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Monday, December 24, 2007

beauty lives everywhere

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.

central park snow storm
Central Park snow storm from my holiday card, photo: Galina Dreyzina

As young Anne Frank writes in her diary about 1942, beauty exists everywhere we are willing to see it, and one of the things that brings happiness. It is as simple as new fallen snow, and natural as the face of my child on Christmas eve. It is sometimes created by design, or may be discovered in our midst. It lives in the eyes of those we love, whether in the face of joy or adversity. Beauty is an idea which defies definition, but not understanding. As a dialog between the world around us and that which is inside, it speaks to the possibility of who we are, and to transforming each moment. Seasons greetings to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A plan for Governors Island begins to take shape

Rendering: West 8, Rogers Marvel Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Quennell Rothschild and SMWM

"Governors Island will be at the center of this new era of waterfront recreation for New York City"

urban designMayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Elliot Spitzer announced the selection of Dutch firm West 8 to lead the effort in the redevelopment of Governors Island into what may become one of the largest and most exciting public spaces in the nation. West 8 heads a team comprised of renowned architectural firms; Rogers Marvel Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Quennell Rothschild and SMWM. The Mayors office described the project; "Together, this area comprises 90 acres of parkland that will provide unique outdoor recreational activities for New Yorkers. The Great Promenade and forty-acre park will provide places to relax, play sports and explore, all with an incredible view of the Statue of Liberty. The plan will create a 40 acre green space with a new plantings and rolling hills recycled from the demolition of existing structures formerly used by the military on the island.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Manhattan real estate continues to defy gravity

"co-ops, condominiums and town houses are flying off the shelves in brokerage firms across the city"

market trendsAfter looking at The London property echo last week, we've landed back in Manhattan today and looking at another reverberation in the echo of these vigorous real estate markets. Josh Barbanel wrote in the New York Times about the most recent indication that the Manhattan marketplace is still alive and well in a piece simply titled Manhattan Market Remains Stable. He writes, "Last month, the number of closed sales just about matched the number closed in November 2006, and prices were considerably higher, but roughly flat compared with the prices in the previous quarter, according to a review of sales records filed with the city." That sounds about right to what I'm experiencing and hearing from my colleagues. There has been a fairly consistent number of deals being made and inventory in any particular property size is pretty slim in any one neighborhood, causing a modest, but equally steady rise in prices.

how to price a home right now
Sellers who really want to shoot themselves in the foot, can do so by simply ignoring the most recent comparable property sales and overreaching for the the highest, most unrealistic pricing advertised by a competing property. Asking prices are almost irrelevant in this market. Recently sold and closed data are the most important measurements. I heard recently about an agent who received 30 bids on a Greenwich Village co-op apartment which was under priced to attract a number of qualified candidates to pass some stringent Co-op Board requirements. The perception was that a "deal" existed. The property was quickly bid up to its true market value. In this more price sensitive market, the mindset that says price higher because you can only negotiate downward, is destined to do so. Using attractive pricing to stand out from the crowd, will still get an enthusiastic response if the home is exposed widely. The buyers are out there, waiting and wondering where it is all going, give them a reason to come see your property, and try to buy it.


Friday, December 14, 2007

The London property echo

London once again defied the skeptics and remained on target for a 17% increase in value in 2007 despite falling prices in much of the rest of the country.

globeglobalThe story of London's property market seems to echo New York's right now. London and Manhattan have seen continued strength even as the wider regional markets trend downward. Both are global cities and centers for the financial services industries. There is a unusually high concentration of wealth within the marketplace, and intense interest from overseas investors. Overseas Property Mall states, "The FT index (Financial Times House Price Index) suggests that overseas demand, rising immigration and City bonuses are fueling the London price increases". This is much in the same way that that foreign demand and Wall Street bonuses have been widely cited as factors insulating Manhattan from the slump seen in the rest of the U.S. On a one recent building sale for well over $8M that I represented, we had 10 offers, eight of which were from overseas So foreign demand has loomed large as a factor for me recently.

Lulu Egerton who is a partner at a large London luxury property company, wrote an opinion piece on her market at the Telegraph site. She talks about some of the high end properties that are selling quite well in London. It sounds a lot like a New York City broker speaking about high profile projects like 15 Central Park West or The Plaza. They're looking at the compensation being paid by NYC financial firms too, noting that "Wall Street's five biggest investment banks are expected to pay a record £18.6 billion in staff bonuses this year".


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