New Listings: 45 Park Avenue, 1503

Brokers WeeklyDecember 04, 2013
Patrick Lilly and Adie Kriegstein at CORE have just listed this two-bedroom, 2.5 bath at 45 Park Avenue for $2.5 million. They call it an "elegant, loft-like condo" with a split bedroom layout and large living and dining area. The open chef's kitchen is outfitted with Viking and Sub-Zero appliances. The bathrooms have Kohler fixtures. Both bedrooms are en suite and have five-fixture configurations. The master bedroom has two walk-in closets. 45 Park Avenue was voted best new residential building when it was built by SJP Properties in 2007. Designed by architect Costas Kondylis, the building has a full-time doorman and concierge, fitness center, cold storage and residents lounge.

Have You Heard...

Brokers WeeklyDecember 04, 2013
CORE's Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon hosted a private cocktail event benefiting March of Dimes at the home of legendary Grammy award winner David Sanborn and his wife Sofia.

The event showcased Sanborn's five-story townhouse, which is currently on the market for $12 million.

Postilio and Conlon are the exclusive listing brokers for the home, which boasts five bedrooms, four wood-burning fireplaces and a recording studio on the top floor.

Guests at the event included Bravo's Million Dollar Listing star, Douglas Elliman agent Louis Ortiz.

House of the Week: 45 Park Avenue, 1503

New York PostDecember 04, 2013
Murray Hill
$2.5 million | Square feet: 1,440 | Common charges: $1,968
Bedrooms: 2 | Bathrooms: 2½

This Costas Kondylis-designed condo on Park Avenue, between 36th and 37th Streets, offers hardwood floors throughout, an open kitchen with name-brand appliances and granite counters, and floor-to-ceiling windows in the large living/dining area. The full-service building offers “hotel-like” concierge service, a fitness center and a landscaped sundeck. Agents: Patrick Lilly and Adie Kriegstein, CORE, 212-612-9681 and 917-921-6929.

Flegg Has Star Turn in Reality TV Show

Courier Mail BrisbaneDecember 04, 2013
Is Bruce Flegg eyeing a career as a reality TV star?

The LNP MP has been featured on a US reality television show that chronicled the purchase of his swank, $1.2 million Fifth Avenue apartment.

Before their relationship went sour, Mr. Flegg dispatched his former lover Sue Heath to the Big Apple to buy him the Manhattan pad. The Member for Moggill allowed the process to be documented for the series Selling New York

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.
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