Site on Bond St. Sold in Quiet Off-market Deal

Crain's New York BusinessDecember 02, 2013
One of the last buildings ripe for development on a tony block-long stretch of Bond Street was sold in an off-the-market transaction late last month. Joshua Gurwitz's Good Property Co. snatched up the building at 31 Bond St. between Lafayette and Bowery streets for an undisclosed sum.

Mr. Gurwitz plans to create a handful of new luxury units by renovating the NoHo building that has seen a variety of uses over its more than century-long lifespan, having housed everything from offices and artists' studios to performance space, according to city documents. Details regarding the exact plan and timeline for 31 Bond St. are expected to be announced within the next year, according to David Beare of the brokerage firm Core, who represented the buyer.

"It is probably going to be one of the last development opportunities on Bond Street," Mr. Beare said.

The mostly landmarked area north and south of the cobblestone street have proven fertile ground for luxury buildings and celebrity tenants in recent years. Among the notable developments are famed hotelier Ian Schrager's 40 Bond St. with its heavily articulated green-glass façade, which is right across the street from number 31. Other notable projects include the BKSK Architect-designed, nine-unit luxe condo development 25 Bond St. and DDG's seven-unit, bluestone condo building at 41 Bond St.

In this case, the previous owners weren't actively looking to sell, but Mr. Beare happened to be walking by the building in the spring and decided it would make for a great residential conversion, not to mention one of the last such opportunities on the block.

He eventually connected the owners to Mr. Gurwitz, who leapt at the opportunity to buy the property. Once the renovations are complete, Core will be selling the units, which Mr. Beare expects will attract tenants looking to take advantage of the trendy street's location and slightly secluded atmosphere.

"NoHo seems to be this cool enclave with a lot of the things SoHo has, without the pedestrian traffic and commercialization," he said.

Good Property Plucks Rare Conversion Spot on Bond Street

The Real DealDecember 02, 2013
Joshua Gurwitz’s Good Property picked up 31 Bond Street in an off-market sale and will likely transform the property into one of the nabe’s many new luxury projects.

CORE’s David Beare represented Gurwitz in the sale, and said that the exact plan for the building, located on a popular NoHo stretch, will be announced within the next year.

The amount Gurwitz paid for the property was not disclosed, Crain’s reported.

“It is probably going to be one of the last development opportunities on Bond Street,” Beare told Crain’s.

Directly across the street is hotelier Ian Schrager’s 40 Bond Street, where Latin crooner Ricky Martin recently listed his $8.3 million condominium, and BKSK Architect’s 25 Bond Street and DDG’s 41 Bond Street are close by.

The previous owners, CC NY Realty, who paid $3.54 million for the property in 2011, according to city records, were not looking to sell when Beare approached them, he told Crain’s. Beare said that he came across the building on a neighborhood stroll and thought it would be a great spot for a residential conversion. He linked the owners to Gurwitz, who enthusiastically latched onto the idea of purchasing.

CORE will be marketing the units once conversions are completed, Beare told Crain’s.

31 Bond Development Site Sells

CurbedDecember 02, 2013
NOHO—Josh Gurwitz of Good Properties negotiated an off-market deal to buy 31 Bond Street for an undisclosed sum, and has plans to convert it into condos. The brokers, already in place, are calling it "one of the last development opportunities on Bond Street."

The Architectural Charm of 57th Street

The Epoch TimesDecember 02, 2013
NEW YORK—As towering residential developments rise one after another south of Central Park, the historic architectural treasures on 57th Street have been a bit overshadowed.

“There are many famous buildings there designed by famous architects,” said CORE real estate agent Doug Eichman. Buildings by Emery Roth and Warren & Wetmore sit on the same street as Carnegie Hall and the Crown Building where the Museum of Modern Art held its first exhibition, all just blocks from Central Park.

Eichman, who has sold real estate in the area for over a decade and has been a resident since 1992, said the energy of the neighborhood has changed over time as well, holding onto the arts and culture of the city, but adapting to new buyers’ needs.

“I think part of the appeal of 57th Street is the history and the fact that it’s one of the prettiest streets in the city that’s lined with these prewar buildings,” said Shaun Osher, CEO and co-founder of CORE. “[That] gives that street its texture.”

“It’s literally right at the center of New York City, and it [has the] proximity to the arts and culture that makes this city great,” Osher said.
Best of Both Worlds

The 57th Street corridor has gotten much attention from residential buyers from as close as the next street over, to as far away as Asia, as the new developments and the old cater to a variety of tastes. While international buyers or investors have given the luxury high-rise residences a lot of attention because they aren’t always full time residents, New Yorkers know and love the prewar buildings.
“The prewar co-ops are like joining a club, to some extent,” Eichman said.

A handful of buildings are prewar cooperatives, and then there are buildings built in the 1960s that mimic the style and layout of the prewar architecture, Eichman said.

“The demographics have changed; there are families that have been interested in the neighborhood because of the spaciousness and the layout—multiple bedrooms, large, gracious apartments,” Eichman said of the coveted co-ops. Even families with students attending private schools in the Upper East Side want to live in the area because of the generous space they can’t get elsewhere.

The addition of Whole Foods at the Time Warner Center played into the change in energy of the corridor as well, Eichman said.
Renovations can involve the full building, as well as individual units. Residences are often opened up to allow more sunlight in, but most prefer to keep the prewar details as they upgrade.

The co-op boards are very aware that buyers are seeking out more amenities and family-friendly additions, and are upgrading the interiors.

Eichman noted a co-op board president had reached out to him to better understand how to add value to the building. Now they’re considering adding amenities like a gym, a playroom, upgrading shared areas like the lobby, adding storage space, and re-evaluating the building’s plumbing to allow for washers and driers in the units.

“That’s the way they can drive share price up and they can compete dollars per square foot on a co-op, versus dollars per square foot on a condo,” Eichman said. “You can’t change the size of an apartment, but you can increase the intrinsic value by adding amenities to the building.”

The appeal of the ornate detail found in the architectural prewar buildings, even after renovations, makes the locations great for events, Eichman said. For example, a penthouse on 57th Street is perfect for a book signing.

“This is a very architectural space,” Eichman said. “We’re kicking it up a notch on the actual events that we do in the neighborhood and making people aware of what’s going on.”

Residential Rising on 57th

With rezoning allowing for new heights to be reached so close to Central Park, some of the city’s tallest buildings are now lined up on the 57th Street corridor.

TF Cornerstone’s 606 W. 57th St. residential project, designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, is just the latest of the bunch.

The long list includes Extell Development Co.’s One57 and Macklowe Properties’ 432 Park. The Durst Organization’s pyramid on 625 W. 57th St. designed by Bjarke Ingels Group is still in progress, as is the skinny SHoP Architects-designed tower, 107 W. 57th St., by JDS Development and Property Market Group.

The sky-high towers are all nestled in the area because, as many developers have noted, the vantage point allows residents a great view of the park, the Hudson River, and the southern half of Manhattan.

The Lonny Gift Guide

Lonny MagazineDecember 01, 2013
For our shoot, we borrowed the keys to a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom penthouse -- yours for a mere $9.75 million -- at 241 Fifth, a new condo building from the CORE Group, in New York City's up-and-coming NoMad neighborhood. Designed by ODA Architecture, the apartment features 11-foot ceilings and a rooftop terrace with a separate kitchen and a hot tub.

Midtown West: You're Not in Hell's Kitchen Anymore

Scene MagazineDecember 01, 2013
Bound by 34th Street and 59th Streets, and running west from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River, Midtown West has attracted developers and visionaries set on transforming its real estate and cultural landscape. Otherwise known as the grittier-sounding Hell's Kitchen, the area historically offered litter more than warehouses and parking lots, and limited its real estate capacity to buildings of six stories or less. Immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, populated the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were later displaced in the 1950s and 1960s by actors and artists who were drawn to the area for its proximity to Broadway shows and dance theaters. Recent endeavors are set on building upon the area's historic and cultural past to add a new dimension to the Manhattan real estate market.

Power Couples

Downtown MagazineDecember 01, 2013
Make powerful and bold choices with your other half by wearing this season's most memorable selections.

Rooftop Attractions for Apartment Dwellers

The Australian Financial ReviewNovember 29, 2013
Deluxe penthouses used to be the cherry on top of any high-end Manhattan residential development.

But developers are increasingly giving up some, or all, of the space usually reserved for these sky mansions in favour of rooftops with communal facilities for the use of all the building’s residents.

Facilities, including dining rooms, pools, gyms, lounges, barbecues, media rooms and spas, are being installed on rooftops and the upper levels of buildings, instead of another prestige apartment or two, as developers realise that in some cases communal facilities can make commercial sense and increase their returns.

At the super luxe end of the spectrum is New York’s One MiMA tower, a luxury rental building on Manhattan’s West 42nd Street, where residents have access to The Jewel Box, a 61st-floor lounge for the exclusive use of the building’s owners or tenants. The tower, which has sweeping city views from its upper levels, also includes a pool, outdoor deck areas, a dog day spa, and dining and lounge rooms that can be used for entertaining.

In Lower Manhattan’s TriBeCa, the Franklin Place development, where apartments are on the market for up to $7 million, has a simpler offering, with a landscaped roof deck with a pool and cabanas.

Likewise, on the Upper East Side, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 109th Street, the One Museum Mile project has a rooftop pool, patio and barbecue area, overlooking Central Park’s treetops, and a separate landscaped roof terrace.

Tom Postilio, of CORE, which is marketing the One Museum Mile development, says the rooftop is a definite selling point for the property, with buyers “oohing and aahing” about the facilities and the sweeping views of the park and the skyline.

Conscious decision

Postilio says the developer had made a conscious decision to use the rooftop as a communal space. It had proven popular this summer, the first since residents had started moving in.

“It’s better value for the 160 condo units in the building,” he says. A one-bedroom apartment in the building is going for $1.395 million, while a 5000 square foot triplex is listed for $8 million-plus.

Kane Manera, a Manhattan-based agent selling high-end properties for Douglas Elliman, is more sceptical about developers’ motives for opening up rooftops to the masses.

“Penthouses achieve the highest price [per square foot]. When . . . the developer would give up a penthouse and put in place a communal terrace, usually it’s not all quite as it seems,” he says. “Usually it’s because they are shoehorned into it because of some kind of prescription.”

Developers usually create communal space using plants and other green features to achieve sustainability ratings (such as the US Green Building Council’s LEED standard), which have proven appeal to buyers, or to meet zoning rules, Manera says.

While buyers respond well to extra shared facilities and appreciate green credentials, they would usually trade extra communal space for more private space, he says.

He recently showed a couple an apartment in a Brooklyn building that has impressive views from the building’s rooftop gym. “But their first question was, ‘why did they put a gym up here and not in the basement?’,” he says. His response? “Because they had to.”

However, he concedes luxury developers are looking for new amenities to attract savvy buyers in a competitive market, given they are likely to pay upwards of $3000 or $4000 per square foot for an apartment.

These include parking facilities, on-site spas or barriers and generators in case of extreme weather events such as last year’s Hurricane Sandy, which left many in the city without power.

An increasing number of Australian developers are also opting for communal rooftop facilities as a way to differentiate their projects from the competition and potentially boost returns. In Brisbane’s Bowen Hills, Chrome Properties’ Code apartment development, completed in 2011, includes a rooftop deck, with city views, which allows residents to hold events that their apartments may not be able to accommodate. The Cottee Parker-designed development also has a gym, pool, media room and other shared residents’ facilities.

Facilities for residents

Legacy Property and Alceon Group’s Montrose project in North Sydney will include a rooftop deck and cinema, while the Rise tower at Parramatta will offer residents a barbecue and entertaining facilities.

At Hamton’s three-stage riverside project at Victoria Street, Abbottsford, the three buildings – Eden, Haven and Sanctuary – have unique rooftop facilities for their residents. The facilities are tailored to each building’s target audience.

At Eden, residents can access spas, barbecues and a movie room. Sanctuary features a garden cinema (as well as a residents’ lobby bar and a retreat with a lap pool, gym and sundeck), while at Haven the offering includes an outdoor lounge and plots where residents can grow vegetables. The shared facilities can be booked online through an intranet.

Chris Hayton, of architects behind the project, ROTHELOWMAN, says the practice has included libraries, bowling greens and hot desk workspaces in other rooftop communal spaces.

Hayton says rooftop amenities can foster a sense of community but only if they are used regularly, so it is important that they are relevant, can be used all year round and can accommodate different user groups at the same time.

“There is greater value in offering improved facilities to all residents rather than a few upgraded dwellings,” he says. “Developers are recognising that in order for their developments to become the preferred choice they need to offer more than just the apartment.

“If the bulk of the apartments sell quicker because of the attraction of high quality communal facilities the reduction in the holding costs of a development can also be considerable, outweighing any potential increase in income generated by rooftop penthouses.”

Low cost, high appeal

Sydney-based Colliers International director of residential Ian Bennett says rooftop communal facilities, particularly cheaper, low-maintenance options such as decks, barbecues and other entertaining spaces, are proving more and more popular with buyers and developers.

“They are relatively low cost to develop and maintain, especially when compared to swimming pools or gyms, which are expensive to develop and have high ongoing maintenance requirements,” Bennett says.

“Instead, developers are choosing to include these rooftop communal facilities that benefit everyone in the development, while also keeping ongoing strata levies to a minimum.”

Bennett says the Australian apartment market between $450,000 and $900,000 is currently very active and strong, with less demand in the $1.5 million-plus range, where penthouses are usually priced.

“Selling penthouses in this market is a little tougher, so developers are choosing to use rooftop space for communal use, which increases the value of every apartment in the development,” he says.

Bennett says the facilities add real value to residents in small apartments.

“It provides them with entertainment facilities which may be limited within the confines of their own apartment. In many cases these rooftop facilities have fantastic views, which can be enjoyed by everyone and increases the overall value of the development.”

House of the Day: Building a Home Up High

The Wall Street JournalNovember 29, 2013
The homeowners combined and renovated two apartments on the 28th and 29th floor in the hopes of creating a ' modern town house in the sky.' The resulting four-bedroom duplex is now on the market for $4.5 million.

Maria Canale and Ty Tessitore purchased two apartments in the Oxford building on East 72nd street in 1998 for $600,000 each, according to public records. With a background in finance, Mr. Tessitore works in business development for SL Advisors, and Ms. Canale is a jewelry designer specializing in fine diamond jewelry, with her own line at Nieman Marcus.

The view from their apartment is shown. Ms. Canale started her own design business 25 years ago and takes advantage of the apartment's light by using one of the bedrooms attached to the master suite as her design studio. 'It's sort of my ground central,' she said. 'She does amazing work,' her husband said. 'She runs her empire from there.'

The upper floor of the apartment features uniform terrazo flooring and maple panelling. The couple started the gut renovation to combine the two apartments in 2000. The process took 12 months. The couple were already living in the building at the time, and Ms. Canale recalls bringing her son and his friends up to visit the construction site to visit. 'The construction guys were so great to them,' she recalled.

'The objective was to create what we call a modern town house in the sky,' said Mr. Tessitore, who wanted to take advantage of the 60-feet of east facing windows and 100-feet of south facing windows the combined apartments offered. But 'unlike most town houses we get sun all day long,' he said. The kitchen is pictured.

The renovation was overseen by Peter Wiederspahn, an architect based in Massachusetts whose touch extended to the design of the kitchen and staircase. 'Peter's very modern in his leanings,' said Mr. Tessitore. 'We were very sympatico.'

One of the most significant undertakings of the renovation was making space for the maple and cold rolled steel stairs by cutting through the 14-inch thick concrete floors and installing a steel shoehorn around the cut out to maintain the floor's tensile strength. The process involved having the plans reviewed and approved by the building's structural engineer. 'If you take time up front with structural plans, then things go smoothly,' Mr. Tessitore said.

A upstairs den, pictured, features a murphy bed with a steel base for guests designed by Mr. Wiederspahn and created by the same steel sculptor in Williamsburg who made the steel elements of the stairs. The home has maple doors with frosted glass to allow the light to diffuse between spaces, the couple said.

The approximately 3,000-square-feet, four-bedroom home has three bathrooms. The master bedroom is pictured. The living spaces are on the upper floor with the bedrooms below. 'The lower floor is what we call our private sanctuary space,' said Mr. Tessitore.

The couple describes the upstairs rooms as very modern, while the downstairs spaces are more 'eclectic.' They have two children, a daughter, 21, and a son, 18, who are both at college. The couple are selling because they would like to downsize.

The couple was involved in the design process for the combination, down to the choice of door handles and decorative 'olive knuckle' hinges from New York company Nanz. 'If we were to find a new space and not renovate, I'm going to miss that customized selection of materials,' said Mr. Tessitore. 'These are the little things that add up.'

Another bedroom in the home is shown. Ms. Canale said she appreciated the building's amenities, which include a gym, outdoor terrace, basketball court, swimming pool, playground and play room with catering kitchen. 'It was so easy when [the kids] were young,' she said.

Ms. Canale said she is particularly fond of the views from the bathrooms. 'I've rarely been in a bathroom in New York City that has beautiful views. That's probably something I'm going to miss,' she said.

Mr. Tessitore said that he will miss sitting in the living room, reading the paper and drinking coffee in the morning sun. 'You don't feel like you're inside, you feel like you're floating in a cruise ship,' he said. The property was first listed over a year ago with CORE for $4.25 million. It was relisted at the end of September with Alison Abovsky of CORE for $4.5 million.

Who's News: Michael Bartlett

Brokers WeeklyNovember 27, 2013
Michael Bartlett has joined CORE after working with several distinguished brokerages, most recently, TOWN.

Prior to pursuing his real estate endeavors, Bartlett served as a professional staff member of a congressional committee, later becoming a lobbyist and business development director for a boutique lobbying firm, where he represented clients in various industries. He is a graduated of Realtor Institute and an International Specialist.

A Houston, TX native, he hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and a Master of Public Affairs degree, both from the University of Texas at Austin.

Rental of the Day: 402 Monroe Street, #2

BrownstonerNovember 27, 2013
This one-bedroom in Bed Stuy is spacious and freshly renovated. The kitchen has new stainless steel appliances and a decent amount of cabinet space, and the bathroom looks pretty standard. But this apartment’s selling point is definitely its size: The living room and bedroom are both very large for a one-bedroom. So large, in fact, that you could probably easily split the bedroom into two to offset the rent.

And a few original details survived the reno, like the hardwood floors and a little bit of ornate woodwork above the doorway to the bedroom. The only downside is that it’s about nine blocks to the C train at Kingston-Throop and 10 blocks to the A/C at Nostrand. What do you think of it for $1,800 a month?

6 Ways You Can Beat Someone's Cash Offer When Buying A Home

Business InsiderNovember 26, 2013
Cash buyers in real estate have a reputation for snatching up homes out from under credit buyers. But if you’ll be financing your home purchase mostly with credit, you aren’t necessarily out of the game.

Here are 6 tips for competing successfully against a cash buyer.

1. Structure your offer as if it’s a shoo-in. Ask your lender to write a pre-approval letter and to verify that you’re a well-qualified buyer. Get your agent or mortgage professional to provide some financial information about you with your offer. Ask your mortgage professional to take as much of your loan through the process as possible. Send the lender a copy of the preliminary title report, if available.

2. Reduce the loan and appraisal contingency time. Ask your lender how quickly they can send an appraiser to the property and how long the loan would take to turnaround. In some markets, loans are approved in less than two weeks.

3. Pre-order an appraisal. Smaller banks, direct lenders, or mortgage brokers can line up an appraisal in advance, though this can be more difficult to arrange with a bigger lender. At the time your offer is written, tell the seller the appraisal has already been ordered.

4. Get inspections done right away. Along with the quick appraisal and loan contingencies, get your inspector in and out. Spending a few hundred dollars to get the inspections done within days of having your offer accepted shows the seller you are serious.

5. Pay extra. Spending more money to beat a cash offer sounds crazy. But cash buyers nearly always expect a discount from the seller simply because they’re offering cash. As a result, the cash buyer will often make a lower offer. To increase your chances, top the cash offer. If you plan to live in the house for years, and it’s the home of your dreams, paying a bit extra may well be worth it.

6. Make yourself known to the seller. Ask your agent to write a cover letter and an introduction. Let the seller know who you are, why you like the home and what your intentions are. It usually, but not always, helps.

Sometimes, the seller just doesn’t want to take a risk with someone getting a loan. Nothing you do — aside from paying all cash — will change that. So do the best you can and be realistic. Make sure your financial ducks are in a row. Line up a good local real estate agent. Start working with a local mortgage professional well in advance. Structure your offer to show you’re ready to roll.
And who knows? It just might go your way.

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and a real estate expert. A weekly contributor to the Zillow Blog his practical advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, FOX Business and Forbes. An active investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the U.S. and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. Consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can find Brendon on Facebook or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

Planning to Sell in the Spring? 5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready Now

Fox BusinessNovember 26, 2013
Homeowners considering putting their home on the market next spring should start planning and prepping their home now.

“No one ever decides to sell overnight,” says Brendon DeSimone, real estate expert at “If you know you are going to sell within the next year, you should start thinking now about what you need to do to prepare."

Realtor Jennifer Fredericks of BHGRE Preferred Living in College Station, Texas, says November is when she makes the most visits to clients looking to put their homes up for sale in the coming spring season.

“They will come talk to me about what they need to start doing,” Fredericks says. “This season is a good time for people to work on indoor projects—decluttering, packing things up for storage and just planning overall.”

Here are Fredericks’ and DeSimone’s tips for those prepping to sell in spring 2014:

No. 1: Call a licensed property inspector. DeSimone says it’s common that potential buyers may ask you to fix or pay for issues needing repair, so having a property inspector do a full sweep of the home can help you get a head start.

“Your roof may need fixing, you may have maintenance issues, things like dry rot,” DeSimone says. “You need to clean these things up to make your home more presentable. This needs to be done before you put your house up for sale.”

And while the inspection can cost a few hundred dollars, he says it is worth the investment before listing.

No. 2: Declutter. Both experts agree that less is more when putting your home up for sale, and that the winter season is the perfect time to decide what stays and what needs to go.

“Clean out your closets, bookshelves,” Fredericks says. “Send things to storage. Winter is a good time to work on indoor projects.”

No. 3: Evaluate your yard. Selling in the spring means your yard has to be in good shape. If you live in a warmer climate, you can get to work sprucing up your lawn in the winter, but those in colder parts of the country will have to wait out the chill.

“Depending on where you live, you may have to do more advance planning,” says Fredericks. “But when you are putting your house on the market, you definitely have to focus on the yard."

No. 4. Consider a maintenance schedule. Fredericks says if there are many repairs and issues that need to be tended to in the home, you may need to create a maintenance schedule to meet your spring deadline.

“We get people on a schedule if they have a lot to get done,” she says. “Things like not having the air conditioning filters changed, or gutters not being cleaned out, these can cause damage to the house if left untended.”

No. 5: Compare to other homes in your area. Check out other listings, says DeSimone, to see how your home compares with others currently up for sale.

“See what is popular in your area—hardwood floors or rugs, things like that,” he says. “You can see what is for sale and what is common near your home before you start changing things in your house.”

Sale Pending: Can You Still Make an Offer

Fox BusinessNovember 26, 2013
Before the days of online real estate listings, you knew a home sale was pending because you’d see a big red sticker across the “for sale” sign on the front lawn. But for home buyers searching listings online, it’s common to discover the words “pending” or “sale pending” only after you’ve already fallen in love with the photos, kitchen and location.

Many buyers assume that “sale pending” means the property is no longer available. The truth is, that’s not always the case. “Sale pending” can mean a few different things, depending on how a local market or a real estate agent works.

Here’s what you need to know to decide if a “sale pending” home is still worth pursuing.

Understanding ‘subject to’ and ‘contingent upon’

To understand what “sale pending” means, it helps to understand how a basic real estate transaction works.

A buyer generally makes an offer “subject to” or “contingent upon” a property inspection , a bank appraisal or full loan approval. In these situations, the buyer plans to close on the home but wants to be certain the property is in good condition and that financing can be secured. If the buyer can’t get financing, or there’s an issue with the inspection that can’t be worked out, the buyer has the right to exit the contract, subject to one of those terms.

A property with an offer may still be for sale

In some places, a home with some sort of contingency may be labeled as “active with conditions” or “active contingent.” Assuming all goes well, the buyer will move ahead with the sale. Typically, the buyer would have a week or two to complete the inspection and a few weeks to get an appraisal and loan, depending on the local market.

During this period, the seller is unable to enter into an agreement with another buyer, but the sale is not a “done deal.” What this means to another interested buyer is that there’s an opportunity for a “backup” offer. If the first offer falls through, the seller would prefer to go with another buyer who’s made a backup offer and is ready to go. Otherwise, the seller has to start over again — not an attractive proposition.

No more contingencies = ‘sale pending’

A sale that’s truly pending is one in which all contingencies have been removed. In that case, the buyer has had inspections and is ready to move ahead. The property appraised appropriately, and the buyer’s loan was fully approved.

At this point, the buyer removes all contingencies and is now “locked in” to buying the home. The final step is to move toward closing. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Most agents won’t label a home “pending” until the buyer has removed all contingencies and the sale is a done deal. In this case, the sale is pending the final closing.

Still an opportunity?

Can a buyer walk away after removing all contingencies? Absolutely. The buyer isn’t the legal owner until the property has closed and the deed is recorded. From time to time, a buyer has an emergency and needs to exit the contract. Most likely, the buyer risks losing the earnest money deposit.

Is a ‘sale pending’ home worth pursuing?

If you love a property with a “sale pending” sign, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

Find out about the status of the property. Has the buyer had the inspections? Did they go well? Any issues thus far? Have your agent ask the listing agent these questions to understand the current deal on the table. This will help you understand whether there’s a potential opportunity here.

Don’t get your hopes up when the home of your dreams has a “sale pending” status, of course. Instead, put the home on the back burner and follow the sale. Particularly in changing markets, buyers get cold feet or banks’ lending standards get more rigid, causing deals to fall apart. A smart buyer will make his or her interest known, so that if a deal falls apart, the buyer is right there, ready to step in.

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and a real estate expert. His practical advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, FOX Business and Forbes. An active investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the U.S. and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. Consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can find Brendon on Facebook or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

House of the Day: Creating a 'Cocoon'

The Wall Street JournalNovember 25, 2013
$2,995,000 | Upper East Side, NY | Apartment
A renovation of this Upper East Side duplex apartment involved sound-proofing the space to allow the owner to listen to her music and entertain without disturbing her neighbors.

Lidia Latrowski purchased a duplex apartment on East 66th Street in 2011 for slightly under $1.4 million, according to a copy of the co-op contract. Ms. Latrowski works in new business development and global sales for Graphic Systems Group, which specializes in doing post-production work for Fortune 500 companies.

The apartment was being sold as part of an estate and the former owner was from Poland, Ms. Latrowski said. When she visited the space for the first time, Ms. Latrowski, whose parents are from Poland, was able to speak in Polish with the family members collecting belongings from the home. She took it as a sign to purchase and renovate the space, which she felt had 'a good vibe.' Ms. Latrowski has renovated several homes before.

The living room is shown. 'I just imagined taking this whole apartment and revamping it from head to toe, from floor to floor, from ceiling to ceiling,' Ms. Latrowski said. 'I thought, I want to feel like I'm in a cocoon.' She undertook an eight month renovation of the duplex, complicated by the fact that she was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer at the same time. 'It was a crazy year,' said Ms. Latrowski, who is currently in remission.

A powder room with marble and mirror tiles is shown. 'My hope was to create a little home, like a little house within an apartment building, which it is now,' Ms. Latrowski said.

The gut renovation involved replacing the wiring and plumbing, taking down a wall between the staircase and living room to open up the space, redoing the bathrooms and the kitchen, shown here, and creating coffered ceilings in sections, which raised the ceiling height of the foyer and living room. She also put down solid oak wood floors and added air conditioning and heating units.

The kitchen features a mosaic mirror backsplash, among Ms. Latrowski's favorite features in the home.

A wide view of the living room, dining area and kitchen is shown. Ms. Latrowski said the renovation left the apartment 'more open' than before. 'It has more space, it feels like a house,' she said. 'It has a nicer flow.'

The staircase of the duplex features a hanging light fixture from Italian company Terzani. Ms. Latrowski left the railing intact because its 'art deco' style appealed to her, but replaced its linoleum stairs with solid oak wood to match the rest of the apartment. She is selling because she intended to live here with her daughter but their plans have changed.

The master bedroom is shown. Ms. Latrowski estimates the renovation cost between $850,000 and $950,000. The process also involved putting a layer of soundproofing material in between the concrete and the wood of the duplex's first and second floors. 'Not that I'm noisy, but I want to feel like my home is my sanctuary and I don't want to walk on egg shells,' she said. The home has a Sonos surround stereo system and Ms. Latrowski enjoys playing classical jazz throughout the house.

The master bathroom has heated mother-of-pearl floors and walls and a sink made of Thassos marble, known for its pure white color. Ms. Latrowski describes the Zuma bathtub, which lights the water in different colors as it bubbles, as 'to die for.' 'I love that bathroom,' she said.

The second bedroom of the apartment is shown. 'It has a very chic but homey feel,' Ms. Latrowski said. 'It's modern but not cold.' The approximately 1,500-square-foot apartment has two bedrooms and two ½ bathrooms and is two blocks from Central Park.

The view of East 66th Street and the Park Avenue Armory from the master bedroom is shown. 'It looks like I'm looking out at Europe, all this beautiful architecture,' Ms. Latrowski said. The apartment was listed with Lisa Graham of CORE in September this year for slightly under $3 million.

Houses of the Week: 305 West 16th Street, 5L

New York PostNovember 20, 2013
Chelsea | $1.275 million

Bedrooms: 1 | Bathrooms: 1
Square feet: 689 | Maintenance: $1,354

“Well-appointed” is the word for this condop on West 16th Street, off Ninth Avenue, which offers bamboo floors, a galley kitchen with Bosch cooktop, Fisher & Paykel fridge and Caesarstone counters, a bathroom with a custom Italian vanity and Grohe fixtures and a washer/dryer. Agent: Patrick Mills, CORE, 917-657-5607

Holy Cowie! Colin Unloading 19th Street Penthouse

New York PostNovember 20, 2013
Entertaining guru Colin Cowie is in contract to sell his penthouse duplex at 27 W. 19th St. The 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, 2½-bathroom unit with a fireplace, listed with Core’s Emily Beare, was asking $5.75 million.

Gimme Shelter once profiled Cowie in the apartment, which was designed for entertaining. It comes with lots of stealthy James Bond-like details, including a hidden, fully stocked wet bar, an open dining room and chef’s kitchen with tons of storage, along with hidden pocket doors to close off the dining room.

There’s also a private rooftop terrace and dumbwaiter service from the first floor kitchen.

The Financial District After Dark

NYONovember 18, 2013
You might think that the Financial District is all work and no play. But if you think that, you haven't seen FiDi after hours. Venture down there some night, and you'll find a new crop of glitzy tastemakers have replaced last year's protesters.

Martina Arroyo Foundation Holds 2013 Annual Gala

Brooklyn Daily EagleNovember 14, 2013
The Martina Arroyo Foundation’s 9th year Annual Gala was truly a unique event. It was held at 583 Park Ave., one of New York’s most elegant landmark venues.

The honored guest was Tyne Daly, Tony- and Emmy-winning actress. Playwright Terrence McNally introduced Ms. Daly to the audience and told the several hundred guests from the worlds of Broadway, opera and fashion, how much he cherished Tyne Daly as a friend and an artist, playing Mamma Rose in Gypsy and Lacey in the television series Cagney and Lacy.

Daly exclaimed her great admiration for opera as an art form. When all the ingredients of singing, action, music and drama are done right, sheer perfection is the result, she said. She then added, referring to her legendary portrayal as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s hit show Master Class,” I am not an opera singer, I played one on Broadway!”

Stephen De Maio, president of the Gerda Lissner Foundation and artistic director of the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation and the Giulio Gari Foundation, all of which provide scholarships to young talented opera singers, accepted his award graciously. He also showed off his other “unofficial” award, an exotic blue tie that was a gift to him from legendary Turkish diva Leyla Gencer. Lissner Foundation board members Karl Michaelis, Gloria Gari, Barbara Ann Testa and Michael Fornabaio watched the glass crystal award glisten like the giant chandelier above.

Frederick Wertheim, music lover, lawyer and board member of the Martina Arroyo Foundation, received the coveted Michel Maurel award, named for Arroyo’s late husband. The honorary gala chair was in the elegant hands of award-winning designer Stan Herman. The co-chairs were Alexandra C. Cohn and Edward Sadovnik.

Martina Arroyo, recovering from knee surgery, looked fabulous. She spoke eloquently of her young artists. The foundation’s “Prelude to Performance” series has evoked great critical praise for the singing and acting of these future stars of the operatic firmament that have learned to “sing on the word” and act from the heart. This summer, Mme. Arroyo exclaimed, the series will present La Traviata and The Barber of Seville for a total of six performances.

I asked Arroyo, who insisted on us calling her “Martina,” how Brooklyn played a part in her life and career. Her father Demetrio provided for her singing lessons and coaching as well as the entire family with his job as an engineer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I then asked Martina if she had anything to say to my readers of the Brooklyn Eagle. “Yes, baby,” she exclaimed, “Without Brooklyn, none of us would be here.” Martina Arroyo may not have been born in Brooklyn, but her musical career was conceived here.

She introduced her young artists in an overview to her “Prelude to Performance” series of operas in the “Chanson de Kleinzach” from Offenbach’s masterpiece Tales of Hoffmann. It featured tenor Won Whi Choi, who was a passionate Hoffmann, along with Benjamin Bloomfield, Tyrone Chambers, Kirsten Scott and chorus. They made us relive that brilliant performance at the Sylvia Fine & Danny Kaye Playhouse last July, named after the two famed Brooklyn performers.

The host was the enchanting Midge Woolsey of PBS and WQXR Radio fame, who introduced the featured artists. It was nice to meet and greet Midge and her husband, economist Jerry Stoltz, afterward. We chatted with outstanding Met tenor Richard Leech, who has lent his considerable skills in coaching the students. We also met Sean Milnes, son of legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes; Met Broadcast Opera Quiz maven Ken Benson, and Murray Rosenthal from Opera Index.

Soprano Eleni Calenos regaled us with a poignant subtle and triumphant “Un bel di” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Calenos sang “on the word” and “from the heart” as Licia Albanese would advise.

Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green sang a captivating and humorous “La Calunnia” from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia with rich tone, burnished lows and thrilling highs. Green brings back the era of great basses. Lloyd Arriola was the superb piano accompanist. After dinner and dessert, the final surprise of the evening was famed Cuban-American Grammy Award clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, with piano accompanist Alex Brown. They played several sets of great jazz including Bach variations.

Martina Arroyo is known for her sense of humor (She was a frequent guest on “The Odd Couple” and “The Johnny Carson Show”). When playing Madame Butterfly, she referred to herself as “Madame Butterball.” While singing at the Metropolitan Opera, a security guard said, “Good night, Ms. Price,” mistaking her for Leontyne Price. Ms. Arroyo exclaimed, “No honey, I’m the OTHER one!”

Arroyo, a great international acclaimed Verdi-Puccini soprano, trailblazer and humanitarian, will be honored by President and Mrs. Obama at the Annual Kennedy Center Honors, with fellow honorees keyboardist-composer Herbie Hancock; singer-songwriter Billy Joel; actress Shirley MacLaine and musician-songwriter Carlos Santana on Sunday, Dec. 29 from 9 to 11 p.m. on CBS.

House of the Week: 229 East 79th Street

New York PostNovember 13, 2013
Upper East Side / $1.035M

Bedrooms: 2  / Bathrooms: 1
Square feet: 1,100  / Maintenance: $1,849

On East 79th Street, between Second and Third Avenues, this prewar co-op is the beneficiary of some “major renovations.” The results include a kitchen with upgrades like new appliances and a built-in workstation, a master bedroom big enough to accommodate a king-sized bed, “generous” closet space and built-in shelving with space to spare. Agent: Adrian Noriega, CORE Group, 646-279-6104

Event Manor: Posh Parties the New Way to Show a Home

New York PostNovember 13, 2013
When Michael Feinstein performs on Dec. 16, his sing-along sidekicks will likely be Liza Minnelli and Stephen Sondheim. But you can’t buy tickets to the event, nor will it be easy to join the guest list. That’s because the soiree is being held at Feinstein’s 18-room townhouse at 143 E. 63rd St., which is currently on the market for $17.9 million with Core brokers Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon. The event — although clearly music-filled — will actually serve as much as a showcase of Feinstein’s talent as his home, thanks to its audience of 50 brokers and qualified potential buyers.

“The event brings a lot of different factions together,” says Postilio. “It shines a spotlight on the house, which is known for having fabulous events. We’re able to listen to great music and raise money for the [nonprofit] Michael Feinstein Initiative for the Great American Songbook.”

Of course, the brokers also hope to get an offer on the grand, 19th-century brownstone, which boasts eight woodburning fireplaces, a large sunken living room overlooking the backyard garden and a recording studio. And the house has Steinway pianos that, for the right price, can also be purchased.

The Feinstein event is among the most glamorous examples of a burgeoning new trend — home-sellers and their agents rolling out the welcome mat to corporations, nonprofits and prestigious organizations in the hope of attracting the right kind of buyer.

In late summer, for instance, Rolls-Royce treated about 30 customers to fancy food and drink at 80 Washington Place, an 8,800-square-foot townhouse once owned by John Philip Sousa that’s on the market for $28.9 million.

With interiors by Clodagh Design, the five-bedroom townhouse features an elevator and glass staircase connecting seven levels, a roof deck and a spacious garden with a teak cabana.

“Guests were given tours of the entire home and it did spark interest, including an offer or two, but the house is still on the market,” says broker Robert Dvorin of Town Residential.

Which means that the parties keep coming at 80 Washington. In September, Krug Champagne hosted a series of events there centered around Fashion Week. Later that month, a high-profile, members-only club rented it for a fundraising casino night — the net worth of those guests coincided with the kind of buyer Town seeks. Soon, it will be the location of a wrap party for a major feature film. Upside? The house will be exposed to the potential buyers who form Hollywood’s elite — and the guests enjoy an evening of fun.

“Reaping the benefits of an event must directly correlate with the quality and demographic of a buyer,” says Dvorin. “For our clientele, we only involve ourselves with events linked to foundations and charities.”

“I believe events work if they’re strategically planned and correctly timed,” says Corcoran Sunshine broker Beth Fisher. “When trying to sell an entire development, an event should not be just entertaining, but engaging.”

Fisher applied that reasoning to her marketing of the Aldyn, a condo/rental on Riverside Boulevard. In 2010, eight units were designed by top fashion and interior designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Jonathan Adler and their unveiling coincided with Fashion Week. The event was organized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America to benefit HIV/AIDS organizations and breast-cancer research, but also marked day one of Aldyn sales. Two units were sold as a direct result.

“My events are not planned as an opportunity to sell apartments, but to bring in very targeted influencers,” says Fisher.

Then there’s the altogether different animal — the event space that is being marketed as a residential property. Take 632 Hudson St. — a popular party site and home to the cast of the 10th season of “The Real World” in 2001. Owner Karen Lashinsky was frequently asked by guests if the residence was for sale — and always answered with an emphatic “no.”

That is until last September, when the 8,000-square-foot building — which includes a 5,500-square-foot, three-bedroom triplex, plus 1,000 square feet of outdoor space — went on the market for $22 million, along with a major caveat. Notes the Douglas Elliman listing: “Booked through January 2016. Building may be purchased earlier than 2016, but all bookings must be honored.”

Acquired in 1992, Lashinsky carved out a unique space that resembles a palazzo — with a dramatic 40-foot-high central atrium, Italian Renaissance murals, a 19th-century Chinese bed, and a 1920s-style speakeasy in the basement.

Lashinsky, who beds down on the home’s off-limits second floor while the parties rage around her, decided to sell so she can create a similar space in Italy. Asked if she’d cancel events that were, say, 12 months out, if she was offered more than the $22 million asking price, her answer was a hesitant yes — but only if she could find comparable space.

“Loyalty is a significant trait, so it’s doubtful I’d be comfortable moving out sooner, even with the promise of honoring my future bookings,” says Lashinsky. “Because it’s not just the space that draws clients, but my customized sensibilities.”

Of course, showcasing homes to elite crowds may build buzz, but it does not guarantee sales. At a recent event at the Robert A.M. Stern-designed One Museum Mile, at 1280 Fifth Ave., the building’s developer, Brickman, sponsored a benefit for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Hosted by resident Casey Nicholaw, the Tony Award-winning co-director of “The Book of Mormon,” the gathering for 70 guests included Broadway stars. Postilio was there, conducting tours of available units, including a $1.395 million one-bedroom. Sadly, Postilio got no bites. Nonethless, as the upcoming Feinstein event (and hopefully sale) suggests, in Manhattan real estate, the show must always go on.

How the Word 'North' Affects Prices

The New York TimesNovember 12, 2013
The moment Gary Davis popped his head out of the subway station on Central Park North and Lenox Avenue in 2004, he understood he was looking at an extraordinary spot. An architect and real estate developer, he had been invited to the block by a lawyer for the owner of a two-story corner building there, and though Mr. Davis recalls not being “very excited about Harlem,” he was quick to see the site’s potential. He then sent a photographer 120 feet above the street in a bucket attached to a crane arm; the resulting pictures showed breathtaking panoramic views of Central Park and miles beyond.

In 2007, 111 Central Park North, a 19-story glass-fronted luxury condominium, was opened on the site by the Athena Group, of which Mr. Davis was the executive vice president. He liked his surroundings so much that when the project was done, he bought a two-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor. (Although he declined to say what he paid, similar units were selling for around $1.4 million.)

“This is why I live here,” he said the other day, standing on his balcony and gesturing expansively at the park and the glorious cityscape of Manhattan, clear down to 1 World Trade Center. In the evenings, he said, the individual buildings on Central Park South soften into a purplish-gray mass whose craggy profile reminds him of the view of the Rocky Mountains from his childhood balcony in Denver.

Mr. Davis’s fellow residents on Central Park North are an eclectic bunch, even by New York standards. Along with regular folk like teachers, his neighbors on the three-block-long corridor include the Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who rents a full-floor condo upstairs; L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former Tyco International chief executive convicted of grand larceny, conspiracy and fraud, who lives at the Lincoln Correctional Facility down the street; and the numerous ducks that ply the water of the Harlem Meer, some of which have nested on a terrace at No. 111. Just across Lenox is the Park View Hotel, sometimes a source of noise that has compelled neighbors to shut their windows in summer.

Willie Kathryn Suggs, a real estate broker who specializes in Harlem, says that No. 111 has provided the greatest lift to the area since the construction in the late 1980s of Towers on the Park, a mixed-income condo complex flanking West 110th Street west of Frederick Douglass Circle. At 201 Central Park North, a prewar building, a one-bedroom condo sold for $811 a square foot in May, a 20 percent jump from its sale price in 2004.

At 45 Central Park North, an income-restricted co-op, prices are lower, and bidding can get fierce. A three-bedroom on the second floor, listed in July at $469,000, attracted multiple offers above $500,000, said Mitchell Hall, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group.

Jason Stone, the winning bidder along with his wife, Meredith, said he imagined watching their son, now 19 months old, play hockey at Lasker Rink, which is visible from their windows. “I’ve been reading about uberluxury apartments on Central Park South where the developers are looking for $7,000 to $8,000 a square foot,” said Mr. Stone, a structural engineer. “For less than 10 percent of that, I have Central Park views as well.”

What You’ll Find
Central Park North, also called West 110th Street, is bookended by circles, each commanded by a monument to an African-American legend. At the park’s northwest corner, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass gazes northward up the gentrifying boulevard that bears his name. At the northeast corner, the jazz composer Duke Ellington looks east past One Museum Mile, a Fifth Avenue luxury condo designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, and toward a public housing development.

The uptown side of Central Park North is lined primarily by low-slung prewar apartments, many of them rent-stabilized. The street level of No. 111 is home to the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center, as well as a Dunkin’ Donuts.

The area’s population, historically dominated by blacks, has diversified at an even faster clip than Central Harlem as a whole. A 2007-to-2011 census survey estimated that 6,489 people lived in an area comprising the blocks along northern Central Park and a small wedge of land running north from there to 114th Street west of Lenox. Half of these residents were black, a 17 percent drop since 2000. In that time, the white population nearly quadrupled, to 19 percent; the share of Asians grew to 5 percent; that of Hispanics dropped slightly, to 23 percent.

But long before the gentrification of the 1990s, Central Park North was known as a more stable strip than the streets above it, said Larry Young, a Central Park North resident who grew up on 111th in the 1960s. Mr. Young, a program director for a nonprofit, recalled that back then kids from 111th or 112th played football in the street against 110th Street kids, whom he describes as typically better educated, with parents in better jobs, often the Civil Service.

Later, into the early ’80s, when Harlem in general grew more troubled, “drugs didn’t go so much in that part of town,” he said of Central Park North. “The families were more together, and even now it’s family-oriented.”

Residents often say that Central Park feels like their backyard. The street lacks the crowds and traffic of counterpart boulevards on its other sides, and at the Farmers’ Gate at Lenox Avenue and the Warriors’ Gate at Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, the park throws its arms open wide.

“I never feel it’s garbagey, and I never feel unsafe; it’s just picturesque,” said Ellen Anthony-Moore, a professor who has lived on Central Park North since 1999. “There are a lot of international families and a lot of people from Columbia University, and it just feels very down-to-earth.”

What You’ll Pay
Inventory is low — a search on found just two units for sale and five for rent.

No units have changed hands this year at 111 Central Park North; in 2012, three-bedrooms there traded for an average of $1,100 a square foot. At No. 201, a first-floor condo sold in July for $629 a square foot.

“People are paying a premium to live on that street,” said Chuck Newman, an agent at Reliance Realty Partners. But rental prices are wildly variable. Two-bedrooms in No. 111 are commanding $7,000 to $7,900 a month — “downtown prices” — said Jeffrey Berger of Isen & Company, a real estate advisory firm. At No. 125, a two-bedroom was listed at $4,000. But in some buildings, three-bedrooms can be had for $3,000.

What to Do
Restaurants and lounges like Bier International and 67 Orange Street have popped up on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, filling a neighborhood need.

The Conservatory Garden, whose chrysanthemums are a riot of color in fall, is a short walk.

Weeping willows overhang the sinuous shores of the Harlem Meer; Canada geese frequent its waters, and children fish with poles and bait provided free at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. Two playgrounds are nestled near Central Park North.

At the Harlem Meer Performance Festival each summer, picnickers enjoy jazz and other music. Nearby, Lasker Rink becomes a public pool in the summer.

The Schools
Some students are zoned for Public School 185 on West 112th Street, for prekindergarten through second grade, and P.S. 208 on West 111th, for Grades 3 through 5. Both scored Bs on their most recent city progress reports.
The Frederick Douglass Academy II Secondary School on West 114th serves Grades 6 through 12. SAT averages at the high school in 2012 were 356 in reading, 379 in math and 361 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

The Commute
The financial district is about 35 minutes away on the 2 or 3 train, both of which stop at 110th and Lenox. The B and C stop at Frederick Douglass Circle; both reach Midtown in 15 to 20 minutes.

The History
The Lincoln Correctional Facility was built in 1914 as a Young Women’s Hebrew Association home for immigrants. Its roof, now caged, once had a garden, according to the Jewish Women’s Archive.

These Shattered Real Estate Records Confirm That Brooklyn Is Booming

Business InsiderNovember 12, 2013
It’s no secret that Brooklyn has changed dramatically in recent years, with hot new restaurants and an NBA basketball team to boot. These changes have brought significant price increases for real estate, especially now that housing demand is surging in the wake of the real estate downturn.

Indeed, as neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg and Dumbo lure more Manhattanites across the river, Kings County has set a number of new real estate records. This year in particular, the ongoing inventory shortage has pushed Brooklyn prices to new highs, brokers said.

“Since last January, [Brooklyn] prices have certainly escalated because of the lack of product,” said Rhea Cohen, a broker in the Brooklyn Heights office of Brown Harris Stevens. “Most co-ops and condos have been having multiple offers, and are going for higher than their asking prices.”

Of course, even Brooklyn’s record-high prices still represent a significant discount to Manhattan.

And there are key differences between real estate in the two boroughs. In Manhattan, it is the homes near Central Park that command the highest prices, while in Brooklyn, waterfront homes fetch the greatest premium. In addition, the most expensive properties in Manhattan are condos — with some now asking more than $100 million — but historic townhouses are Brooklyn’s priciest housing type.

“The demand for these [Brooklyn townhouse] properties is voracious,” said Doug Bowen, a CORE broker who has worked in Brooklyn for nearly 15 years.

Along with some enclaves in Southern Brooklyn, the Brooklyn neighborhoods closest to Manhattan, like Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights, have historically seen the highest home prices. But as the borough’s popularity grows, emerging neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill are seeing new highs.

“Brooklyn is going through something really interesting,” said Joseph Cohen of Manhattan-based developer East River Properties. “It has incredible demand coming from Manhattan [and] from the suburbs, but basically no supply to speak of, and very little coming on the market. There really is very limited availability.”

This month, The Real Deal took a close-up look at the Brooklyn records that have recently been broken.
Most expensive townhouse

Brooklyn record: $12.5 million
Manhattan record: $53 million

Brooklyn’s highest-priced sales are generally townhouses, spurred by brownstone-loving buyers looking for original crown moldings and more space than they can afford in Manhattan. And with inventory so scarce these days, brokers said prices are climbing faster than usual in prime brownstone neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope.

“The townhouse market is in an uncanny place right now,” Bowen said. “The velocity of price increases — it’s better than I’ve seen in my 15 years in real estate.”

Last January, for example, a seven-bedroom townhouse at 212 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights sold for $11 million, setting a new record for the borough’s priciest home sale. The previous record was the 2009 sale of 2111 East Second Street in Gravesend for $10.26 million.

But only a few months after the Brooklyn Heights sale, the record was shattered again by a townhouse around the corner, at 70 Willow Street. The house, where Truman Capote wrote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” traded for $12.5 million in March 2012.

There are already a number of listings that could break that new record. The Tracy Mansion at 105 Eighth Avenue in Park Slope is on the market for $15 million. The 50-foot-wide former school is being listed by Halstead Property’s Marc Wisotsky and Jackie Lew. Still, it initially hit the market a year ago priced at $25 million, and has seen two price chops since then.

Also in Park Slope, a seven-bedroom townhouse at 45 Montgomery Place hit the market for $14 million in late September with Douglas Elliman super-broker Raphael De Niro. That’s more than double the $6.05 million sale price the house last traded for in 2006, according to the real estate listings website StreetEasy. Late last month, a six-bedroom townhouse at 177 Pacific Street in Cobble Hill was listed for $16 million, while a gated Mill Basin compound with two houses in it hit the market for $30 million.

And down the block from the Capote house, a six-bedroom home at 104 Willow Street hit the market for $12 million in late August. Halstead’s Cohen, the listing agent, said the property has been shown a few times, but has no offers yet. But she’s hoping that a recent renovation of the historic home will push it into record-breaking territory.

“It was built in 1826 and it still looks like it’s 1826,” she said, “but everything is fresh and new — the piping, the beams.”

Another of the borough’s priciest listings, 2134 Ocean Parkway, hit the market in May 2012 for $14 million. The 10,000-square-foot Gravesend mansion was just price-chopped, however, to $8.9 million.

These prices may be new territory for Brooklyn, but they’re still far below the Manhattan record for the priciest townhouse: The Harkness Mansion at 4 East 75th Street sold for $53 million in 2006.

Most expensive condo

Brooklyn record: $7.8 million
Manhattan record: $88 million

When it comes to condos, the Dumbo waterfront has recently been a hotbed of record-setting prices. Buyers are willing to pay a premium for Dumbo’s waterfront views and close proximity to Manhattan, said Halstead broker Charles Homet, who often works in the neighborhood.

In Dumbo, “nearly every sale we’re doing is breaking records,” Homet said. “We’re all astonished at how the prices keep moving up. We’re still cheaper than Manhattan, but it’s startling to see things trading at $1,500, $1,600 per square foot, when two years ago it was $800, $900 per square foot.”

Dumbo grabbed headlines in 2010, when a 14th-floor, 3,208-square-foot penthouse at new development condo 1 Main Street sold for $7.8 million, or $2,431 per square foot, becoming the highest-priced Brooklyn apartment ever sold.

And right upstairs, 1 Main Street’s famed Clock Tower penthouse is now listed for $18 million, making it the highest-priced condo on the market in Brooklyn.

Visible from the Manhattan Bridge, the three-bedroom triplex penthouse has massive circular windows, floating staircases and an elevator. The 7,000-square-foot apartment is nearly double the size of its record-breaking downstairs neighbor — and that doesn’t even take into account the roof cabana and deck.

The unit has, however, undergone significant price chops since it was originally listed for $25 million three years ago. It’s been priced at $18 million for the last six months, listed by Corcoran’s Aaron Lemma, Frank Castelluccio and Nicholas Hovsepian, who did not respond to requests for comment.

“Eventually, it’ll find the right price and it’ll find a buyer,” Homet said.
However, that price is anyone’s guess.

“The right price is what that right person who wants that triplex will pay,” he said. “It’s completely spectacular, and it’s difficult to value because there’s nothing to compare it to.”

In general, high-end Brooklyn condos can be snapped up for less than Brooklyn townhouses, and far less than all their Manhattan counterparts. In 2011, for example, an $88 million condo deal at 15 Central Park West set the record for the highest-ever Manhattan home sale, and units reportedly in contract for more than $90 million at Extell Development’s One57 may soon usurp that title.

Neighborhood records
Old Prospect Hts. record: $3.3 million
New Prospect Hts. record: $4.3 million

Not surprisingly, many of Brooklyn’s emerging neighborhoods are also seeing record-breaking real estate trades.

“People are being priced out of the more gentrified areas,” said Elliman broker Alex Maroni. “They’ll go from Brooklyn Heights into Prospect Heights into Crown Heights.”

One area that’s seeing rapid price appreciation for that reason is Bedford-Stuyvesant. It’s now common for brownstones in the neighborhood to trade for seven figures, but brokers said the million-dollar mark was, until recently, a psychological barrier for apartment buyers in the area.

But that changed in June, when the 1,559-square-foot penthouse at new construction condo 105 Lexington Avenue sold for $1.04 million — a neighborhood record, according to Maroni, the listing broker.

Maroni attributed the high price to the apartment’s size. The three-bedroom penthouse, which has a roughly 650-square-foot terrace and 13-foot ceilings, is “the size of a small house,” he said, making it “a very good alternative” to a brownstone.

He added that it was only a matter of time before a Bed-Stuy condo passed the million-dollar mark. “It was bound to happen — the market was already there,” he said, noting that in Bed-Stuy these days, “a brownstone is $1.5, even $2 million.”

Another neighborhood that has broken records recently is Prospect Heights. In June, a townhouse at 206 Park Place sold for $4.3 million — the highest price ever paid for a house in the neighborhood. Broker Lynn Donawald of Park Slope-based Donawald Realty had the listing. The seller had owned the four-story house since 1976. According to the listing, the home has a two-level deck built out of Brazilian wood, a koi pond and a solarium.

That deal follows on the heels of the May sale of 166 Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, a house that set a record for the neighborhood when it sold for $3.3 million.

Prospect Heights is one of the few neighborhoods in Brooklyn where the highest-priced home sale on record is a condo, not a townhouse. A 3,524-square-foot penthouse at the Richard Meier-designed new condo 1 Grand Army Plaza sold last year for $5.1 million. The project, directly across from Prospect Park, is one of the few examples of “starchitecture” in Brooklyn.

In Boerum Hill, too, prices are on the verge of never-before-reached heights. The neighborhood’s priciest townhouse sale took place in 2011, when 267 State Street — a new construction townhouse developed by Time Equities as part of its 14 Townhouses project — sold for $3.4 million.

But that 2011 record is on its way to being broken again. Two other townhouse units at the project, 307 State Street and 303 State Street, are both listed for $3.65 million, and are in now in contract, according to the listing agent, the Corcoran Group’s James Cornell. He declined to reveal the sale prices, however.

Meanwhile, an 8,000-square-foot, 26-foot-wide townhouse at 374 Pacific Street is currently listed at $7.25 million by Elliman’s Maroni.
In 2010, the home was in such a state of disrepair that it sold at auction for just $1.335 million. But when it hit the market in June of this year, it had been extensively gut-renovated, with a glass skylight atrium and landscaped backyard.

The property has been discounted from its initial asking price of $7.9 million. But Maroni said he’s already gotten several offers “in record-breaking territory,” though the seller hasn’t yet accepted one.

The house “will definitely be a record-breaker when it sells,” he said. Since it’s “nearly twice as large as the average house, on a price-per-square-foot basis we’re actually not asking that much over average.”

On the Market in New York City

The New York TimesNovember 10, 2013

Murray Hill Co-op $890,000


MANHATTAN 136 East 36th Street, #4A


A two-bedroom one-bath in a pet-friendly full-service prewar building. Taruna Sharma, Douglas Elliman (917) 664-2343; open house Sunday, 2:30 to 4 p.m.


PROS The bedrooms in this sunny corner unit are spacious. One has a walk-in closet and a second layer of windows for soundproofing; the other has a view of the Empire State Building. The kitchen has a small dining area.


CONS The apartment overlooks Lexington Avenue and 36th Street, which can be noisy.

Manhattan's Priciest Condos Now Average Nearly $5,500 A Square Foot

Business InsiderNovember 09, 2013
MANHATTAN — The city’s condo buildings with this year’s priciest homes weren’t on Park or Fifth avenues. They’re clustered around the southwest tip of Central Park on the Upper West Side.

The most expensive building was the limestone-clad 15 Central Park West, designed by renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern, according to a CityRealty report released Thursday detailing the top 100 condos in Manhattan.

The swanky, sprawling apartments in that deluxe condo, at the corner of the park and West 61st Street went for, on average, $5,487 per square foot, CityRealty found.

That was more than $1,000 higher than the No. 2 most expensive building — the southern tower of the Time Warner Center at 25 Columbus Circle, which went for $4,644 per square foot. The other tower at the Time Warner Center — the Residences at the Mandarin Oriental, at 80 Columbus Circle — came in at No. 5, at $3,738 per square foot.

“That corner of the park is just phenomenal the way money gathers there,” said CityRealty’s Pete Culliney.

The opulent condo building at 15 Central Park West — modeled on the Rosario Candela’s architecture at legendary co-op 740 Park Ave. — has seen its share of bold-faced residents, including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, musician Sting and actor Denzel Washington, according to a Vanity Fair video about 15 Central Park West. It cost $1 billion to build and has racked up $2 billion in sales, including a record-breaking $88 million penthouse sold to a Russian billionaire.

“They tried to redo that ‘classic seven’ and bigger of the Old World kind of layouts,” Culliney said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Stern’s elegant buildings have been pushing prices higher in other neighborhoods, too.

Following his overhaul of the former Salvation Army residence built in 1929 on the corner of Gramercy Park South and Irving Place, 18 Gramercy Park has set record prices for downtown and raised that neighborhood’s average condo prices faster than any other Manhattan neighborhood in the past five years.

The area saw a whopping 259 percent increase in average condo prices to $3.9 million from $1.1 million in that time frame, according to data compiled by CityRealty.

“Eighteen Gramercy Park South is like a small 15 Central Park West,” Culliney said of the 16-unit building. “It’s completely changing the pricing paradigm in that [area’s] market.”

A five-bedroom penthouse there closed in August for $42 million, or $6,636 per square foot, according to CityRealty.

East Harlem, which had the second greatest increase in average condo prices over the past five years at a 90 percent rise — from an average of $608,635 to $1.16 million — is home to another game-changing Stern building: One Museum Mile.

“Now ‘Fifth Avenue’ doesn’t go to 96th Street. It goes to 110th Street, without a question,” Culliney said, noting that developers are building amenity-laden condos higher up than they used to and will likely continue targeting the northeast pocket of the park.
“One Museum Mile is the poster child for that,” he said.

The building, located at 1280 Fifth Ave. at E. 109th St., recently set a neighborhood record when a three-bedroom residence sold for $3.565 million, or $2,030 per square foot, building representatives said.
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