The condo board of the Time Warner Center (above) snatched a condo out of the hands of a buyer--and gave it to an insider
With an anemic supply of available apartments, packed-to-the-gills open houses and bidding wars for well-priced units, it’s an especially tough market out there right now for New York City buyers. So imagine what it would be like if you think you've finally gone into contract, only to have a condo board swoop in and nix the deal.
It's called a "right of first refusal," and it lets condo boards buy a unit in their building even when it's promised to another buyer, provided they meet the same terms as the existing contract.
Real estate brokers in New York City have a reputation for sleaze and sloth. The typical broker tries every trick in the book to show you an apartment you could have found on the Internet, only to hold out her hand for thousands of dollars in commission fees. Right?
Not exactly, as I discovered in my brief career as a NYC rental agent. In reality, the brokerage business is a tough slog, filled with hidden costs, clients who cancel at the last minute, and prolonged haggling over fees that make up the entirety of a broker's income.
QUICKTIP: In need of a reality check on whether you're paying too much in property taxes? Or have your eye on a new apartment and wondering how it compares? Find out with real estate website PropertyShark. Start by typing the address into PropertyShark to bring up a detailed property report ($9.95 each, or $39.95/month for 150 reports a month).
If you're looking up a condo, single-family home or building, you'll see the last five years of tax history in Section E: Property Tax. Now click on the Find Comparables tab at the top to see if nearby, similar properties have significantly lower taxes. For co-op units, whose property taxes are folded into maintenance fees, compare the building's overall property tax bill to similar nearby buildings using this interactive map.
Buying a fixer-upper isn't necessarily a bad idea--so long as you know what you're getting into. If this is your first time at the renovation rodeo, you're probably harboring some not-quite-accurate perceptions about the project in store for you. We asked some of the city's real estate brokers--who are often the first to hear about a buyer's renovation aspirations--to list the most popular examples of wishful thinking they've encountered.
Q. I’m redoing my kitchen and trying to figure out the best material for the countertops. I like the look of granite, marble, Caesarstone, Silestone, soapstone and concrete. What are the pros and cons of each based on heat, stains, price and the time it’ll take to finish the project?
A. The countertop is a crucial decision in a kitchen--it's the surface that you interact with the most, it'll get the most use (and abuse) of any surface in the house, and it's the visual touchstone of your kitchen. Here’s a rundown of each option you’re considering.
Q: I own a three-bedroom co-op near Columbia University worth $800,000. I’ve paid off the mortgage, so I only pay maintenance fees. I’d like to buy a second apartment in the city, and I have a good job and excellent credit. The trouble is the down payment.
I’ve thought about taking out a loan against my three-bedroom to finance the purchase of the second home. Is this possible? If so, what are the pros and cons?
A: The short answer is yes: “You can use the equity in your current home for the down payment on a second,” says mortgage banker Robbie Gendels of National Cooperative Bank. However, even if you can get financing this way, you’ll run into some other hurdles--particularly if your second apartment is a co-op, our experts say.
Developers paid $17 million to the last tenant at the Mayflower Hotel, paving the way for the construction of 15 Central Park West, pictured above
Two of the most common NYC real estate fantasies are finding a rent-stablized apartment and getting a hefty buyout for said apartment. Reclusive New Yorker Herb Sukenik managed both. The story--considered to be the largest buyout in NYC history -- is chronicled in real estate journalist Michael Gross' House of Outrageous Fortune, a new book that goes behind the scenes of 15 Central Park West, the city's premier condo for the rich and richer.
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