News

Six homes that offer picture-perfect views of Macy's annual 4th of July fireworks festivities

Brick UndergroundJune 30, 2017

Watch the fireworks in style (and serious comfort) from the living room 435 East 52nd Street (yours for $5.750 million).

 

The 41st annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks on Tuesday display will ignite from five barges along the East River. Here, six homes offering the best views from which to catch all the sparkly action.

 

A 3,500-square-foot townhouse at 257 Berry Street in Williamsburg (on the market for $4.5 million) includes four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms and a roof deck with 360 degree unobstructed views.

 

Located on the 21st floor of 301 East 50th Street, this three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo (for rent at $16,000/month), includes a corner living/dining room with East River views perfect for catching Tuesday’s light show.

 

For those planning Independence Day parties, this two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo at 20 Bayard Street in Williamsburg, a features a 458-square-foot wraparound terrace with views of the Manhattan skyline that makes a perfect place for watching the fireworks with friends.

 

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op at 45 Sutton Place South (yours for $1.695 million) has Southern and Eastern exposures offering darn good views of the river—and, presumably, the fireworks, too.

 

Finally, this two bedroom, two-bathroom co-op at 455 East 51st Street (listed at $2.395 million) includes a living room, office, master bedroom and terrace that all face the East River, so the whole family can catch the pyrotechnics from multiple rooms at once.

 

What can I afford? A family wonders whether they can buy in Manhattan at all--or if they're better off looking elsewhere

Brick UndergroundJune 29, 2017

As the rental market slows and concessions rise, sales in Manhattan continue to be brisk: According to recent market reports, transactions—and average sales prices—have picked up in the borough. The expense of buying in Manhattan seems to be such that even high-earning New Yorkers wonder whether it's realistic to purchase here. Ann and Madison Smith, for instance, (note: names changed to protect the buyers' financial privacy), who are currently renting in Manhattan, would love to invest in a home for themselves, their two small children, and their pet beagle, but Ann says, "We basically don't think we could ever—or really, in the near future—afford to buy a place in Manhattan that we'd want to live in." 

 

What they really want is a three-bedroom in a doorman building—a pet-friendly one, of course. That said, while the couple is committed to staying in the city, the Smiths are open to considering suburban-lite options like Riverdale or parts of Queens, where their budget could stretch a lot further. She also wonders whether they should scrap the idea of buying in the city entirely, and instead purchase a second home in the country and continue to rent in NYC, an increasingly common practice, as Brick has covered previously. 

 

If they can't afford their own slice of Manhattan, Ann says, "We could do with a patch of greenery to call our own, and some quiet." 

 

So which will it be? To find out what the couple's wisest move might be, we consulted mortgage broker Sean McPartland of the McPartland Team at PNC Bank (this article's sponsor) and real estate agent John Harrison of CORE for their suggestions. 

 

The Finances:

Annual income: $450,000

Retirement savings: $125,000

Cash on hand for down payment: $150,000

Debt: $50,000

Regular monthly expenses: $15,000

Credit score: 725

 

The Analysis: 

The primary challenge for these buyers is one that many of their peers face: The down payment. As we've written about in the past, the down payment tends to be the biggest hurdle for New Yorkers, due to the high cost of real estate here. In addition to the 20 percent down that co-ops typically expect from buyers, boards also want to see that they have two years' worth of post-closing liquidity to cover mortgage and maintenance payments. 

 

"They have strong income, but the amount of cash on hand they have for a down payment and closing costs is going to affect what they can afford," McPartland says. "We get this scenario often."  

 

Given this, the Smiths may want to focus on condos, where the restrictions for financing are more lax. Unlike co-ops, condos do not usually have financing minimums, which means the prospective buyers can borrow more and put down less up front. Condos are also more lenient than co-ops about post-closing liquidity, so the buyers needn't worry about demonstrating they have two years' worth. However, closing costs on condos--which can include broker’s commission, taxes, title insurance, and more--are generally higher than they are for co-ops, usually about 4 to 5 percent of the purchase price. 

 

McPartland notes that PNC Bank offers some co-op and condo buyers 90 percent financing, through a combined mortgage and home equity line of credit that allows them to make smaller down payments and have more flexibility. Using this approach, the couple could afford to consider homes selling for up to $1.25 million. They'd first take out a fixed, 30-year mortgage for $1 million (that is, 80 percent of the home's cost) and then a home equity line of credit of $125,000 for another 10 percent. Their $150,000 in cash on hand could then cover a ten percent down payment and closing costs.

 

A home equity line of credit can be paid back at a variable rate, depending on how many years the homeowners would opt to take. McPartland estimates that monthly payments on a 30-year mortgage with an interest rate fixed at 3.5 percent would amount to $4,490; repaying their home equity loan over five years would be a monthly cost of $383. This means total monthly housing costs would come to $4,873—a little higher than their current $4,695 rent, but not including common charges or maintenance charges, likely to be in the $2,500-$3,000 range or more.

 

Even with a budget of $1.25 million, though, McPartland says that the couple's desired three-bedroom in a doorman building will be tough to find in Manhattan. They'd likely have better luck in Queens or Riverdale, as Ann suggested. 

 

"Buying a primary home in Manhattan really stretches their budget," McPartland says. As for the question of whether they should continue to rent in NYC and instead purchase a country house, he notes that most second homes require 20 percent down, which would mean they'd be considering places in the $600,000 to $700,000 range. 

 

"I would take that starting point of $1.25 million and see what that gets you in the city," he concludes. 

 

The would-be buyers react:

"This is basically what we had figured we could afford right now," Ann says, adding that her suspicions seem to be confirmed that the perfect fit for her family might be out of reach in Manhattan. While they're not interested in heading to the 'burbs, Ann says that the family would think about outerborough neighborhoods like Riverdale, Long Island City, or even Hoboken. 

That said, she notes, "I find the country house option more appealing, I think. Best of both worlds!". But she wonders what the family could afford outside the city while maintaining their apartment, with its $4,695 per month rent. She's also concerned about finding sufficient funds to cover closing costs. 

 

What's available to the buyers now: 

CORE broker John Harrison has good news and bad news for the prospective buyers. He points out that their ability to get 90 percent financing doesn't mean finding a condo will be a breeze. "While many condo buildings may allow such a down payment, you must think about the competition from other buyers," he says. "Just because the building will allow it doesn't mean that the owner will choose you over someone else that is willing to put at least 25 percent or more down." 

 

On the other hand, he adds, the buyers shouldn't necessarily go for the country house just yet.

 

"This particular family seems to want to at least consider sticking around if they can make the numbers work. While they could always go the route of buying a second home upstate as a getaway, that alone would still not solve their problem of where and how to live locally, given that even to rent a large space in the city costs quite a bit." 

 

It isn't impossible to find the right space in Manhattan: Harrison says that Hamilton Heights in Upper Manhattan is one of his favorite enclaves for its proximity to Riverside Park, multiple transit options, burgeoning neighborhood amenities, and affordability relative to the rest of Manhattan. It's also home to this condo at 603 West 148th Street, which, while it has two bedrooms rather than three, is spacious and comes with a number of perks.

 

With an asking price of $850,000 and carrying costs of less than $1,300 per month, this is a real possibility for the buyers, says Harrison. He adds, "Given the building's tax abatement, outdoor space, gym, and proximity to the park, this could serve their needs well." And it won't be tough for them to head upstate for getaways. 

 

For more options, he advises the buyers to look toward Brooklyn. Harrison points to this two-bedroom condo at 150 Myrtle Street in Downtown Brooklyn as a great choice for families: "It is also almost directly across from the brand new City Point development which also includes a Target, Trader Joes, and the DeKalb Market Hall food court. It is near a number of transportation options and a short walk to Fort Greene Park, which is exciting for the kids," he points out. Plus, there's a children's playroom in the building. The asking price is $895,000 and carrying costs are quite low, at under $1,000 per month. 

 

Harrison says the family may appreciate the townhouse feel of this Bed-Stuy condo conversion in a landmarked brownstone, at 43 Halsey Street. The two-bedroom, two-bath home has been updated with high-end fixtures, and retains prewar details as well. Extra storage in the basement will also be a coup for a family. And the asking price is right, at $799,000.

 

In Riverdale, one of the neighborhoods the Smiths mentioned they'd be open to exploring, this condo seems to fit the bill in several ways. It's a three-bedroom, two-bath with a balcony and in-unit washer and dryer. Plus, building amenities include a parking spot, gym, and additional storage space. Asking price: $738,000. Common charges and taxes: $888. 

 

Design Dialogues No. 36

SURFACEJune 29, 2017

On Wednesday, June 28, designer and cofounder of, Exhibition A, Cynthia Rowley, and founder and CEO of CORE real estate group joined Surface magazine’s editor-in-chief, Spencer Bailey, for Design Dialogues No. 36. Inside the Annabelle Selldorf–designed 42 Crosby in New York City, more than 75 guests gathered, including Pari Ehsan, Buxton Midyette, Jilly Hendrix, and Andy Cohen (of Atlas Capital Group), for a discussion that examined the future of retail, technology, design—and of living in New York City.

 

“I didn’t really have the money to pay for it,” said Rowley of her first apartment in New York, “but I could justify it because it was for work and I had a youth-hostel idea, where you could come and stay with me if you worked and helped make clothes.”

 

“We’ve seen people through divorces and catastrophes,” Shaun Osher observed. “There’s never a dull moment in real estate. And I’ve always said, buying real estate is a completely irrational act.”

 

Rowley ended the evening of cocktails and snacks with a clever tip for those trying to make it in New York: “If all else fails deny, defy, and sugar coat.“ 

With two terraces and a fireplace, this $1.6M Chelsea duplex feels like a compact house

6SQFTJune 27, 2017

This pint-sized penthouse perched atop an elevator building at 368 West 23rd Street in West Chelsea manages to pack everything you need into two levels of renovated, sun-filled space and look good doing it. Asking $1.6 million, the one-bedroom co-op is freshly renovated with two full baths, new hardwood floors, central air conditioning, a wood-burning fireplace, and a washer/dryer. But it’s the impressive expanses of terrace that make the biggest impression.

 

The home’s lower floor offers plenty of living space–according to the listing there’s enough room to create a second bedroom. A tasteful modern renovation leaves the space fresh and sparkling though the building’s solid pre-war construction remains in evidence. Through a pair of wood-framed glass doors is a terrace that’s perfect for entertaining.

 

The clean, bright kitchen boasts a working wood-burning fireplace, plenty of storage and a vented range. A coral-painted brick accent wall and a pale green glass tile backsplash add a splash of color and texture to keep white-box boredom at bay.

 

Upstairs, another terrace–this one big, sunny and paved–overlooks bustling West Chelsea. Modern details include cool corrugated siding and a big expanses of glass.

 

Just inside, an equally sunny bedroom gets a big walk-in closet and one of two newly-minted baths with radiant heat floors and all the trimmings.

The week in luxury: A map of NYC’s priciest apartment sales

The Real DealJune 26, 2017

An interactive look at where the biggest deals were struck, plus total overall sales and average prices for the week.

Each week, The Real Deal and CityRealty look back at Manhattan’s priciest apartment sales.

Stylish Chelsea duplex with expansive private terrace asks $1.6M

CurbedJune 26, 2017

When it comes to real estate in Manhattan, everyone knows that a seven figure price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee you anything special so if you’re going to spend $1.6 million on an apartment, let it be something with some pizzazz, like this unique duplex in Chelsea.

 

The co-op is configured as a one-bedroom, two-bedroom but the beauty of its floorplan is that with some maneuvering, it can be converted into a two-bedroom apartment. New hardwood floors and custom built-ins are the result of a full renovation that modernized the space but also left a hint of classic design in place.

 

On the lower level you’ll find the sun-filled living room centered by a set of stairs that lead to the second level. The open floorplan allows for a light and airy feel and a spacious dining room leads into the quirky but lovely kitchen. There is an abundance of sleek white cabinets in the kitchen, along with stainless steel appliances and an unexpected salmon colored accent wall with a wood-burning fireplace at its base.

 

 The upper level is home to the apartment’s massive en-suite bedroom with heated floors, a washer/dryer machine, a large storage room, and a smaller closet space. An impressive outdoor terrace that matches the size of the apartment’s living room is accessed through the upper level and if that wasn’t enough private outdoor space, there is a balcony on the first level, just off the dining room.

Soap opera star Noelle Beck sells Gramercy townhouse for $14M

LLNYCJune 26, 2017

Noelle Beck is probably “loving” life right now. The soap opera star (who played Trisha Alden on ABC’s “Loving”) has just sold her townhouse at 243 East 17th Street in Gramercy for $13.5 million, after it lingered on the market for more than two years.

 

Of course, Beck and her husband, Eric Peterson, only paid $1.6 million for the home in 1997, so don’t feel too bad it took them that long to sell. They originally listed it for a hair under $17 million in December 2014, and the price gradually dropped to its selling price.

 

The listing, with Emily Beare and Patrick Lilly of Core, notes that the 6,494-square-foot home has seven bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms (there’s also an extra 1,950 square feet on the lower floor). It is currently configured as a four-bedroom owner’s unit, plus two one-bedroom units. It has five fireplaces, moldings, a Clive Christian kitchen, a master bedroom with a private terrace and views of Stuyvesant Square Park. The buyer bought under the LLC Iona On The Park.

Buying A Home Sight Unseen Is Easier Than Ever—and More Common

The Wall Street JournalJune 23, 2017

The first time Angelo Smyrnios pulled up in front of a Mediterranean-style home with a red-tiled roof and palm trees in Lighthouse Point, Fla., he got out of the car and said, “OK, let’s go see the $1.65 million house I just bought sight unseen.”

 

It takes a confident buyer—and a trusted real-estate agent—to purchase property without a first-hand visit. Would-be buyers can always peruse listing photos and videos online, and Google Earth offers views of the neighborhood. But to avert some of the surprises of a long-distance listing, agents are increasingly walking clients through properties via FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp, or even making custom videos. Real-estate brokerages and a crop of new technology companies are creating three-dimensional photographic and video tours, which can be viewed in virtual reality.

 

Mr. Smyrnios and his wife, Lisette, began searching for a home in Lighthouse Point at the beginning of the year, after deciding to relocate from Littleton, Colo., to be closer to Ms. Smyrnios’ mother. They visited the area three times, viewing property with their agents, Lisa and John Wilson of Douglas Elliman Boca Raton. In April, the Smyrnioses were busy packing up their home—and Ms. Smyrnios was about to leave for a business trip—when Ms. Wilson called to tell them about a house she thought was ideal for them.

 

The Wilsons gave the couple a 45-minute tour of the property using Apple’s video-calling service FaceTime. They held up an iPhone and narrated as the Smyrnioses directed them to parts of the house they wanted to examine further. Ms. Wilson also rode on the back of a motorbike, with Mr. Wilson driving, and FaceTimed the neighborhood for Ms. Smyrnios. The Smyrnioses researched crime statistics and other quality-of-life issues on Areavibes.com. Ms. Smyrnios’s mother also came to look at the house—a visit the couple also observed via FaceTime—and gave her thumbs-up.

 

When they first arrived, “I liked it even more in person,” said Ms. Smyrnios, a 49-year old executive for a consulting firm.

 

Last summer, Laurie McNally signed a contract to buy a weekend house close to the beach in East Hampton, N.Y., paying $870,000. Not only had Ms. McNally not seen the house, but when her real-estate agents, Chris Chapin and Raymond Lord of Douglas Elliman, called to tell her about it, she was at a mind-and-body health retreat in San Diego and lacked access to a computer. Phone use was limited to a few hours each night.

 

“They sent a couple of pictures and a description,” which she looked at on her cellphone, said Ms. McNally, a finance executive who lives in Ardmore, Pa. Advised she needed to move quickly, “I went on trust,” Ms. McNally said.

 

She put down a 10% deposit, customary in New York state real-estate transactions when she signed the contract. Had she decided she didn’t like the property upon seeing it, “she could not have backed out without losing her deposit,” said Mr. Lord.

 

“Sight unseen” offers on family homes are on the rise, according to Redfin, a national real-estate brokerage. In a survey of 1,334 recent home buyers in 11 major metropolitan markets, 33% said they had made an offer on at least one house “sight unseen.” In previous surveys, Redfin found that about 20% of buyers said they had bid on houses they had never seen.

 

Agents say blind bids are more common in hot markets where homes sell quickly, as well as in places that are popular with overseas buyers.

 

Sotheby’s International Realty adopted 3-D photography in September, and now about 10% of its listings include 3-D photo tours. About 5% of the company’s 880 offices world-wide currently have virtual-reality viewing areas, where clients can view 3-D property pictures on a screen or while wearing VR headsets. In five years, the company should have such viewing areas in every office, said John Passerini, global vice president of interactive marketing for Sotheby’s .

 

VirtualAPT, a Brooklyn-based technology company that launched last year, invented a robot that films virtual tours in 3-D. The robot records a real-estate agent guiding a tour of a property, as though showing it to a live person, and produces a video within 15 minutes, said chief executive Bryan Colin.

 

Both Mr. Passerini and Mr. Colin said the goal of such tours is to facilitate sales of real estate to people who cannot travel to see properties and to minimize time spent on a search.

 

Today, 3-D tours are more commonly seen on high-end listings that have larger marketing budgets; Mr. Colin’s tours cost $1 per square foot, so a 3,000-square-foot home would cost the real-estate agent $3,000. Although viewing 3-D tours while wearing a virtual reality headset best imitates the live experience, consumers resist putting on VR headsets, even when they are provided free, real-estate executives say. Any extra technical steps are turnoffs to consumers. VirtualAPT tours require just clicking on a link, because Mr. Colin said wealthy real-estate buyers dislike downloading apps.

 

While Matthew Knouff was vacationing in Italy, his real-estate agent called to tell him about an apartment in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood that met all his criteria: It was a one-bedroom with a view, in a building with a pool and a screening room. While soaking in a pool on the Amalfi Coast, Mr. Knouff, a 37-year-old data-privacy consultant, toured the property on FaceTime with his agent, Dex Lipovic of CORE.

 

Upon hanging up, Mr. Lipovic shot video with his iPhone and a DJI Osmo attachment, a video stabilizer that keeps the phone steady for a better-quality video. Mr. Knouff went into contract for $1.125 million without ever having visited the apartment.

 

Last year, while Mr. Knouff was in London for work, Mr. Lipovic provided a FaceTime tour of a house in Bronxville, a community just north of Manhattan. Mr. Knouff bought the property for $1.175 million and is currently renovating it as he decides whether to move in or resell.

 

Mr. Knouff thinks there’s a benefit to remaining a step removed, explaining that on a brief visit to a property, a bad mood, an anomalous smell or noise or some other unimportant detail could make him dismiss a property with potential. “My bias could impact me in a negative way,” said Mr. Knouff. Sight unseen “for me is the easiest way to purchase,” he said.

Veronica Mainetti on VOC’s, Climate Change, and Exchanging Vows In The Trees

Stone Fox BrideJune 23, 2017

Who: Mama, Entrepreneur, Environmentalist

 

Why She’s Foxy: She’s President of Sorgente Group of America, a photography aficionado and 5th generation Italian entrepreneur who believes that sustainable methods of building development is a crucial step toward saving the planet.  

 

 On Her History: “I was born and raised in Rome. When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She ended up becoming my heroine and my model in life. She was actually the one that encouraged my photography. The first picture I ever took was from a box we restored together. I still have it. Immortalizing a moment was very cool. Photography was always sort of a hobby. I actually studied interior design and came to New York to get a Masters in architectural design. That was around the time our investors wanted to learn more about the New York City real estate world, so I never finished. There’s this vortex that hides within the city that has this intoxicating energy.”

 

On Sustainable Development: “This is the time to start marching on streets for things like climate change awareness. It’s happening much faster than people think.  What’s scary is that scientists don’t even have the means to monitor the phenomenons that are happening on a daily basis. Seventy percent of carbon emission in the city comes from buildings, so sustainable development is truly key. Choosing local materials is best. It is the Italian way.” 

 

On Climate Change + VOC: “I have epilepsy. So I cannot be around anything that is chemical. My seizures are effectory seizures. If I was to clean a table with Windex I could eventually have a seizure. They’re mainly morphic seizures which means that when I’m about to fall asleep I get them. So I’ve always been sensitive to this. My goal in development is to achieve a VOC free environment. VOC means Volatile Organic Compound. It’s very hard to achieve because you can have VOC on lockers, behind walls or underneath pavement or wooden floors. They’re everywhere. So it was a really big challenge. It is insane that sometimes in January the weather is seventy degrees, yet people on the street are happy. But I am freaked out. Climate change is happening much faster than people think.”

 

On Marriage + Motherhood: “My wife and I met through a mutual friend. We were married six months after in Oahu. It was just us and a minister, and a lot of trees as witnesses. In nature. That’s really how we wanted it. Motherhood was a hormonal thing for me. I just needed to have a kid. It took my wife a little bit longer, but as soon the first time she heard the heartbeat she just melted. She’s really such an incredible mother. It amazes me everyday. I get goosebumps. I’m still trying to find the balance between work and family.”

 

Fave Love Movie: “‘In The Mood For Love’, by far. The music is daunting. The actress, Maggie Cheung is just so elegant.”

 

Fave Love Song: “'Avrai' by Claudio Baglioni.”

 

Fantasy Wedding: “Is it crazy to say Jane Goodall’s wedding in Africa?”

 

Buying A Home Sight Unseen Is Easier Than Ever—and More Common

The Wall Street JournalJune 22, 2017

The first time Angelo Smyrnios pulled up in front of a Mediterranean-style home with a red-tiled roof and palm trees in Lighthouse Point, Fla., he got out of the car and said, “OK, let’s go see the $1.65 million house I just bought sight unseen.”

 

It takes a confident buyer—and a trusted real-estate agent—to purchase property without a first-hand visit. Would-be buyers can always peruse listing photos and videos online, and Google Earth offers views of the neighborhood. But to avert some of the surprises of a long-distance listing, agents are increasingly walking clients through properties via FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp, or even making custom videos. Real-estate brokerages and a crop of new technology companies are creating three-dimensional photographic and video tours, which can be viewed in virtual reality.

 

Mr. Smyrnios and his wife, Lisette, began searching for a home in Lighthouse Point at the beginning of the year, after deciding to relocate from Littleton, Colo., to be closer to Ms. Smyrnios’ mother. They visited the area three times, viewing property with their agents, Lisa and John Wilson of Douglas Elliman Boca Raton. In April, the Smyrnioses were busy packing up their home—and Ms. Smyrnios was about to leave for a business trip—when Ms. Wilson called to tell them about a house she thought was ideal for them.

 

The Wilsons gave the couple a 45-minute tour of the property using Apple’s video-calling service FaceTime. They held up an iPhone and narrated as the Smyrnioses directed them to parts of the house they wanted to examine further. Ms. Wilson also rode on the back of a motorbike, with Mr. Wilson driving, and FaceTimed the neighborhood for Ms. Smyrnios. The Smyrnioses researched crime statistics and other quality-of-life issues on Areavibes.com. Ms. Smyrnios’s mother also came to look at the house—a visit the couple also observed via FaceTime—and gave her thumbs-up.

 

When they first arrived, “I liked it even more in person,” said Ms. Smyrnios, a 49-year old executive for a consulting firm.

 

Last summer, Laurie McNally signed a contract to buy a weekend house close to the beach in East Hampton, N.Y., paying $870,000. Not only had Ms. McNally not seen the house, but when her real-estate agents, Chris Chapin and Raymond Lord of Douglas Elliman, called to tell her about it, she was at a mind-and-body health retreat in San Diego and lacked access to a computer. Phone use was limited to a few hours each night.

 

“They sent a couple of pictures and a description,” which she looked at on her cellphone, said Ms. McNally, a finance executive who lives in Ardmore, Pa. Advised she needed to move quickly, “I went on trust,” Ms. McNally said.

 

She put down a 10% deposit, customary in New York state real-estate transactions when she signed the contract. Had she decided she didn’t like the property upon seeing it, “she could not have backed out without losing her deposit,” said Mr. Lord.

 

“Sight unseen” offers on family homes are on the rise, according to Redfin, a national real-estate brokerage. In a survey of 1,334 recent home buyers in 11 major metropolitan markets, 33% said they had made an offer on at least one house “sight unseen.” In previous surveys, Redfin found that about 20% of buyers said they had bid on houses they had never seen.

 

Agents say blind bids are more common in hot markets where homes sell quickly, as well as in places that are popular with overseas buyers.

 

Sotheby’s International Realty adopted 3-D photography in September, and now about 10% of its listings include 3-D photo tours. About 5% of the company’s 880 offices world-wide currently have virtual-reality viewing areas, where clients can view 3-D property pictures on a screen or while wearing VR headsets. In five years, the company should have such viewing areas in every office, said John Passerini, global vice president of interactive marketing for Sotheby’s .

 

VirtualAPT, a Brooklyn-based technology company that launched last year, invented a robot that films virtual tours in 3-D. The robot records a real-estate agent guiding a tour of a property, as though showing it to a live person, and produces a video within 15 minutes, said chief executive Bryan Colin.

 

Both Mr. Passerini and Mr. Colin said the goal of such tours is to facilitate sales of real estate to people who cannot travel to see properties and to minimize time spent on a search.

 

Today, 3-D tours are more commonly seen on high-end listings that have larger marketing budgets; Mr. Colin’s tours cost $1 per square foot, so a 3,000-square-foot home would cost the real-estate agent $3,000. Although viewing 3-D tours while wearing a virtual reality headset best imitates the live experience, consumers resist putting on VR headsets, even when they are provided free, real-estate executives say. Any extra technical steps are turnoffs to consumers. VirtualAPT tours require just clicking on a link, because Mr. Colin said wealthy real-estate buyers dislike downloading apps.

 

While Matthew Knouff was vacationing in Italy, his real-estate agent called to tell him about an apartment in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood that met all his criteria: It was a one-bedroom with a view, in a building with a pool and a screening room. While soaking in a pool on the Amalfi Coast, Mr. Knouff, a 37-year-old data-privacy consultant, toured the property on FaceTime with his agent, Dex Lipovic of CORE.

 

Upon hanging up, Mr. Lipovic shot video with his iPhone and a DJI Osmo attachment, a video stabilizer that keeps the phone steady for a better-quality video. Mr. Knouff went into contract for $1.125 million without ever having visited the apartment.

 

Last year, while Mr. Knouff was in London for work, Mr. Lipovic provided a FaceTime tour of a house in Bronxville, a community just north of Manhattan. Mr. Knouff bought the property for $1.175 million and is currently renovating it as he decides whether to move in or resell.

 

Mr. Knouff thinks there’s a benefit to remaining a step removed, explaining that on a brief visit to a property, a bad mood, an anomalous smell or noise or some other unimportant detail could make him dismiss a property with potential. “My bias could impact me in a negative way,” said Mr. Knouff. Sight unseen “for me is the easiest way to purchase,” he said.

 

An Old Convent Turned Luxury Home

NBC New YorkJune 18, 2017

We're on historic Prince Street in Nolita to view a home with ties to old New York. Built in the 1820s, the structure was originally the school and convent of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral. It has now been beautifully reimagined as a luxurious townhouse filled with every conceivable amenity.

 

Click here to view the full segment: An Old Convent Turned Luxury Home

 

Elegant Upper East Side co-op in a prewar building wants $645K

CurbedJune 16, 2017

Located on the seventh floor of a nine-story prewar building at the intersection of East 73rd Street and Lexington Avenue is this charming one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op that’s asking $645,000.

 

The apartment opens up into a tiny foyer that overlooks the kitchen. The latter comes fitted with stone countertops and backsplash, stainless steel appliances, tons of cabinets, a four-burner gas stove, and perhaps most importantly, a dishwasher.

 

The co-op’s living/dining area (currently devoid of a dining table), is just beyond the kitchen, and has the apartment’s most charming feature: the built-in shelves on either sides of the decorative fireplace.

 

The bedroom is pretty spacious considering the size of the rest of the apartment and can fit a king-sized bed, according to the brokerbabble. The apartment’s only bathroom is tiny, and located next to the bathroom, but at least it comes with a window.

 

Overall this apartment features nine-foot-tall ceilings, crown molding, and is part of an elevator building that comes with washers and dryers in the basement.

6 questions to ask before you sublet your NYC rental

Brick UndergroundJune 15, 2017

Even if you're not going the legally-dicey Airbnb route, once summer rolls around, a lot of New Yorkers' thoughts turn to getting out of the city—which in many cases, means finding a subletter for their apartment. But whether you're simply looking to fill your apartment for the season or want to find someone to take over for the remainder of your lease, to stay in good stead with your landlord and make sure you're legally covered, you'll want to do some due diligence before ushering a virtual stranger in your apartment.

 

(And of course, in this case we're referring to legal, long-term sublets of 30 days or more, as rentals of any period shorter than that are illegal in NYC.)

 

Below, seven questions to research before you attempt to play landlord your New York City rental:

 

Do I have permission to sublet?

Believe it or not, if you're in a standard market-rate rental building with more than four units and the apartment is still your primary residence, you're legally entitled to sublet your apartment for up to two years, even if there's a provision in your lease stating otherwise. "In a market rate apartment, you are allowed to sublet regardless of what a lease, rider, or specific landlord or building may tell you," says Halstead's Senad Ahmetovic. "As long as you ask permission, and the subtenant you're presenting is qualified, has a job and appropriate income, and is otherwise considered a suitable tenant." (In a rent-controlled apartment, however, sublets are a no-go, and while you can potentially usblet a rent-stabilized unit, there are restrictions on the process—more details here.)

 

Indeed, the Metropolitan Council on Housing has a full guide to your right to sublet, the proper protocol for seeking a landlord's permission, and what constitutes reasonable grounds for your landlord to reject a potential subletter. (Valid reasons include failure to follow proper procedures on your end, or a proposed subletter with insufficient income, a history of eviction, or poor credit.)

 

It's a good idea to check in with your management first about any particular procedures—and whether or not they charge a fee for subletting—says CORE agent Steve Snider. From there, once you have a proposed subletter lined up, you must submit a formal request to sublet (the Met Council has a full guide) with information including the reason for the sublease, the proposed term of the lease, and the consent of any co-tenant or guarantor in the apartment.

 

Will the landlord raise the price?

While it's illegal to sublet your apartment for more than your rent—in other words, to turn a profit on your sublet—it's possible that your landlord may take the sublet as an opportunity to raise the rent. They may also want to insist on a subletter signing a new one-year lease—rather than a shorter lease for the remainder of your current agreement—an important detail you'll want to know before you go out in search of a tenant.

 

"You don't know until you ask the management company," says Snider. "Either they'll let someone take over for the remaining months of your lease, or they'll make them sign a new one year lease." This is particularly likely if you've been in your apartment for several years and have a rent that's well below market rate.

 

"My experience is that if the tenant sublets for five months, the landlord will probably keep the rent the same, but for a new one year lease, many times, they'll increase the rent," says Snider. So you don't end up blindsiding a prospective tenant with a much-higher-than-expected monthly rent, go to your landlord and find this out ahead of time.

 

Should I offer the apartment furnished, or unfurnished?

The answer to this question will depend in part on personal preference (and whether you're willing to take on the hassle and expense of moving your furniture), as well as the length of your potential sublet. "If the term of the sublet is three months, then having it furnished will help," says Snider. Or sometimes, he says, if the person is subletting because they're moving out before their lease is up and need someone to cover the rest of the time, "they might offer to rent it furnished, and negotiate with the subletter, who may say, 'I don't want the bed but I'll take the rest.'" In other words, if you're flexible about your furnishings, they can become part of the bargaining process, which can be an extra ace in your back pocket in an increasingly competitive rental market.

If you do sublet furnished, says Ahmetovic, you could feasibly be entitled to charge around 10 percent more than you would otherwise, but again, this is something to run by your landlord before confirming.

 

What should the written agreement look like?

As with all things involving real estate and large chunks of cash, whatever arrangement you decide upon, you'll want it carefully outlined in writing. "[There needs to be] a separate sublease agreement, which all parties sign, and that specifies the duration of the sublet, the terms of the deal, and other details such as whether it will be provided furnished," says Ahmetovic.

Luckily, you don't have to go this alone. There are plenty of samples online—a free option is available for download here—and it's possible your landlord already has access to a document that will work perfectly well. "The Real Estate Board of New York has a sublease agreement that we generally use, or use that as the outline and then add on specific clauses as needed," says Ahmetovic. Unfortunately, these forms are only available to REBNY members, so you'll need to go through your landlord (or if applicable, the broker you're using to find a tenant) to gain access. Either way, be sure to get a formal agreement down on paper and signed by yourself, the landlord, and your subletter.

 

Do I need to change my insurance? And does my subletter have coverage of their own?

Subletting your rental does, indeed, affect your insurance situation, and in order to be covered, you'll most likely need to shell out some extra cash. You'll also want to make sure that your subtenant is covered by their own renter's insurance policy, says Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (a Brick sponsor).

 

As for your coverage, most standard policies will be voided if you sublet your apartment, but you can pay to add "landlord" liability coverage, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $500 annually, says Schneider, depending on whether the apartment is still your primary residence. Expensive, yes, but not as expensive as on-site damage or injury would be if you don't have solid insurance coverage in place.

 

Do I have any accounts I should cancel before moving out?

One last thing to keep in mind before you sign over your apartment: Until you fully transfer the lease (and related accounts) over to someone else, you'll still be responsible for utilities, including electric, gas, and cable. This is an important heads up in terms of tracking your bills, yes, but also, an important thing to keep an eye on if you're worried a subletter might run up your bills.

 

"I had clients who went on a nine-month trip and sublet their apartment, and over the course of that time, their subletters ordered all kinds of movies and shows on-demand, to the tune of a couple hundred dollars a month," says Snider. All of which was being charged to his clients' credit card, which was still connected to the account.

While you likely can't stop someone from running up high electric bills with their air conditioning, you could potentially write a clause into your lease adding a surcharge for out-of-the-ordinary electric bills.

 

And as far as extra such as cable, says Snider, "It's like what you do with kids—you can call the cable company and tell them ahead of time not to approve any new orders for upgrades or on demand services." Additionally, he says, if you have a smart TV that's connected to accounts such as Netflix, Hulu, or more notably, Amazon Prime, it's a good idea to log out or disconnect before handing over the keys—and the remote.

 

Condo Pick of the Week: A Tribeca loft with sweeping views from every room

Brick UndergroundJune 15, 2017

This four-bedroom, 3.5-bath apartment spans over 3,000 feet in Tribeca's Sky Lofts, a property that has previously attracted attention from the likes of Carmelo Anthony for its elegant condos. Converted from a prewar industrial building, today the units here feature high ceilings, large windows, and expansive views of downtown. This one is no exception, and is also tricked out with high-end fixtures and finishes; it's listed by CORE for $9.695 million. 

 

A foyer opens onto the living space, which has enough square footage to throw some impressive parties, as well as 11-foot ceilings and massive casement windows bringing in lots of light. There's ample room for a separate, sunny dining area, and the open kitchen includes a breakfast bar, six-burner range, tasteful white tile backsplash, and separate pantry for extra storage. 

 

The master bedroom's corner position guarantees that it will be bright, and there are electronic shades you can lower when you want to sleep in. You'll also find a walk-in closet, and a roomy, pristine-looking en suite bath with double sinks, a walk-in shower, and separate tub. 

 

There are two more bedrooms adjacent to the master, each with their own closets and en suite baths. A fourth bedroom, off the living room, is currently configured as a study, with access to a half-bath off the kitchen.

 

There's also a washer and dryer in the apartment, and the building offers full-time doorman service and access to a shared roof deck. Plus, the location means you're mere blocks away from pretty much every subway line you could need.

Kelsey Grammer sold his condo at Jean Nouvel's West Chelsea building

CurbedJune 09, 2017

Frasier has left the building—well, almost. The erstwhile Frasier Crane, Kelsey Grammer, found a buyer for his condo 100 Eleventh Avenue, the Jean Nouvel-designed glass tower on Manhattan’s west side. According to the Wall Street Journal, the apartment entered contract at $8.95 million—a drop from the original $9.75 million asking price—but is expected to close for “just below $8 million,” according to Grammer’s broker, Emily Beare.

  

Grammer snagged the condo for $6.4 million in 2010 after a stint in a rental at Robert A.M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West. Though Nouvel’s building has been plagued with problems since its 2009 debut—allegations of shoddy construction and wind problems; bickering between developer and architect—Grammer seemed happy enough, keeping his four-bedroom apartment for six years until listing it last July. (His reason? His growing family needed more space.)

 

Whoever the buyer is, they’ll get plenty of perks (assuming they don’t mind the building’s, uh, issues): It comes with “nearly 100 feet of Hudson River frontage,” for one thing, along with a gas-burning fireplace, a (let’s be real, kind of oddly shaped) master bedroom with walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom, and more.

 

There’s also a huge chef’s kitchen, presumably equipped with all the appliances one would need to make tossed salad and scrambled eggs.

 

After a Price Cut, Kelsey Grammer Sells His New York Condominium

ForbesJune 09, 2017

Actor Kelsey Grammer has agreed to sell his Manhattan condo. The apartment, in the Chelsea district, was listed at $8.95 million. A sales price could not be determined but Grammer lowered the price from $9.75 million just two months ago.

 

The three bedroom home sits inside a tower designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, according to listing agents Emily Beare and Daniel Amell of CORE. The home measures about 3,076-square-foot with views of the Hudson River and New York skyline, the listings says.

 

Grammer, 51, is best known for his two-decade-long portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the NBC sitcoms Cheers and Frasier. He has won five Primetime Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and one Tony Award. He also worked as a television producer, director, writer, and as a voice actor on The Simpsons as Sideshow Bob where he received his fifth Primetime Emmy.

Kelsey Grammer In Contract to Sell New York Condo

The Wall Street JournalJune 09, 2017

Actor Kelsey Grammer is under contract to sell his condo In New York’s Chelsea neighborhood almost a year after it went on the market for $9.75 million.

 

The 3,076-square-foot, three bedroom apartment, located near the top of a 23-story glass tower designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, had been reduced to $8.95 million in March and will close for “just below $8 million,” said listing agent Emily Beare with CORE. She shared the listing with Daniel Amell at the same brokerage.

 

Kelsey Grammer’s Chelsea condo in contract for nearly $8M

6SQFTJune 09, 2017

Nearly a year after first hitting the market for $9.75 million, Kelsey Grammer’s condo at Jean Nouvel‘s glassy 100 Eleventh Avenue in west Chelsea has gone into contract, reports the Wall Street Journal. But despite the fact that that the listing showcased his piano from the set of “Frasier” and the impressive 100 feet of massive windows providing Hudson River and skyline views, the selling price came in at just under $8 million (the price was reduced to $8.95 million in March).

 

The three-bedroom residence has 11-foot ceilings, terrazzo floors, motorized shades, and a Crestron home automation system. The living room is ready for entertaining with a wet bar/wine fridge, mini fridge, and sink surrounded by Caesarstone quartz counters.

 

The dining room has a gas-burning fireplace and cozy seating area; for more eat-in space, the kitchen comes with a five-seat island.

  

The three bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms.

 

Building amenities include 24/7 concierge services, a garden, screening room, 70-foot indoor/outdoor lap pool, sauna and steam rooms, and a fitness center.

 

As 6sqft previously explained, Grammer bought the condo for $6.4 million in 2010, moving from fellow starchitect Robert A.M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West while in the middle of a very public divorce from third wife Camille. He allegedly tried to keep the purchasing secret since he was buying it for himself and then-mistress Kayte Walsh. The couple eventually wed, had three children, and decided to sell the apartment because they’ve “outgrown it.” The listing agents told the Journal that the buyers are ” local family who viewed the property early on, a total of seven times.”

 

Kelsey Grammer finally in contract to sell Chelsea apartment

LLNYCJune 09, 2017

Actor Kelsey Grammer — best known for playing the lovable curmudgeon Frasier Crane — has just offloaded his condominium at 100 Eleventh Avenue for a tad under $8 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. His father’s ugly chair is not included in the sale.

 

Grammer listed the apartment almost a year ago with Emily Beare and Daniel Amell of Core for $9.75 million, and the price dropped until its last asking price of $8.95 million. According to reps for Grammer, he decided to sell the unit because he “had outgrown it.”

 

Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel designed the building at 100 Eleventh Avenue, which offers a 70-foot indoor/outdoor lap pool, a fitness center, garden and sauna and steam rooms. Grammer’s 3,076-square-foot unit has three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, 11-foot ceilings, a Crestron home automation system and — best of all — unbelievable views of the Hudson River. Grammer paid $6.4 million for the unit in 2010 under the LLC Hudson Nh.

Actor Kelsey Grammer In Contract to Sell New York Condo

The Wall Street JournalJune 08, 2017

Actor Kelsey Grammer is under contract to sell his condo In New York’s Chelsea neighborhood almost a year after it went on the market for $9.75 million.

 

The 3,076-square-foot, three bedroom apartment, located near the top of a 23-story glass tower designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, had been reduced to $8.95 million in March and will close for “just below $8 million,” said listing agent Emily Beare with CORE. She shared the listing with Daniel Amell at the same brokerage.

 

 “It takes forever and ever to get a deal done” in this price range, Ms. Beare said. When the listing first came on there were fewer options, but many pricey new units have cropped up since, she said, softening the market.

 

Mr. Grammer bought the unit for $6.4 million in 2010 through a limited-liability company, records show. His publicist, Stan Rosenfield, confirmed that Mr. Grammer owned the apartment, and was selling because his family “had outgrown it.” Mr. Grammer, 62, has seven children; he is best known for his roles on the television shows “Cheers” and “Frasier,” and will star in the Amazon series “The Last Tycoon.”

 

The apartment will sell unfurnished, but was shown with the owner’s personal belongings. Curious buyers might have connected the dots, Ms. Beare said—Mr. Grammer’s piano, from the set of the sitcom “Frasier,” was prominently displayed. Etched inside are autographs from all the cast members, she said.

 

That didn’t influence the buyers’ decision, said agent Leslie Lalehzar with Sotheby’s International Realty, who said her clients were more interested in the views. The apartment has about 100 linear feet of glass overlooking the Hudson River and the city skyline. There is a combined living, dining and kitchen area and 3½ bathrooms.

 

The agents would not identify the buyers. Ms. Lalehzar said they are a local family who viewed the property early on, a total of seven times.

 

Actor Kelsey Grammer In Contract to Sell New York Condo

Mansion GlobalJune 08, 2017

Actor Kelsey Grammer is under contract to sell his condo In New York’s Chelsea neighborhood almost a year after it went on the market for $9.75 million.

 

The 3,076-square-foot, three bedroom apartment, located near the top of a 23-story glass tower designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, had been reduced to $8.95 million in March and will close for “just below $8 million,” said listing agent Emily Beare with CORE. She shared the listing with Daniel Amell at the same brokerage.

 

“It takes forever and ever to get a deal done” in this price range, Ms. Beare said. When the listing first came on there were fewer options, but many pricey new units have cropped up since, she said, softening the market.

 

Mr. Grammer bought the unit for $6.4 million in 2010 through a limited-liability company, records show. His publicist, Stan Rosenfield, confirmed that Mr. Grammer owned the apartment, and was selling because his family “had outgrown it.” Mr. Grammer, 62, has seven children; he is best known for his roles on the television shows “Cheers” and “Frasier,” and will star in the Amazon series “The Last Tycoon.

 

The apartment will sell unfurnished, but was shown with the owner’s personal belongings. Curious buyers might have connected the dots, Ms. Beare said—Mr. Grammer’s piano, from the set of the sitcom “Frasier,” was prominently displayed. Etched inside are autographs from all the cast members, she said.

 

That didn’t influence the buyers’ decision, said agent Leslie Lalehzar with Sotheby’s International Realty, who said her clients were more interested in the views. The apartment has about 100 linear feet of glass overlooking the Hudson River and the city skyline. There is a combined living, dining and kitchen area and 3½ bathrooms.

 

The agents would not identify the buyers. Ms. Lalehzar said they are a local family who viewed the property early on, a total of seven times.

 

A Blueprint for Seduction

DuJour MagazineJune 08, 2017

42 CROSBY STREET

 

Annabelle Selldorf’s residential project made headlines for its million-dollar parking spots, which allow drivers to roll right up to an elevator that transports the car to the garage. The architect celebrates quintessential SoHo style with open-space units—only three of which are still on the market—starting at $8.4 million.

Doron talks to The Real Deal

The Real DealJune 06, 2017

For the cover story of our June issue, The Real Deal published its annual top residential agent ranking, though it looked a little different this year. That’s because rather than ordering agents based on the dollar volume of their listings, TRD’s research team created a brand new methodology to evaluate brokers based on what they actually sold.

 

How do our top-ranked agents feel about agent rankings? And do they ever get apartment envy over their own listings? To get to know the city’s top brokers a little better, TRD brought them into our studio for a pow-wow on what makes them tick.

 

Click here to read the full article: A conversation with the agents on The Real Deal's new ranking

Seven apartments with the most over-the-top outdoor spaces in the US

AOL FinanceJune 06, 2017

The last thing you probably want to do in the summer — no matter just how hot and humid it may be — is sit inside.

 

But when you're living in an urban setting or a big city, finding adequate space to enjoy the outdoors in privacy can prove to be rather difficult.

 

It's no surprise that potential homeowners looking to buy in the summer months prioritize adequate outdoor space — and for some willing to shell out the big bucks, the outdoor spaces can be even more extravagant and breathtaking than the indoor space itself.

 

Click here to read the full article: 7 over-the-top private outdoor spaces

 

From the unassuming streets of SoHo in Manhattan to beachside dreamscapes in Miami, these apartments are serving serious views and room for play that might just make you never want to go back inside — until the snow comes, that is!

 

So whether you're dreaming of all-day barbecues, nighttime cocktail parties or just good old fashioned sunbathing, there's no denying that you a private outdoor oasis is the one luxury that might just be worth splurging for.

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