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Manhattan’s Top Listing Agents

The Real DealJune 06, 2013
With more eight- and even nine-figure listings hitting the market, Manhattan’s top brokers aren’t feeling the inventory squeeze as much as their colleagues in other segments of the residential industry. While nearly all of Manhattan’s top 10 brokers have fewer properties on the market than last year, most have a higher dollar value of listings, according to The Real Deal’s annual ranking of Manhattan’s top 75 listing agents.

That includes Sotheby’s International Realty brokers Serena Boardman, Elizabeth Sample and Brenda Powers, who are co-listing what is currently the most expensive apartment in Manhattan: the late investor Martin Zweig’s triplex at the Pierre Hotel at 795 Fifth Avenue for $125 million. Boardman, ranked at No. 2 on TRD’s list, had 17 listings worth $304.49 million as of May 1, up dramatically from her $198.9 million total last year. Sample and Powers, who work as a team, came in at No. 5 with listings worth $215.3 million, a jump from $162.9 million in 2012.

For Deborah Grubman of the Corcoran Group, getting the exclusive on Stephen Cohen’s $115 million duplex at One Beacon Court helped propel her to No. 3, from No. 11 last year. This year, she had 12 listings worth $258.82 million, far more than her $125.47 million last year.

“The numbers are bigger now than they’ve ever been,” Grubman said.

Using data collected from the listings portal On-Line Residential, TRD ranked the top 75 agents based on dollar value of Manhattan listings on the market or in contract as of May 1.

Going solo

The city’s top real estate brokers have vastly different approaches when it comes to marketing properties. Some hire large teams of agents to assist them, while others work primarily alone, joining with other agents only for occasional one-off deals.

One lone wolf is John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens, who for the second consecutive year earned the No. 1 spot on TRD’s ranking, with 25 listings worth nearly $411 million.

Besides his assistant of 10 years, Burger works alone — something he believes his clients value.
“The backbone of [my] business is personal service,” said Burger, who has been in real estate for nearly three decades. “I believe that my clients want me. And I try to be as available as possible. I answer my own telephone, and I answer my own emails.”

Because of his approach, Burger said he “easily” turns away two to three clients a month, referring them to other Brown Harris Stevens agents. That means he gets to pick and choose his listings, which currently include a duplex penthouse at 55 Central Park West on the market for $35 million, and a 16-room penthouse at 52 East 72nd Street for $21.95 million. Burger also recently put a penthouse at 10 Gracie Square on the market for $23 million, though the property wasn’t included in TRD’s ranking because it was listed after May 1.

When Burger ascended to the top of TRD’s rankings last year, he displaced another longtime top Brown Harris Stevens broker, townhouse specialist Paula Del Nunzio, who was ranked No. 1 in 2011 but slipped to No. 3 in 2012.

This year, Del Nunzio came in at No. 6, with 12 properties worth $195.77 million. Among her current listings: a $43 million townhouse at 21 Beekman Place with views of the East River.
Like Burger, Del Nunzio said she works alone except for a “superb” assistant. She does occasionally partner with other agents, “depending on the nature of the property.” For example, she and Burger are currently working together to market a nine-room penthouse at the prewar co-op 1088 Park Avenue.

Del Nunzio said no matter what the market conditions, she relies on the same strategy.

“I am always trying to customize a marketing plan and presentation of a property, so the buyers will know precisely what the property is and they’ll come in droves,” she said. “The money stays the same — the pockets change.”

The notoriously press-shy Boardman, who declined to comment for this story, often works with fellow Sotheby’s broker Meredyth Smith. The two sold a penthouse at 730 Park Avenue in Decemberto hedge funder Daniel Benton for $39 million, and recently represented Boardman’s brother-in-law, RFR Realty President Aby Rosen, in the $47 million sale of a townhouse at 22 East 71st Street to Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani.

On her own, Boardman is the listing agent for a $14 million unit at 19 East 72nd Street.

Sample and Powers, by contrast, have worked together on every listing for the past 20 years, ever since Powers left the hotel business to join Sample at Corcoran. In early May they had only five listings on the market and one in contract, down from 10 at this time last year, but one of them is the $125 million Pierre penthouse. Sample and Powers sold the apartment to the Zweigs in 1999 for $21.5 million.

The Zweigs are “friends of ours and long-, long-time clients,” Sample told TRD. “We have a history with them.”

Still, “every firm in town” pitched the family for an opportunity to list the iconic prewar penthouse, which occupies the top three floors of the Pierre, Sample said. Some firms, she said, even suggested listing it for as much as $200 million.

“It’s very difficult to price apartments,” Sample said. She said the high price of the Zweig triplex, however, is justified by the fact that the apartment is “irreplaceable.” Although she declined to specify the co-op’s exact square footage, she said the price per square foot is “well below $10,000,” which makes the price “very compelling” compared to other apartments on the market now asking $15,000.

Sample and Powers are also listing a $50 million penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental at 80 Columbus Circle.

Teaming up

Other top brokers choose to work in teams, hiring other agents to show their listings, schedule appointments and help bring in new business.

Grubman, for example, leads Corcoran’s Deborah Grubman Team, which is made up of three agents — senior vice president David Dubin, senior associate Paul Albano and salesperson Marianna Klaiman — and a full-time driver.

The team set-up represents a change for Grubman, who for years worked as a partner with broker Carol Cohen, who left Corcoran in 2010 in the midst of a lawsuit involving Cohen’s rent-stabilized apartment at 737 Park Avenue.
For Grubman, having a team has “made my life much easier in many ways, because just the scheduling of appointments has become a full-time job,” she said. “I’m sort of the face of the team and that’s very nice, but the back office is just as important, because if they don’t do their job right, it’s not an efficient team.”

Grubman declined to comment on the One Beacon Court listing, saying that her clients appreciate her discretion. She is also listing several other pricey apartments across the city, including a five-bedroom duplex at 158 Mercer Street for $42 million.

Raphael De Niro of Douglas Elliman, who with 22 listings worth $189.89 million moved to No. 7 from No. 20 last year, also heads a team. De Niro joined Elliman in 2004, and said he has been building up his team ever since. It’s now grown to seven other agents, including his wife, Claudine.

“I’ve been selective with who I bring on to the team,” De Niro said. “There hasn’t been a lot of turnover, and I haven’t added additional people in a while.”

The team nearly doubled the value of its listings in the past year, which De Niro attributes to its focus on exclusives.

“I’ve put an emphasis for myself and my team to become listing agents, and focus on winning every pitch,” De Niro said. “We take those really seriously, and pull out all the stops.”

De Niro made headlines last July when he and fellow Elliman broker Victoria Logvinsky listed developer Steven Klar’s penthouse at CitySpire for $100 million, a record-high asking price for Manhattan at the time. The unit was taken off the market in January, and has since resurfaced. It is now listed with Klar’s Long Island brokerage, Klar Realty.

“Douglas Elliman, they definitely did promote it well,” Klar told The Real Deal last month. But after the exclusive expired, he decided that he would let Klar Realty “take a shot at it.”

De Niro said the highly publicized listing, which was widely criticized as being grossly overpriced, was something of a mixed blessing.

“My name went around the world in the course of weeks, and I don’t know if that would have happened any other way,” De Niro said. “Some might say it hurt my reputation in certain ways. Others say, ‘no press is bad press.’ The jury is still out.”

Another top team is Corcoran’s Carrie Chiang Group. The team, which includes Janet Wang, Richard Phan and Julian Berkeley, had 52 listings worth $258.18 million — putting Chiang in the No. 4 spot, down from No. 2 last year.

Chiang rarely speaks to the press and declined to be interviewed for this story. But her team is listing NFL president David Seldin’s townhouse at 131 East 64th Street for $19.9 million, a townhouse at 120 East 71st Street for $16.9 million and two penthouses at the Cassa Hotel and Residences at 70 West 45th Street for $20.3 million and $16 million, respectively.

For years, Chiang battled Elliman’s Dolly Lenz for the No. 1 spot on TRD’s top agents list. This year, Lenz fell from No. 4 to No. 8 in the rankings, with 11 listings worth $175.88 million.

Lenz, who did not respond to requests for comment, is co-listing a full-floor unit at the Sherry Netherland with Brown Harris Stevens’ Kathy Sloane for $95 million, and a penthouse at 1 East 62nd Street for $29.5 million.
New to the top 10 this year is Dan Neiditch, president of the boutique firm River 2 River Realty. Neiditch moved to No. 9 with $168.3 million in listings, up from No. 23 last year.

Neiditch said he started his firm about 10 years ago as a branch of his family’s real estate firm, which manages and owns buildings. The seven-agent brokerage handles rentals and sales at the Atelier at 635 West 42nd Street, where its headquarters are located and where Neiditch has been president of the building’s condo board for the past seven years.

Neiditch is currently listing a block of nine apartments at the building with an asking price of $85 million. If combined as advertised, the units would become a 10,000-square-foot apartment spanning the entire 45th floor of the Atelier.

While most of his listings are at the Atelier, Neiditch does have listings in other buildings. In November, for example, Neiditch sold beer heiress Daphne Guinness’s apartment at the former Stanhope hotel at 995 Fifth Avenue for $11.3 million.

Rounding out the top 10 is Elliman’s Leonard Steinberg, with $139.93 million in listings. Steinberg started the LuxuryLoft team 11 years ago, with fellow agent Hervé Senequier and an assistant. Now, the team has 10 members.

“As much as there was something wonderful about being on my own, there’s something to be said about having a team to support you, and to work together to make things better,” said Steinberg, whose team also ranked No. 10 last year. “I think it’s been very successful.”

Steinberg is currently listing a mansion at 144 Duane Street in Tribeca for $49.5 million, and an apartment at 40 Bond Street for $26 million. And along with De Niro, Steinberg and his team are handling sales at the new condo development 150 Charles Street. (However, due to the lack of public listings at the building, none of the units were counted in TRD’s rankings.) Steinberg said he’s been working on marketing 150 Charles Street for five years.

“I really dedicated myself to 150 Charles Street,” Steinberg said. “While everyone says we’ve been this overnight success … there were five years of meetings and product planning and tweaking the product again and again. It was pretty intense.”

You Are Never Going to be as Pretty as 241 Fifth Avenue

Buzz Buzz NewsJune 06, 2013
The force of fabulosity is strong at NoMad’s 241 Fifth Avenue, which held its official launch event yesterday.

The 46-unit, 20-story building designed by ODA Architecture hit 20 percent sold a week after its April sales kickoff. Available residences at the Victor Homes project range from a 511-square-foot studio asking $950,000 to a 3,080-square-foot, three-bedroom penthouse asking $7.95 million.

The interiors are heavily influenced by sharp and airy Danish Modern design; the apartments have white oak flooring, oversized windows, open-flow living rooms and kitchens with stone slab countertops and Miele appliances. The bathrooms are fitted with deep soaking tubs, glass-enclosed showers with solid teak details and fixtures from the Zucchetti-Kos Faraway collection.

Real Estate Heavyweights Turn Out For CORE Fête

The Real DealJune 06, 2013
Real estate players from Andrew Heiberger of Town Residential to Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International came to celebrate CORE’s official launch of its new development at 241 Fifth Avenue last night.

Over an array of summery hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and Champagne, real estate execs and brokers scoped out one of the penthouses at the 46-unit new development in NoMad between East 27th and East 28th streets. CORE CEO Shaun Osher was spotted mingling with Heiberger, while folks from developer Victor Homes and ODA Architecture also made an appearance.

The penthouse hit the market yesterday for $7.95 million, along with another penthouse asking $6.95 million. The rest of the available units in the building range from $1.2 million for a one-bedroom and $3.1 million for a three-bedroom, according to StreetEasy. According to a CORE spokesperson, the building is already over 70 percent in signed and pending contracts.

As previously reported, Victor Homes raised prices in the building by 20 percent.

Who’s Who: Keren Ringler

Brokers WeeklyJune 05, 2013
Keren Ringler has joined the ranks of CORE after a career in the field of medical science. Ringler spent 13 years at Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, where her research was clinically applied in the development of new therapeutic drugs. She holds a graduate degree in Chemistry, a Masters in Medical Science and she has finished three years of her PhD in Medical Science, specializing in Molecular Genetics. Originally from South Africa, Ringler’s background and experience enable her to interact with people of diverse cultures and effectively service domestic and international clientele.

What’s Up Doc?

SCENE MagazineJune 05, 2013
SCENE hosted a luncheon at One Museum Mile to honor Joanne L. Stone, MD and Keith A. Eddleman, MD from the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science of Mount Sinai Hospital. Friends, family and colleagues gathered to recognize the two doctors and their many accomplishments and contributions to the medical field.

Done Deals: 456 W 19th Street, 6B/7B

Brokers WeeklyJune 05, 2013
CHELSEA
456 W 19th St, 6B/7B
$1,925,000

Duplex one-bedroom loft that’s part of a limited collection of 22 duplex homes in full-service building designed and developed by Cary Tamarkin. 20 ft. ceilings, casement windows and open northern views. 1,129 s/f loft has open kitchen and built-in pantry, two full baths, 10-inch white oak flooring, washer/dryer, UV blocking glass and a water-filtration system. Storage unit included. Asking price: $1,975,000. CC: $1,240. On the Market: 2 weeks. Brokers: Jarrod Randolph, CORE; Joseph Gomez, TOWN.

New Listings: 26 East 63rd, 10AB

Brokers WeeklyJune 05, 2013
Reba Miller at CORE has just listed Upper East Side loft for $7.5 million. The three bedroom, 2-bath loft at 26 East 63rd Street “is unparalleled in the marketplace,” said Miller. The 1901 Beaux arts condo is one block from Central Park. The “triple mint condition” home has a 47 ft. living room/dining room area and is “perfect for entertaining or hosting one’s collection of art.” Oversized windows capture views of Central Park from every room. The ceilings are 11 ft. and there is wood paneling throughout, central air conditioning and a master suite with den and en suite marble bath. The full service, 60-unit building has a doorman and elevator.

The Thousand List

Real Trends / The Wall Street JournalJune 01, 2013

For 2012, The Walker Team ranked 27 of out 1,000 in teams by volume in the tri-state area and ranked 146 out of 10,000+ in teams by volume nationwide.

Housing Prop: Faux Furniture

The Wall Street JournalMay 31, 2013
To help sell homes faster, some brokers turn to an illusion: origami-style, pop-up furniture.

Home-stager Douglas Pinter, foreground, of informed Space, and his associate, Michael Smith, put together origami-like furniture to stage an apartment for show in New York.

Mr. Pinter’s entire line of furniture is an illusion. All of his contemporary pieces are made of polypropylene, a lightweight material similar to what’s used to make milk cartons. Here, Mr. Smith puts together some of the faux furniture.

“I can bring a two-bedroom apartment up in four nylon bags,” said Mr. Pinter. The polypropylene furniture can be folded flat and then installed in a matter of hours. He recently staged this three-bedroom apartment on the north end of Central Park in New York.
The apartment is expected to come on the market for about $2 million, said Mark Reznik of A&I Broadway Realty. “But we expect bids to come in much higher,” he said.

Another apartment staged by informed Space is shown.

Of about seven listings that informed Space has staged so far, a $925,000 unit is in contract, and another sold for almost $1.3 million. Shown her is a staged bedroom designed by the company.

“I see this as a phenomenon of a market that’s waking up,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. Mr. Miller said these kinds of novel approaches to real-estate marketing pop up at the beginning of every new development boom cycle, as in the early 2000s. An informed Space chair is shown.

This New York apartment staged by informed Space recently sold for just under $1.3 million. The listing agent, Tom Postilio of CORE, said this unit was in contract just a day after the staging. “We really felt it helped,” Mr. Postilio said.

NextStage Furniture, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., created collapsible cardboard furniture with slipcovers for homes mostly in the $300,000 range. A photo of some of the cardboard pieces without fabric slip covers is shown.

The same cardboard furniture, here with fabric slipcovers, is shown. Kevin Nielsen, a co-owner of NextStage Furniture, said sales are picking up and Web traffic to his site is rising. A ‘starter kit,’ including a sofa, dining table and queen-size bed, costs about $600 before shipping.

The faux electronics business also is enjoying a boost from the housing market’s gains. A fake-flat screen TV built by Taiwan-based Real Electronic Propers is shown in a staged living room. A room staged by Kelly Young Design Associates based in Plantation, Fla., is shown. The prop television is shown at center.

In a Seller’s Market, Every Minute Counts

The New York TimesMay 31, 2013
If there was any doubt that New York City real estate has become a seller’s market, consider the following: open houses are packed to capacity, bidding wars and all-cash offers have almost become the norm, and some listing prices actually rise, not drop, after a home is listed.

“It’s the kind of insanity you live for in this business,” said Mickey Conlon, a broker with CORE, recalling a two-bedroom two-bath condominium at 49 East 21st Street in the Flatiron neighborhood that he listed with his business partner, Tom Postilio, for $1.89 million in early January.

“At the moment, that was considered aggressive pricing,” Mr. Conlon said. Yet within 24 hours, the brokers had received a flurry of requests to see the place, which prompted them to be bold. The next day they raised the price by $100,000, to $1.99 million. Though some potential buyers grumbled about the change, about 100 people came to the first open house. Soon, there were multiple offers above the asking price. By the end of January, there was a signed contract for $2.16 million — all cash. The sale closed in April.

The rules of engagement for buying an apartment in the city have changed. Negotiation, brokers say, is no longer part of the equation. Forget about taking time to mull over your decision. Serious buyers need to be prepared to pounce. And while lots of cash has always helped, it’s now more important than ever, as sellers select the best offers with the least amount of hassle involved.
Not that sellers can name just any price. Brokers caution that even in this market of extremely tight inventory, listings priced too high tend to linger, and low prices intended to bring the biggest crowds through the door could result in lowball offers. There is an art to choosing the right price.

While housing prices across the country recently posted their biggest gains in seven years, New York City’s market has been experiencing a slow and steady recovery ever since the market hit bottom in 2009.

More recently, scarce apartment listings and low mortgage rates have stoked competition among buyers and driven up prices. The number of Manhattan apartments for sale dropped 27.6 percent last month, to 5,077, versus 7,011 for the same period a year ago, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. At the same time, prices have inched up. The median sale price rose 12 percent to $930,000, from $829,000 a year ago, according to the most recent available data for the second quarter, which began on April 1. That follows a 5.9 percent year-over-year increase in the median sale price, to $820,555, in the first three months of the year.

Apartments are going into contract at a faster pace, with listings lasting 105 days on the market, down from 156 a year ago, according to Miller Samuel. In popular neighborhoods like the West Village, it’s not uncommon for sought-after properties to go into contract well above the asking price in the head-spinning span of 10 days or less. Brokers are fueling the frenzy, turning open houses into pressure cookers, with tactics like one-day-only showings and short deadlines set for best and final offers.

Yet for the tenacious buyer, it is still possible to land an apartment without offering a pound of flesh.

After losing one place in a bidding war and another because he waited a week to make up his mind, Shamoun Afram, a program manager at an investment bank in Manhattan, kicked his search for a one-bedroom condo into high gear and homed in on the Orion, a modern high-rise condominium in Midtown. In January he toured about 10 units there with the help of his real estate agent, Patrick Mills of CORE, and he was about to sign a contract on an apartment slightly above his $1 million sweet spot when he noticed a new listing on Streeteasy.com late on a Tuesday.

The next morning he was on the phone with his broker to see if he could get in to see the apartment that day, but it wasn’t being shown until Thursday. “I knew I had to make a decision fast,” Mr. Afram said. He put in an offer that day, sight unseen, at the full asking price of $999,000. “We decided, let’s just be cavalier about it,” Mr. Mills added. The offer was accepted on Wednesday; on Thursday they toured the apartment; and on Friday they signed the contract.

But that didn’t stem a wave of interest in the apartment. “After we had the contract out, people started to call,” said Sarah Son, a broker at Keller Williams Realty who represented the seller. “Even after we told them we had a signed contract,” she said, “they kept trying to make us an offer. It was really crazy.”

In a highly competitive market, where cash is king, here is what you need to do to buy an apartment in the city.

REFRESH, REFRESH, REFRESH. With prime listings being snapped up, the faster you get to an apartment the better. Web sites including nytimes.com/realestate, Streeteasy.com and Zillow.com eliminate some of the work by automating your search. Apartment hunters can save search criteria, and the sites will e-mail new listings that meet their requirements.

DON’T WAIT FOR THE OPEN HOUSE. “If you can’t see an apartment the first week it is on the market,” said Doug Perlson, the chief executive of the online brokerage RealDirect, “there is a good chance you will not even get a chance to make an offer. Schedule a showing during the week before the first open house and use the open house for your second visit. Then you should be ready to make your offer.”

FORGET ABOUT GETTING A DEAL. The conventional wisdom over the last few years has been to come in at 5 percent below the asking price when making an initial offer. That won’t fly for attractive listings that are particularly scarce, especially if they are priced fairly. “Give the full price with no contingencies and leave that offer on the table for 24 hours,” said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of CORE. “You want to let the seller know that you’re really serious, that you really want the property, but you’re not going to let them use you as bait to get a higher offer.”

DON’T DELAY. Being the first to make a solid offer can give you an edge. When a one-bedroom two-bath unit at the Memphis Downtown Condominium in the West Village drew more than 100 people to its first open house, Adolfo Brenes and Lena Datwani of Bellmarc Realty knew they had to act quickly on behalf of the buyer they were representing. They submitted an all-cash offer at the full asking price of $1.65 million. The next day they received a call from the seller’s broker informing them that two other full-price all-cash offers had been made. “Because we were first,” Mr. Brenes said, “the seller was giving us the chance to come up to $1.8 million to take it off the market.” Having been outbid for other West Village apartments at the full asking price, the buyer decided to meet the seller’s increased price. They closed the deal in April. A few weeks later, a similar apartment four floors above was listed at $2.1 million.

BE THOROUGH. A well-prepared offering package can be a leg up for buyers. When submitting an offer on behalf of her clients for a two-bedroom in Carnegie Hill recently, Lisa Larson, a Warburg Realty associate broker, “prepared the buyers’ financial statement, as well as a short bio, as this was a co-op and we also needed to show that they would pass the board’s approval process. We also presented the offer as all-cash and agreed to sign the contract in five days.” Her clients, she said, were recently approved by the board.

RAISE YOUR DOWN PAYMENT. Thirty or 35 percent down is the new 20 percent, brokers say. In a rising market, appraisals tend to lag behind asking prices because they are based on past sales of comparable apartments. Banks will not lend more than the appraised amount, so buyers need to come up with more cash to make up the difference. “The stronger offers are the ones putting down more money,” said Josh Scheier, a public defender with the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn who was recently in the enviable position of choosing among 30 offers for the two-bedroom two-bath co-op in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, that he and his wife, Anat Soudry, listed in April for $699,000. After winnowing the possibilities down to two of the highest offers — both of which were more than 20 percent above the asking price — Mr. Scheier said the decision came down to who was “less of a risk” if the apartment were to appraise for less. The winner offered to put 50 percent down and had more money left over after the purchase.

BEWARE MORTGAGE CONTINGENCIES. With demand high, fewer sellers are willing to accept contingencies, and desperate buyers may feel pressed to waive the mortgage contingency and risk losing the typical 10 percent deposit, in order to have a shot at an apartment. But unless you have the cash to cover your losses, it’s not a good idea. Without a contingency, you will lose your deposit if the appraisal comes in low and you are unable to make up the difference, or if the bank finds something wrong with the building and will not lend the money.

NEGOTIATE THE CONTINGENCY. Christopher Kromer of Halstead Property and his business partner, Nora Ariffin, recently found something of a middle ground. The buyer they represented wasn’t comfortable making his offer of $1.7 million for a two-bedroom in TriBeCa without a mortgage contingency, and the seller was concerned that a low appraisal could ruin the deal. “What I suggested is that we present our offer with a 70 percent contingency, while reserving the right to finance 80 percent,” Mr. Kromer said.  “This is essentially telling the seller that the buyer will put down 30 percent if the bank requires it, but he is also reserving the right to put down 20 percent if allowed.”  This addressed the seller’s concerns while creating a 10 percent cushion for the buyer.

SET YOUR ULTIMATE PRICE. If a bidding war ensues, buyers will need to have a “walkaway number,” Mr. Kromer said. Mr. Conlon of CORE put it this way: “Think of it like anything else you are going to buy or like something on eBay. What is the number you are willing to go up to and be able to sleep at night?”

SIGN YOUR CONTRACT QUICKLY. A year ago, buyers could take as much as two to three weeks for due diligence and negotiation before signing a contract. “Today’s sellers are less patient and may pull a deal from a buyer that is taking too long,” said Mr. Perlson of RealDirect. “Also, since there is nothing binding until a contract is signed, we have seen very aggressive buyers try to steal a deal by offering an amount significantly above ask to try to get the seller to switch buyers.” Ethical brokers, he added, will not abandon an accepted offer, but if it takes too long, they will go to their backup faster than in the past.

Residential Houses of the Week: 240 W 23rd Street

New York PostMay 30, 2013
Chelsea $1.575 million
Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2
Square feet: 1,600
Maintenance: $2,437

Though set “in the heart” of the neighborhood, on West 23rd Street, this duplex loft co-op is quite “serene,” with high ceilings, hardwood floors and a balcony on each level. There’s a “beautiful” chef’s kitchen, and the second-level master suite features a wall of built-ins. Agent: Maggie Kent, CORE, 646-342-0698

Who’s Who: Steve Snider

Real Estate WeeklyMay 29, 2013
Veteran broker Steve Snider recently joined the ranks for CORE. Snider has practiced real estate in several states across the country, including Florida, Minnesota and New York, as well as across the globe in Mozambique, where he used real estate as a way to create local jobs and encourage sustainable change. He also has extensive background in working with investment properties and as a contractor in Minnesota, where he rehabbed more than 50 homes. Raised in the Midwest, Snider attended Miami University, where he studied Political Science. He also attended Christian Cincinnati University, where he earned a major in Theology and Biblical Studies. He speaks Portuguese and English.

House of the Day: A Colorful New York Pied-a-Terre

The Wall Street JournalMay 29, 2013
Price: $2,425,000
Location: Sutton Place, NY

A couple based in Palm Beach, Florida, used bright colors in the interior design of their Manhattan pied-a-terre, including custom-made wallpaper for their entry gallery depicting a tropical scene.

Jeffrey and Katy Amling purchased a two-bedroom apartment on the 12th floor of this co-op building on Sutton Place South in 2006 for $.178 million, according to public records. The building was designed by Rosario Candela in 1927. The Italian-American architect designed a number of apartment buildings with intricate facades across the city during the 1920s.

The lobby of the building features inlaid marble floors. The couple is based in Palm Beach, Fla., and has a three-year-old son. Mr. Amling worked in investment banking for 25 years and is now a financial advisor, and Ms. Amling is a gemologist and formerly worked for Tiffany & Co. The couple owned a smaller apartment in the building prior to purchasing their current one.

To contrast with bad-weather days when New York felt dreary and gray, Ms. Amling decided to decorate the apartment with bold, bright colors. The entrance gallery of the apartment features custom handmade wallpaper commissioned from Fromental, a wallpaper and fabric company in the U.K.

The couple was inspired by wallpaper created by Zubeer & Cie, a French company founded in the 18th century that specializes in panoramic wallpaper. Mr. Amling liked the architectural feaures in their panels while Ms. Amling liked the animals. Fromental custom-made the wallpaper based on the couples individuals tastes at an estimated cost of $50,000, says Ms. Amling. “It turned out so much better than be expected,” says Ms. Amling. “It’s just tropical, it sort of reminds you of Florida,” she says. “You feel like you’ve been taken away to some exotic locale.”

The gallery wallpaper also incorporated other colors used throughout the home, such as the salmon pink shown her in the living room, and shades of green, blue, and tan. “I wanted to walk into a happy, lively space,” says Ms. Amling. “I refer to us as eccentric preppies. We’re pretty traditional,” she says, but “we’re a little wilder with colors than you’d normally expect in a traditional home.”

The couple turned to Florida-based interior designed Patrick Killian for help renovating and outfitting the home. Mr. Killian has worked with the couple on other properties and says the color sused in the apartment are “invigorating.” The use of upholstered furniture creates a sense of Southern hospitality, reflective of Ms. Amling’s roots in Virginia, where she grew up, he says. “There are very few colors she dislikes,” Mr. Killian says of Ms. Amling.

Here, the family room. Before decorating the space, the couple did a gut renovation of the home that took about one year. They installed new wiring, plumbing, windows and air conditioning, put in new appliances and refinished the oak herringbone and parquet floors. They also removed and refinished the original doors and hardware of the apartment. They redid the bathrooms and the kitchen, trying to use elements that were consistent with when the building was built such as a vintage 1920s fireplace mantelpiece purchased from William Jackson, a New York store specializing in antique fireplaces.

Here, the kitchen. The approximately 1,600-square-foot apartment has two bedrooms and two ½ bathrooms. While the couple did not change the footprint of the apartment in the gut renovation, they did enlarge the openings between rooms and converted one full bathroom to a half bathroom off the kitchen to enlarge the space. “That was important, to not be closed off while booking,” Ms. Amling says. The kitchen has a sub-zero Wolf refrigerator that had to be dismantles before being brought up to the apartment.

The walls of both bedrooms in the home have hand painted glazing and the master bedroom, pictured, has views of the East River.
A view of the East River from the master bedroom is shown here. Ms. Amling describes the neighborhood as “quiet and nice,” close to Sutton Place Park and Peter Detmold Park with “a lot of wonderful restaurants,” she says. “It’s a very polite, friendly neighborhood.”
Here, the master bedroom. The couple is selling because “our life has changed since having a three-year-old,” says Ms. Amling, and they are not travelling to New York City often enough to merit having the space. They will continue to maintain a home in Saratoga Springs, New York.

A second bathroom in the unit is pictured. Ms. Amling says she will miss the “brightness of the space.” The home is being sold unfurnished but the couple is open to queries on furnishings currently in the apartment. The property was listed in April with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Lawrence Treglia of CORE Real Estate for slightly under $2.5 million.

New Listings: 159 West 24th Street

Brokers WeeklyMay 29, 2013
This one-of-a-kind, sun-splashed, loft penthouse at 159 West 24th Street in Chelsea has its own ground-floor interior parking space and a private landscaped terrace with a barbeque grill, irrigated watering system and custom lighting. The loft conversion was created by the award-winning designer Gustavo Martiniz and has an open floor plan that flows between interior/exterior spaces, making it perfect for entertaining, says listing broker Michael Graves at CORE. The two bedroom, 2-bath penthouse in The Carriage House has an interior/exterior surround sound system, skylights, white oak floor and built-ins, a Wolf gas cool top and convection wall ovens, dishwasher and radiant heated floors. The asking price is $3,950,000.

Rental of the Day: 99 Gold Street, #3L

BrownstonerMay 28, 2013
This one-bedroom apartment at 99 Gold Street, one of the few new developments in Vinegar Hill, is asking $4,000 a month. That’s a lot of money, but the apartment looks well maintained and is large at 1,072 square feet. We could see that price flying for a nice, big one-bedroom in Dumbo, but do you think it makes sense a few blocks north?

The Year of Pricing Audaciously

The New York TimesMay 28, 2013
Early last year, the virtual sales center at One57 set the tone for a year of astronomical listings in the high-end residential real estate market.

Billionaires found the green-carpet views of Central Park — meticulously captured by a remote-control helicopter — to be irresistible.

Gary Barnett, the president of the Extell Development Company, announced sales of full-floor apartments for more than $50 million apiece in the unfinished building, later confirming that the duplex penthouse and an even larger duplex 14 floors below had each gone into contract for more than $90 million.

Success begat boldness. And boldness begat listings like the penthouse at CitySpire, which at $100 million is now perceived as the highest F.S.B.O. listing in New York history, although the owner, Steven Klar, has listed the property with his own brokerage. The sales contract that Mr. Klar, who is also a developer, signed with Douglas Elliman and its brokers Raphael De Niro and Victoria Logvinsky, has expired, and now Mr. Klar is trying to sell the 8,000-square-foot octagonal residence himself. (An Elliman spokeswoman had no comment this week on whether any serious offers had ever been received.)

New York was not alone. In Miami, owners and their agents took their cues from the frenzy seizing Manhattan. The developer Bruce Eichner listed his penthouse at the Continuum for $39 million. The telecom mogul Peter T. Loftin listed Casa Casuarina, the former Gianni Versace mansion, for $125 million, dropping the price five months later to $100 million. The buyers of Mr. Loftin’s 23,000-square-foot spread on Ocean Drive will have to tangle with a pile of litigation; the latest suit, from Barton G. Weiss, the restaurateur who has been operating the property as a hotel, revealed that the 54-foot mosaic-tiled swimming pool lined in 24-carat gold was never approved for use by hotel guests.

None of those properties have sold yet. And others with eye-popping price tags in Manhattan, including co-ops at the Sherry-Netherland and the Pierre, as well as Leroy Schecter’s combo unit at 15 Central Park West (recently reduced to $85 million from $95 million), continue to collect dust waiting for a trophy collector.

If there is a defining feature of the last year, it is that the mania over listing prices for trophy properties was built on a mirage of big sales creating new comps in the market. Consider that in Manhattan only one monster sale above $80 million — the $88 million sale of a penthouse at 15 Central Park West — has actually been recorded as a sale so far. The others are contracts that could be torn up if the prospective buyers somehow change their minds.

Which isn’t to say that extremely wealthy people aren’t paying extraordinary prices for amazing apartments in New York and Miami. It’s just that the mega-rich in both cities are gravitating not to resales, but to spectacular new penthouses designed with them in mind.

Properties like the duplex penthouses at Ian Schrager’s Residences at the Miami Beach Edition, which sold as a package for $34 million (or $3,800 a square foot, a new Miami Beach record), or the penthouse at 432 Park Avenue, which the developer Harry Macklowe said is under contract for $95 million, continue to prove the point.

“The only properties that are getting these numbers are new development projects, and those can’t be confirmed until the year after when they close,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, a property appraiser. “So in many ways this is a phenomenon that is hard to document or prove. However, it has launched the next wave of development.”

And that new wave of development, in New York, at least, is focused almost entirely on the top 10 percent of the market, Mr. Miller said, as developers feel pressured to build luxury units to justify soaring land prices.

Still, it may well be that the trophy property craze spawned a wave of transactions for more modest — believe it or not — $20 million and $30 million apartments.

“When we look back,” Mr. Miller said, “the legacy of this period is going to be that it jump-started with a handful of trophy property sales that led the way for a lot of top-tiered transactions that we haven’t seen in the last two or three decades. The trophy sales broke the ice.”
The same can be said of Miami, where the going rate for trophy penthouses climbed above $3,000 a square-foot this past year, driven by the boldness of Mr. Schrager and other developers reacting to an influx of prospective buyers from Brazil, Russia and China.

“Everywhere there is a grand property, we have these great buyers, and there is no end to them,” said Mark Zilbert, the president of the Zilbert Realty Group in Miami Beach.

What is attracting wealthy buyers to Miami, Mr. Zilbert said, are quality buildings with grand spaces, like Edition, 1000 Museum and even Related’s recently announced Marea, a six-story building with only partial views of the ocean and bay where buyers have nevertheless already reserved about half of the 30 units.

“It is sort of build it, they will come,” Mr. Zilbert said. “We didn’t have this a few years ago. But now developers are building these exceptional properties.”

But not all properties are created equal. And some, like Casa Casuarina, are saddled with complications. It’s tough enough that it sits on a touristy stretch of Ocean Drive and has no parking — not exactly the kind of privacy and exclusivity the superwealthy demand these days.

Mr. Versace was killed outside the entrance gate in 1997. Mr. Loftin bought the property in 2000, initially living in it and running it as a members-only club. Then, faced with impending foreclosure and eviction, he invited Mr. Weiss in 2009 to open a Barton G. restaurant on the property and to run it as a high-end hotel and event site. Last summer Mr. Loftin decided to sell, inflaming Mr. Weiss, who had a lease to operate his business there until 2019.

Mr. Weiss’s business, 1116 Ocean Drive L.L.C., filed suit earlier this month, saying Mr. Loftin misled him and had not told him that the mansion’s swimming pool was not approved by the state of Florida for hotel use. (A few months after Mr. Weiss signed the lease, the state required that a “no swimming” sign be posted at the pool, meaning guests paying upward of $2,250 a night were not allowed to swim there.)

Adam J. Steinberg, Mr. Loftin’s attorney, called the suit “baseless” and said that Casa Casuarina had “provided a tremendous amount of slack to Barton G.’s company to comply with the lease.” He said Mr. Weiss never made an issue of guests not being able to use the pool.
Until this week, I viewed Casa Casuarina as a symbol of the irrational exuberance that permeated the highest end of residential real estate the past year, despite it being listed by the prominent Coldwell Banker agents Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, known as “The Jills.”
Earlier this month, Mr. Loftin said that he expected the property to sell “soon.” “We have had some very good offers and have some very good prospects,” he said.

Then on Tuesday night, Mr. Loftin sent out a press release announcing that the price of Casa Casuarina was being lowered again, to $75 million — a 40 percent price drop in 11 months in a supposedly red-hot Miami market. Mr. Weiss plans to leave the property by the end of the month, so “the timing is now perfect for a quick and easy sale,” Mr. Steinberg said in the statement.

So maybe the 10-bedroom, 11-bath home has turned into something else: the first sign that owners shooting for the moon are finally letting some of the air out of the balloon, and floating gently back to earth.

New York’s Real Estate Power Brokers: Part I

The Steeple TimesMay 25, 2013
In the first of a series, Oliver Estreich profiles New York’s top realtors.

Emily and Elizabeth Beare

Mother and daughter duo Emily and Elizabeth Beare work together at CORE and are considered “go-to specialists for clients seeking to navigate the Manhattan luxury residential sector.”

Before becoming involved in the world of real estate, Emily Beare ran a successful watch business and had a career in trading gold on the commodities exchange.

Elizabeth Beare worked in fashion and public relations prior to joining her mother and brother, David, at CORE as a Sales Associate. She is said to be “business savvy,” has a great “flair for design” and currently lives in Greenwich Village.

Emily and Elizabeth Beare’s current listings include 407 East 75th Street, Upper East Side, New York – $12,500,000

- A 25-foot wide, four-story 8,475 square foot townhouse that was originally built as a carriage house.
- Accommodation includes 6 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms.
- Previously owned by a world-renowned photographer, the property also includes an all-white gallery space, a light-filled private studio and a basement darkroom.
- Landscaped garden and terrace.

Just Sold: 350 West 42nd Street, 44F

New York PostMay 23, 2013
Manhattan
CLINTON $999,000
350 West 42nd Street
One-bedroom, one-bath condo, 768 square feet, with granite kitchen with Bosch appliances, Waterworks/Kohler marble bath and floor-to-ceiling windows; Orion building features doorman, gym, pool, sun decks, sauna and free breakfast. Common charges $770, taxes $410. Asking price $999,000, on market one week. Brokers: Sarah Son, Keller Williams and Patrick Mills, CORE.

Done Deals: Mercer Mission

Brokers WeeklyMay 22, 2013
Sometimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

When their doorman tipped them off that a bigger apartment in their building at 250 Mercer was about to go up for sale, a couple jumped at the chance to buy it.

They paid $50,000 over the $1.45 million asking price to nab the two-bedroom before it even went on the market.

Lawrence Treglia, an agent at CORE, said the couple moved into their one-bedroom at 250 Mercer in 2002. Two kids later, they were about to go into contract on a two bedroom in the East Village, when the doorman let the big news slip.

Everything about the 16-story property had endeared them to try to stay – a 24-hour doorman, live-in super, common courtyard, rooftop deck.

Their new two bedroom not only gives them the extra space they needed for their family, it has the beamed ceilings, oversized windows, large living and dining area and the character of a downtown loft that they loved about their old home.

Elizabeth Pizzuli of Corcoran represented the seller.

One Museum Mile Announces 25 New Sales in Past Three Months

citybizlistMay 20, 2013
Residential Condominium at 1280 Fifth Avenue on Central Park Reaches 70 Percent Closed and in Contract

One Museum Mile, the new residential condominium located at 1280 Fifth Avenue on Central Park in Manhattan, has recorded 25 new sales in the past three months, announced CORE, the exclusive sales and marketing firm for the building. One Museum Mile is now 70 percent closed and in contract.

Recent sales include apartment 11B, which closed for the highest price per square foot ever achieved for an apartment in the neighborhood. The three-bedroom residence sold for $3.565 million, or $2,030 per square foot. The asking price was $3.65 million for the apartment, which includes a private terrace on Central Park.

“Interest in One Museum Mile is continuing to grow with buyers who appreciate the building’s high-end amenities, sweeping Central Park vistas and exceptional design, all at good value,” stated Tom Postilio, Managing Director of CORE.

Remaining residences for sale include two-bedroom apartments from 1,284 square feet to 1,699 square feet, and three-bedrooms up to 2,118 square feet. Available combinations include a 3,619-square-foot, six-bedroom residence, and a sprawling eight-bedroom, 4,892- square-foot home.

The 116 residential interiors at One Museum Mile were created by Andre Kikoski, who also designed the award-winning restaurant The Wright at the Guggenheim. Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, served as design architect for the building. SLCE Architects served as architect-of-record. Manhattan-based real estate private equity firm Brickman is the developer of One Museum Mile.

Amenities include a 24-hour full-service concierge, landscaped roof terrace, rooftop pool and terrace overlooking Central Park, fitness center with terrace, and a residents’ lounge with fireplace. There is also a media lounge and card room, children’s playroom, teen game room, formal conference and dining room on Central Park, on-site parking, bicycle room, cold storage in the lobby, and private storage. A 421a tax abatement is in place.

Each apartment at One Museum Mile features an open kitchen and breakfast bar, Bosch dishwasher, Thermador stainless steel oven, cooktop and refrigerator, and a Bosch washer and dryer.

About CORE: CORE is a real estate sales and marketing firm delivering the best in brokerage, communications and advisory services for the luxury residential segment. In addition, CORE’s elite group of highly experienced and successful professionals service developers who value efficient, no-nonsense results. CORE was founded by Shaun Osher as a full-service boutique firm with a strict adherence to the principles of integrity, efficiency and results. For more information, visit www.corenyc.com.

Top Residential Agents of the Week

The Real DealMay 17, 2013
Ryan Fitzpatrick of CORE sold 323 West 19th Street for $7,180,000.

Residential Sales Around the Region

The New York TimesMay 17, 2013
Upper East Side
25 East 77th Street, The Mark
$6,975,925

Residential Houses of the Week: 122 West Street, PHK

The New York PostMay 16, 2013
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
$1.5 million
Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2
Square feet: 1,250
Common charges: $1,150

This penthouse above West Street in the Pencil Factory condo building is a “stunning” duplex with three terraces, including a private, 1,000-square-foot rooftop space with “panoramic” views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. The interior features a gas fireplace and “luxurious” oak floors. Agents: Ivana Nikolic and Winchester Brown III, Core, 212-726-0756 and 212-500-2119
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