edition.

This past Halloween, shots were fired in Union Square. Evidence suggests that it was gang related. Sounds familiar?

Union Square will be protected. No matter what.

As I have said before, Union Square is not the proper site urban warfare. It is a place of commerce, tourism and relaxation. Not for gangbanging. As I have stated before, keep that douchebaggery in your own back yard.

Just because Bloomberg is in the final stages of his administration does not mean he is going to be slacking off. In fact he has been going full speed ahead trying to get as many changes to be implemented. He sure as hell as not going to let a bench of street punks f**k up his legacy. He has already put one gang member away for terrorism and he has to he will flood that entire park with Hercules Teams.

Even after Bloomberg leaves office, I do not see Union square going to hell in a hand basket because that area has turned into a hive for anchor stores. If violent activity continues to be a problem I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blackwater showing patrolling the area.

Remember that jobs report that got the market all worked up in a positive state. href="">Floyd Norris says otherwise.

NOVEMBER 2, 2007, 11:12 AM
Making Up Jobs
Today’s employment report is mediocre at best. But to understand that, you have to look past the headline numbers.
Those numbers say that the government’s survey of employers showed a gain of 130,000 private sector jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, in October. That seems to be better than in recent months.
I don’t believe it. Most of those jobs — 103,000 of them, before seasonal adjustment — were added by the statisticians, not reported by employers. (It should be noted that, before seasonal adjustment, there were 201,000 jobs added, so this is just more than half.)
Why add jobs? It is an effort to include jobs created by new companies not surveyed, less an estimate for jobs lost at companies that went out of business and therefore did not respond to the survey.
Of those 103,000 jobs, 14,000 were in the construction industry, and 25,000 were in finance. Does anyone believe that all those new companies are being created in those industries now? (You can see the government’s explanation for this here.)
At times of inflection, these adjustments can be wildly off, as I argued a month ago. I think we hit such a point this spring. A couple of years from now, after all the adjustments are made, this year’s job performance will look far less impressive.
Over the last 12 months, the government’s current numbers indicate that the private sector added an average of 115,000 jobs a month. But 80 percent of those jobs came from the statistical adjustments.
It is also worth noting that the govertment’s other survey, of households, has not found those jobs. Over the last 12 months, it has found about 50,000 new jobs a month. In October, it found employment declined by 250,000 jobs.

A few years ago, the survey of employers was showing what turned out to be unreasonably low job numbers. (They have since been revised upward, and those revisions influenced the current rose-tinted adjustments.) Then the household survey sounded the warning that things were not as bad as the survey of employers seemed to indicate. Now it is warning that the job picture is not as good as it appears at first glance.

Now we have Citigroup is doing the Write down dance and it has been reported they have lobbed death threats at Meredith Whitney of an analyst at CIBC World Market, a subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce who had the balls to blow the whistle that Citigroup and say the following

Citigroup needs to cut its dividend or sell assets to stave off a $30 billion capital shortfall. She further downgraded Citigroup shares to "market underperform," which basically tells investors to sell.

And we know the end of that movie.

I think it is outrageous to blame her for the turmoil that has affected Citigroup and the market. Everyone knew the Emperor had no clothes but she was the one who called it out.

But Meredith isn't done yet because now she is calling for Citigroup to be broken up.

Asked about the possibility of a Citi break-up, Ms Whitney, who received death threats following her comments last week, said: "That's really the only thing they can do. They don't have the capital to manage it as an ongoing entity."

Btw, for those of you who wish to do her harm, please remember, her husband is John “Bradshaw” Layfield. He is a Texan who was once signed with the Los Angeles Raiders, a former WWE superstar who ran with the APA. He also is extremely bright when it comes to finance. If you are stupid enough to touch her not only will he put his foot up your ass but he will also complete a hostile takeover without breaking a sweat at the same time. Mess with his wife and it is the end of your life.

It is getting so bad that Brazilian lingerie models are ditch the dollar as if it was last year’s clothing line.

Hot and Smart.

Bundchen's Demands
The dollar fell 0.8 percent last week and touched $1.4528 per euro, the weakest since the euro's debut in 1999. It traded at $1.4476 at 5:47 p.m. in New York. The dollar lost 2.8 percent last week to 93.47 Canadian cents and 1.8 percent to $2.09 per British pound. The Fed's U.S. Trade Weighted Major Currency Index measuring the dollar's performance versus seven currencies, such as Japan's, slid to a record low of 72.22.
BNP Paribas chief currency strategist Hans-Guenter Redeker, the most accurate foreign-exchange forecaster last quarter in a Bloomberg survey, said the dollar may drop to $1.50 per euro by year-end. The median estimate of 42 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg is for the currency to end the year at $1.43. Among those surveyed last week, the forecast ranges from $1.42 to $1.50.
When Bundchen, 27, signed a contract in August to represent Pantene hair products for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., she demanded payment in euros, according to Veja, Brazil's biggest weekly magazine. She'll also get euros for the deal she reached last October with Dolce & Gabbana SpA in Milan to promote the Italian designer's new fragrance, The One, Veja reported. Bundchen earned $33 million in the year through June, Forbes reported in July.
`More Attractive'
``Contracts starting now are more attractive in euros because we don't know what will happen to the dollar,'' Patricia Bundchen, the model's twin sister and manager in Brazil, said in a telephone interview in September from Sao Paulo. She declined to discuss details of the arrangements last week.
``Gisele has contracts in dollars,'' said Anne Nelson, Bundchen's agent in New York at IMG Models, in an interview today. ``When she works in Europe she gets paid in euros, when she works in the U.S. she gets paid in dollars, when she works in Brazil she gets paid in reais, and so on and so forth.''

Over on True Gotham they have confirmed what I heard on the street that all is quiet on the Manhattan front. Buyers are waiting and sellers are staying.

Dig in people. This is just the beginning.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Final units sale for Striver's Row

Kelly Kreth emailed me with some interesting news about Striver's Row. According to Kelly, Darren Sukenik's exclusive is now 80% sold after only six months on the market. Developers initiated a dropped prices about two weeks ago 10% – 15% for a “final units sale.”

2605 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
APT#: 7A

2605 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
APT#: 1A

2605 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
APT#: 6B

Considering the volatility in the stock market and the huge amount uncertainty affecting the New York City market, it is pretty darn impressive that they were able to get 80% in 6 months.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Safety First

With daylight savings now upon us, this might be a good time not only to turn the clocks back and also check the fire alarms. And if you want to really take a step further you might want setup an emergency evacuation plan.

OpenHouse NYC has a great segment on how to prepare for emergencies in New York City.

It is a great segment that covers all of the bases of deal with emergencies in New York City. In regards to a GO bag, besides including 3 days worth of food and water, a flashlight, first aid kit and important papers, I high recommend having a large sum of cash and a swiss army knife.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

You know things are bad when the comic book geeks get involved. Part 2

I recently received this comment about an entry I did in August.

Hey! Miles Perrie here: long time reader, first time writer...

....I'm a psychologist. I make a good living. Can I ask - what is so surprising about me buying a townhouse?


Thank you for reading my blog. I was pleasantly surprised to see my entry posted on the Slushfactory. and for all you Slushers out there, I am a frequent poster.

I am assuming that when you mean by "surprising" you are referring to the reaction of all the slushers on the forum including myself when you announced your purchase? If not. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I think the reason why everyone is surprised about your decision is due to the state of the market. As I pointed out in that particular entry the Florida real estate market is in a free fall. When this evolution occurs in the real estate market, that is when buyers usually take a step back, as I have stated in a previous entry, one of the key rules in real estate is never overpay and when the market begins plummeting like it is right now, the smart money doesn't go to the dance no matter how many suitors knock on the door.

You either wait for the bottom or look for a deal that fits your financial requirements.

Real estate, just like any other investment vehicle, does not come as one size fits all. Everyone has different needs and resources. That also goes with personal taste. I bring this up because I am not aware of your financial situation. So I am assuming that you did the numbers and they make sense for you. In the end, all that matters is that you are happy.