• Ask an Expert

    What are the risks of buying into a co-op or condo conversion?

    Q.  What are the risks and pitfalls of buying into a condo or co-op as it's converting, both from a financial point of view and in light of continued occupancy by rent-stabilized tenants?

    A.  Buying into a conversion can be a fantastic investment opportunity, but there are a number of things to be cautious about, say our experts.

    "The primary risk is that it may be difficult to finance a purchase in a building undergoing a conversion, because most banks require a certain percentage of units to be in contract or closed," says real estate broker Deanna Kory of Corcoran. "The required percentage depends on the bank, but it is often 50% or as high as 70%."

    The usual workaround is for a developer to establish a special relationship to a lender willing to make these loans. However, notes Kory, "the worry on the part of most buyers is that if they have to resell the unit, financing will still be difficult until the necessary percentage is reached."

  • Here's some expert advice for buying and renting in the dog days of summer

    The dog days of summer get a bad rap when it comes to the real estate market, so we decided to consult with some NYC real estate experts to find out whether this end-of-summer period is really as tough as some say. Some said yes, some said no, and all had some advice on how best to navigate these final days before fall. 

    BUYING/SELLING:

    Jacky Teplitzky, broker: Opportunities may exist for buyers.

    When Labor Day is coming around and there’s no deal on the table, sellers start to worry, so they may be more willing to negotiate. September is also regarded as a hard month in New York because of the Jewish holidays. By the time you wake up, September is gone. I’ve recently heard of stories where brokers are being offered $5,000 American Express gift cards as a reward for getting the right buyer. The sellers want to get these apartments snapped up fast.

    Malcolm Carter, broker and bloggerSummer can mean serious interest from buyers.

    Whether to buy or sell in summer is a debate that will never end in the world of real estate. Everything I know suggests that putting up a property in the summer is not necessary a mistake. There will always be people looking for homes. Some types of homes are more susceptible to finding buyers in the summer.

  • Room for Improvement

    Room for Improvement: Sometimes the subway is just too close

    We asked seven New Yorkers what they'd change about theit apartments if they could. More space and closets topped the list.

    • Space for shirts: “I wish my apartment had a closet where I could hang my clothes instead of having to use some contraption that takes up half my room.” – Pat, Astoria
    • Fewer steps: “I miss my elevator. I travel often, so hauling luggage up and down two flights of very narrow stairs can be very difficult and dangerous at times. I often yearn for my elevator, especially as I have matured.” – Pamela, Williamsburg
    • Dimensions that make sense: “I can't stand that my apartment is higher than it is wide. If I could change one thing, I'd add more shelves and storage space—with a ladder to reach them, of course.” – Maryellen, Yorkville
    • Space to dine: “Entertaining and cooking are my passions and I don't have a dining room or dining table. The living room is set to be somewhat of a "man-cave" for the hubbie to view movies and our big screen takes up all the room.” – Vance, Upper West Side
    • A less convenient commute to the train: “My apartment is a little too close to the elevated train. If I wanted to, I could swing right onto the N or Q trains from my bedroom window.” – Lourdes, Astoria
  • StreetEasy Open House Scorecard

    The Open House Scorecard: Four move-in ready lofts

    This elegant $2.5m two-bedroom top-floor duplex in the Tribeca Lofts has been completely renovated and includes a private (though currently detached) terrace.

    If you have lofty hopes for your next home, you might be interested in some of the apartments highlighted in this week’s Open House Scorecard -- the 10 open house listings people browsing StreetEasy this weekend saved more often than any others -- as renovated lofts take center stage. 

    A completely renovated two-bedroom loft condo on Leonard Street (between Church Street and Broadway) is on the market for $2.5m. The top-floor duplex with a private terrace has ceilings reaching up to 15’. The terrace is not currently connected to the unit, though there are plans available and permits from the DOB in place to do so. Also, you’ll find a cyber doorman instead of a live one.

    Three blocks away on Walker Street in Tribeca is a move-in ready $2.395m two-bedroom condo on the third floor of an 1869 building that was completely renovated in 2003. The full- floor loft features an in-unit W/D and central HVAC throughout. Common charges of $2,243 reflect current assessments of $974. 

  • Featured Partner

    Insurent: Making NYC more accessible one rental at a time

    As the first and only guarantor-for-hire, Insurent Lease Guaranty has helped thousands of renters score NYC apartments even after they flunk the strict income and employment requirements set by landlords.

    Here's what you need to know in order to trade a lifetime of scary Craigslist sublist for your name on a lease instead:

    1. Who can use Insurent?

    So long as your credit record is decent to good, Insurent can help if you fall into one of these categories:

    • Employed with an annual salary of at least 27.5x monthly rent  (versus the 40-50x typically required by landlords)
    • Non-U.S. person who is employed with minimum annual income of 27.5x the monthly rent or has cash liquid assets or marketable securities (here or abroad) of at least 50x  the monthly rent [no U.S. credit required]
    • Unemployed or retired U.S. resident with cash liquid assets or marketable securities of at least 50x the monthly rent
    • Self-employed
    • U.S. and international student with a responsible party (normally a father, mother or relative) here or overseas who has a minimum annual income of 50x the monthly rent or has cash liquid assets or marketable securities equal to a minimum of 80x the monthly rent. (No U.S. credit required for international students.)
  • The open house debate continues, luxury rental staff revolt against low wages, and more

  • 4 photo staging tips for serious sellers

    Reven T.C. Wurman, Gotham Photo Company

    A 'postcard shot' of a chaise arranged before the only park-facing window of this $1.8m co-op on Central Park West is meant to conjure up visions of lazy mornings reading the paper and sipping coffee in front of the view.

    Awhile back we posted a quick photo-staging primer culled from the on-the-job learnings of three apartment photographers at Gotham Photo Company.   Today we take it up a notch with some suggestions that go a little bit beyond cleaning the windows inside and out.

  • StreetEasy's Most Wanted

    StreetEasy’s Most Wanted: 3 apartments with tip-top amenities

    The shared roofdeck makes this $550k one-bedroom Central Park West co-op an even sweeter deal. Note: the apartment needs work.

    Looking for a building with amenities? We don’t blame you. This week, StreetEasy’s Most Wanted -- the 10 sales listings that buyers perusing StreetEasy saved more often than any others -- features apartments with plenty of pluses.

    $1.25m two-bedroom condo on Central Park West and 97th Street offers park views, and the building is complete with a full-time doorman, on-site super, resident’s fitness room, children’s playroom, library/community room and on-site parking (with a wait list). Low monthly carrying charges (common charges $695, taxes $308) may ease the knowledge that the unit needs renovations. A $279 assessment is in place through June 2013.

  • Transitions

    Upper East Side to West 57th Street: Louder, more convenient and more touristy

    I rented a studio apartment in the East 70s near First Avenue for about four years. Then, three years ago, I bought a one-bedroom on 57th between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. 

    Personally, the Upper East side felt a bit too quiet. I didn’t spend my free time there. I always seemed to leave my neighborhood to meet my friends.  

    Ideally, I was hoping to buy a place on the West Side, preferably below 23rd Street. I also looked in Hell’s Kitchen, but this apartment was in much better condition and was much bigger than other places I’d seen further downtown. 

    I generally like the location. It is loud -- 57th Street and Ninth Avenue are both big, loud streets. It’s more convenient, though, because I’m only a block and a half from the Time Warner Center station, which has lot of train options. When I lived on the Upper East Side I was a good walk from the 4,5 and 6, and those are notoriously difficult trains.

  • Top negotiating mistakes EVERYONE makes (that means buyers, sellers and their respective brokers)

    We've already explored some common missteps that sellers and buyers (and their brokers) make. Now, here are some universal mistakes that everyone makes; in other words, here's what no one should be doing.

    1. Don't underestimate the opposition—or assume they think like you do

    Bankers and lawyers negotiate very differently than artists and writers, notes Deanna Kory of Corcoran. Find out everything possible about whom you’re dealing with—not only their personality and profession and background, but how they think.

    “Understand where they’re coming from, their experience on the market, why they’re priced where they are,” says Kory.  

    Having this information not only makes it easier to plan your strategy, but also to interpret statements like, “There’s a lot of interest in this apartment.”

    “Often they are just bluffing and they don’t want to lie. It depends whom you’re talking to,” says Kory. “If they’re a lawyer, they may be talking factually—they may have a lot of interest but no offers.  With a marketer, it may be a different story.”

    2. Don't be a jerk

    Being nice will generally get you a lot further in negotiations than being a jerk, according to several brokers we spoke with.

    “There’s a lot of value in being nice because residential transactions are more emotional,” says Wei Min Tan of Rutenberg Realty. “The seller has pride and ego and so does the buyer.”

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