New York City’s Most Elusive Space

By now every buyer / seller / renter in NYC has discovered an alarming truth, the most scarce space in the city is NOT your studio apartment, or the kitchen jammed into the dining room that’s also doubling as your living room, it’s your barely there counter space. I’ve seen countless articles on home design blogs and what not offering up solutions, and in every one of these examples is a photo of a kitchen which IMHO has PLENTY counter space. I thought perhaps they were talking about some city far away that just thought they had little counter space, wait ’til they got a load of NYC living I thought. But lo! some of the articles were actually by people LIVING in NYC, who admitted that though they didn’t have a lot of counter space by most measures, they  probably more than average by NYC standards (example below).
 Plenty of Counterspace

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Brooklyn’s New Affordable Neighborhood: Williamsburg?!

NEVER you say? This neighborhood hasn’t been affordable since the 90s. OK .. maybe very early 2000s, but the good times have been over for over a decade now at least. Not so soon! Williamsburg has had its ups and downs, yes even AFTER it was tagged “it” by every developer and broker in town.  In 2009 we were calling it the next Miami. Ok, so no things aren’t THAT good, and they may never be again, but there are some surprisingly affordable listings in this neighborhood, so don’t gloss over it too quickly!
  • 199 Humboldt – Duplex 1BD / 1BA less than $1,000p/sf and literally around the corner from the subway – yes please!
  • 629 Grand – OK so everyone knows about this one, all units are taken, and for just over $1,000p/sf and 0.2mi from the Lorimer L stop, who can blame them?
  • Olive Park  – Luxury 1BDs under $600k, 2BDs under $1M!? True Story!

Manhattan Q2 Report

Manhattan Q2 Report is here! Q2 is historically the busiest quarter in real estate sales, and Manhattan was very very busy.  Manhattan’s median price and price per square foot achieved their highest level in six years. Though, inventory increased this quarter, listings were still low enough to cause supply shortages in nearly all submarkets. Highlights include

Record high prices. Thanks in large part to sales of new development, the average price increased 8% to $1.81M, the highest we’ve recorded. The average price per square foot is now $1,637

More sales. The pace of closed sales was up 2% over the same quarter one year prior, and there were 7% more signed contracts.

Rising inventory. Although the market is still experiencing relatively limited supply, the number of homes listed for sale in Manhattan was up 12% over the same quarter in 2014, as freshly released new development properties reached the market, and homeowners took advantage of the spring selling season.

How to Sell Your Home FAST! Visit Open Houses

Having trolled through my share of online forums, I’ve come to the realization that many people believe the open house does not benefit the seller, that it is only a tool used by real estate agents to “trawl for new clients” and a vehicle for “self promotion”. While I agree, the open house has these side benefits, it most certainly does help the seller. And it is important to effectively host an open house if you do plan on selling your own home FAST!
The first step, is to visit as many open houses in your market as possible. Too often this step is overlooked or not given enough importance, by both sellers who are selling themselves and sellers listing with agents. To a certain degree the sellers who are going with agents can be more relaxed with this step, as presumably the sales agent has a good understanding of the market. However, if you’re going on your own, you cannot afford to overlook this step. You should spend months (at least) getting to know your market. It is not enough to troll through streeteasy. Let me repeat that, it is not enough to troll through streeteasy, even if you visit that site every day, at every waking hour. You must visit these properties and see what they have to offer.

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Brooklyn Q2 Report

Brooklyn’s Q2 Report is here, and as expected it’s breaking records. And while there’s been an influx of much needed inventory, Brooklyn is still supply shy — and prices are still being pushed upwards.  Other highlights:

Swift sales. Sales in Brooklyn have exceeded the seven-year average for nine consecutive quarters. Busy open houses and multiple offers were the norm. The number of signed contracts was up 4% over the prior quarter.

Prices set records. Strong demand and low inventory kept prices on the rise. The average price and average price per square foot each reached their highest level in seven years.  The average price per square foot in Q2 was $791.

More inventory, more choices.  For the fourth consecutive quarter, the available inventory in Brooklyn rose year-over-year thanks primarily to an injection of new condominiums.

Trendspotting: Halsey Stop on the L

Bushwick at this point is hardly news. Everyone and anyone has been talking about it. Not just real estate brokers but EVERYONE. And not for nothing. Bushwick has been serving up globally noteworthy restaurants, trendy (but don’t really want to be trendy) bars, and with the now defunct 5Pointz its streets have become the go to for curated urban art,
But this is really just the story of Myrtle Avenue and up. The Bushwick below Myrtle Ave. is the Bushwick no one talks about, the forgotten bottom half of the neighborhood. To a certain extent, people have skipped over this bottom half entirely and moved straight over to Queens a/k/a Ridgewood. The next “it” neighborhood on everyone’s speed dial. But don’t be fooled, this part of Bushwick is moving, albeit in a far less flashy way then it’s northern sibling. Even just two years ago the Halsey stop on the L was maligned as “the boonies”, people thought they were discovering something when they came this far down the L.  Even friends of mine who have been in far far worse situations then anything the Halsey stop has have to offer, raise a brow. But there’s a lot to love about this area of Bushwick.

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Sell Your Home Fast! Ditch the Dining Room

It’s no secret that as we learn to live in smaller and smaller spaces, living rooms are now conjoined with dining rooms, what more kitchens are becoming “open” and essentially part of the living room. Where do we draw the line? Well if you live in a really small space, you may not be able to draw the line anywhere — studio dwellers have long understood the nature of eating, sleeping and working in the same room. I’m speaking to the fabled few who do have room, either a townhouse or a condo / coop large enough (or old enough) that it has it’s own dedicated dining room. Ditch it.


Consider, how often do you dine in your dining room? Is it a special occasion thing? Doesn’t it seem like an awful waste of space to have a dedicated room just for the half a dozen times a year that you actually use it? Most of my friends agree, but they still protest, they may only use it half a dozen times a year, but what happens during those half dozen times when you need to fit a bunch of people for dinner, and can’t? I by no means suggest you not have a dining table, or a table that can act as a dining table, I’m just suggesting you not have a dining room. A lot of families eat in a nice big kitchen, and truth be told the kitchen is often the heart of the home. Other families have incorporated a dining table in their living room that extends to seat more when necessary.


Which now leaves the lonely dining room without the dining table. This is a great spot for a family room. Fill it with other accouterment that your family loves. Maybe even KEEP a table in there that can extend out on those rare occasions that you need it. Perhaps a study, floor to ceiling books is classic and stunning. And if you have frequent guests – and what New Yorker doesn’t? Perhaps a guest room / home office combo. The point is live in your space, live in it and use it. The next people coming in will know it, and appreciate it. A home that has more ‘useful’ rooms always sells better.

How to become an All Cash buyer

By now the legend of the all cash buyer has reached epic proportions. Many of my friends (and buyers) often assume when they lose a bidding war that it must have been “to an all cash” buyer, even if it’s not true, they just assume that it is. And who can blame them? Cash is king in NYC and it makes up  a shocking ~30- 40+% of sales. People see all cash buyers everywhere, and they assume they are all foreign “stashing money” in New York real estate. While I’m sure this is true for some, the reality is there are also many all cash buyers who are just like you and me. Average  New Yorkers who saved a lot. What?!! How can that be?! There are three common methods to achieve this.

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Q1 2015 Brooklyn Report

It’s finally here, the Brooklyn Q1 2015 Report, and while it’s been feverishly anticipated, there aren’t any real surprises, though it’s always good to get an overview of significant trends in the market. Key highlights include:

Swift sales. Properties in Brooklyn are averaging only 64 days on the market. Busy open houses and multiple offers – frequently all-cash – were the norm. The number of signed contracts was up 19% over Q1 2014.
Significantly higher prices. Strong demand and persistently low inventory continued to fuel price gains. The median price for an apartment is up 25% over the prior year. The average price per square foot rose 25% to $783.
More inventory, more choices.  For the third consecutive quarter, the available inventory in Brooklyn rose year-over-year thanks primarily to a 34% increase in the number of condominiums entering the Brooklyn market.

Compared to the Manhattan report a couple standout metrics include:

More supply, Manhattan is still ravenous at 3.8 months of supply whereas Brooklyn is just peckish at 5.3 months. 6 months of supply is considered getting close to equilibrium. Brooklyn, buyers while still under supplied overall have more choice.
Median Price appreciation remains strong, Brooklyn appreciated 25% since this time last year, $550k from $442, while Manhattan shows only a mild uptick of 6%, $955k from $899k.
Inventory is growing overall, while in Manhattan inventory remains skewed towards expensive, $3.5M+

Closed Houses

This year cannot be discussed without acknowledging how severe this winter has been.  For a long time, I believed that seasonality did not impact this market, the inventory was so low and the buyers so desperate that seasonality had become a thing of the past — that was summer. This winter, I ate every one of my words, not even the hardiest of buyers would venture out in the winter white that shrouded the city.

Open houses for properties that would otherwise be flooded sat empty. The truth was only agents would consider even going out in the weather that we’ve had to put up with. And now spring is officially here and while we’ve had a couple glimmering spring days, we are still very much in the throes of winter’s icy  grip. The temperatures have been rising, but so have the winds and the rains, for every couple of spring like days, there have been an equal amount of wintery  like days. It’s as if we are cursed to never shed our winter coats.

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