Buying a home for the first time in New York City, one of the nation’s most complex and competitive real estate markets, can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. But it doesn't have to be. Real estate novices are advised to collaborate with an experienced professional who will narrow the multitude of choices, minimize the stresses and streamline the process from start to closing.
With the click of a mouse, homeowners today can obtain instant quotes on the value of their most significant asset: their homes. Banks, insurance companies, real estate brokerages and even media companies offer computer generated property valuations using formulaic software based on publicly available metrics such as square footage, number of rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and recorded neighborhood sales. These computer-generated estimates, however, lack elementary inspections, critical market perspective and professional intuition, so they fall grossly short of the mark
As the number of condominium products grows, there’s mounting pressure among condo boards to operate their buildings efficiently and to maintain the character of their residences in the best interests of unit owners. Increasingly condos are trying to exert more control over resales, imposing conditions for granting waivers and even implementing new policies—behaving very much like their co-op cousins.
I had something to say when StreetEasy launched Premier Agent six weeks ago on March 1st 2017 (see “Doing Battle With a $600M Gorilla”). As a lead generation advertising product for real estate agents, the program is a major profit center for Zillow, the parent company, and generated more than $604M in revenue last year nationwide. In New York, the platform was justified as a new way for consumers to reach buyers’ agents. In reality, the program has been confusing consumers and misleading them for these last six weeks. When buyers click the CONTACT AGENT box, believing they will be directed to the seller’s agent, they instead wind up in the inbox of an agent who has paid for the lead in a particular zip code.
Can you fight City Hall? Can you wrestle with an acknowledged power that has overtaken consumers? How significant are individual voices of censure?
Last week I cancelled my PRO account at StreetEasy and posted on social media my hope that all self-respecting agents with integrity do the same. I wrote, “We should not support misleading advertising which only confuses consumers.” The post attracted 60 likes, 15 comments and 1 share. Not a storm of response but a sentiment supported publically by the heads of Compass, Corcoran, CitiHabitats and Town Residential who each announced to their agents that they would not reimburse participants in StreetEasy’s newest Premier Agent advertising program which was introduced to New Yorkers on March 1st.
One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the Lower East Side is in the midst of a transformative gentrification. From its former identify as a low income immigrant neighborhood of largely Irish, Italian, Jewish and recently Dominican descent, new demographics are emerging as the landscape changes from overcrowded tenements to a mixed residential landscape of rent regulated and market rate apartments alongside rising new luxury condominium developments. Against a gritty backdrop of graffiti, after hour’s bars, and pawn shops, amid a counterculture of artists and musicians, there co-exists an expanding culture of contemporary art galleries, hip performance spaces, music venues, trendy boutiques and culinary destinations. At the same time, a new evolving housing stock with high end finishes and escalating square foot prices to match, is appealing to upscale purchasers including young families and empty nesters from the surrounding suburbs of Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey.
For Manhattan residential real estate, how different will 2017 be from 2016? Last year the market was in transition as the pendulum swung away from sellers to favor buyers (especially for properties priced above $4M) and shifted even more to a preference for condos over co-ops, also continuing to highlight downtown as Manhattan’s hottest neighborhoods.
While the law is exacting and black and white, ethical dilemmas operate in the grey areas between right and wrong when there is a conflict of interest or a dilemma between values. As licensees of the state, we operate within the law; however, compliance is not the same as behaving ethically or doing the right thing. In fact there are numerous instances when the law is silent or permits what some might consider questionable.
The single most significant factor that has affected NYC’s residential marketplace, even more than interest rates which have hovered at historic lows for the better part of eight years, is the explosion of condominium choices including ground up construction and prewar rental conversions. New developments have reshaped the face of New York’s housing supply.
Called a “city within a city” by some and “the new heart of New York” by promoters, The Hudson Rail Yards Project will transform the far west side of Manhattan. Being built from the ground up by developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group of Canada over active rail yards they leased from the MTA, it will bring new choices to New Yorkers and global citizens for housing, commerce and culture.