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Front Porch is a real estate company that wants you to know stuff. Really.

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Help! We’re moving to south Battery Park City. Where do we eat?

  1. Inatteso.

    From one of my clients: “Hubby and I loved Inatteso when we finally went a couple months ago. It had great atmosphere, food and wine, with a nice bar area. It was reasonably priced too. Everything else coming to mind in South BPC is very ho-hum.”

  2. Obao Water St.

    Since, as noted above, there isn’t much in South BPC, you’ll head east a lot. But there are restaurants there. From a friend of mine at the Daily News: “We’ve been down in the new office [at 4 New York Plaza] for a little while, and Obao is Michael Bao’s new noodle place. It’s great. I eat there once a week.”

  3. North End Grill.

    Heading north to “Triburbia” — the area of North BPC just south of Tribeca proper — is always an option too. And there’s a new Danny Meyer restaurant. “Upmarket comfort food” says Time Out.

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago at 1:53 pm.

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Can a condo owner sell while a tenant is in place? What happens to the tenant?

Thanks to streeteasy for this one. Usually the lease overrides but does not preclude the sale — so yes, the owner can sell, but then the new owner has to wait for the tenant’s lease to expire before moving in.

Posted 11 years, 6 months ago at 5:19 am.

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What’s the deal with the fourth quarter market numbers?

Hi All, Happy New Year! Below is the text of the first front_porch newsletter is a quick attempt to give you a little analysis of the New York City market reports that are coming out today.

* We’ve hit the stall, which can been seen because days on market lengthened significantly. According to the Miller Samuel Elliman report, average 3Q days on market were 134, 4Q days on market 159: There’s the September collapse of Lehman Brothers.

* Prices didn’t really rise as much as some reports say. The Halstead/BHS report shows a rise (you read that right) in median prices of 8%, but that’s really a change in mix as some more expensive apartments closed while starter buyers either waited on the sidelines or negotiated discounts. From the field, I can tell that you prices of $2 million apartments are near flattish, while prices of $500,000 apartments are probably down around 7%. If you don’t want to believe me, one of the best indicators ran in the New York Times on Sunday, which showed declines in the Chelsea Stratus of around 7% from 2007 to 2008.

* We are probably not all going to be living in boxes in 1Q 2009. We know that there are new condo buildings where buyers are not closing – I can think of two in the Financial District that are in trouble, and Brooklyn’s showplace One Hanson Place is renting units — but the numbers show the even post-Lehman, co-ops are continuing to resell, and many existing new condo contracts are continuing to close. In fact, average price per square foot dropped by less than one percent, from$1,193 in Q3 to $1,183 in Q4.

However, “listing discount” — which is one of my favorite stats, expanded from 2.6% in Q3 to 7.3% in Q4.  I think this is a sign of weakness in the quarter to come.

Most likely are continued single-digit price declines until market psychology changes — which means the Obama stimulus measures actually cause lenders to make mortgage money available again.

I’m moderating a panel called “Finding the Turnaround” with Jonathan Miller and four other economic gurus on Friday — part of the Inman Connect Conference. I encourage the press to attend, but I’ll also send out a note telling you what they said after.

Posted 11 years, 7 months ago at 2:34 pm.

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I just moved into a new place and I can’t get my sofa and queen bed into the apartment! What do I do?

Many movers will disassemble a sofa/cut it in half — we had it done, and they didn’t hurt the sofa, though they did kick over a can of Fresca onto the Oriental rug.

If you want somebody who specifically specializes, you can try Dr. Sofa, who has gotten decent press. Any competent upholsterer can do it too. The job will cost you a few hundred, but that’s cheaper than a new sofa.

For beds, someone recently told me that they disassembled their frame and then bought a TempurPedic mattress, which I thought was smart. When Ron Lieber reviewed mattresses in The Wall Street Journal, (sorry, still looking for the link) he noted a slight smell attached to the mattress initially, but no other problems.

Posted 11 years, 8 months ago at 11:01 am.

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How do I update a junky and disgusting kitchen floor?

Time Out New York came up with a great solution in the October 16th Home Design issue — install a portable dance floor from SnapLock over it.

It’s essentially tile like Flor tile, but with a little more pop — and, according to TONY, waterproof and thus suitable for a kitchen.

Writer Billie Cohen used SnapLock, which costs $5.99 per square-foot tile, plus $1.99 per linear-foot edging.

Posted 11 years, 10 months ago at 11:33 am.

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What does “agency” mean in real estate? Is a rental agent an agent of the renter, or of the landlord?

An “agent” is someone who you hire to work on your behalf.

An agency relationship is determined by written agreement, not by who pays compensation. So a rental agent is an agent of the landlord, not of the renter — even if the renter’s paying!

Why does this matter? Because you as a shopper want to know how much the agent is on “your side.” A good real estate agent will explain this concept to you — and what you can expect in terms of confidentiality, disclosure, etc. — at an early substantial contact, perhaps over coffee.

But if the agent doesn’t, remember this metaphor from Bill my real estate teacher: “When you walk into Barney’s and ask for a suit, the salesperson really wants to help you, but they still work for Barney’s.”

Posted 11 years, 10 months ago at 10:45 am.

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Are the current Wall Street layoffs the worst ever? What do they mean for the real estate market?

Let’s take a look at some historical data from the New York State Department of Labor:

Peak Date     Peak Employment     Trough Date     Trough Employment     Job Loss

Jul ‘69         111,600                            Oct ‘70               82,900                             25.7%

Jul ‘71           90,000                            Jan ‘75               65,300                             27.4%

Dec ‘87           163,000                        Oct ‘91                127,800                            21.6%

Dec ‘00           200,300                       Apr ‘03                159,000                          20.6%

Aug ‘07            191,800                        TBD                    TBD                                 TBD

Source: New York State Department of Labor. Current Economic Statistics Survey as Printed in “Employment in New York State” newsletter, July ‘08

If the current dropoff is in line with previous slumps, we should expect a loss of around 40,000-50,000 New York City Wall Street jobs.

That will obviously impact the housing market, though by how much is going to depend on other factors. Oldsters like me tie the NYC housing downturn of the late ’80s/early ’90s  — which was anecdotally 30-50% peak-to-trough, depending on what kind of building you lived in –  to simultaneous high interest rates.

We didn’t see that magnitude of price drop in 00/03, when Wall Street was suffering roughly equally but interest rates were “relatively” good.

Posted 11 years, 11 months ago at 9:37 am.

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How do I calculate the square footage of a listing?

This question came from streeteasy, where are a footsore buyer was protesting that seller’s brokers are overstating the square footage of a co-op listing.

Well, of course they are — we have a game that we play in our firm where we look at a floorplan, and say what we would estimate the square footage at, and then guess what competing firms would estimate the square footage at (hint: it’s always higher).

Here’s my full streeteasy post:

From a real estate agent:

shoppers use stated square footage for their “first cull” — so there’s been persistent inflation. It’s like dating, would you go on a blind date with someone who is “kind of cute?” Of course not, because in blind-dating world, everyone is “really hot.”

For years, this wasn’t a problem because brokers didn’t give out co-op square footage. Once they did, and someone moved an apartment up from 750 to 800 and started getting better traffic because of it, the floodgates were opened . ..

To correct for this inflation, you as a shopper should do two things:

1) You shouldn’t bypass listings that have lower stated square footage. It’s possible that those brokers are just less inflationary.

2) Later in the process, once you have found three or four apartments you like, walk yourself over to Staples and spend three or four bucks on a pad of graph paper.

Draw the floorplan for each apartment on a separate piece of the graph paper, using a consistent scale.

Always start in the same corner.

That way, you can hold the floorplans up to the light against each other and get a “true” comparison.

This helps you adjust for the easy psychological trick that floorplans that are simply printed larger look more compelling!

ali r.
{downtown broker}

Posted 12 years ago at 10:50 am.

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What’s the average price of a studio in Chelsea?

This came in over the web and I thought it might be better with some real listings in addition to averages.


Cheapest studio:18th street walkup, main room 10 by 13, but bathtub and full-size refrigerator — $332K. www.barakny.com, #185017

A larger, but small, brownstone studio with W/D on 21st street (walkup, no dogs) — $449K. www.corcoran.com, #1270326

London Terrace (doorman co-op with pool) alcove studio. Floorplan is tough to read, but call the main area 20 by 13. Big bath with double sinks, jacuzzi — $525K. www.corcoran.com, #915017

Jumbo studio in the Vermeer (doorman co-op, requires 25% down). Main room is 20 by 30 with a Murphy bed, you have a real kitchen and lots of real closets — $599K. www.halstead.com, #297820


Cheapest condo: West 23rd Street studio with Pullman-style (appliances against a wall, not in a separate room, in this case in the hallway) kitchen. no picture of main room, if I remember these apartments it is about 10 by 13. — $430K. www.buchbinderwarren.com, #789872

Alcove studio with patio in Chadwin house  — main room is 12 by 20 not including the alcove, and there’s a sizeable patio. This has been on the market for awhile. — $650K. www.citihabitats.com, #491695

West Chelsea studio in newish building (555 W. 23rd). Main room is 16 by 17, building has gym, full-service concierge, outdoor space for residents. You know, the kind of building where they deliver your laundry.– $660K. Abated taxes. www.citihabitats.com, #20598

Posted 12 years, 1 month ago at 8:02 pm.

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What percentage of New Yorkers own their own homes?

According to this 2007 New York Times article, a record 33% percent.

That’s based on data from the 2005 American Community Survey, but it looks like the subprime crisis of 2007 and the tight credit of 2008 aren’t rolling back the numbers significantly.

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 12:38 pm.

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