Data sharing IS shrinking.

I love New York City, because it is a dramatic space with fluid and dynamic energy and an artistic underlying climate.  Being a real estate broker, is challenging, but it is also exciting. Throughout the years, open source players and creative programmers have tried to find a way to democratize data in the real estate landscape. After acknowledging that New York City’s real estate data has mostly operated in closed, non cybernetic systems prior to listing aggregators – they realized that  it would behoove them, to mostly create tools that brokers can use to facilitate a transaction, or create spaces where brokers and prospective buyers and leasees could try to find real time data to negotiate a transaction based on a macro, contextually relevant comparisons.  With aggregators, they welcomed the real estate industry’s willingness to share data and create an overall market place for all.  Thus, consumers became locally familiar with the marketplaces, and brokers were able to find  direct customers/clients. That is, until every new aggregator, or provider of real estate data, decides, that they are more interested in the classical brokerage model  for controlling data and turning profit. Thus, democratizing of information is great, but then, they want to be compensated for the service that they provide, and what better way than to use the content already provided by the real estate players who kept the information in closed systems and by default control the market. A conflict of interest is born, and regardless of how many new tools are used to democratize this particular data, the content providers will  pull back because it affects their profits. Data sharing is shrinking because of the push and pull that technocratization of this particular type of information purports, and the landscape is not ready to lose power or control of extremely valuable data with fancy profits.  New York City’s real estate landscape is interesting because it contains different types of properties, and for each, a unique process. Furthermore, there  are laws dictating how each property can operate within the macro landscape. Brokers are needed; technology is useful – what will the future bring for this complex landscape? will owners accept that an agent would not want to list their property in a given space, because this will mean having to share the commission? Will that owner receive the highest bid? will that owner still be paying the same commission amount if the buyer comes directly to the listing agent vs having to co broke it with a buyer’s agent representing a customer? Do buyers even care who represents them, and rather go directly to the seller’s agent because this will guarantee them getting the property that they want?  If a buyer’s agent doesn’t know a property, his/her job is to conduct due diligence, and by default the understanding is that the professional has experience and knowledge in reference to the process, pricing and market movement. Will  owners even care or understand how this paradigm shift  impacts the bottom line? will the brokerage system change? Only time will tell.

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“A heart to love, and in that heart, Courage, to make’s love known”

And in that courage, to admit that i love the Lower East Side and Chinatown. What is there not to love? In the past ten years, the landscape has embraced an  an eclectic collection of architectural whispers adding to the poetic skyline.  Additionally, the Essex Crossing  will bring “an unprecedented development comprising 1.9 million square feet of residential, commercial, and community space. ” With February upon us, there is Love On the Brain,; an opportune time to place your bets in an emerging market that you love. The building, currently available for purchase, is a 25′ wide, 5 story, 4 elevator, commercial loft building. The property was built around 1910, and located in a high traffic corner bordering the Lower East Side and Chinatown –  like most structures here, it contains a bundle of history.  Furthermore, the net operating income is not based on income based off contrived rent rolls, which in actuality, are rents mostly subsided by  tax abatements, and attractive only on paper.  NO, this building is true to its heart, and it has the courage to report what it truly earns. Additionally, the overhead is fairly low, contributing to a healthy cash flow, and allowing room for  higher capitalization, and increase of rents that can  sustain long term while attracting non transient tenants, and keeping the occupancy rate high. For the owner, the property is not just a building, but a piece of him – a piece of history, and love encapsulated in depths of light.  He also realizes the potential for a sweet cap rate because of the location, and the fact that an emerging location, has one way to go – UP. The building is in the 13 to 15 million range. Contact me for details, and happy valentines day!

Slowly and CAREFULLY – A thorough walk-through prior to closing!

Yes, I understand that buying real property or shares in a cooperative can be a long and emotionally involving process, however, the walk-thru/inspection of the property  3 to 24 hours prior to closing is crucial. The last thing you want to hear from the attorney(s), is that “no one is liable to credit you for anything broken after closing.”  Certainly, there are contextual realities in which this may not apply, for example –  if you buy a property in a new development and there are construction defects – it is possible that the developer has measures in place to remedy defects post closing. Subsequently, what I am referring to here, is on the  resale of a condominium, or cooperative/townhouse. I believe that buyers of real property, or shares in a cooperative should hire a professional inspector, and also conduct a personal and careful walk-thru prior to closing. The inspector, of course, will check for the building’s electrical, the boilers, the roof  and even give an opinion of the foundation of the structure; he/she will  also check the actual unit(s) that you may be purchasing in depth. In a condominium or cooperative, technically everyone who owns shares or real property, is, to some degree responsible for contributing towards the reserve fund. Furthermore, buildings usually have income producing systems in place to build a reserve fund – including collecting from investments, or even incorporating commercial income with services like laundry, or having a commercial space within the building. Roofs and major mechanicals also usually have warranties/insurance for a given amount of time – thus,  it is crucial to know the type of warranty, and life of the boilers, roof, electrical, because if they are old, and the warranty is about to expire – the insurance may only cover a certain amount. If a building does not have a robust reserve fund, or a system in place to cover the repairs and labor in the given context, it is likely that  YOU  will end up paying for part of it in the form of an assessment in  a cooperative, or increase in common charges in the case of a condominium.  The inspector will certainly also check your: appliances, electrical systems, outlets, potential leaks, floors – windows, even air. As a prospective home owner, you should double check that: all door handles are working, there is not an issue with the pipes (in the case of gas leaks, or rotted pipes under the sink? ); if there is a fridge, it might work, but did you check the ice-maker? Yes, look for patched up leaks in in all rooms within your walls; open up the windows, they can be expensive to fix or replace. Your smoke /carbon detector(s)  should be functioning, but if they are not, it is your responsibility to make sure that they are functioning immediately upon taking possession. Additionally, check the dishwasher (yes run it) the washer and dryer (yes turn it on), and anything else that you can think of, including noise – you never know. Be prepared, be happy, take responsibility for your happiness.

Around Town. Precious metals or precious properties?

Everything seems brighter in New York City today; the sun is bursting over the fabulous skyscrapers populating the radiant and inviting blue sky. Aside from the warm climate, the sales market is leading with a healthy uptick in movement and pricing. While there are factors that can contribute to the shift in pricing each quarter, in 2014 there seems to be a trend – inventory is low and prices are in the upswing. There are factors that contribute the market conditions, and there is an underlying cycle to the degree that eventually prices will reach a stasis. Subsequently, there is still technically a window of “opportunity” for real estate players. Cash is king, and that is true for buyers who do not need financing. What may be “too expensive” for some, can be an opportunity for others in our global economic landscape. Additionally, in Manhattan, the complexity of zoning and air rights, price for the land, as well as historic landmark allocation in some areas will continue to generate demand for land where development can occur. There is a nice segment of new construction, but in the high-end market, because the incentives to build “affordable” housing have diminished. Companies spend millions trying to crunch numbers and data to hedge identify the exact time, space and mobility of an asset– not even for a solid rock of gold  do we know the trajectory, or do we?. The NYC real estate market is fascinating, dynamic, and the exact future of its peak or lack there of, somewhat evasive, but while in the moment – just a slice of the macro dynamics here in NYC.Image

Technological Innovation and the added value of a real estate professional in a transaction.

There is a tremendous dynamic movement in the innovation of digital spaces for communication and information. One of the biggest industries moving forward, it seems, is the technoscape. What this means, of course, is that there will be more possibilities for individuals looking to lease or purchase an apartment – to explore listings and options. New York City is a very particular market, somewhat contextual, and because of the process involved in purchasing  either a cooperative, or a condominium, or even leasing a retail space, or office space, there is indeed a need for real estate brokers. Who will be the leaders of tomorrow in this arena? the personnel, adapting to that shift.  Real estate investments, for example, are not just about finding a “foreclosure,” but understanding various approaches to buying an asset that will continue to produce, even in an uncertain economic cycle. In other words, the local knowledge that a broker brings, by being involved with the market first hand, with the process, the valuation, the socio structural understanding, will be an added value to the continuation of digital implementations to distribute listings. When a prospective buyer, renter, business owner develops a trusting partnership with a real estate professional, they can add value for a better transaction. It is not as useful to see them as one entity replacing another. I always look forward to working with my customers/clients, and to understand their priorities, and to share the information that is available via the various innovative informative mediums. Team work; the leadership of today, and tomorrow, is many, not one isolated incident with an app after dark looking for ways to get around the broker. 

Dear Owners: Have you asked your management company recently how they are curtailing illegal sublets in YOUR building?

This is the time of the year when people travel, and like the summer, there is a lot of activity in short-term sublets. While there are laws in place to try to curtail short term illegal sublets – it is still happening, particularly in small rental buildings, where the super is not present, and management companies are not familiar with the foot traffic in and out of the buildings that they manage. Having a video camera that does not work and no one reviews is pointless.

While the “rent stabilized” properties continue to diminish in our pool of housing, there are still however a few small-walk up buildings that are rent stabilized. In such properties, the “owner” can only increase the rent within the city guidelines. http://www.housingnyc.com/html/resources/faq/rentstab.html

Due to operating costs, and the restriction(s) on how much an owner can increase the rents on lease renewals in these types of properties, there is a lack of additional revenue for building improvements. Technically, the available apartments should be given to persons who qualify for them financially. The prospective tenants, are applying because cannot afford a more expensive apartments!

There are cases when people who have substantial wealth are able to obtain leases in their names in such apartments, often because they have invested their liquid assets in foreign investments, including but not limited to income producing properties, or investments in which their actual financials can’t be traced. No taxes, no records.
Is this fair? The unfairness comes when these individuals start to lease out short-term the very small rent stabilized apartments that are meant for people who can’t afford more, low income to some degree – yet these individuals with higher means – are doubling rents and pocketing every penny. More money for those who already have money off the backs of the ones who do not.
Instead of the rightful owner. So, next time you think about subletting your apartment illegally short-term, think about the ramifications that it has on your neighbors, and in our community, as well as the city itself. It is not cool. It lacks ethics.