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Monday, June 22, 2009

A classic, pre-war, Sutton home

download a fact sheet

435 E 57th Street, #7Dfor sale I've just brought this special one bedroom apartment back on the market, with it's price improved to $625,000— an excellent value for a location and building of this quality. It is very sunny and quiet, in one of noted architect Emery Roth's buildings for Bing & Bing in Sutton. Well proportioned, with a powder room, and white glove, doorman service; this is an understated and elegant, Upper East Side, co-op home.

Alexander and Leo Bing were considered NYC's leading property developers at the turn of the 20th Century. They were brothers who built apartment houses in Manhattan in the twenties and thirties, which have since been converted to cooperative ownership.They often collaborated with Roth, who also designed some of Central Park West's iconic buildings including The Beresford, The Eldorado, and The San Remo. In covering the sale of a portfolio of 29 Bing & Bing properties in the 1980's, the New York Times described them: "The Bing & Bing buildings are regarded as among the city's finest prewar properties. The company, a development and management concern founded in 1906, built hotels and apartments at a time when luxurious in New York was still synonymous with spacious." You can see the listing here and download a fact sheet for more Information. Its being shown by appointment daily.

see this listing »
download a fact sheet »

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stoned again on Leonard Street in Tribeca

Leonard St. in Tribeca

TribecaCobblestoned that is. I noticed as I was walking home from the office today, this scene of Leonard Street undergoing a restoration to its original cobblestone pavers. It is being done as it was originally paved, starting at Hudson Street and moving eastward to West Broadway. These are beautiful finishing touches that help soften the edges of the neighborhood, and a reconnects us visually and tactilely, with its history. It adds value to the experience of everyone who lives here or visits. The work is part of the Harrison, Leonard, Greenwich Streets Reconstruction Project which says, "includes utility upgrades including water and sewer mains, catch basins, and electric, cable, and telecommunications. Curbs, sidewalks (some pigmented), and roadway restoration... Reconstruction of Harrison from Hudson to West Street is slated to start by late 2009." I can tell you from personal driving experience, that stretch of Harrison Street is sorely in need of help, I just hope my shocks hold out until the work is done. The entire project is expected to conclude in spring 2010.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm ranked in the top 2% nationally!

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

click image to read the testimonial letter

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

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

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summertime to negotiate your best deal?

Manhattan real estate price negotiability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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