Everything New is Old Again

New York ObserverSeptember 30, 2013
The early 21st century has proven to be very exhausting. Days are spent navigating traffic on a CitiBike (or a bespoke version), reconciling quinoa with a gluten-free diet, and trying to Lean In. All of which is enough to make even the most indefatigable New Yorker want to run home and curl up in her favorite chair. But you can't really curl up effectively in a fiberglass Hans Wegner shell chair reproduction.

A yearning for the warmth and comfort of yore is sending many New Yorkers' design styles time-traveling back to a bygone era, when chairs were composed of horsehair rather than plastic, when actual books were stored in bookcases, and kitchens were safely hidden behind doors. The decorative elements and architectural details commonly associated with the pre-war period are making a comeback.

$50M for NYC’s Top Trophy Apartments

New York PostSeptember 30, 2013
The base price for the city’s top trophy apartments has doubled to an unprecedented $50 million over the past year, thanks to an influx of foreign house-hunting billionaires.

At least 19 condos and co-ops are on the market for at least $50 million — with the most expensive offered for $130 million in the pre-construction phase.

It will occupy what is now a private club at the River House on East 52nd Street and will boast five bedrooms, 10 baths, a pool, tennis court and IMAX screening room.

If that seems a bit steep, there’s a triplex penthouse available at The Pierre hotel for $125 million.

Even Hell’s Kitchen is in on the act, with an $85 million apartment at 635 W. 42nd St. A smaller apartment in that building was once a Lindsay Lohan crash pad.

That 10,000-square-foot unit’s building includes a “sky-lit” indoor pool, 12,000-square-foot health club, rooftop lounge, rooftop terraces, basketball court, tennis court, golf driving range, movie theater, BBQ grills, and free bikes, crosstown shuttle buses and daily breakfasts. There’s also a garage, and a contemporary art gallery in the lobby.

“It’s a unique time in the market when the $50 million apartment has become the norm,” said Pamela Liebman, CEO of the Corcoran Group.

She credited “the creation of super-luxury towers that appeal to billionaires from around the world. New York City continues to be the number-one place where the world’s super-wealthy want a home.”

Billionaires from China and the Middle East “are helping to create the high demand for this once unheard-of number,” Liebman added.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see $100 million apartments in the next couple of years,” she added.

If you want a hipper location, there’s a $50 million penthouse duplex at Trump Soho.
At 15 Central Park West — where Citigroup’s former chief Sandy Weill sold his penthouse for $88 million to a Russian billionaire — another listing is asking $70 million.

Nearby, at the Time Warner Center, there’s a $75 million six-bedroom for sale along with a $50 million three-bedroom.

Some of the buildings for billionaires have their own version of low-income units.
Sure, a $95 million unit is being offered at The Sherry-Netherland hotel.

But for a mere $1 million, you can buy a more modest one-bedroom unit in the Fifth Avenue building.

EXCLUSIVE: L.I.C. 5-story Rowhouse Sells for Eye-popping $3M

New York Daily NewsSeptember 27, 2013
Eyal Schuster decided to take on this small house because he spotted big profits. Developer bought the long-abandoned home for only $400,000 in October 2011.

All the attention in real estate circles has been on the shiny, new apartment towers popping up all over Long Island City.

But the real action is taking place behind the walls of a century-old rowhouse in the Queens waterfront hood.

The five-story, six-bedroom home at 531 51st Ave. just sold for $3 million — smashing neighborhood records for a single-family home.

No property had even broken the $1.5-million threshold, records show.

“It just sets a whole new stage for the neighborhood,” said CORE broker Doron Zwickel, who had the listing with Brittany Fox.

Family Compounds, by Elevator

The New York TimesSeptember 27, 2013
Some parents dream of owning a home where their adult children and grandchildren also can live. For those with the means, that translates into a family compound, with several generations living in their own houses within the same property line. But here in New York City, creating such expansive homes can be prohibitively expensive. Nevertheless, a lucky few are building multigenerational compounds in the sky.

At 10 Madison Square West, a 125-unit condominium at West 24th Street where asking prices top $4,000 a square foot, four separate families are hoping to create multigenerational homes. In each case, parents bought apartments for themselves and then a second, noncontiguous unit for their adult children.

It was the same at 150 Charles, a luxury condominium under construction in the West Village: two families have each bought two units. “We think it is fabulous, just a beautiful, special thing that the families will eat meals together, spend time together,” said Steven Witkoff, the developer who is building both 150 Charles Street and 10 Madison Square West.

“Citywide,” said Leonard Steinberg, a broker at Douglas Elliman, “there is a trend toward much larger apartments, where families want to create a suburban scale here in the city. The very wealthy in Manhattan today look at the very wealthy in other cities like Boston and see that their friends have 20,000-foot-houses — they want the same thing here and don’t want to compromise.”

This suburban-to-urban trend is driving developers to rethink the layouts of many of their condominiums and to create larger apartments, or configurations conducive to combining units. “It is called mother-daughter homes in the suburbs,” said Ziel Feldman, the founder and managing partner of HFZ Capital Group. “We are trying to orient our buildings for larger apartments rather than smaller, although not every building lends itself to that.”

At 11 East 68th Street, the conversion of a circa-1913 Beaux-Arts Revival-style building into condominiums where five-bedrooms come with $22 million asking prices, Mr. Feldman is in talks with a prospective buyer to combine units to create a floor-though apartment totaling 9,500 square feet. At 305 East 51st Street, another of Mr. Feldman’s developments, a buyer is considering buying several contiguous units on a single floor that he may or may not combine, “for the kids and grandkids to have a place,” he said.

Lena Diab was having a tough time finding at least four bedrooms to house herself, her husband and their two children.

“Four-bedrooms are almost unheard of in the city,” she said, “and if they do exist, they are either really expensive or need a lot of work.” To complicate matters, Ms. Diab, who runs the American arm of the fashion label Moka London, also wanted quarters in the same building for the occasional use of her mother and sister.

For her immediate family, Ms. Diab bought two two-bedroom apartments that she is in the process of combining at One Museum Mile, a new condominium development at 1280 Fifth Avenue designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects. Two-bedroom apartments on the sixth floor, where Ms. Diab will live, are priced just shy of $1.6 million, according to

“Wherever combinations are possible, people are jumping at the space to expand before someone else comes along to purchase it,” said John Harrison, a broker at CORE who represents One Museum Mile.

Ms. Diab also bought a third two-bedroom apartment one floor above as a pied-à-terre for other members of her family to stay in when they come to visit. When construction is completed in December, Ms. Diab and her relatives will own a 3,000-square-foot four-bedroom home and a second 1,800-square-foot pied-à-terre.

At a time when even homes in the boroughs outside Manhattan are asking astronomical numbers— a town house in Park Slope, for example, will shatter a price record if it achieves anything close to its $15 million price tag — affording such elbow room and privacy can be difficult.

“We are that class of New Yorkers that aren’t wealthy, but also are not living below the poverty line — we are properly middle class,” said Neil K. Aggarwal, a 35-year-old psychiatrist who lives with his wife, Ritambhara Kumar, and infant daughter in a two-bedroom on the Upper West Side. The couple are looking, so far without success, for an additional apartment in their building so that at least one set of parents can move in. Mr. Aggarwal’s parents live in Pittsburgh, his wife’s in Mumbai, India.

“We want to remain connected to our families in a more durable way than daily telephone and Skype sessions,” Dr. Aggarwal said. “In New York, we have very diverse friends, and it is really the culture of capitalism, of big-city life here. But because we don’t have a strong South Asian community like we had when my wife and I were growing up, having grandparents here would be a great way to teach our daughter, Amaya, our cultural traditions.”

Vik Kukar, Dr. Aggarwal’s broker, is trying to make this goal a reality. But “all of Manhattan is at the lowest level of inventory in 12 years and the Upper West Side is just ridiculous,” said Mr. Kukar, who is affiliated with Rutenberg Realty. “It is not easy to find a two-bedroom condominium that is in good shape with a decent view in their neighborhood, let alone their building.”

On the East Side, Patrice Jacobs has managed to create the kind of community the Aggarwals are seeking. Ms. Jacobs and her husband live in a penthouse at the Brompton, a 22-story condo at 205 East 85th Street. Also resident in the building are her two daughters, their husbands and four grandchildren, ranging in age from 2 to 7. They see one another every day.

“It is so easy for me,” Ms. Jacobs said. “If someone needs to walk the dog and one of the kids is sleeping, I can go downstairs in my bathrobe — I’ll take the service elevator if I’m in my bathrobe.”

The Jacobses bought their units together, and the developer, the Related Companies, seemed “happy to have one family buying three apartments, since my daughters got good deals,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Mine was a penthouse, so I’m not sure how much of a deal we got.”

Public records show that Ms. Jacobs paid about $5 million for her unit back in 2010. A similar penthouse sold earlier this year for $9.55 million.

But some buyers who want to create a family compound by acquiring several apartments may experience pushback from the building, particularly if it is a co-op. Boards might be concerned about a single family’s owning a majority of the co-op’s shares and thus being able to control much of what happens at the building, said Mary Ann Rothman, the executive director for the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums.

“It can also be a gentrification issue,” Ms. Rothman said, “because when people can afford to buy multiple units, they probably will want a higher level of service than people who bought years ago and may live on a fixed income.” She added that at her building on the Upper West Side, “many years ago we made a rule that no one can own more than two apartments, and they have to be contiguous.”

The co-op board at 170 Second Avenue in the East Village thwarted an attempt by Amanda Rubin and her family to expand the number of apartments they own there. Ms. Rubin, 56, has lived at the building in two combined apartments for more than 30 years, and the family owns a third, smaller unit as well.

But when her sister relocated with her five children to New York City from California and made a successful bid on a fourth apartment, the building balked. “The co-op board wouldn’t approve her,” Ms. Rubin said. “It was devastating.”

“We are a really wonderful building with a very strong community spirit,” said David Seres, the president of the building’s board, “and we are very happy to have families in the building, because it supports the community spirit. But we were concerned that at the same time, we didn’t want there to be an imbalance.”

To that end, the building instituted a policy to allow up to three apartments to be owned by any given family. “This way,” Dr. Seres explained, “a smaller group of people doesn’t have a larger block of the votes.”

Henry Hershkowitz, a broker at Douglas Elliman who also lives at 170 Second Avenue in two combined units with his partner and their two young children, persuaded his parents to buy there a few years ago when they decided to move to New York City from the suburbs.
“I had just had children and loved the idea that they would be around to help,” Mr. Hershkowitz said.

Recently, his mother died. “It was a gift that we were able to be all together during that difficult time,” he said. “And now that my father is on his own, I can more easily care for him.”

It is a sentiment echoed by those who consider themselves lucky to have several generations living under a single roof.

Modernnyc.weekly: Featured Listing – 422 East 72nd Street, 28/29C

Modern NYCSeptember 27, 2013
Alison Abovsky | CORE Group
422 East 72nd Street, 28/29C

This unique residence, designed by renowned architect Peter Wiederspahn, is a meticulous combination. The loft-like upper level offers an open living/dining area, a terrace, terrazzo floors and custom maple walls throughout. The eat-in chef's kitchen includes custom stainless steel cabinetry and high-end appliances. The upper level includes a bedroom and a bathroom with fixtures by Urban Archeology and Waterworks. A stunning internal steel staircase seamlessly connects the two levels. The lower level offers a suite of bedrooms with a master bedroom that has a balcony along with an attached home office (or convertible fifth bedroom) and a large Waterworks bathroom. The two additional bedrooms share a third custom bathroom. A separate laundry and storage room is situated off of the downstairs hallway.

The Oxford Condominium offers a 24-hour doorman/concierge, health club and indoor pool, private sun deck with playground, a basketball court and residents' lounge with catering kitchen.

$3 Million Townhouse Sale Sets Record in Long Island City

CurbedSeptember 27, 2013
Yesterday, the record for a single-family home sale in Long Island city was below $1.5 million. Today, it is $3 million, the price for which 531 51st Avenuejust sold, according to the Daily News. The home's owner, developer Eyal Schuster, had his eye on big numbers from the beginning, when he listed the house for $3.25 million. Schuster, who also developed new neighborhood condo One Murray Park, bought the house in a much more rundown state for $400,000 in October 2011 and spent more than $1 million on the renovation.

The building is set up as a 4BR triplex on the bottom and a 2BR duplex with roof terrace above. The buyers, a Greek family from Queens, were looking for precisely this layout. The buyers' two sons will take the duplex, and the buyers' daughter and her husband will get the triplex. Which could be ammunition for some family arguments in a few years.

Bono, Belafonte at Africa Fete

New York PostSeptember 27, 2013
Bono and Harry Belafonte joined African philanthropist Mo Ibrahim at Manhattan’s New Africa Center on Fifth Avenue to hear a performance by celebrated Senegalese singer Youssou N’dour.

Introducing N’dour, Bono said he has “the most beautiful voice in the world,” and added, “At the crossroads of the world, there was always a sign post pointing to Africa, and tonight the way is clearer.”

Looking enraptured, Belafonte sat in the wings while N’dour performed, telling Page Six, “He is just great.”

Also there were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, financier Michael Milken, supermodel and philanthropist Liya Kebede, former US Senator Chris Dodd, Bob Dylan’s filmmaker son Jesse Dylan, and former first lady of France Cecilia Attias.

Bono, Belafonte, N’dour and Jackson even sang “Happy Birthday” to Ibrahim’s daughter Hadeel, the co-chair of the New ¬Africa Center.

We’re told the party went on until 5 a.m. Friday, while Bono popped next door to One Museum Mile and ended up taking a nap on a couch in one of the model apartments.

Done Deals: Out-of-towners Liking NoMad

Brokers WeeklySeptember 25, 2013
Buyers are flocking to the new NoMad condo at 241 Fifth Avenue.

CORE's Doron Zwickel is the exclusive agent for the 20-story building, one of the new developments to go up within the Madison Square North Historic District.

Developed by Victor Homes, the 46-unit property has surpassed sales expectations since opening this summer and only a handful of units remain for sale.

Done Deals: 11-25 45th Avenue, 2I

Brokers WeeklySeptember 25, 2013
Long Island CIty
11-25 45th Avenue, 2I

529 s/f studio in One Murray Park, a new condominium on the renovated Murray Playground. Close to MoMAs PS1 and the E,M and 7 subway lines. Amenities include doorman, indoor parking, gym, common roof deck, residents' library and a bike room. Asking Price: $465,000, CC: $393. Time on the market: 8 months. Brokers: Doron Zwickel and Brittany Fox, CORE.

Clinton Hill Brownstone Sale Sets Record While Bed Stuy House Reduces Price

BrownstonerSeptember 25, 2013
A Clinton Hill brownstone at 105 Cambridge Place closed yesterday for $3,100,000, or $875,000 over the original asking price of $2,275,000, a spokeswoman for the real estate firm handling the listing, CORE, told us. The sale price set a record as did the square foot price, $861, according to the firm. It was a House of the Day in July.

“As potential homebuyers find themselves priced out of New York City properties, this information ties in perfectly to a trend the industry is currently seeing, regarding the increasing popularity of Brooklyn listings, particularly townhouses,” she said.

The house was in good condition but needed some updating, according to the listing. It features a grand parlor floor with ornate plasterwork ceilings and cornices. There were nine offers at or above ask almost immediately following the single open house, said CORE. Curbed was the first to report the sale.

Meanwhile, other nearby houses have reduced their asking prices. Just down the street at 86 Cambridge Place, the sellers slashed their ask by $1,200,000, as we reported yesterday. Previously priced at $4,495,000, the freestanding Greek Revival-Italianate house with a garage is now asking $3,295,000.

To the east in Stuy Heights, a house at 260 Decatur that was a HOTD in August reduced its ask from $2,000,000 to $1,850,000. A number of commenters on the HOTD thread said they thought it was overpriced.

One of Corcoran’s Biggest Teams Leaves for CORE

The Real DealSeptember 24, 2013

Real estate veteran Patrick Lilly and six of his team members are leaving the Corcoran Group, one of the largest brokerages in Manhattan, for the boutique brokerage CORE, The Real Dealhas learned exclusively. Lilly, who began work at CORE today, ran a nine-person team at Corcoran. Six of his team members will join him at CORE immediately, while two others are still deciding to move, he said. One member decided to stay at Corcoran. Adie Kriegstein, Martin Eiden, Andres Soto, Latoya Anderson, Eric Purcell and Cassie D’Agata are part of Lilly’s team who are joining him at CORE. Lilly said he made the decision to hop to CORE because of the way the real estate industry is changing. Being a boutique firm, CORE has the ability to market his team more efficiently than a larger firm, like Corcoran, he said. “[A] wider reach was not as necessary as it was in the past,” because most real estate buyers and sellers now go to aggregators like StreetEasy, as opposed to brokerages, for information, Lilly said. “I am really looking forward to the opportunity to be with a company that can help me grow the marketing portion of my team. [CORE’s] going to really assist me with that and that’s going to be really great for us.” Shaun Osher, the CEO of CORE, added that he and Lilly have known each other “for well over a decade,” since Osher’s brokerage days. “I’m very excited to stand alongside [Lilly] and build his business,” Osher said. The addition of at least seven brokers represents a substantial increase in size for CORE, which had 55 agents as of mid-March, according to TRD’s ranking of Manhattan’s largest residential brokerages. Meanwhile, Corcoran had 1,091 brokers. A spokesperson for Corcoran did not respond to requests for comment. CORE has also been on a hiring spree as of late. Earlier this month, the brokerage hiredtop Manhattan broker Deirdre DeRisi from Douglas Elliman and the team of Sidney Whelan and Reggie Grayson from Halstead Property. Lilly joined Corcoran in 2009. He previously spent 13 years at Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, which went out of business in 2009. Lilly’s team was recently ranked No. 110 on the list of the top 250 national teams of real estate agents by The Wall Street Journal. Last year, the team was the Soho team of the year at Corcoran.

Clinton Hill Townhouse Asks $2.275 Million, Sells for $3.1M

CurbedSeptember 24, 2013
The townhouse at 105 Cambridge Place in Clinton Hill hit the market in early July asking $2.275 million and entered contract 30 days later. The sale was set to close this morning, and reps tell us that after one open house and nine offers, the house is selling for $3.1 million. (That's about $861/square foot.) So yes, the Brooklyn townhouse market is strong right now. Both the price and the price per square foot are highs for the neighborhood. But another Cambridge Place property could still take that #1 spot.

The two-family property was originally built by Thomas Lambert in 1873, and the listing describes it as "structurally solid," with updated electric and plumbing systems, but in need of "updating." One update could be scrapping the top-floor rental and turning the whole thing single-family, though we're guessing the listing had some more basic upgrades in mind to begin with.

More 'Whisper Listings' Than Ever Before?

Realtor MagSeptember 24, 2013
Off-market real estate deals, also referred to as "whisper listings" or "pocket listings," appear to be on the rise in major housing markets — and they're not just for luxury properties at $20 million or more. These top-secret listings, which are marketed off the MLS, are now happening among transactions below $1 million, as more sellers try to test the market without the commitment of officially putting their properties up for sale.

In Manhattan, for example, "sellers feel cocky. Sellers feel like they have the ball," Brian K. Lewis, an associate broker at Halstead Property, told The New York Times. He says he has taken on seven whisper listings in the past six months from clients who did not want to list their apartments on the open market. The sellers, however, were still willing to accept offers from all potential buyers. "In an improving economy with no inventory, they have the asset people want," Lewis says.

Off-market listings seem to be rising most in markets with inventories that are particularly stretched thin, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami, the Times reports.

"There's more of it now than ever before," says Shaun Osher, CEO of New York brokerage CORE. "We as brokers know everything is always for sale at a price."

Some sellers are opting to go the route of whisper listings because they believe, by keeping their homes off the open market, they won’t have to deal with the hassle of constantly getting their homes ready for showings.

New technology also is causing a growth in whisper listings. Yapmo, a mobile software company, is one such innovation. Its mobile app allows brokers to share information about properties with each other before the properties hit the market. Chicago firm @properties, which adopted the software in January, says an average of 41 properties per month — or 5 percent of the firm's transactions — have gone into contract before being put on the market.

Still, some real estate professionals say they have a distaste for these under-the-radar deals. Those who represent buyers may like that there's less competition, but on the seller side, some brokerage firms argue that these deals inevitably shut some brokers out. Also, sellers hoping for a quick full-price sale are limiting their buyer pool and their chance of securing the highest price possible.

"It's sort of like saying, 'Achieve this great price and do all of this, but don't tell anybody about it,'" says Brown Harris Stevens President Hall F. Willkie.

But sometimes you just have to do what the client wants, other real estate professionals say.

“It’s really up to the seller in terms of how they want a real estate broker to represent them,” says Neil Garfinkel, broker counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York.

Whisper Listings Quietly Selling at All Price Points

The Real DealSeptember 22, 2013
Off-market deals, known as “whisper listings,” have always been a fixture of the high-end market. But now whisper listings are becoming increasingly commonplace at all price points.

In the past, properties with price tags in the tens of millions would be quietly shopped around, fomenting a mixture of excitement, urgency and exclusivity. Now brokers are using the approach to sell properties that cost below $1 million.

“Sellers feel cocky. Sellers feel like they have the ball,” Brian Lewis, an associate broker at Halstead Property, told the New York Times. In the last six months, Lewis has taken on seven whisper listings from clients that don’t want to put their homes on the market, but who are willing to hear offers. Lewis’ off-market properties include a two-bedroom on the Upper West Side seeking around $1.295 million and a downtown loft asking $12 million.

“In an improving economy with no inventory, they have the asset people want.”
And in a market with such tight inventory that open houses turn into flash mobs, the practice is expected to grow.

“There’s more of it now than ever before,” said CORE CEO Shaun Osher, who admitted to having at least 50 off-market properties stowed away on his computer. “We as brokers know everything is always for sale at a price.”

For Your Ears Only

The New York TimesSeptember 20, 2013
No open houses, no advertising and not a single online photo. And yet a $27 million town house on the Upper East Side and an $850,000 two-bedroom co-op in Lower Manhattan had no problem finding buyers in the past six months. Neither home was listed on the open market.

Off-market deals, known as whisper listings, have long been the purview of the ultra-high-end market. Certain properties, often with price tags of $20 million or more, are shopped with a shroud of mystery among a small circle of well-connected agents instead of being put on the market for the world to see.

Now this hush-hush approach has spread to many price points, including apartments below $1 million, as sellers realize the advantage they have, thanks to the lack of apartments available for sale in Manhattan.

“Sellers feel cocky. Sellers feel like they have the ball,” said Brian K. Lewis, an associate broker at Halstead Property who in the last six months has taken on seven whisper listings from clients who do not want to list their apartments, but are willing to entertain offers. These range from a two-bedroom for $1.295 million on the Upper West Side to a downtown loft for $12 million. “In an improving economy with no inventory, they have the asset people want.”

The number of apartments for sale in Manhattan at the end of August was at its lowest level in at least 13 years, according to Miller Samuel, the appraisal firm. The shortage has forced real estate agents to use aggressive tactics to drum up inventory, from trolling through expired listings in the hopes of reviving a dead deal to sending letters to owners in choice buildings to try to persuade them to sell.

No one knows how many properties are sold through a well-placed word, but off-market tactics appear to be on the rise in major markets where there is a scarcity of inventory, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.

“There’s more of it now than ever before,” said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of the brokerage firm CORE in New York, noting he has a database of about 50 apartments owned by people willing to sell given the right circumstances. “We as brokers know everything is always for sale at a price.”

Plenty of circumstances arise in which it makes sense to keep a listing out of the limelight, ranging from celebrities who don’t want to read about their property transactions in the tabloids to sellers who would rather not upset tenants prematurely. Some sellers hope to avoid the hassle involved in getting a property in shape to show. Others don’t want a lot of people traipsing through.

In March, for example, a five-bedroom town house at 12 East 76th Street on the Upper East Side sold for $27 million in a whisper sale without any wear and tear to the carpets. The place traded after just three viewings.

Yet most brokerage firms are of two minds about off-market deals. On the buy-side, they are largely for it. After all, quietly gaining access to an off-market listing means less competition in a market where open houses often provoke a stampede. Uncovering a whisper sale — by say, chatting up the doorman — for a client unable to find something on the open market ultimately benefits that buyer.

On the sell-side, brokerage firms tend to discourage whisper listings. For one, the secretive nature of whisper listings means some brokers will inevitably be shut out of a possible deal. Moreover, sellers hoping for a quick full-price sale through a whisper listing, they say, limit the buyer pool and thus, their chance of getting the highest possible price.

“The seller is always going to be best served by making sure the property is exposed to the widest possible marketplace,” said Frederick Peters, the president of Warburg Realty.

In addition, a whisper campaign can be a tall order. “It’s sort of like saying, achieve this great price and do all of this but don’t tell anybody about it,” said Hall F. Willkie, the president of Brown Harris Stevens.

Finally, if discretion doesn’t move the merchandise, brokers can end up doing a lot of work for nothing.

In a whisper campaign, the broker frequently has no signed contract with the seller, a scenario commonly referred to as a “pocket listing.” When there is a contract, it often mandates a quiet sale. If the broker finds a buyer, he or she often collects both sides of the commission.
Whatever the arrangement, brokers must go with what the client wants. “It’s really up to the seller in terms of how they want a real estate broker to represent them,” said Neil Garfinkel, the broker counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York. The association requires members to share listings within 24 hours after obtaining an exclusive listing, “unless the seller instructs them otherwise,” according to the bylaws.

For some sellers, an off-market deal is often worth any loss they may take, especially if the target price is met. “It could save you some aggravation,” said Pamela Liebman, the chief executive of Corcoran. Ms. Liebman sold her two-bedroom Miami home in an off-market deal earlier this year after receiving a call from an agent with whom she had previously worked who had a buyer who wanted it badly.

“I said I would do it as long as they gave me everything I wanted,” Ms. Liebman said. Her terms included a dollar-per-foot asking price that she said was a record for the building and a five-month option to lease the property back while renovating a new, larger Miami home.

“I wanted time to finish my renovation and I didn’t want to be in between apartments,” she said.

Such under-the-radar deals also can be advantageous for buyers, even if they end up paying a bit more. “When you get to the building and there are 15 people waiting in the lobby and you go up and another 12 people are in the apartment, you begin to think, ‘O.K., I’m never going to be able to find an apartment,’ ” said Jennifer Abrams, who works in the fashion industry in Manhattan.

Ms. Abrams searched for a large one-bedroom in Chelsea and the Flatiron for more than a year, only to be outbid when she finally fell in love with a place listed for $1.6 million at 49 East 21st Street, a boutique condo building.

After resigning herself to renting for another year, she received a call from her agent, Michael Rubin of CORE.

Mr. Rubin had just sold an apartment that needed a gut renovation to a client who would be moving from a one-bedroom at the Yves Chelsea, a glassy condo building at 166 West 18th Street — where Ms. Abrams had previously rented and had expressed interest in buying.

Though Mr. Rubin’s client wasn’t planning on listing the place until his new one was finished, he had told Mr. Rubin he would entertain offers from flexible buyers who could wait to move in until his renovation was completed — however long that might be.

“I was O.K. with kind of hanging loose,” said Ms. Abrams, who saw the apartment in April and quickly signed a contract. “It was my way of mitigating the stress.”

In some ways, going off the market in search of apartments for clients is “a throwback,” said Dottie Herman, the chief executive of Douglas Elliman. Before the advent of online services, brokers knocked on doors and cold-called owners to find new business, she said.

After the entry of online listing services, she said, “they didn’t do that extra work. They didn’t have to.”

But new technology is facilitating off-market deals. In 2006, introduced “Make Me Move,” which lets homeowners name a price that would compel them to sell. There are 60,000 such listings on the site, with more than 1,000 homes added each week, according to the site.

Yapmo, a Chicago mobile software company that started in January, allows brokers within a given firm to virtually whisper about listings through a mobile app so they can engage directly about properties before they hit the market, without sifting through mounds of e-mail.

Since adopting the software in January, @properties, a Chicago-based brokerage firm, has had an average of 41 properties per month go into contract before being put on the market, or roughly 5 percent of overall transactions.

In today’s tight market, quiet listings are also born out of the concerns of sellers worried about relocating in a climate of scarce listings.

“A lot of owners want to sell but they don’t know where they’re going next,” said Raymond Dillulio, an agent with Douglas Elliman who is handling the whisper listing of a $23 million Greek Revival town house on Washington Square Park. Such clients, he said, feel more comfortable “rolling it out quietly” to see what they can get. “They don’t want to be pressured,” he said.

Just last week, Nanette Shaw, who founded the Shaw Team at Coldwell Banker Bellmarc with her business partner Isa Goldberg, closed an off-market deal at Chatham Towers at 170 Park Row in Lower Manhattan. While showing a home in the building last March, they had been approached by the son of an elderly woman who had lived in a two-bedroom apartment there for 44 years.

“He explained that he would like to sell his mother’s apartment so that she could, at some point, when she’s ready, move to Bronxville, closer to him and his family,” Ms. Goldberg said.

Keeping the listing quiet allowed them to be sensitive to the mother’s schedule and avoid the huge job of de-cluttering an apartment with decades of personal items. Ms. Goldberg and Ms. Shaw listed the place for $850,000 in Bellmarc’s internal database in March and put the word out to brokers with clients who had expressed interest in two-bedrooms in the building. They showed it three times and quickly received an offer for the full asking price. Another buyer offered $50,000 more. The initial buyer, represented by Pascal Blacque-Belair at Douglas Elliman, matched that offer and closed last week.

“I think they paid a fair price,” Mr. Blacque-Belair said. “Who knows — had it been listed and they had gone into a bidding war with multiple buyers they may not have gotten it.

“It was a quiet kind of bidding war,” he said.

Joe Jonas Has His Eyes on Flatiron Area Digs

New York PostSeptember 19, 2013
In the Flatiron area, Joe Jonas and his girlfriend, former model-turned-graphic artist Blanda Eggenschwiler, toured a penthouse duplex near Madison Square Park, at 21 E. 22nd St. The listing broker was Michael Rubin of CORE.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom rental is asking $8,500 a month. It features high ceilings and a private outdoor terrace. There’s also a communal roof deck.

The area is hot — with purchasers including Chelsea Clinton and race-car-driving heartthrob Jeff Gordon, both at the nearby Whitman on East 26th Street — but that didn’t stop a thief from snatching a purse from a breast-feeding mom in the park recently. Fortunately, the thief was tackled by Douglas Elliman broker Todd Crittenden, who used to be a professional soccer player, bringing him down until the cops came.

Dream Homes: 45 Walker Street

New York PostSeptember 19, 2013

TriBeCa, $7.25 million The location of this condo loft — on Walker Street, between Church and Broadway — is spectacular, but so is the space: a full 4,781-square-foot floor with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two home offices, a den, a study and an open, modern kitchen — all of it recently renovated. And there are those great loft details: lots of oversized windows (14 of ’em), high ceilings and exposed columns. Agents: Emily Beare and Shaun Osher, CORE, 212-726-0786 and 212-726-0778

Joe Jonas Checks Out Flatiron Duplex Penthouse

The Real DealSeptember 19, 2013
Joe Jonas, part of the Jonas Brothers music trio, has checked out a Flatiron District penthouse duplex near Madison Square Park.

Jonas and his artist girlfriend Blanda Eggenschwiler looked at 21 East 22nd Street, which is currently asking $8,500 per month in rent. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment has a private outdoor terrace that leads to a communal roof deck, according to the New York Post.

The apartment is listed with Michael Rubin of CORE, according to the newspaper, which did not include a comment from Jonas or the broker.

Michael Feinstein's Townhouse Goes on the Market for $17.9 Million

HGTV FrontDoorSeptember 19, 2013
Five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein has put his Upper East Side home on the market, and what a home it is. Priced at $17.9 million, the 18-room, five-story house offers six bedrooms, seven baths, two kitchens, twin staircases, eight fireplaces, a gym and meditation terrace. The expansive backyard houses two pagodas, one used as a living room and the other as a dining room.

The home's most notable feature, though, is its double-wide size. Feinstein and his husband, Terrence Flannery, created the 25-foot townhouse by merging two bow-front 1800s brownstones.According to the New York Times, they bought the first brownstone in 2004 for around $3 million then scooped up the neighboring brownstone in 2005 for $3.825 million. After a gut renovation, they removed walls on the garden and parlor floors and installed archways to connect the two homes. "The vision was to combine them into one grand house for entertaining," Flannery told theTimes. (The couple regularly hosts guests like Liza Minnelli, Elaine Stritch, Stephen Sondheim and Tony Bennett.)

The listing is carried by Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon of CORE.

Photo Flash: Casey Nicholaw, Danny Burstein & More Raise Money for Matthew Shepard Foundation

Broadway WorldSeptember 18, 2013
Last night, Casey Nicholaw and Josh Marquette hosted a cocktail event to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation at One Museum Mile (1280 Fifth Avenue). Attendees included Broadway luminaries Jeff Blumenkrantz, Danny Burstein, Carolee Carmello, Jeanine Tesori and Michael James Scott, and stars of HGTV's Selling New York Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon. The event raised over $7,500 for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Check out photos from the special event below!

The Matthew Shepard Foundation seeks to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. For more information, please visit

Nicholaw, a longtime supporter of the Foundation, is the Tony Award winning co-director of The Book of Mormon along with Trey Parker. He was also nominated for Tony Awards for directing and choreographing The Drowsy Chaperone, choreographing Monty Python's Spamalot, and choreographing The Book of Mormon.

One Museum Mile is a new residential condominium located at 1280 Fifth Avenue on Central Park in Manhattan. The 116 residential interiors at One Museum Mile were created by Andre Kikoski. Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP served as design architect for the building. SLCE Architects served as architect-of-record. Amenities include a landscaped roof terrace, rooftop pool and terrace overlooking Central Park, fitness center with terrace, and a residents' lounge with fireplace. For more information, please visit

Who's News: Sid Whelan and Reggie Grayson

Brokers WeeklySeptember 18, 2013

Sidney Whelan and Reggie Grayson have joined CORE at the firm's Chelsea flagship office. A team of high-producing brokers, collectively Whelan and Grayson have over 10 years of experience in the industry.

Where Do Real Estate Professionals Dine in NYC?

The News FunnelSeptember 17, 2013
It’s no secret that NYC is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. With so many diverse options, choosing a place to eat can be overwhelming!

As real estate professionals, it’s nice to know the insider spots where we can meet and network with our colleagues. Luckily, we have lots of friends in the real estate industry and we got some restaurant recommendations from some of the top players on the east coast.

Enjoy these suggestions from our friends, Wayne Heicklen, Partner of Pryor Cashman, Nick Romito, Founder of View the Space, and Shaun Osher, Founder and CEO of CORE Group as they uncover their favorite food joints in The Big Apple.

From filet mignon to fried chicken, we've covered all our bases!

Count the 'Ninas' in This Wall-Size Al Hirschfeld Mural

CurbedSeptember 16, 2013
Here's the beautiful Manhattan townhouse that belongs to Grammy-nominated songwriter Michael Feinstein and Terrence Flannery, on the market for a whopping $17.9M. According to the Times, the duo bought the first half of the place—which had "high ceilings and grand rooms but not a sense of massiveness," apparently—for about $3M, later spending an additional $3.825M on the neighboring property in order to break combine them into a 25-foot-wide "grand house for entertaining." Herringbone floors are nice, and all, as are two kitchens, a "soaking tub from which a bather can survey the gardens," and "a man cave reimagined as a 16-by-11 foot dressing room with its own marble fireplace and a built-in center unit with a marble top and multiple storage drawers," but one of the real standouts doesn't actually come with the house: an enormous wall-size Al Hirschfeld mural depicting Feinstein's great showbiz peers, such as Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand.

Michael Feinstein's Townhouse Combo Listed for $18 Million

CurbedSeptember 16, 2013
An impressive Lenox Hill townhouse, combined from two adjacent houses, owned by Grammy-nominated musician/Great American Songbook archivist Michael Feinstein and his spouse, Terrence Flannery, has hit the market with an asking price of $17.9 million. The couple, who were married by Judge Judy in 2008, bought the first of the two houses, 141 East 63rd Street, in 2004 for just over $3 million. Although it hadn't factored into their original plans, they bought the neighboring house (143 East 63rd Street) went it went on the market the following year, shelling out an additional $3.825 million plus the cost of a gut renovation.

To combine the houses, Feinstein and Flannery knocked down some walls on the first two floors in order create connective archways and included, among other things, a fourth-floor master suite accessible by private staircase, two kitchens, a home gym on the fifth floor, and an enormous walk-in closet, which can easily accommodate the kind of wardrobe that includes something like 50 button-down white shirts. The house, which is now 100 feet deep, 25 feet wide, and contains 18 rooms, isn't all new, though—many of the original details were preserved, including ornate crown molding and floor-to-ceiling bay windows. The wall-sized Hirschfeld mural in the foyer will not be included in the sale.
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