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.
Manhattan’s residential real estate market has always been fluid, but increasingly it is becoming more multi-layered and segmented, with different price points moving in different directions. In the light of Q1 2016 stats which show average residential prices exceeding the $2M mark for the first time, it’s instructive to take a close look at inventory numbers and pending sales to see how they break out according to co-op versus condo purchases by price. Two important caveats are noteworthy when reviewing 2016 sales figures: for one thing, these averages are skewed by closings at high end new developments such as 432 Park Avenue and 150 Charles Street; secondly while sales records are an important part of history, it’s contracts signed that more accurately reflect the market moment since the closings for most new developments can follow contracts signed by as many as two years ago.
In 35 years, I’ve had my share of challenging transactions, but this one takes the most recent proverbial cake. I closed on the terraced penthouse in Carnegie Hill this summer, nearly two years after my first meeting with the estate’s executor. For the deal to happen, I needed to overcome at least three significant obstacles. First, the property’s interior had been reconfigured 35 years earlier by an abstract architect with distracting curved walls and pivoting room dividers and needed a total redo. Second the co-op board put up a series of roadblocks by questioning the legality of an upper level that had been annexed to the apartment by a former owner. The 17’x11’ addition with wet bar and bathroom sat directly beneath the building’s water tank and was accessed by a narrow spiral staircase in a corner of the Living Room. A 1992 House & Garden feature highlighted this “Tower Room,” a term I adopted in my marketing. Responsibility for the Penthouse’s wrap terraces was the third serious bane of a sale.
New York Residential Specialists stand out above the crowd. The new credential—the highest offered by the Real Estate Board of New York—encourages the best among us to step up to be recognized for our commitment to professional excellence and advanced education. The designation—or its acronym NYRS—identifies those who meet qualifying criteria and complete an eight week educational course with renewal classes biannually. For the industry, the new designation is all about raising the bar and maintaining high standards of professionalism, ethics and leadership. For brokers who achieve the new title, a certain competitive edge is gained. For consumers, the credential is the industry’s quality control and veritable seal of approval.
Remember the game “52 Pickup”? It’s the “trick” played by a practical jokester on an unsuspecting victim who must pick up 52 cards that have been scattered willy-nilly on the floor. “That’s what the board packages we get look like sometimes—especially from the larger firms where there seems to be less supervision,” says Jane Bayard, Warburg’s Executive Vice President. She’s describing how sometimes what we get from our co-brokers makes no sense. “It looks like the papers have been literally dropped on the floor, then picked up totally out of order and reassembled haphazardly with no thought to logical sequencing of information and with numbers that just don’t match up.”