Nate Berkus, Cameron Diaz and Irina Shayk are Unloading Their City Pads

New York Cottages & GardensMarch 01, 2016

You, too, can live like a celebrity—or even in a celebrity’s apartment—as long as the desire and your pockets are deep enough. And if you act quickly enough.


Stylish sophisticates across town are swooning over designer Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s chic Greenwich Village penthouse, which they share with their toddler daughter, Poppy. The prewar co-op at 39 Fifth Avenue, listed for $10.5 million in November with Emily Beare of CORE, boasts three bedrooms, three wood-burning fireplaces, and an eight-burner Viking range.

Open House Insider: 3 Two-Bedroom Apartments to See This Weekend

DNAinfoFebruary 25, 2016

MANHATTAN — The two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is considered a coveted piece of New York real estate. Here are three at a rage of price points with open houses this weekend.


188 Woodpoint Rd., #PHB, East Williamsburg

Two bedrooms/Two baths

Approximately 956 square feet



Common charges: $400 a month

Taxes: $50 a month

Open House: Feb. 28, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Lowdown: Besides two bedrooms and two bathrooms, this East Williamsburg condo comes with another huge perk: two private outdoor spaces.


On the main floor of the apartment, there's a balcony off the living room. “It's just a sitting balcony,” said CORE broker Win Brown. “You could fit little cafe tables or plantings.”


From the second floor, which houses the master bedroom, there's a terrace that faces east and south, toward Bushwick and Queens.


“It's big,” said Brown. “You could do whatever you wanted up there.” The current owners set up lounge furniture, a BBQ and planting pots.


The apartment gets tons of light, Brown said, especially from the glass doors leading to the outdoor spaces. The living room also has double height, 18-foot ceilings with two large windows underneath.


The owners were the first buyers of this condo, built in 2011. They've added central air conditioning and heat since their purchase.


This will be the third open house for the apartment.


Location: This development is located off Graham Avenue, which Brown called “the main attraction east of the BQE.” The drag is lined with bars and restaurants. Trendy butcher the Meat Hook is opening there this week. From the apartment, it's about three blocks to the Graham Avenue L train.


Why put it on your open house calendar? “It's the best price you'll find for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Williamsburg,” Brown said.

Brooklyn's 20 Most Expensive Residential Sales

The Real DealFebruary 25, 2016

While the highly sought after historic townhouses of Brooklyn Heights again dominated The Real Deal's list of priciest Brooklyn sales in 2015, the year's top sale closed in Cobble Hill for $15.5 million. Our very own Lawrence Treglia clocks in at #9 for his sale at 114 Amity Street.

Is It Worth Renovating to Raise Your Apartment's Potential Sale Price?

Brick UndergroundFebruary 22, 2016

Q: I’ve owned my small NYC apartment for 20 years, and have recently started to price out the cost of renovations. (I've been quoted $30,000 to $40,000 for the kitchen; $25,000 to $30,000 for the bathroom; $20,000 for a floor replacement; and $100,000 to $130,000 for a total gut.) My question is this: How much value can I really expect to get out of this kind of work, if I want to sell? I've been told that in this city, renovations are considered outdated after seven years.


While some wisely chosen upgrades will boost your potential sale price, it's likely not worth laying out tens of thousands of dollars (and months of reno-related headaches) if your only goal is to raise your apartment's value for an impending sale, say our experts.


"Renovating to sell is a very different proposition than renovating to remain in the home," explains CORE Executive Vice President of Sales Douglas Heddings. "Renovating to sell is more of a business proposition in that the owner, with advice from a broker and/or designer, needs to choose cost-effective upgrades that maximize profit upon sale."  If you're renovating for your own long-term use and quality of life, you can feel more free to choose finishes that fit your specific tastes, and splash out on high-end appliances that you know you'll use every day. That is, with the knowledge that you'll most likely recoup your investment on an eventual sale, but won't do much more than break even.


The prices you've been quoted do line up with citywide averages for renovations, says Bolster founder Fraser Patterson, and if you want to price out specific return on investment, it's worth looking over the most recent edition of the Remodeling Cost vs. Value report, which has estimates of the cost (and estimated resale value) of different renovation projects in the NYC market.


Even so, if you're doing renovations this large (and costly) just in the hopes of boosting your sales price, the amount of difference it will make depends on the size and price point of your apartment, as well as how dramatic a difference the upgrades will make, says Corcoran's Deanna Kory. "For example, if you have a one-bedroom, and the price ranges in the neighborhood are $695,000 to $850,000," says Kory. "It's possible that unrenovated you could get around $700,000, and renovated you could achieve around $800,000 to $850,000. So in that case, if your contractor is correct and the amount you're spending is around $130,000 or $140,000 you would just about break even."


All of which raises a natural follow-up question: how do you decide what updates are worth spending money on if you're not doing a full-scale renovation? While there are some classic affordable-but-visually-high-impact updates like new fixtures, countertops, and backsplash, to figure out what works best for your particular apartment you'd do well to bring in some outside expertise. "Ask a real estate broker with experience in your building to look at your apartment, and get a professional’s take on what improvements would create the most impact and added value," suggests Gordon Roberts of Sotheby's International Realty. "They may have seen other apartments in your line, and make worthwhile recommendations based on the work of others, for instance, improving the floor plan in some way. You may even be surprised by what they recommend—it might be changing your window A/C to thru-wall, skim-coating walls, or increasing storage space, as opposed to new floors." (When it comes to staging for a sale, 'sleek and universally appealing' tends to win the day.)


Kory adds that with the right planning (and a savvy team in place), "You can spend less than $30,000 and still achieve $100,000+ increase in value."


As for the question of your work becoming outdated within seven years, this is a possibility, but the effects can be minimized by using classic materials like whites and neutral colors, and subway tiles if you're in a pre-war, says Bolster architect David Yum. "Some renovations are outdated the moment they are completed—highly personalized, idiosyncratic renovations can make a buyer think, 'I need to rip this out if we move in to this place,'" says Yum.  "Still, even a renovation that looks a bit tired will bring value since prospective buyers very often see the difference between seven-year-old work and 27-year-old fixtures.”


In sum, the scope of your work should depend entirely on your goals, your budget, and your patience for living through a renovation. "If you're going to live there, I would say go for it because you'll get your money out," says Kory. "But if you're doing it to sell the apartment, it's a lot of hassle and there's a risk as well that it may go higher in construction price, and so it's not usually wise to do a complete renovation in order to sell."

Winter Palaces

New York SpacesFebruary 19, 2016

These outstanding properties encompass all the space and amenities anyone could possibly desire.


38 Prince Street


7 bedroom, 7.5 baths; 8,069 square feet


Marvel Architects have transformed this landmarked Soho townhouse, once a wing of Old Saint Patrick’s School and Convent. The kitchen includes a La Cornue range and Smallbone cabinets. It leads through a casual dining room to a bi-level garden and outdoor kitchen. The master floor has a private study and a bath with Waterworks fixtures. The top two floors house a family room and playroom.


Listed at $25,000,000


Contact: Patrick Lilly, CORE, 212-612-9681 or

Alfa Development Taps Emily Beare of CORE as Exclusive Broker for 199 Mott Street Residence

The Mann NewswireFebruary 12, 2016

Alfa Development announced that they have selected Emily Beare, top-producing broker at luxury real estate group CORE, to sell Residence 2, the last remaining unit at 199 Mott. 199 Mott is an 11-unit boutique development located in the heart of Nolita, with each custom designed residence celebrating the history of the neighborhood. The building is the fourth in Alfa's Green Collection of sustainable residential developments.


Residence 2 is a 2,907-square-foot full-floor unit with three-bedrooms, three-bathrooms, and 1,500-square-feet of exterior space. 199 Mott is designed to reflect the modern lifestyle of the quintessential Nolita resident, with classic materials and turn of the century details. The residence has wide plank oak floor, 10" base moldings, and character grade European oak paneled doors, with oversized windows, a state of the art central air system, a loft kitchen that opens onto the living space, and ceilings over nine feet. The residence is listed at $7,775,000.


"Emily Beare is a talented broker and a strong new development marketing and sales force," said Michael Namer, Founder & CEO of Alfa Development. "We're confident that her industry expertise and knowledge of the luxury market will be instrumental in closing out sales at 199 Mott."


As with all projects in Alfa Development's Green Collection, interiors of 199 Mott feature various locally-sourced and sustainable materials, and it is a targeted LEED Gold certification condominium with a 24-hour doorman, storage, bike room, and rooftop lounge overlooking the city, with views of the Empire State Building, the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River. Period-specific details throughout the residence include tall raised panel doors, oiled bronze finishes and fixtures, and wide plank European oak flooring. The kitchen offers custom Siematic cabinetry and a suite of high-end appliances including a Bertazzoni Classic Collection stove and Siematic Chinese Wedding Cabinet refrigerator. Tailored marble clad bathrooms feature polished nickel fixtures and finishes from Lefroy Brooks' 19th century collection, a freestanding tub and Bosch washer and dryer.

Childhood School of Martin Scorsese On the Market for $25 Million

Le FigaroFebruary 12, 2016

The childhood school of Martin Scorsese is being transformed into a luxurious townhouse listed for $25,000,000 with CORE. Many believe it’s there at the school where he wrote his first stories. Located at 32 Prince Street in the historic neighborhood of Nolita in Manhattan, the five-story property has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, three bathrooms, a cellar and a private elevator.


The school, transformed by Marvel Architects, has nevertheless kept its original structure and original features including high ceilings, paneled doors, oak flooring, moldings and grand fireplaces. 

Romance-Ready Bedrooms Perfect for V-Day Canoodling

BrickUndergroundFebruary 12, 2016

In a city of millions of people and small apartments, finding a spot to spend time with your Valentine can be a bit of a challenge. Not so if you have one of these “sexy” bedrooms—defined for our purposes as a a space large enough for two, offering a degree of privacy and, perhaps, a little something extra to set an appropriately amorous ambiance.


With its tall ceilings (overlooking a garden, no less), bay window, carved fireplace and adjacent terrace, this master bedroom within a lovely Anglo-Italianate townhouse at 243 East 17th Street (priced at $15 million) will set a romantic mood.

Inside Look: A $15 Million 'Anglo-Italianate' Mansion Sits In Gramercy

MetroFebruary 10, 2016

What exactly is an “Anglo-Italianate" home?


It's this mansion-like townhouse located on Stuyvesant Square Park, according to CORE, which lists the massive residence at 243 E. 17th St. for $15 million.


What does $15 million get you?


- A 28-foot wide home dating back to the 1850s.

- Five stories in 6,494 square feet, with an additional 1,950 square feet on the lower level, or five-bedrooms, with a four-story owner's residence and two one-bedroom units.

- An elevator, two washer/dryers and five fireplaces.

- A music room, media room and front garden.

- Plus a grand winding staircase and private terrace for the master suite.


Though billed as a townhouse, CORE broker Emily Beare, describes the Gramercy home as "one of the very few grand mansions located downtown."


"It exudes a certain stately elegance that’s been preserved throughout the years. There’s really nothing else like it.” she said.


The photos of the inside will truly make you forget that New York City is full of small, cramped apartments, and does feature actual homes that would even make suburbanites jealous. Enjoy your escape.

Alfa Development Taps Emily Beare of CORE as Exclusive Broker for 199 Mott Street Residence

CityBizListFebruary 10, 2016

Alfa Development announced today that they have selected Emily Beare, top-producing broker at luxury real estate group CORE, to sell Residence 2, the last remaining unit at 199 Mott. 199 Mott is an 11-unit boutique development located in the heart of Nolita, with each custom designed residence celebrating the history of the neighborhood. The building is the fourth in Alfa’s Green Collection of sustainable residential developments.


Residence 2 is a 2,907-square-foot full-floor unit with three-bedrooms, three-bathrooms, and 1,500-square-feet of exterior space. 199 Mott is designed to reflect the modern lifestyle of the quintessential Nolita resident, with classic materials and turn of the century details. The residence has wide plank oak floor, 10” base moldings, and character grade European oak paneled doors, with oversized windows, a state of the art central air system, a loft kitchen that opens onto the living space, and ceilings over nine feet. The residence is listed at $7,775,000.


“Emily Beare is a talented broker and a strong new development marketing and sales force,” said Michael Namer, Founder & CEO of Alfa Development. “We’re confident that her industry expertise and knowledge of the luxury market will be instrumental in closing out sales at 199 Mott.”


As with all projects in Alfa Development’s Green Collection, interiors of 199 Mott feature various locally-sourced and sustainable materials, and it is a targeted LEED Gold certification condominium with a 24-hour doorman, storage, bike room, and rooftop lounge overlooking the city, with views of the Empire State Building, the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River. Period-specific details throughout the residence include tall raised panel doors, oiled bronze finishes and fixtures, and wide plank European oak flooring. The kitchen offers custom Siematic cabinetry and a suite of high-end appliances including a Bertazzoni Classic Collection stove and Siematic Chinese Wedding Cabinet refrigerator. Tailored marble clad bathrooms feature polished nickel fixtures and finishes from Lefroy Brooks’ 19th century collection, a free-standing tub and Bosch washer and dryer.

Martin Scorsese’s Childhood School Will Soon Be an Enviable Manhattan Apartment

Architectural DigestFebruary 09, 2016

A five-level 1825 townhouse in Nolita is on the market for $25 million.


7 Bedrooms 
7 Baths 
3 Half Baths 
8,069 sq. ft. 
$25 million


Once the home of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School and Convent, where Academy Award–winning director Martin Scorsese studied as a boy, this New York landmark has been transformed into a residential townhouse by Marvel Architects as part of the new Residences at Prince. The Federal-meets-Greek-Revival style residence, which still boasts its original 1825 façade, is set to be completed in fall 2016, in Nolita’s most historic section. Within its storied walls, the townhouse showcases five levels of living space with stunning details, such as high ceilings, five-inch-wide oak plank flooring, paneled doors, period-style moldings, and three fireplaces. An elevator provides easy access to each floor. With windows on three sides, the home boasts views of the cloistered cathedral and a private garden. Highlights include an exquisite parlor floor with a formal living room, dining room, and curved staircase. There’s a large open kitchen and casual dining room that leads to a bi-level garden with an outdoor kitchen. The master bedroom suite is located on its own floor with a private study and spalike bath, while a family room and playroom can be found on the top two floors.

Upper East Side Co-op Asks $780,000, New Kitchen Included

CurbedFebruary 05, 2016

Prewar co-op kitchens are not the stuff of today's real estate fantasies: they're notoriously tiny and closed off. Ripping them out is the number-one way to transform a dated space, and that's exactly what the buyers of this one-bedroom Upper East Side apartment did. After they sealed the deal for $550,000 in 2011, the buyers embarked on a renovation that brought the apartment a sleek new kitchen that opens it up to the living area. The bathroom also got an aesthetic update, with a glass shower enclosure. Four years later the apartment is back on the market asking $780,000 (and looking a heck of a lot more modern.)

The J. Crew CEO's Apartment Looks Exactly Like You Think It Does

Huffington PostFebruary 01, 2016

All you need is a cool $25 million.


Hold on to your henleys, people. Curbed reports J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler hasre-listed his massive New York City pad -- and when we get a look into the home of a J. Crew exec, we take it. 


At $25 million, Drexler's home is listed for $10 million below the asking price when it was listed for sale back in 2015 (what a bargain!). The home has 6,226 square feet - a mansion by Manhattan standards- and features an open floor plan. The five-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bathroom home has three walk-in closets and is located in the heart of NYC's coveted Tribeca neighborhood.


With its floor-to-ceiling windows and mid-century vibe, the apartment is downright stunning.


A spokeswoman for the listing real estate brokerage firm, Core, declined to comment on the sale, but you can get more information on the property at

Top Reasons for Co-op Board Rejections

StreetEasy BlogFebruary 01, 2016

So you want to buy a co-op and you’ve done all the leg work and you’re gearing up to take on the co-op board. The bad news is that co-op boards in New York City can operate with complete impunity. Unless a board violates the city’s Human Rights Law (which prohibits rejections for reasons of race, sex, age, etc.), the board can reject you for whatever reason it wants. Oh, and the board has no obligation to tell you why. Here are the top reasons why potential buyers are rejected by co-op boards.


Bad Financials


First and foremost, if the board believes that you don’t have enough liquid assets in reserve after closing costs, or if they think you’ve been dishonest about your financial situation, they will reject you. Generally, boards require buyers to show 1-2 years of “post-closing liquidity” to cover mortgage and maintenance payments. In rare cases, if a board feels there is some financial risk, it will ask a buyer to put a year’s worth of maintenance fees in escrow. A general rule of thumb is for buyers to spend up to 25 percent of their earnings on mortgage and maintenance fees. Any higher and the board gets nervous.


“From experience, the most common cause for board rejections is due to buyers not being prepared or transparent,” said CORE real estate agent Martin Eiden. “Let’s take the latter first. Purchase applications for both co-ops and condos require full financial disclosure as well as background checks (credit, criminal and personal references).  For incomplete packages, condos will sit on the application until it is complete. Co-ops will just reject the applicant and move on.”


Boards also generally become suspicious if your income fluctuates wildly, or if you had a recent huge influx in cash, suggesting a parent or some other guardian angel is helping you out financially. If you need a guarantor, make sure your broker only applies to co-ops that are guarantor-friendly. In those cases, boards often require years of tax returns and verification of income and assets from your guarantor.

Unfortunately, it goes without saying that bad credit and heavy debt are big red flags for co-op boards.


You Want to Use It As a Pied-à-Terre


Boards often are skeptical of buyers who plan to use their property as a pied-à-terre. If you are not planning to use this apartment as your primary residence, make sure your broker only shows you co-ops where the board is OK with this.


Erratic Employment History


Boards love stability. Red flags pop up if you’ve changed jobs frequently in recent years, if your income has varied wildly, or if you’ve moved apartments often (suggesting potential disputes with former landlords). Make sure to explain in your application the truthful reasons for any instability in your life and how it absolutely will not affect your ability to afford this apartment.


Your Lifestyle


Unfair though it may seem, lifestyle concerns are often a major point of contention. If the board believes that, as a neighbor, you will bring undue stress and annoyance into their lives (you play a loud instrument, you are frequently the target of paparazzi, you have a ton of really big dogs, you’re known as a hard partying rock star…), you will be given the red light quickly.


A Bad Board Package


Don’t underestimate the power of a neat, thorough and truthful board package. Ideally, you’ll have a broker who has made deals with this co-op before, and understands the quirks of this particular board. It’s also helpful to have your broker work closely with the selling broker to make the board application as airtight as possible. Co-op members sitting on the board have busy lives, and generally are not interested in a lot of back and forth with potential buyers. If your board package brings up a lot of questions or loose ends, you’ll probably just end up rejected outright.


Poor Board Interview


Last, but certainly not least, is the No. 1 rule of thumb during the interview: Don’t be too chatty. Don’t offer up more information than necessary. Be polite, professional, charming – and save all your ideas for renovations or building improvements for when you’re a full-fledged board member yourself.


“Prospective buyers must be prepared when they go to a board interview and dress professionally,” said Eiden. “If they have nuances in their finances or unconventional careers, they need to have answers. Also, it helps if they know about the building and neighborhood. All experienced brokers will have a do’s and don’ts conversation with their buyers before a board interview.”

Luxury Apartment Flippers are Getting Left Flat on Their Backs

Crain'sJanuary 31, 2016

In March 2014, a JP Morgan Chase managing director named Leslie Perkins paid $5 million for an Upper East Side condominium at 141 E. 88th St. Almost exactly a year later, she sold it for $6.5 million—a 30% return before taxes and fees.


Perkins, who could not be reached to comment for this story, is a type of well-heeled New York City investor who has made fast money in recent years by buying apartments in new condominiums, in some cases so early on that units hadn’t even hit the market. Because the attorney general’s office does not sign off on new condominium offerings or conversions until 15% of a development’s apartments are in contract, developers tend to start selling units at a discount. Investors willing to take a risk on a building not yet completed, are there to pounce.


"There is a herd mentality in real estate," said Leonard Steinberg, president of residential brokerage Compass. "And if someone is going to support a building early on, there has to be some incentive or some reward." In 2015, the best apartment flippers saw seven-figure gains within 18 months of buying their units, according to data compiled by listings website CityRealty. Among them were Robert and Kathleen Kaswell, founder of a real estate firm and a former CEO of Nine West Group, respectively. The husband and wife profited more than 50% on their unit in Walker Tower, located at 212 W. 18th St. in Chelsea.


After closing on the 17th-floor apartment in December 2013, they sold it for $10.7 million to Andrew Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, in February 2015. During the same time period, Dow Chemical stock rose by a modest 4%—which illustrates why this particular real estate play can be so attractive.


"Whether [my clients] could retire or make that their business I don’t always know," said Bruce Cohen, a partner at real estate law firm Cohen & Frankel who puts together contracts for condo buyers. "But there are some who have made boatloads of money." But the most lucrative flips of 2015 may be some of the last. Manhattan sales data show that quick resales are becoming less profitable. Returns fell by half in the past year, to an average of 15%. And real estate experts believe that as more luxury condos in new towers come onto the market, supply will far outstrip demand.


 'Everybody's retirement plan'


A flip isn’t defined by an exact time period, but most brokers would consider it buying and selling for a profit within a year or two (the legal definition technically refers to a much rarer occurrence of reselling a signed contract before the deal has closed). Friends and family members of developers, along with real estate brokers and savvy investors, have been flipping for decades.


"In the ’80s, this was everybody’s retirement plan," said Jonathan Miller, head of appraisal firm Miller Samuel. What makes for a good flip varies. The most common explanation for big deals is the simplest: Developers discount some units by as much 30% to entice early buyers. In exchange, builders get something even more valuable.


New York State is regulated by a special office under the state attorney general called the Real Estate Finance Bureau. Before developers can start signing contracts, bureau staffers must vet highly detailed project plans. Vornado Realty Trust, for example, submitted 554 pages for its luxury tower at 220 Central Park South. The plans disclosed everything from how the condo board will function to the offering price of every unit in the building.


Once 15% of the apartments are in contract and the bureau declares a new building plan effective, developers typically begin to jack up prices to discourage potential buyers from waiting too long to sign a contract. At 220 Central Park South last year, Vornado raised prices by a collective $659 million over seven months, according to records from the real estate bureau.


These price gains can create instant equity for early buyers, who can then cash out by reselling their units. It is too soon to know whether early 220 Central Park South buyers will flip, but Vornado announced last year it had sold $1.1 billion worth of apartments without even opening its sales office to the public.


"Early on, the [developer] and the broker are [often] offering low-hanging fruit," said Nancy Packes, who runs a namesake real estate consulting firm. Typically, smaller units on the lower floors, which net the lowest profit anyway, are the ones that are underpriced. Penthouses and more valuable offerings are held longer until prices climb. Of the 10 biggest Manhattan flips in 2015, three were units purchased directly from the developer below the 10th floor, according to data collected by CityRealty.


Most developers write clauses into their contracts forbidding the buyer to flip within a year of closing, to avoid competition."If a developer has nine three-bedroom apartments for sale, it’s not good if you’re out there trying to flip a three-bedroom as well," said Andrew Heiberger, founder of brokerage Town Residential.


Developer Steve Witkoff, on the other hand, allowed buyers to resell units before they had even closed on their contracts at his West Village development 150 Charles—and then took a cut of the profits.


Last year's winners 


The flippers of 2015 tended to be successful entrepreneurs or finance professionals. In other words: investors with cash. Dax DaSilva is a Canadian tech entrepreneur who co-founded Lightspeed, a company that provides point-of-sale systems for small businesses. In March 2014, a trust registered in his name closed on an apartment in Walker Tower for $4.6 million; 18 months later, the trust sold it for $7.7 million.


Jonathan Ostrow, the founder of website, closed on a $2.8 million apartment in HFZ Capital’s One Madison in November 2014 and resold it just three months later for a 50% gain. In many cases, these flippers actually signed a contract months—and sometimes more than a year, before actually closing.


Daniel Collin, co-chief executive of private-equity firm Monomoy Capital Partners, already owned a unit on the seventh floor of 415 Greenwich in March 2015 with his wife, Lindsey, when they purchased the building’s penthouse for $7.7 million. Nine months later, they sold it for $11.5 million.


Location and timing are also key to these flips’ success. Walker Tower, Verizon’s former Art Deco building along West 18th Street in Chelsea, is one of a number of projects, including One Madison and 150 Charles, where several flips have transpired.


In this case, JDS Development Group launched the Walker Tower project in 2012, which was so early in the condo boom that its units were precious commodities. Some of the apartments there increased in value so rapidly because of high demand that early buyers who were planning to live in the units were enticed to flip instead.


The Kaswells inked their contract before the attorney general’s office fully signed off on the project’s plans. By the time they closed and began prepping their move in 2014, their needs had changed, and they discussed the unit’s new value with residential brokerage Core. “Eyebrows were raised,” said the Core agent, Christian Rogers. The couple made $3.77 million.


Uncertain Future


The biggest flips typically happen at the outset of a boom, when prices increase rapidly, noted Donna Olshan, head of brokerage and consulting firm Olshan Realty. “I don’t think you can count on this as the model now,” said Olshan. Many real estate experts believe that the high-end condo market is being saturated with units, which is leading to longer sale times and smaller price gains.


“Developers will probably still prime the pump,” said Miller, whose firm analyzed Manhattan apartment flips over the past two years for Crain’s. “But the market might not be able to support two, three or four price increases—meaning the initial investor won’t get the same instant equity.”


Miller’s data show that in the past two years, about 240 apartments were sold in Manhattan that had been purchased only a year before. These units cost between $1 million and $2 million; the median price for a Manhattan home in the fourth quarter of 2015 was $1 million. Flippers averaged at least a 20% profit. That is easily enough to cover broker fees and taxes that typically make up 10% of an apartment’s price or more, if an apartment is flipped within a year and is subject to short-term capital-gains taxes. But by April 2015, average gains had fallen below 20%, and Miller doesn’t think they will rise above that mark any time soon.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that buying early in new condo developments has become a bad investment, Compass’ Steinberg said. It just means that it won’t be a quick one. “Markets don’t go up indefinitely, but in big cities like London and New York, they recover very quickly,” he said. “If you have the ability to ride out a correction and can rely on renting the unit out, you will more than likely make money.”

Inside J Crew CEO’s Tribeca Loft

Vogue UKJanuary 29, 2016

J CREW is known for its colorful, eclectic aesthetic, so it's no surprise that the apartment owned by the company's CEO, Mickey Drexler, should be just as quirky and covetable. Originally listed last year for $35 million before being withdrawn, Drexler's Tribeca loft is back on the market with a revised price tag of $25 million. Decorated by interior designer Thierry Despont, the apartment occupies more than 6,000 sq ft and boasts five bedrooms, three walk-in closets and a custom "billiards area". Step inside the space, here.

5 Truths About a Brokerage’s Company Culture

InmanJanuary 28, 2016

Run the show from the top without forgetting about your employees.


NEW YORK — The concept of company culture is oftentimes elusive and slippery. Or, as moderator Katie Maxwell of Intero Real Estate Services put it — culture sounds like total BS, until you’ve experienced the effects of a negative one firsthand.


“I came from a brokerage, and I was indebted to them,” Maxwell said. “But there was no culture — the marketing wasn’t uniform.”


Shaun Osher, founder of CORE; Amy Bayer, co-founder of Porchlight Group; and Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman took the stage at Inman Connect New York to reveal how they build a reputation of amazing culture around their brand. Here are five takeaways from their discussion.


1. Your actions as a leader trickle down


Every company does have a culture, and it all starts at the top. The tone of your core values will not go unnoticed. They will affect every employee from your high-level producers to the assistant who answers the phone. Whatever “vibe” is created internally also infiltrates the treatment of your customers.


“How people feel is really the most important thing,” Osher said. “As an agent, the people you work with, the way you interact and spend your days — it’s all important to feeling like you’re part of something. They embrace it.”


When you build up large opaque walls (both physically and figuratively) and hit people over the head with hierarchy, don’t expect people to be inspired. Rarely is the best work drawn out through fear.


2. Large companies may fare better when split into smaller teams


Keeping 150 people on the same page is like trying to steady a plane, Bayer said. To handle this problem, she splits her agents into groups of 20 who work well together. “Not everybody is going to get along,” she said. You can make things fun with creative team names and friendly competitions.


3. Collaboration should be contagious


Go beyond inclusion and making everyone feel like they matter. Empower your employees from the bottom. Osher said that he encourages agents lead brainstorming sessions and contribute ideas.


Adding to that, Herman said, “We have an open door policy and our people know that.”


4. Squash gossip and listen to marginalized employees


What’s the best strategy: putting the kibosh on toxic employees, or working with them toward improvement?


It depends, the panelists said, especially on the size of the company (one difficult employee makes a bigger difference if there are only 10 of you).


But Herman (who works with 6,000 agents) made an interesting point about office talk. “Before I would throw somebody out, I wouldn’t just listen to everyone telling me what was going on. I would try to determine it myself … and talk to that person.”


5. The golden rule applies to professionals, too


We’re not on the playground anymore, but we’re still human. “Not just being a number at someone’s company I think makes a big difference,” Herman said.

Inman Connect New York 2016, Patrick Lilly

InmanJanuary 26, 2016

Patrick Lilly holds a coveted position in the world of New York real estate as not only a top-tier producer, but a sought-after expert who has been spotlighted in books, the media and seminars. A mainstay in the industry for over 25 years, Lilly has excelled to great heights in his field thanks to his exceptional market knowledge, proven flair for successful deals and strong relationships with clients and peers alike.


Strong sales success has led Lilly to win multiple awards including, most recently, Keller Williams' “Pinnacle Award”, bestowed to the top 20 agents nationally. In addition, Lilly has consistently led his team to be named to The Wall Street Journal’s list of top 250 national teams of real estate agents over the past several years, where they were ranked #110 in 2012.


Originally from Maryland, Lilly earned his BS in Psychology and Mathematics from Missouri State University and a MBA in Marketing and International Business from New York University. His illustrious real estate career has encompassed an association with leading-name brokerage firms, in addition to running his own thriving boutique company, Patrick Lilly Inc., which he operated for 10 years.

Inman Connect New York 2016, Douglas Heddings

InmanJanuary 26, 2016

Douglas Heddings is Executive Vice President – Sales, responsible for overseeing and growing sales and business development for CORE’s resale division. His roles include recruiting, agent support, as well as meeting company sales goals and projections. A 23-year veteran and a top producer at one of Manhattan’s largest firms, Heddings was most recently the founder of The Heddings Property Group, LLC. As a real estate expert, Heddings is a certified Department of State instructor and he sits on the Board of Directors of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). 


In addition to being featured as a contributing writer for several publications, he has been featured on The Today Show, CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NY1 among others. He loves spending his free time with his wife Kate, the Deputy Editor of Food & Wine magazine, and their two children.

Inman Connect New York 2016, Maggie Kent

InmanJanuary 26, 2016

Maggie Kent thrives on being highly knowledgeable and up to the moment on both the Manhattan and global real estate markets. She is a skilled negotiator who focuses on getting her clients the best deal possible while maintaining an understanding of the emotional and financial demands of any transaction. She dedicates herself to getting results, whether a client is looking to buy or sell a home, invest or relocate. 


A downtown resident for 20 years, Kent specializes in new developments, re-sales, residential coops, lofts and townhouses in her surrounding neighborhoods and beyond, with a keen eye for marketing innovation. Kent's exuberance, endurance and tenacity were apparent when she shepherded over 35 apartments to contract within 90 days as Co-Director of Sales at CORE's new development project in Chelsea at 305W16. All the while, Kent broke price per square footage records for her sellers in a variety of other buildings. In addition, she has starred on HGTV's hit television series, Selling New York since its premiere season and consistently garners press in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Real Deal.


Kent comes to real estate organically. Her family firm won numerous awards in the highest grossing real estate region in Canada, her country of origin. In addition, Kent's background in the arts and events promotion gives her an extraordinary marketing edge with a unique sensitivity when working with her high profile clientele. Previously a top producer and Managing Vice President of a New York City boutique real estate firm, Kent brings her years of insight, experience and dedicated service to ensure her clients get the results they need. Her personal motto is: "Think it, make it, believe it."

What You’ll Get Across NYC for $550,000

Brick UndergroundJanuary 25, 2016

A $600,000 budget allows you to pick from studios, one-, two- and even three-bedrooms throughout the city, including a house in Staten Island and a multi-family home in the Bronx. 


LINCOLN SQUARE, MANHATTAN: A corner one-bedroom co-op with high ceilings and newly stained dark hardwood floors in an elevator building with common laundry facilities and a live-in super at 255 West End Avenue (between West 71st and West 72nd). $550,000 plus $1,527/month maintenance.

Pricey Digs

Luxury Listings NYCJanuary 21, 2016

Emily Beare's listing at 39 Fifth Avenue was featured in the January/February issue.

NYC Real Estate: What Under $1 Million Will Buy You In Manhattan

Am New YorkJanuary 15, 2016

You don't have to be a millionaire to be a Manhattanite! From priceless views of the Hudson River, Empire State Building and even Central Park, you can own a few square feet of this city without a massively painful price tag. Start saving, here's what you can buy for less than a million dollars in NYC today.



What: 18 E. 63rd St. No. 1 is a one-bed, two-bath co-op

How much: $899,000

Maintenance: $1,861

How big: Unlisted

Features: Rain shower, washer/dryer, elevator

Prices Drop for Luxury New York Real Estate

The New York TimesJanuary 15, 2016

New York City real estate continues to sell for astronomical prices, but there are signs the market is heading back toward earth. Bidding wars, brokers say, are less frequent. Few open houses have lines out the door. And asking prices, while still lofty, are increasingly moving down, especially for luxury properties.


“I have seen more broker incentives and price reductions in the last few months than I’ve seen in the last three years combined,” said Leonard Steinberg, the president of the real estate brokerage firm Compass. “The market got carried away with itself in the first half of 2015. Some people went in with crazy pricing expectations.”


In the last four months of 2015, about 1,040 available listings in Manhattan cut their asking prices, said Bennett Rosnick, an analyst at Compass. That’s 20 percent of the roughly 5,120 properties on the market then, up from nearly 10 percent during the same period of the previous year, when about 520 properties out of some 5,380 available listings had price cuts.


Among the discounted listings circulated by brokers and publicists in recent weeks: “$7 Million Price Drop!!” for a five-bedroom at 110 Central Park South, listed for $17.995 million; “1 Million Price Reduction!” for a three-bedroom penthouse at 15 West 20th Street, listed for $7 million; “Hot Deal. *$150K Price Drop*” for a one-bedroom at 280 Park Avenue South asking nearly $1.4 million; “Price Reduced” by $14 million in November, and further reduced by a total $18.5 million, for a historic townhouse at 684 Park Avenue, listed for $29.5 million. And the list goes on.


Despite the all-caps discounts, there are few real bargains. Most of the reductions are coming off price tags that were too high in the first place, brokers said.  “There is never a market for overpriced listings,” said Hall F. Willkie, the president of Brown Harris Stevens. “If you haven’t had offers or are not getting the proper amount of showings, the market is telling you there is no interest, and you have to reduce the price.”


Part of the problem, brokers say, is that record-setting deals at the top of the market have received so much attention that many sellers are shooting for the stars. “You can have a huge divide between what sellers of existing properties for resale expect to get and pricing of properties for brand-new buildings like 432 Park or One57,” said Mr. Steinberg of Compass. The thinking is, “If I can see that building from my window, surely mine should cost the same or close,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.”


In the art of property pricing, size, location, condition and features like outdoor space, prewar character and other details come into play. Then, the property must be compared with what nearby homes with similar attributes have sold for. If a property is priced too ambitiously, brokers say, that will quickly become clear when it is placed on the market.


Still, some sellers don’t get the message right away. “It’s almost like the boyfriend or the girlfriend who stops calling,” said Mr. Willkie of Brown Harris Stevens. “They didn’t tell me they didn’t like me anymore,’ ” he said, quoting the jilted. “Well, no, but they didn’t call you.” In real estate, he said, “it’s the same thing.”


Loath to resort to discounts, some developers and high-end brokers are quietly ratcheting up commissions and other incentives they offer real estate agents to try to increase sales. The Oosten, a 216-unit condominium in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which began sales more than a year ago, is offering a $5,000 American Express gift card to brokers who can deliver a signed contract for one of its 78 remaining units, listed for $1.14 million for a one-bedroom to $6.42 million for a six-bedroom penthouse.


In November, 200 East 62nd Street, a 115-unit condominium conversion that began sales earlier last year, introduced a $10,000 broker bonus for one-bedroom deals closed by the end of December, $20,000 for two-bedrooms and $30,000 for three-bedrooms. In Midtown, a new 93-unit condominium at 252 East 57th Street, which topped out in October, began offering brokers a 1 percent commission within 60 days of a signed contract — even if the buyer does not ultimately close. Normally, brokers aren’t paid until a sale officially closes, which can take as long as two years in developments under construction.


“We’re doing this to try to raise awareness among brokers who have not been to the building,” said Steven Rutter, the director of Stribling Marketing Associates, which is handling sales. Despite the increase in price reductions, industry experts say the market remains strong. “If a property is worth $1 million and you ask $1.4 million and reduce it to $1.3 million, it’s not an indication of a problem in the market,” said Mr. Willkie of Brown Harris Stevens. “It’s a problem with overpricing.”


Sales remain robust for the bulk of the market, with competition particularly heated for two-bedrooms, where there are still too few apartments to go around. It’s the high end where sales volume has begun to slow. “We still see interesting things happening, including record-setting prices closing,” said Michael Graves, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “There just happens to be a lot more uber-luxury product coming to market.” As a result, he said, “buyers are much more patient, and some of the exuberance we saw last year has faded away.”


Over all, 189 apartments were sold for $10 million or more in 2015, down nearly 12 percent from the record 214 in 2014, according to CityRealty, which tracks co-op and condo sales. Donna Olshan, a broker who keeps track of contracts of $4 million or more, said sales volume has become “erratic” at the high end. “September was lousy, October was worse,” she said, citing a total of 153 contracts signed at prices of $4 million or more, compared with 216 for the same period last year. November rallied with 140 contracts signed, versus 124 in November 2014. But December was back down. “Over all, the market is not what it was,” she said.


Shaun Osher, the founder and chief executive of the brokerage firm CORE, calls the situation “the tale of two markets,” adding, “We’re seeing an incredible dichotomy in the market, where certain projects are selling better and quicker and for higher prices than ever seen in history, and there are projects where very little is happening.” What that shows, he said, “is that the fundamentals of real estate are starting to come back into play.”


A spate of new luxury condominiums is creating more competition for sellers at the top. In Manhattan, there were 3,513 unsold new-development units in the third quarter of 2015, up from 2,402 in that same quarter in 2014, according to the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. And more units are coming down the pike: An estimated 5,740 apartments across some 140 buildings are expected to come to market next year in Manhattan alone, most of which are aimed at the high end.


Faced with more options, luxury shoppers can afford to be choosier. “Buyers are in less of a rush and they’re coming back two, three, four times,” said Mr. Rutter of Stribling, noting that sales at 252 East 57th Street have been strong for apartments $8 million or less, but less robust for units priced at $10 million or more. “Whenever they have more choices, it’s a little bit more difficult.”


To spur sales, nine five-bedroom apartments that were listed for $10 million and up are being reduced. Similarly, Douglas C. Yearley Jr., the chief executive of Toll Brothers, told investors in a December conference call that the company planned “to be a bit more aggressive in pricing” for the remaining units at 400 Park Avenue South, an 81-unit condominium in NoMad designed by Christian de Portzamparc. Prices have been slashed for 16 of the remaining units, which range from a nearly $1.9 million one-bedroom, down from $2.28 million, to a $12.9 million penthouse, down from nearly $17 million.


Prices have also come down roughly 10 percent at 1110 Park Avenue, a nine-unit limestone condominium on the Upper East Side, which has five remaining units available, from an $8 million three-bedroom to a $31.5 million five-bedroom penthouse. Changes to asking prices for remaining units are being made “through price amendments” and “one-off negotiations with buyers,” said David von Spreckelsen, the president of Toll Brothers City Living, New York. “In a market where there is more supply, you really need to do everything right.”

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