'Try Before You Buy' a Home

Bankrate.comOctober 18, 2013
Just as you test drive a car before writing that big check, what if you could take a home for a spin before committing? It would give you time to check the water pressure, see what kind of light the kitchen gets in the morning or find out if the neighbor's dog barks continuously in the evening.

Some sellers are handing the keys over to potential buyers who want to spend time alone in a home to "test drive" its features.
A new concept is taking hold that allows prospective homebuyers to spend several hours alone "test driving" a residence before making offers.

Sights, smells, sounds

Limor Nesher, real estate agent with CORE, a New York brokerage, has arranged for potential buyers to spend up to 12 hours in homes they are serious about purchasing. She says that while most are initially surprised at the idea, they quickly warm up to the opportunity to take a closer look. "Buyers get a chance to take in the details of the building, experience the attributes of an area, potential noise issues and other factors that can't be detected in a one-time visit alone," Nesher says.

There are benefits for sellers as well, Nesher says, because allowing the hands-on experience may encourage the buyer to move forward and could result in a higher sales price or quicker deal. "Sellers that have a unique property or one that is located in an emerging area generally like the idea, as they understand the added benefit this opportunity presents in marketing their home," she adds.

Making sure they have protection

There are obvious potential problems with this arrangement, however, with liability being a hot button for both buyer and seller. "Sellers are generally concerned about the security of their personal belongings, liability factors and the authenticity or credibility of the buyer," says Nesher. Buyers, she adds, "tend to be most concerned about liability as well, being cautious of not damaging any items in the seller's home."

So how can sellers protect themselves? There are no established rules regarding payment from prospective buyers for spending a few hours in a home, Nesher says. She suggests sellers set up written agreements, ask for security deposits and/or install hidden cameras for protection. Additionally, she says, credit checks and preapproval letters from a bank also provide a good source of financial information and show readiness to buy.

Will it catch on?

Although a few other cities are catching on to the trend, Nesher says only time will tell if it becomes a lasting one. In areas where demand is high, buyers may not have the luxury of taking their time. But Nesher says it's a marketing option. "Although we are currently working in a seller's market, especially in New York City, it is important to remain open to alternative methods of marketing a home," she says. "A potential buyer presented with the opportunity to live in a property before making a decision can be a make-or-break moment in the home's sale."

Would you be willing to offer this option to a potential buyer?

New Net Paul Pierce Rents $35K Apartment in Tribeca

CurbedOctober 17, 2013
After a decade and a half of making life miserable for Knicks fans, NBA star Paul Pierce is a Manhattan resident. The former Boston Celtics forward, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets this summer, rented a 5,000-square-foot 14th-floor pad in Tribeca's 90 Franklin Street (which means he's now neighbors with "pop chanteuse" Mariah Carey) for $35,000/month. Pierce has no intention of making nice with his new borough's team. "This is a city battle," he told reporters this summer. "We're going to divide the city now. Before this was a Knicks town, but now that I'm here we're going to call it, 'Nets Village.'" It's okay, he'll figure out the neighborhoods soon enough.

NBA’s Paul Pierce Nabs $35K Per Month Franklin Tower Pad

The Real DealOctober 17, 2013
NBA All-Star Paul Pierce has moved into a full-floor Tribeca loft at the Franklin Tower. The Boston Celtics legend, who jumped this year to the Brooklyn Nets, will move into a 5,000-square-foot home at 90 Franklin Street that was on the rental market asking $35,000 per month.

Pierce’s pad was listed with CORE Group’s Oliver Brown, who declined to comment to the New York Post, which first reported the story. The apartment has four bedrooms and 28 windows and includes a wood-burning fireplace, according to the listing.

The 18-story building is also home to Mariah Carey, who owns the penthouse, the Post said.

Avenues Hosts Brokers to Court Chelsea Kids

The Real DealOctober 17, 2013
Avenues: The World School, the palatial, 1,600-seat private school in Chelsea, offered an after-school lesson Tuesday night to real estate brokers looking to better guide families weighing education — and living — options in the city.

The event, hosted by The Real Deal, attracted the likes of Halstead Property CEO Diane Ramirez, Douglas Elliman broker Ariel Cohen and Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant of “Million Dollar Listing New York” fame for a private tour and dinner reception at the 10-story, 215,000-square-foot facility that opened last year.

“We were told by many people that our school is having an impact on real estate prices [in Chelsea],” Benno Schmidt, chairman of Avenues, told The Real Deal. “We felt it would be mutually beneficial to reach out to the real estate world.”

Brokers, for their part, are often called on to enumerate the merits of area schools for buyer clients.
The $85 million for-profit Avenues, located in a converted warehouse at 10th Avenue and 25th Street, charges students $42,000 a year in tuition. It offers classes for nursery school through 12th grade and is part of the world’s first global school system. Mandarin or Spanish language classes — and an iPad – are an integral part of an Avenues student’s experience from kindergarten.

As Serhant walked the halls on the tour, he said he was reminded of his days at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.

Flatiron District-based architecture firm Perkins Eastman and a team of designers crafted a loft-style look for the school, which reportedly counts Suri Cruise among its student body. On each of the 20,000-square-foot floors, there is a community room with a nearly 30-foot-high ceiling at the center.

“My friends and colleagues who have kids have had their entire lives upended to accommodate a proper education for them,” said Amir Korangy, publisher of The Real Deal, at the reception.

“Real estate decisions are made based on what schools are nearby and available to families.”

Corcoran Group broker Eileen Robert said she was “blown away” by the facility, but noted that it is against the rules of a broker’s license to recommend one school over another to clients.

“I don’t think you can promise a school or a district,” Ramirez interjected, but a broker can lay out the options.

New construction around the adjacent High Line has created alternatives for larger condominium units, such as three- and four-bedrooms. Janet Weiner, a broker at Halstead, said increasingly families want the option to eventually combine units.

“A lot of families took a chance [enrolling their children] when the school opened,” said Emily Beare, a broker at CORE. “They were pioneers.”

Paul Pierce Nets $35K Per Month NYC Apartment

New York PostOctober 16, 2013
Brooklyn Nets All-Star Paul Pierce and his wife, Julie, have just moved into a full-floor loft apartment in TriBeCa’s 90 Franklin St., the same building where Mariah Carey owns the penthouse. Pierce’s 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom home, with 28 windows, was asking $35,000 a month and includes a woodburning fireplace.

Known as Franklin Tower, the 1915 building once served as the Corn Exchange Bank in 1930. The 18-story condo features a roof deck, gym and bike storage.

Pierce isn’t the only Nets player to snub Brooklyn: Fellow All-Star Joe Johnson also moved into a rental in the same ’hood last year.
CORE listing broker Oliver Brown declined to comment.

“Try Before You Buy” Gains Traction With Home Hunters: VIDEO

The Real DealOctober 11, 2013
A new real estate trend, dubbed “Try Before You Buy,” is giving would-be buyers a chance to get to know a home before taking the plunge.

Spending a bit of time living in a for-sale home gives shoppers an opportunity to investigate the light, water pressure, even peek at what the neighbors are like.

“This gives an opportunity for somebody to enjoy the house as much as the owner does, and that’s something we could never write up in our description,” the CORE Group’s Mickey Conlon told ABC News.

Innovative Ways to Market Real Estate

Epoch TimesOctober 11, 2013
With supply as constrained as it is in Manhattan, most properties don't need much help to sell quickly at the asking price. Many agents are telling sellers to make prices non-negotiable and buyers who have already lost out on properties know that.

Nonetheless, presentation still makes a difference, and a well-presented property can add value for a seller.

How TriBeCa Became NYC’s $50M Neighborhood

New York PostOctober 09, 2013
We now know TriBeCa as a neighborhood where Jon Stewart vies with Gwyneth Paltrow for sidewalk space; where the local restos are curated by David Bouley and Drew Nieporent; where the apartments are massive, and a Duane Street townhouse is in contract for just under $50 million.

It wasn’t always this way.

In the spring of 1993, the average price for a condo or a co-op in TriBeCa (and neighboring SoHo) was $182 per square foot, according to data from the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Two decades later, that figure is more than eight times higher — in the last quarter of 2013, the average price per square foot was $1,569, and the average four-bedroom mega-loft was trading at $1,981 per square foot.

So how did this neighborhood, once an unpopulated span of cast-iron factories and warehouses (as well as the butter and egg capital of the city), become the domain of rock stars, movie actors and hedge-fund princes — not to mention, one of the most sought-after areas for new development?

The change started happening in the 1970s. “This was something that was a gleam in the [Department of City Planning’s] eyes for years,” says Bob Abrams, who moved into a 3,000-square-foot apartment, with another 3,000 square feet of outdoor space, at 16 Hudson St. when the building went co-op in 1979. Back then the entire six-story, 30-unit structure (including five commercial spaces), which had been used for light manufacturing, sold for $4 million. Abrams paid an “embarrassingly low” price for his top-floor unit.
By that time, artists had already discovered that the area was ripe for conversion.

“There were pioneers like Richard Serra and Meredith Monk and Sandi Slone, who happens to be my wife,” says Douglas Elliman broker Bruce Ehrmann, who is also co-chair of Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee. And when Robert De Niro was playing Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” and needed a place with good light, privacy and space to practice his fight scenes, he set up a boxing ring in a TriBeCa loft.

By the 1970s, the city was offering tax benefits like the J-51 program to turn industrial buildings and warehouses into residences.

“TriBeCa was a pretty desolate place,” Abrams remembers. “What it did offer was an incredible amount of space, and so much more cheaply than the Upper East Side or Brooklyn Heights, where I had lived. I had a lot of art. And the attraction of the space — the high ceilings — seemed great for me, personally.”

And great for him financially, as well — Abrams’ pad is now on the market for $8.99 million with broker Noble Black of the Corcoran Group.

“You had these floor plates that lent themselves to larger, open plan loft living,” says developer Zach Vella of VE Equities, who is currently building two ground-up condos in TriBeCa: 21 North Moore and 290 West St. “It gave you the flexibility to do what you wanted without restrictions … they’re 5,000- to 10,000-square-foot floorplates.”

And older buildings like the Fischer Mills at 62 Beach St. and 45 Walker St. still offer lofts with 4,000 square feet of space.

But regardless of the buildings’ history and sheer amount of square footage, TriBeCa’s appeal is also in its unique architecture.

“It’s somewhere between the industrial and classical world,” says architect Morris Adjmi, the neighborhood’s most prolific design mind, whose projects — including 403 Greenwich St. (a ground-up modern take on a cast-iron building) and 83 Walker (another tribute to cast iron) — are a throwback to the area’s best traditions. “People see that as being authentic and real,” Adjmi says, “as opposed to moving in to just another new development. It’s embracing the history.”

Some buildings, like 7 Harrison, Steven Harris’ 12-unit building in a former dry goods and cold storage warehouse, will keep the brick look of yore when it is completed next year. Same goes for the 53-unit 443 Greenwich St. (a former printing house and steel wool factory), which Metro Lofts is putting on the market next year and should be done in 2015.

Others, like the 33-unit condo Sterling Mason (another Adjmi project), partly honor the old, but also adapt and modernize it for 2013.

“Landmarks, in order to give approval to our plan, had to approve the design,” says Charles Bendit, co-CEO of Taconic, of the former tea and coffee warehouse that the firm is converting into condos. Bendit and Adjmi decided to recreate the 1905 brick-and-terra-cotta building as a kind of “photo negative image.” Along with the original warehouse, they built a duplicate out of metal on the adjoining plot of land.

But in TriBeCa there’s also entirely unique, splashy, ground-up architecture that wouldn’t look out of place along the starchitect-heavy High Line. It includes projects that are about to kick off, like 11 North Moore, with a limestone facade, steel base and floor-to-ceiling windows that gives it a glassier, edgier look than most of what you see in the area. Douglas Elliman is marketing the 18-unit condo, where the starting price is $4.5 million for an 1,897-square-foot three-bedroom up to $35 million for the 7,061-square-foot penthouse with a 3,168-square-foot roof terrace with private pool.

Then there are new projects that have been on the market a bit longer, but are now commanding some of the city’s highest prices — like Franklin Place and 56 Leonard, the latter an enormous glass and steel Jenga tower, where available units start at $2.875 million for a 1,027-square-foot one-bedroom. (A four-bedroom penthouse listed for $47 million is currently in contract.)

Of course, architecture and residential development are only part of the story. “Services changed a ton, early on,” says Vella. But TriBeCa somehow managed to steer clear of the flood of chain stores — the “shopping mall effect” — that consumed SoHo. Sure, stores and boutiques came, but the streets remained walkable.

“I remember there was a deli that opened across the street from our office,” says Jane Rosenthal, who is De Niro’s partner at Tribeca Productions. “It was like, ‘Wow, there’s suddenly a deli [that] opened up!’ ”

In the early 1980s, a young Drew Nieporent went jogging along West Broadway and discovered an empty restaurant space. It became one of the big players of the neighborhood, Montrachet.

“It was quiet, the streets were cobblestone and large, and it was removed from Wall Street — we took a gamble on leasing the space,” says Nieporent. “But I was fortunate. I hired a young chef named David Bouley, so what we had in our favor was expertise and a $16 menu with three courses.”

(Corton, Montrachet’s successor in the same location, was offering a $115 menu this summer.)

De Niro approached Nieporent a few years after Montrachet opened with the idea of another restaurant, which became Tribeca Grill.
“That was the ground-breaking moment in terms of restaurants,” says Nieporent. “After Tribeca Grill, we did Nobu . . . but Tribeca Grill was the precursor to everything, and emblematic of what the area’s all about. We didn’t take a space and change it — we adapted a warehouse to become a restaurant. And it wasn’t a fly-by-night operation; it’s very busy 23 years later.”

As for today’s TriBeCa, Adjmi sums it up like so: “It’s just convenient enough. It’s not overcrowded, not over-commercialized; there are cool restaurants, you have all the parks — it’s a perfect family neighborhood. You don’t get that combination of the building stock, and all the rest of the amenities and lifestyle-enhancing qualities, in any other place.”

Luxe Listings: 23 Downing

New York PostOctober 08, 2013
$8.995 Million, 23 Downing St.: This five-story landmarked West Village townhouse maintains its original early-19th-century facade, yet it has been nothing short of “remastered” on the inside. Its 3,700 square feet (with four bedrooms and four-plus bathrooms) is filled with 21st-century amenities like “professional-grade” appliances, radiant-heat floors and central air. The 900 exterior square feet include a rooftop terrace and a gorgeous private garden. Agents: Emily Beare and David Beare, CORE, 212-726-0786 and 212-726-0743

Luxe Listings: 143 East 63rd Street

New York PostOctober 08, 2013
$17.9 Million, 143 E. 63RD St.: This manse has played host to “the world’s most celebrated luminaries in show business, literature and politics.” No wonder, given that this combo of two townhouses was “designed for seamless entertaining on any scale” — measuring 25 feet wide and sporting 18 rooms, including six bedrooms and seven-plus bathrooms, plus a garden. A pair of pagodas create a harmonious outdoor living/dining room, and crowning it all is a fifth-floor gym and “meditation terrace.” Agents: Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon, Core, 212-726-0783 and 212-612-9623

The Patrick Lilly Team Joins CORE, New York's Premier Boutique Real Estate Firm

Luxury Real EstateOctober 07, 2013
NEW YORK - The Patrick Lilly Team was recently featured in an article in The Real Deal by Hayley Kaplan about their move to the boutique brokerage, CORE.

“Real estate veteran Patrick Lilly and six of his team members are leaving the Corcoran Group, one of the largest brokerages in Manhattan, for the boutique brokerage CORE, The Real Deal has learned exclusively.

Lilly, who began work at CORE today, ran a nine-person team at Corcoran. Six of his team members will join him at CORE immediately, while two others are still deciding to move, he said. One member decided to stay at Corcoran.”

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

Singer Michael Feinstein Lists Double Brownstone On Upper East Side

ForbesOctober 07, 2013
Many celebrities alternate between living in New York and Los Angeles. Singer, entertainer and pianist Michael Feinstein, however, is trading the Manhattan lifestyle for Carmel, IN, where he is the artistic director of the Center for the Performing Arts.

Feinstein recently listed his double brownstone home for $17.9 million. While nearly $18 million is not utterly outrageous for a home on the Upper East Side (where the median list price is $1.895 million), it’s light years away from Carmel’s most expensive home, which is listed at $4.5 million. The median list price in Carmel is $349,900, and unlike Manhattan, most homes for sale there are situated on green lots within suburban neighborhoods.

The New York residence, located at 143 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10065, is made up of two brownstones that create an 18-room home with 6 bedrooms and 8 baths. The three levels of living space have 12-foot-high ceilings and enormous windows that offer “lush tree-line or garden views.” Designed for entertaining, the house has two kitchens — one for “light meals and casual conversation” — as well as a gym, meditation terrace, music room and a pair of pagodas that connect the living room to the outdoors. Herringbone hardwood floors, marble fireplaces and other designer details fill the turn-of-the-century space.

Feinstein became famous in the late 1980s with a series of concerts on Broadway. He’s produced a number of albums covering George and Ira Gershwin’s work, and currently serves as an anthropologist and archivist for the Great American Songbook, a collection of the most popular songs of the 20th century.

Fall Real Estate Preview: As He Finishes His Tenure, Mayor Bloomberg is Hailed by Brokers

New York Daily NewsOctober 04, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg would be crazy to try to run for a fourth term — but real estate brokers say it’s crazy to want anyone else in City Hall.

“I’m depressed at the thought that someone else will be mayor,” says Shaun Osher, president of real estate brokerage CORE. “I wish we could change term limits again.”

“I really wish he’d run again — and I’m a Democrat,” says Suzanne Hof, third-generation owner of Terrace real estate in Forest Hills, Queens.

“Mayor Bloomberg has been the finest mayor New York City has ever had,” says Brown Harris Stevens broker John Burger.

Burger was the top-selling agent in the country, and maybe even the world, in 2011 and 2012.

Does he have the mayor to thank for his industry’s booming success? Look no farther than the skyline for proof.

“Eight of the 20 tallest buildings in the city have been built in the past decade, and many of them are apartment buildings,” Corcoran Group CEO Pam Liebman says.

Many are the result of Bloomberg-led rezonings intended to spur development citywide.

“What he’s done all up and down the West Side has been amazing,” says Warburg broker Richard Steinberg, one of the stars of HGTV’s real estate reality show “Selling New York.”

Bloomberg’s vision gave rise to hundreds of thousands of new homes, creating inventory in a city where space always comes at a premium. The mayor’s plan for the 26-acre Hudson Yards project — creating 13 million square feet of new apartments, offices, shops, plus two new parks on the far West Side — wows Steinberg.

“The biggest problem for us right now is there’s no product, and now he’s giving us all this product to sell,” Steinberg says.

It’s a big change from the real estate downturn that came after 9/11. Raphael De Niro, Douglas Elliman’s top broker for two years running, credits the mayor’s unerring support for rebuilding the World Trade Center with helping downtown recover.

Tribeca, the West Village and SoHo now beat the upper East Side as the city’s most expensive neighborhoods.

The mayor’s sweeping changes are not confined to Manhattan, either. Across the boroughs, brokers are cashing in on Bloomberg’s legacy projects.

“I don’t think any broker can talk about Brooklyn without talking about what he did at the Barclays Center,” says James Cornell, who has worked in Corcoran’s Brooklyn Heights office for 21 years. “The borough is a brand now, and Barclays is at the heart of that.”

David Maundrell of probably wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for the mayor. He started out leasing apartments on Craigslist when Williamsburg was still best known as a Colonial town in Virginia. But now his operation is one of the biggest brokerages in Brooklyn.

It’s all thanks to changes engineered by the mayor that allow gleaming towers to replace vacant lots and empty warehouses on the Williamsburg waterfront.

Similar changes hit the Queens waterfront under Bloomberg’s watch. The biggest is the 6,500-unit Hunter’s Point South. It’s a megaproject, but thanks to the mayor’s affordable housing plan, 60% of the units will be set aside for middle-income families. That makes it a perfect fit for Queens, according to Rick Rosa, head of Douglas Elliman’s Long Island City office.

Under Bloomberg’s watch, developers set in motion a planned Ferris wheel and outlet mall slated for St. George on Staten Island. Bloomberg suffered a rare real estate defeat in his bid to turn the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a mall, but scored on his second attempt with a giant ice rink complex, now in the works.

New projects aren’t the only things going up. Prices have soared as well.

A year into the mayor’s tenure, the average New York apartment cost $382,000, according to appraiser Miller Samuel. A decade later, it’s almost tripled to $825,000.

Manhattan went from $800,000 to $1.4 million, and Brooklyn doubled, from $336,000 to $671,000. Queens and Staten Island saw more modest growth, about a $100,000 gain for each over the decade, to $440,000 and $411,000, respectively. The Bronx grew from $244,000 to $327,000.

“It used to be there were only certain neighborhoods you lived in,” Liebman says. “He has really stretched the boundaries of the city to make every neighborhood desirable.”

Just ask Elizabeth Stribling, head of the brokerage that bears her name. A longtime upper East Sider, she left the borough and now calls a penthouse in One Brooklyn Bridge Park home.

A conversion of a former Jehovah’s Witnesses printing plant, the building funds a neighboring 85-acre park built on old waterfront piers under a unique private-public partnership that exemplifies Bloomberg’s vision.

“When people are looking for a home, they want views of the park or the river,” Stribling says.

But no Bloomberg-era park was more celebrated by brokers than the High Line. It took $150 million in city funds to turn abandoned railroad tracks into a world-class green space — and it has already attracted more than $2 billion in private investment on surrounding blocks.

“I wanted to buy CORE bikes for my brokers, so they could get around easier, but the mayor did it for me,” Osher says.

For all the development that went up under his watch, Bloomberg deserves credit as a preservationist, says Melanie Lazenby, the Douglas Elliman broker and daughter of former James Bond actor George Lazenby. Landmarking has had a huge impact on the business — but not in the way most people think.

“It makes neighborhoods like the Village beautiful and appealing, sure, but it also limits new development, which constrains supply, and that drives up prices,” she says.

That’s a blessing and a curse, because commissions are higher, but there is also less to sell.

In Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, brokers have seen once-desolate neighborhoods boom and their earnings soar. Some have even become celebrities.

TV shows like “Selling New York” and “Million Dollar Listing” present the crazy and wonderful world of New York City real estate. Bloomberg’s work promoting film and television in the city makes the Big Apple only shine brighter on screens across the globe, says Michele Kleier, president of Kleier Residential and a “Selling New York” star.

“It makes the city look so good,” she says. “I go to the theater, and people from the Midwest recognize me and they tell me they want to move here.”

The mayor has welcomed those tourists, some 52 million from the Midwest and beyond, with open arms. Kleier and others say it has exposed the city to a new clientele and helped boost sales as well.

But the biggest gain, many brokers agree, is public safety. With crime at a historic low, Bloomberg’s biggest legacy — at least for homeowners — might the end of broken windows.

“It used to be you couldn’t sell a townhouse, and if you did, the first question was where to install the bars and the security system,” says Wendy Sarahson of Corcoran, who has been in the business since 1989. “Now, all the bars are coming off.”

Buyers, especially Europeans, who love to pedal around town, brokers say.

“I wanted to buy CORE bikes for my brokers, so they could get around easier, but the mayor did it for me,” Osher says.

For all the development that went up under his watch, Bloomberg deserves credit as a preservationist, says Melanie Lazenby, the Douglas Elliman broker and daughter of former James Bond actor George Lazenby. Landmarking has had a huge impact on the business — but not in the way most people think.

“It makes neighborhoods like the Village beautiful and appealing, sure, but it also limits new development, which constrains supply, and that drives up prices,” she says.

That’s a blessing and a curse, because commissions are higher, but there is also less to sell.

In Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, brokers have seen once-desolate neighborhoods boom and their earnings soar. Some have even become celebrities.

TV shows like “Selling New York” and “Million Dollar Listing” present the crazy and wonderful world of New York City real estate. Bloomberg’s work promoting film and television in the city makes the Big Apple only shine brighter on screens across the globe, says Michele Kleier, president of Kleier Residential and a “Selling New York” star.

“It makes the city look so good,” she says. “I go to the theater, and people from the Midwest recognize me and they tell me they want to move here.”

The mayor has welcomed those tourists, some 52 million from the Midwest and beyond, with open arms. Kleier and others say it has exposed the city to a new clientele and helped boost sales as well.

But the biggest gain, many brokers agree, is public safety. With crime at a historic low, Bloomberg’s biggest legacy — at least for homeowners — might the end of broken windows.

“It used to be you couldn’t sell a townhouse, and if you did, the first question was where to install the bars and the security system,” says Wendy Sarahson of Corcoran, who has been in the business since 1989. “Now, all the bars are coming off.”

Luxury Moves to Mulberry Street

The New York TimesOctober 04, 2013
The architecture and development company Flank set out years ago to prove what others are now discovering: there is a market in Lower Manhattan for oversize condominiums in boutique buildings, no matter the neighborhood.

Flank started out on the Far West Side with a 12-unit building at 385 West 12th Street, and more recently created the 10-unit Abingdon, also on West 12th, where a triplex sold for $23.4 million. Now, in its latest project, the firm will be creating seven capacious units, each with two to four bedrooms, in the unlikely location of 224 Mulberry Street, the site of a parking garage in NoLIta. (Demolition has already started, with completion of the building set for the first quarter of 2015.)

And as the project’s broker, Tim Crowley, puts it, at $6 million to $30 million a unit, pricing will be “unapologetically high.” Calculated to average in excess of $3,500 a square foot, the cost may set records for the 16-square-block neighborhood, which was once part of Little Italy to the south. Its name, NoLIta, is an acronym of “North of Little Italy,” and prices for new-construction condos there tend to hover around $2,000 a square foot.

“If you can figure out a way to build here,” Mr. Crowley said, “every project that comes into this neighborhood inevitably breaks a record, because there’s a lot of desire and a following in this neighborhood, but not a lot of real estate.”

Coming to market this week, 224 Mulberry Street isn’t alone in seeking to break new ground in NoLIta. Six loft-style residences being built atop the famed Puck Building, about a block away, are being marketed for $20 million to $60 million apiece.

Mr. Crowley says prices north of $3,500 a square foot aren’t out of line for large apartments, ranging from about 1,950 to 5,650 square feet, in a well-constructed building of solid materials with classic high-end finishes.

“We’re going to set records on Mulberry Street obviously, but we’re in line with the other high-end, really-sought-after real estate in the city,” he said, asserting that potential downtown buyers tend to be “agnostic” when it comes to neighborhood. “They go to great real estate, and are less sensitive to where SoHo stops and NoHo starts.”

But with a growing number of developments in Manhattan offering large, exceptionally pricey apartments, there is more competition than there has been, brokers said. The asking prices that 224 Mulberry and the Puck Building hope to achieve are conceivable in NoLIta, but will require a “superior product,” said Shaun Osher, the founder and chief executive of the Core Group, a brokerage in Manhattan.

“It has to be exceptional,” he said, “whereas if you’re on Central Park or in the West Village on the water or in other prime neighborhoods, the location there will demand the price per foot. Here, you need the product to help achieve that number.”

Jon Kully, a managing partner of Flank, said he believed 224 Mulberry was just the product to do it. The eight-story building will be quite tall, at 110 feet, because some of the units will have living rooms with 25-foot ceilings, he said. And because NoLIta is a low-rise neighborhood with zoning restrictions of 80 feet, the higher floors of 224 Mulberry should have unrestricted views in perpetuity, Mr. Kully said.

Flank is able to build so high because “we’ve had an active permit for over five years, and a down-zoning took place after the permit was issued,” he said.

A 40,000-square-foot building, 224 Mulberry will replace a four-story garage that had a distinctly patterned enameled-brick exterior. That building was too expensive to salvage, but Flank chose to pay homage to it with Art Deco touches like black-and-white penny-round mosaic flooring in the bathrooms, Mr. Kully said.

There will be elevator-accessed parking beneath 224 Mulberry, which has a garage entrance adjacent to the pedestrian entrance. All units will have at least one parking space; some will have two. A 24-hour doorman will also park cars.

With an exterior of Roman brick on the first four floors, and top floors of cast stone and brick set back 10 feet, 224 Mulberry will have private terrace space for each unit along with a common roof deck. The other amenities, all of which will be free like the parking and the roof deck, include a gym and storage space.

The windows are to be old-style weight-and-chain mahogany structures; though divided into panes, they’re grouped into 10-by-10-foot openings, increasing the amount of light in the apartments. Elaborate brickwork, especially around windows that have cast-stone sills and jambs, will add texture to the facade, Mr. Kully said.

Kitchen cabinetry, including unusual upper cabinets of glass embedded with wire mesh, will be manufactured by the English kitchen designer Smallbone of Devizes. Floors will be white oak of mixed widths, and islands will be marble with a “waterfall” effect in its grain, Mr. Kully said.

Marketing materials include a large bound book that embraces the colorful immigrant history of NoLIta and is filled with romantic black-and-white portraits of the neighborhood’s old-time and new business owners. Potential buyers will very likely be a bit more cosmopolitan than the typical downtown buyer — perhaps world travelers, Mr. Kully said.

“This is a storied personality, a textured personality, someone who’s been around the block, who’s traveled incessantly and is arguably a collector of something or multiple things,” he said, “so we’ve given a lot of consideration to how we can house that person’s belongings.”

Flank’s 224 Mulberry Could Set New Price Record for Nolita

The Real DealOctober 04, 2013
Pricing for Flank’s seven units at 224 Mulberry Street will be “unapologetically high,” the project’s broker told the New York Times.

Pricing for the property’s individual units will range from $6 million to $30 million — in excess of $3,500 per square foot. The numbers could set a new record for the neighborhood, where prices for new-construction condominiums currently hover around $2,000 per square foot.

But the stratospheric price tags aren’t out of line for large apartments ranging from 1,950 square feet to 5,650 square feet in a well-constructed building.

“If you can figure out a way to build here, every project that comes into this neighborhood inevitably breaks a record, because there’s a lot of desire and a following in this neighborhood, but not a lot of real estate,” Tim Crowley, the project’s broker, told the New York Times.

Even so, competition is growing as units in the neighboring Puck Building, only a block away, are marketed for $20 million to $60 million a pop.

To nab such exorbitant asks, the properties will have to deliver a truly superior product, Shaun Osher, founder and chief executive of the CORE Group, told the Times.

“It has to be exceptional,” he told the Times, “whereas if you’re on Central Park or in the West Village on the water or in other prime neighborhoods, the location there will demand the price per foot. Here, you need the product to help achieve that number.”

The eight-story building is to feature living rooms with massive 25-foot ceilings, unrestricted views for upper-floor units, a four-story garage with an enameled-brick interior and Art Deco touches like black-and-white penny-round mosaic flooring in the bathrooms, John Kully, a Flank managing partner, told the Times.

Flank, 224 Mulberry’s developer, is also behind the Far West Side’s 385 West 12th Street and the Abingdon at 320 West 12th Street, unveiled plans for the new project on the site of a Nolita parking garage in March, as The Real Deal reported.

Odd New Home Buying Trend Might Creep You Out

Yahoo FinanceOctober 04, 2013
Ever wish you could test-drive a house before you buy it?

A new trend in real estate is encouraging potential buyers to do just that. They’re getting the opportunity to spend quality time in the home before putting a penny down. It might sound a little odd, but it can also help you make a more informed decision — and possibly save you from buying the wrong house.

In the accompanying episode of Destination Home, we follow Roy Berenholtz, a New York anesthesiologist, who tests out this strategy.

Berenholtz is interested in the one-bedroom, East Harlem apartment in New York City shown in the video. But before he decides to make an offer, the realtor is letting him and other serious buyers spend the day or night in the apartment to put it under some extra scrutiny. Berenholtz jumped at the chance.

"You can't get better than having the opportunity to try it out before you actually [put in an offer] and move in," he says.

Limor Nesher is the New York realtor behind this selling strategy, and it's catching on in other markets. Cities like in Santa Rosa, Fla., Harvey Cedars, N.J., and Colorado Springs, Colo., are boasting “try before you buy” options, allowing buyers to preview the home before contracts are signed.

In this case the apartment’s sellers handed over their keys, so Berenholtz had the entire apartment to himself for 12 hours. And after exploring the home without the pressure of a realtor around, we sat down with Berenholtz for a debriefing. (Watch the video above to find out what he really thought of the apartment.)

The experience, Berenholtz says, was invaluable in helping him come to a final decision. "Living there for a few hours made me realize the fine details that I would not have picked up on when coming in for a 10-minute viewing in an open house."

Berenholtz and others like him may be dodging real estate bullets with this “try before you buy” approach, but was the hassle of the visit worthwhile for the realtor and the sellers? According to Nesher, "Especially if you have a unique product, you might get a better price or even a faster sale."

Sales Keep NYC Housing Market Hotter Than Ever

New York PostOctober 02, 2013
Traditionally, the fall is the start of real estate’s busy season, where brokers — well-rested from a summer in Sagaponack — are champing at the bit, ready to unveil the next big thing.
But it’s almost as if summer never even began. A busy spring just kept going and going. “There was no rest for the weary this summer,” says Wendy Maitland, managing director of Town.

According to Corcoran Sunshine, 3,400 contracts were signed in Manhattan in the third quarter of 2013 — a 17 percent jump from last year. And the second quarter was even better. The second “quarter there were $7.6 billion in sales,” says Kelly Mack, president of Corcoran Sunshine. “That was the second highest ever.”

And one can only expect it to get busier. “So far in 2013, we’ve seen 1,660 new development units enter the market,” says Mack. “We’re projecting another 1,000 by the end of the year.”

One would hope these new units would ease pressure on prices and increase the vacancy rate. But it doesn’t look like that’s in the cards. According to a market report released this week by Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel, for Douglas Elliman, Manhattan inventory dropped to the lowest level in 13 years (when Miller started tracking the market) and the number of sales — 3,837 — is the most since 2007. And most units coming to market are expensive.
“Land costs have gone up, which means cost of development has gone up and that has required the purchase price to go up,” says Susan de Franca, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman’s new development division.

In August, veteran developer Michael Shvo returned to the market spending $23.5 million — about $850 per square foot, the most ever paid for a residential site in New York — for a gas station at 239 10th Ave. His hope is to put up a new condo off the High Line, one of the most sought after new neighborhoods.

Prices are far from being set yet (the building is slated for 2015) — but if the nearby condos are any indication, numbers will be insane. At developer Cary Tamarkin’s 508 W. 24th St., the smallest unit is $3.35 million (it’s in contract), and the 3,018-square-foot penthouse is on the market for $10.5 million, or $3,479 per square foot. The developer Blackhouse recently announced it was building a six-unit condo at 534 W. 29th St.

According to Sean Ludwick, a partner at Blackhouse, “The penthouse should be $3,500 per square foot … Lower units should be in the $3,000 per-square-foot range.”

But the High Line is hardly the only downtown hood to command crazy prices. At 66 E. 11th St. by Delos, the new five-unit building in Greenwich Village that is being marketed by Dolly Lenz, the starting price is $15 million for a three-bedroom and goes up to $50 million for a 7,693-square-foot four-bedroom (an average of $4,764 per square foot).

Over in SoHo, at Jared Kushner’s Puck Penthouses at 293 Lafayette St., the six units — ranging from 4,895 square feet to 7,000 square feet — start around $21 million. And at the FXFOWLE-designed Greenwich Lane on the site of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, prices haven’t been set but one can expect them to start at $2 million and go up to $20 million, or higher.

Nor is this a downtown phenomenon. This summer, the Witkoff Group shelled out $650 million for the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South, which will include a condo component. “We’re big on downtown — and the other downtown neighborhoods,” says Steve Witkoff. “But Park Lane was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How often do you get to build on the Park?” Down the block at 22 Central Park South, Lisa Lippman at Brown Harris Stevens is selling six full-floor two-bedroom residences, each spanning 2,021 square feet and starting at $6.7 million. A 2,943-square-foot penthouse is going for $26.5 million.

Resales have also gone through the roof. Last year, Tony Sargent, a broker with CORE, sold a TriBeCa apartment at 28 Laight St. for $3.8 million (it was featured on “Selling New York”) — he just closed on the same unit for $4.58 million, or $780,000 higher than a year ago.

In August, Corcoran broker Jana Koplen got a listing for a full-floor loft in SoHo for $3.5 million that she was planning on putting on the market after Labor Day, but decided to strike early. She had 10 showings within 24 hours, and 19 buyers came to the open house on the second day — with four offers. The property got eight offers and is in contract at $225,000 over the asking price.

And Witkoff, like other developers, is looking at sites in Queens and Brooklyn.

“While Manhattan is rising [in price] modestly, Brooklyn is rising sharply,” says Miller. Over the summer, Miller released a report showing the median price of housing was up 15 percent in Brooklyn from the year before and inventory was down 19 percent. Brooklyn is “no longer seen as a less expensive alternative — it’s now a specific destination,” says Miller. “I saw, the other day, a banner touting [a building in Queens] and the slogan was, ‘Queens is the new Brooklyn.’ I thought that was pretty clever.”

Some are slightly wary of the exuberance in the air. “Every market has to correct at some point, right?” poses Shaun Osher, CEO of CORE.

But most are bullishly riding the wave. “We’re in a comfortable place,” says John Gomes of Douglas Elliman, who is selling 11 N. Moore in TriBeCa. “Prices are strong [and] I think it’s healthy that interest rates are inching up … The temperament of the buyer is more relaxed, less rushed, more in control than the spring market. It’s a very healthy, very strong market.”

Who's News: Deirdre De Risi

Brokers WeeklyOctober 02, 2013
Deirdre De Risi has joined the CORE Group.

An agent for close to a decade who has helped sell over $300 million worth of real estate in the last two years alone, De Risi previously enjoyed a successful career at Douglas Elliman.

A New York resident for over 10 years, she has lived in neighborhoods including the Upper East Side, Chelsea, and now, the Upper West Side.

A Matter of Record

Gotham MagazineOctober 01, 2013
Meanwhile, on the Upper East Side, the late, great photographer Richard Avedon's former carriage house has sold for $11.4 million to an undisclosed buyer. The manse, at 407 East 75th Street, had also been home to financier Olivier Sarkozy, half brother of ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who lived in the historic townhouse before he divorced his wife and moved in with actress-turned-The-Row-cofounder Mary-Kate Olsen. The four-story, six-bedroom, nine-bathroom townhouse, last listed at $12.5 million, includes a black-and-white stairwell, full-floor master suite with two wood-burning fireplaces, and a private terrace. The listing broker was Emily Beare of CORE (127 Seventh Ave., 212-726-0786;

‘Beare’ Hugs

The Real DealOctober 01, 2013
CORE broker Emily Beare and husband Brian Beare celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last month at the Natirar estate in New Jersey, home of the Ninety Acres Culinary Center, a critically acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant and cooking school. Their children Elizabeth and David — both CORE agents — were also on hand for the celebratory feast.

CORE Goes on Hiring Spree

The Real DealOctober 01, 2013

After losing several top agents, the boutique brokerage CORE went on a hiring binge last month, adding more than 10 new agents, including one of the Corcoran’s Group largest teams. Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy alumni Patrick Lilly and seven of his team members last month left Corcoran, one of the city’s largest firms, for the much smaller CORE. The agents who joined Lilly at CORE include Adie Kriegstein, Martin Eiden, Andres Soto, Latoya Anderson, Eric Purcell, Cassie D’Agata and Jasmin Abrol. Also last month, CORE hired broker Deirdre DeRisi from Douglas Elliman, and Sidney Whelan and Reggie Grayson from Halstead Property. The firm also hired real estate newcomer Marsi Gardiner, who previously worked in marketing and theater production. CORE has recently seen the departure of top producers Michael Graves, who left for Elliman, and Vickey Barron, who took with her the exclusive marketing assignment for the high-profile Walker Tower condo at 212 West 18th Street. When asked if the new hires are an explicit attempt to make up for the loss of Graves and Barron, CORE CEO Shaun Osher said through a spokesperson: “We are continuing to follow our original business model, which is to attract like-minded agents who are interested in building their business in a transparent environment that embraces the evolution of our industry and the art of marketing and selling real estate.” Lilly joined Corcoran in 2009, after 13 years at the now-defunct Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy. He said he decided to hop to CORE because of the way the industry is changing. With most buyers and sellers now going to sites like StreetEasy for information, he said, the reach of a large firm is “not as necessary as it was.” The addition of these 11 new brokers represents a substantial increase in size for CORE, which had 55 agents as of mid-March, according to a TRD ranking.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Midtown

Residency NYCOctober 01, 2013
"Midtown, especially where it meets Central Park, is becoming one of the most closely watched markets in the world."

Everything New is Old Again

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

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