Is Striver’s Row the most beautiful street in Manhattan?

Striver’s Row technically is a street and a half. It is both sides of West 139th street and the northern side of West 138th street  between 7th and 8th avenue in Central Harlem. This Landmark section of Harlem is in my opinion one of the most beautiful that you will find anywhere in Manhattan. The lovely architecture of the homes is often matched with equally well designed and thought out interiors. 268 West 139th street sold last year for $2.95 million and now another home on the same street is asking $3.175 million and is in contract. So it seems high end buyers are also in agreement that there is something special about Striver’s Row.


Why is the Manhattan rental market slow right now?

There are several reasons why the NYC rental market is slow right now. One reason is the time of year. January, February is not exactly the best time of the year to pull in a qualified renter. Not that many tenants want to move when it’s 15 degrees outside. So typically, we have a seasonal slowdown at this time of year. Additionally, there is a glut of apartments for rent due to expectations of landlords being too high. As apartments remain on the market for several months, either the landlord drops the price, or more often than not, they give incentives like a free month, pay the Broker fee, or even give gadgets like an Ipad. Incentives are way up compared to even the same time last year. As apartments get rented more and more with incentives, it makes the rental market appear stronger than it actually is. This fuels the expectations of other landlords who look at these rental comps when pricing their property.

I think in 2017 you will see an adjustment as landlord expectations start to come closer to the current reality.


Is now the time to buy your first Manhattan apartment?

Very often, I am asked if now is the right time to buy.My answer is always the same. Maybe. Obviously everyone’s situation is different and if you are in 2 bedroom West Village rent stabilized apartment ala Monica and Rachel of Friends then now is probably NOT the right time to buy a Manhattan condo or co-op. But assuming you are renting a market rate apartment, making your first purchase of a Manhattan pad makes perfect sense. Here are a couple of reasons to pull the trigger now.

Reason 1- As far as interest rates, they will rise.  The cost of financing is not getting any lower then it is right now. A $1 million mortgage at 4% will cost you $4800 but when that rate goes up 1%, now you will pay over $5,400 just for the mortgage.

Reason 2- In the last boom there were almost zero starter apartments built. Developers went after the super luxury buyer and larger ignored the first time buyer. So as a result, inventory under $2 million still remains low. So while the super luxury market is over supplied and likely to not appreciate until the excess is absorbed,  starter homes are in a totally different category.

Reason 3- When you rent you lose money, whereas when you purchase you build equity and it is a forced savings. If you took out a $1 million mortgage today, by Feb 2027 you will have paid down $215,000 of it. In addition, the property will appreciate. Conservatively, let’s say a $1,250,000 property goes up 2.5% per year, that means the property will be worth $1.6 million in 10 years. So conservatively, you will have $565k in appreciation plus mortgage paid down. Not bad. If you rent that same apartment, you will pay approximately $3500 today and even if you paid that same amount for the entire 10 years (which you will not) then you will waste $420,000. That gives a net difference of nearly $1 million! ($565k positive if you buy $420k negative if you rent)

Reason 4- There is an interest deduction as well. Most of you what you pay in the beginning is interest so as a result, you get a deduction. When you rent you get zip.

Having said all of that, some purchases may more sense than others, so do your homework. Get a streeteasy account so you can see not only current listings but selling prices. Generally, streeteasy is more reliable than other listing sites especially for Manhattan. Find a skilled broker who can advise you on apartments and help navigate a process that can be very confusing at times.

There is certainly a lot to do when you are arranging your first purchase of a Manhattan condo or co-op but long term it will be worth it !


Upper West side school rezoning Who will benefit the most?

When you take a look at the Upper west side school rezoning which had received approval late last year and will take effect for the 2017 school year who were the winners and who were the losers? Well, the plan was to integrate the system and relieve overcrowding. PS 452 which is a sought after small school will move into a larger facility and PS 191 moves into a brand new luxury building and in a state of the art facility. PS 191 also starts a gifted and talented program beginning with 3rd grade.

PS 199 one of the most highly regarded schools in District 3 will see it’s zone shrink to alleviate crowding at the school on West 70th street. If PS 191 turns into the school that the District hopes then this rezoning will be a win on all sides. What do you think?

What should foreign investors look for in Manhattan real estate? Tip # 1

Many foreign investors have been purchasing apartments for investments in the last several years in Manhattan. Part of the reason that the latest condo boom saw so many large apartments over 2000 sqft (185m2) be built was to satisfy the thirst of overseas high net worth individuals. Now with the super luxury market in the throes of a buyer market, headlines are being made by sellers who bought only a few short years ago and are selling at a loss. So what went wrong and how can a foreign investor now take advantage?

Take for example 432 Park avenue, the Macklowe developed building between 55th and 56th street with helicopter views of Central and 10′ by 10′ windows. Right now, it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere but will be passed next year by other buildings in the Billionaire’s Row corridor. Prices range from $6000 per sqft to over $10,000 per sqft. The old adage in real estate is that you do not want to have the most expensive house in the neighborhood and I think that applies here too. Wouldn’t it make more sense if you had $20 million to invest to buy 3 to 4 smaller apartments or one large an expensive one? Well, if you bought several you would be buying in the sweet spot of the market and at a price point that many people can afford. So when you try to resell you are not searching for the needle in the haystack and also the rent would be at a price that many more can afford. How many clients are there for $55,000 per month rentals and how long does it take to rent one out? However a $12,000 per month has much more potential clients.

According to the listing site, streeteasy, there are 40 monthly rental listings in Manhattan with asking prices between $40,000 and $60,000. Half of those listings have been on the market for more than 4 months. So at the upper echelons, you may wait quite a while to get that super luxury pad rented. On the contrary, betweeen $8,000 to $20,000, the rental market has 978 listings! This is clearly the meat of the market.

So today’s tip in a nutshell is that unless you are getting a very good price, it may makes to buy a few apartments instead of parking a concentrated amount of funds in only one.


What is your favorite part of Central Park?

There are so many parts of our iconic Manhattan park that I feel could qualify as my favorite. I think it depends on the time of the year. The Harlem Meer, The Great Lawn, Sheep meadow, Literary Walk… What about the winter in Wollman or Lasker rink for ice skating? Or the center of the park, The Bethesda fountain? The tennis courts?  I think it would be hard to pick just one. Which would be your favorite?

Getting to know Manhattan Valley

The Sunday New York Times did a profile of the Upper West side’s Manhattan Valley which is sandwiched between the upper west side, Harlem and Morningside Heights. With excellent transportation including access to the B,C and 1 train, it is easy to see why many choose to live in Mahattan Valley. Also plenty of green spaces as residents are close to either Central Park, Morningside Park or Riverside Park for that matter. There are walk up buildings, full service buildings and even some new construction. This particular part of Central Park west is as undiscovered as any section and there are co-ops and condos that can be purchased for $1000 to $1500 per square foot.