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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The real estate bookshop is back

I'm taking a little break and traveling this week. I've been quite busy recently working on new business; resulting in a few half finished posts, while also tweaking the blog's CSS, and refining it's typography and visual elements over the past couple of weeks. Back soon...

bookshop_blog.gifThis is a quick note to announce that I've relaunched the real estate bookshop this week. I'm donating all profits to corcoran cares, an initiative to give back to the communities that we live in and serve. The shop features books on real estate investing, New York City, architecture, design, blogging and business, selected by me in the front window categories. Plus, search driven categories for other topical books and magazines, and Listmania offerings compiled by other users, so that new releases and the widest selection are there for you. The complete inventory of anything available on may be purchased here. I've also designed a bookshop widget that will run just below the newsreal, on the main blog's front page. The low prices are the same as you'll find on Amazon, so I hope will that readers will browse, buy, and help support corcoran cares.

visit the bookshop »

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Putting together the pieces of making an offer and the contract of sale to buy a Manhattan home

handshake_300.jpgbuying a manahattan co-op or condoWe're getting back to basics again today with a post that first time buyers will find very helpful. Real Estate Attorney Keith Schuman reviews for us the process and considerations of 'going to contract' on a home in New York City. He defines the terms and contingencies which you'll need to think about and negotiate. Its a long post, with a lot of information, made just a bit longer by my introductory comments here.

As Keith points out, the process often starts with someone like me helping to identify a home, then submitting an offer, and advocating for your interests. Right now the market complexion has shifted to a buyer's market in Manhattan, and a changing market is the most difficult kind to bring about a meeting of the minds between the principals. Both parties are often overreaching. Many sellers are in denial about how their home values may have changed. Yet many buyers are equally unrealistic and hesitant in their approach to negotiating a deal. There are some good reasons to be a buyer right now which I covered in my post Reasons to buy an apartment in Manhattan in 2009. Low interest rates, incentives, and in many cases, some real horse trading are driving the deals.

I read a lot lately from real estate market pundits, and the press, about the macro economic environment in which the deals are happening. It does, of course, have bearing. Like everyone, I listen carefully and read the data. I even cover some of it here too. It may sell newspapers and influence Web site traffic, but I sell property. I'm hired to do transactions, not economic trend analysis. The devil is in the details. The value of a broker's experience on your deal is more granular and personal. It's like constantly twittering the question, "What's the best deal for my client on a specific parcel of property?" Neighborhoods, buildings and the individual apartments within them, can have significant differences. I've not seen a marketplace that is changing as rapidly as this one. The guidance is crucial for closing the most successful outcomes, and there is little substitute for market knowledge that comes from having feet on the ground, and one's sight set ahead of the generally lagging indicators of sold and closed sales.

Keith's piece follows; feel free to email us with questions or leave a comment below.

— Peter

Once you have found the home that you would like to purchase, you will be ready to submit your offer. If you are working with a real estate broker, he or she will submit your offer and will usually be involved throughout the negotiation process. Many purchasers feel more comfortable negotiating through a real estate broker rather than dealing face-to-face with the seller.

In most cases, the seller already has stated an asking price. You do not have to accept this price. In fact, the seller typically expects some negotiation of the price and the other terms of the contract. Usually a contract is determined though a series of offers and counteroffers until both parties agree on the price, the closing date, the loan amount, if any, and the length of time to obtain a loan if the seller has agreed to a financing contingency (defined below), any repair work, the condition of the property, and the inclusions or exclusions of personal property within the home. Once the seller accepts your offer, you should immediately inform your attorney.

Contract of Sale
A real estate contract is written evidence of the agreement between a purchaser and a seller. The contract will specify all of the terms and conditions of the transaction and will describe the parties’ respective rights and obligations. The contract also will contain contingency provisions and representations of the purchaser and seller that describe what will happen if things do not go exactly as stated in the contract. As soon as your offer is accepted, the seller’s attorney will prepare the contract of sale and forward it to your attorney. Your attorney will explain your rights and obligations under the terms of the contract and will negotiate any necessary changes to the contract with the seller’s attorney. After all of the terms in the contract are agreed upon, your attorney will send you four copies of the contract for you to sign and return to his or her office along with a personal check for the down payment as specified in the contract. This check will be deposited by the seller’s attorney in an escrow account until the actual closing date.
Basic Terms and Contingencies
The contract will identify the purchaser and seller, their attorneys, the house or apartment to be sold, the party who will hold the contract deposit (usually the seller’s attorney, also referred to as the escrow agent), the names of the real estate broker(s), the current real estate taxes (if a condo or house), common charges, or maintenance fees, and any assessments that may be levied against the coop or condo apartment, whether or not there is a flip tax (transfer charge levied by the cooperative corporation), and the party who is responsible for making this payment. The contract also will state if the purchase is contingent on the buyer obtaining a loan (i.e., the financing contingency), and if so, the amount of the loan. The contract will identify the proposed occupants of the home and if there will be any pets.

Following are definitions for several key terms which typically will appear in the contract:


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Update 2: Soho Townhouse duplex apartment now $7950

soho townhouse

for rentPrice improved! This ideally located duplex, in a federal style townhouse has been reduced to rent today at $8,500 $7950. It is located on King Street, at the crossroads of Soho and the West Village. The tree lined block is lovely and away from the tourist din; but accessible to the shops, restaurants and entertainment, which make downtown living great. It's a spacious and private 2200 square feet (aprox.), with three to four bedrooms, a real roof terrace, wood burning fireplaces, and central air. This unit is a modern, sunny apartment, in which everything has just been renovated. It is vacant and available right now.

see more about this listing »

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

tribeca, 1936 to today


above: the corner of West Street at Warren Street in 1936. below: 101 Warren Street on the site today
click on any image to enlarge it | 1936 photo by Berenice Abbott | 2009 photo by Peter Comitini

101 warrren streettribecaI had some fun today standing in the approximate foot steps of Berenice Abbott and rephotographing the above scene, which she shot on April 8th, 1936 as part of Changing New York, her definitive record of New York in the 1930s which was sponsored by the Federal Art Project. I happen to live in Tribeca, a block away from this scene at the corner West Street at Warren Street. It had been a vacant lot ever since I can remember, part of the "urban renewal" which cleared out much of the infrastructure of the industrial waterfront in the 1960s. The new condominium tower at 101 Warren Street now rises on the site, along with the neighborhood's Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Barnes & Nobel. It epitomizes the modern day transformation of the area. The residences were designed by the New York office of Skidmore Owings & Merrill for developer Edward Minskoff, and are some of the best designed and built anywhere in Manhattan in recent memory. This is a special building that outperformed many others during the recent NYC building boom because it delivered superior product and location. The sales here reached an average selling price for the initial sponsor's offering of around $1500 per square foot (that's just an average, many units sold much higher) and pushed above $3800 per square foot for a unique $22,000,00 penthouse with panoramic river views. With the exception of one of the penthouses, the building completely sold out its 227 sponsor units, there are several apartments available for resale that can be shown too. It is quite a contrast to the lower west side of the Manhattan that Berenice Abbott walked 73 years ago. The Museum of the City of New York describes the West Street of the 1930s like this:

"The Eastern side of West Street was lined with cheap hotels, bars, luncheonettes, auto repair shops, and gas stations"

In comparing the two images above, the massive, Art Deco, New York Telephone building serves as a visual landmark further down West Street in the new photo, while DC37 union headquarters now occupies the Abbott shot's World Telegram building, just to the north of it; note the naked steel armature for the signage which still sits on the roof. The College of Insurance building and 101 Warren Street now occupy the foreground, while the Bank of New York building and Seven World Trade Center rise in the background.

Photo by Fred Palumbo, New York World-Telegram & Sun
Washington MarketI find myself endlessly fascinated with the metamorphosis of the city. Tribeca's western most area was once the bread basket of New York. Produce and meats came down along the Hudson by ship from upstate, then were processed, stored and distributed from the waterfront. The marketplace stretched from the north at the Gansevoort Market in the "meatpacking district", southward through Greenwich Village, Soho, and Tribeca, to the Washington Market, which once occupied the World Trade Center site. It's 1940's iteration is shown here just to the south side of the of the New York Telephone building.

Most of the industrial waterfront and the rest of Tribeca, has been reclaimed as residential luxury lofts and apartments in this most recent chapter of downtown Manhattan. While many of West Street's historic structures have been lost, much of Tribeca to the east has been preserved from it's industrial past, and is now protected by several historic landmark districts which will help insure that our neighborhood retains its distinct character for future generations.

updated 01.29.2009

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