Monday, March 31, 2008

Mile High Tower Planned By Saudi Prince al-Walid binTalal

Thirty Feet from 1 mile high. More than 5 times as high as the Eiffel Tower, and better than twice the size of the world's tallest building under construction, Dubai Tower. That's the size of the $10 Billion dollar, 5250 foot tower is planned in it's own "mini-city" near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Saudi Prince al-Walid bin Talal (know most in the States for his massive Citigroup investment, amongst others). The tower has numerous engineering challenges ahead. The building will be stabilized by 2 towers on either side which both will stand close to 100 stories each. The tower will also be subject to extreme temperature deviations. All I can say is....Wow!

100 West 18th St., Perfection Revisited

Finished Kitchen- 100 West 18th

View From 6C

I wrote a few months ago about a condo that I was very keen on, 100 West 18th Street. Since that was months ago and the sales office has moved on site, I figured that a follow up was overdue. As it turns out my initial praise was far from overstated and the reality matches and actually exceeds the renderings and the showroom model. Yes, the building has all the quality finishes (awesome Miele/Sub-Zero kitchen and spa inspired baths) that I mentioned before, but what really stood out to me was that the floor plans actually match reality. And, what floor plans they are! Most of the floor plans are unique (I believe somewhere around 24 different plans for 43 apartments), and they are all huge! My personal favorite is #6C, a mammoth 2 bedroom, 3 bath unit with Empire State Building views from both bedrooms and the living room. The apartment measures 1782 sq. ft, but with a living room that measures 32'5"x 14'1", not including the kitchen/dining area with bay window, and with king sized bedrooms, you would swear it was larger. Another unexpected surprise was how remarkably quiet the apartments were. The building is in a prime, yet heavily traffic area on the historic Ladies Mile, but it quickly becomes obvious that Gerry Brauser (the developer) spared no expense in making the apartments sound proof. Finally, the pricing, low commons, and tax abatement make for a compelling investment. 6C for instance, is listed at $2,350,000., which works out to just over $1300/per square foot. A simple search of StreetEasy shows new development condos in the Chelsea/Flatiron area average $1548p.s.f. for 2 bedrooms/2 baths, and $1981 p.s.f. for 2 bedroom/3 bath units like 6C.
With final sign off for closings expected any day, the building is currently 75% sold. Should the building see any traffic over the next few weeks, I would expect the last 11 apartments to go quickly. Do I still love the building? Yes, now more than ever!

Monday Morning Links

City Sales Down, Prices Up (Bloomberg)
Upper East, Upper West Lead Number Of Sales (NY Post)
Assemblyman Proposes Eliminating Mortgage Recording Tax (The Real Deal)
Time Warner Center Trumps Skeptics (NY Daily News)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Morning Links

Working Harder For The 6% (NY Times)
Trump Asks Record Rent of $200k/mo. (NY Post)
NY Real Estate Bigs On The State Of The Market (NY Daily News)
A Look At Turtle Bay (NY Times)
Get $70k Worth Of Free Furniture At Your New Harlem Condo (NY Daily News)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Morning Links

MSG Threatens To Derail Moynihan Station Plan (Observer)
Builders' Grand Visions Dissolve (NY Times)
The Standard Hotel To Soft Open This Fall (Curbed)
Interior Designer Feels Pinch From Bear Troubles (NY Post)
Minister On Staten Island Ferry Draw Complaints, Public Scolding (Gothamist)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Condo Preview: The Georgica (85th+2nd)

Looks like the Upper East Side is about to get another hot condo. On the heels of the phenomenal success of The Brompton and The Lucida, The Georgica, on 85th and 2nd Avenue is about to shine. While the AG's office has yet to give final approval on the plan, the sales office is ready and broker previews have begun. The Georgica has several things going for it. Here is a list of my impressions:
- Georgica seems to be a hybrid of classic New York family apartment and Downtown boutique condo. While many of the finishes are modern classic, the size (58 units) and design of the buiding (Cetra/Ruddy) evoke the Downtown boutique condo feel. This is no more obvious than with the exceptional facilities on the roof, which is divided into a children's area and an adult area. The kids will be able to run around the fully landscaped play area or watch (outdoor) tv on one side, while you can enjoy a cocktail, barbeque, or catch rays on the other. Wish my building had that set-up!
- There were a few finishes which I found to be standouts, even in comparison to other high end condos. The Calcutta marble kitchen with all Miele appliances was exceptional. However, the touches I liked the most were the continuation of the marble to cleanly cover the vent hood, a retractable water faucet over the stove (for pasta or tea), and the sliding drawer microwave tucked away on the inside of the marble island. Another huge hit is the use of Herringbone oak floors in the living space, which everyone, myself included, are raving about. The master bath was a masterpiece. Of course it had all the requisites (soaking tub, stall shower, double sink), but again there was a standout- the use of a gorgeous pale green Calcutta marble on the sink counter with complimentary white Calcutta marble floors and pale green bambo glass tiles. While the master bath may have a decidely feminine appeal, if I was to talk my wife into living there, the master bath and incredible kitchen would be undeniable closers.
- I like the location. Unlike Lucida and Brompton which both have exposures onto 86th Street, Georgica is tucked in at 85th and 2nd. While it is further East, I'm sure it will be quieter. The fact that Panorama Cafe on the corner refused to sell actually works to the building's advantage, The Georgica, especially above the 6th floor, is surrounded by open space and light. Second Avenue also has a wide variety of dining and drinking options and is more vibrant than 3rd or Lex in this area. Eventually, the 2nd Avenue subway will be one short block away. The building is also zoned for P.S. 290 (New School Elementary) which actually has recieved better grades than P.S. 6 of late.
- Finally, the "price talk" is accurate, the units should average around $1500 per square foot. At this level, all things considered, the pricing looks competitive and priced to move.
Completion is expected around August 09'. In an area with a shortage of quality condo options for families, it looks like The Georgica is sure to be a hit.

Thursday Morning Links

Bloomberg To Introduce Obama At Cooper Union Event This Morning (NY Post)
Tishman Wins Hudson Yards Bid (The Real Deal)
Solow's $4 Billion East Side Plan Approved (NY Sun)
A Different View Of Queens West South- Hunters Point (Curbed)
NYers Gain 10 Million Pounds In 2 Years (NY Times)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Not the busiest news morning here in the land of NYC Real Estate. I'll be back with a couple of articles to spice things up.
Cleanest And Dirtiest Subway Lines (NY Times)
Bear Fire Sales Rattles Commercial Office Market (Reuters)
Bloomberg, Council On The Spot As MTA Readies Rail Yards Plan (NY Sun)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Morning Links

3 Weeks- that's all it took for the MTA to back out of it's promise to improve bus and subway service after it's recent fare hike. The MTA cited a fall off in real estate related tax income in March as it's reason. So, it took 3 weeks to dash a $30 Mil. promise. While subway service remains lousy in many areas and bus service spotty, the Bloomberg administration is working diligently to make the alternative, driving, more costly through congestion pricing. The Mayor's plan is said to generate over $300 Million for mass transit "service improvements". If we can extrapolate how quickly a $30 Million dollar promise evaporated, it would take around 7 months for the congestion pricing money to disappear.
MTA Renegs On Service Upgrades, 3 Weeks After Promise And Far Hike (Curbed)
Home Prices Fall By Record In January (NY Times)
Global Stocks Surge On Encouraging US Housing Numbers (NY Times)
City Council Split On Congestion Pricing (Newsday)
Mall On Bowery, Not So Fast! (NY Post)
First Crane Lawsuit Looks For $30Mil. (Metro)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Morning Links

Third Party Opinions "Deal Killers" For Brokers (NY Times)
The Brompton Sees Great Sales, And Big Price Amendments (NY Post)
Even Older Buildings, Like 3 Columbus Circle, Get Glassy (NY Post)
Monday Morning Real Estate Wrap-Up (Observer)
Mets, Yanks Seek To Buy Old Stadiums, Sell Pieces (NY Post)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Time To Negotiate!

The recent turmoil in the financial markets, the Bear Stearns collapse, the impending drop in employment in the city, and a national economy in recession, marks a specific opportunity. The Manhattan real estate market has been on fire for years, and for years potential buyers have been waiting for the market to cool and for prices to come in a bit. All indications lead to the conclusion that the time has come. There is no doubt that we have found ourselves in a buyer's market and, for once, prices are truly negotiable. Why? Aside from the obvious Wall Street/financial and national economic trends, fear and timing are working to a buyer's advantage. As I have mentioned before, February is the natural low point for real estate sales in the city. Every year, after the bonus bounce wears off there comes a point in February where the buyers dry up. Every year I talk to brokers and agents around the industry at that time, and everyone seems to be in some sort of panic, wondering if and when the clients come back. And, every year, as sure as daffodils start blooming in Central Park, the buyer come flowing back into the market during the spring. Most experienced developers recognize this trend and keep their powder dry and wait for the buyers to come back. This year is different. There is true fear in the market. While the surge of development inventory is past it's peak, most developers who have any portion of their building(s) unsold are more than willing to make concessions so that they can finish off a project and move on. They recognize that the market has slowed, and while they are confident in the market, they fear the worst and would rather not take their chances.
It is important to understand how to negotiate and what is important to developers. While there are a handful of developers who have reduced prices in Manhattan, this is, generally speaking, not the most palatable way to go for most of them. If a developer has sold a majority of it's units at a given price, say a 2 bedroom for $2Mil., they hate to book the same type of apartment at $1.8Mil.. To do so only ruffles the feathers of those that they have already sold to. So, the developer wants sales recorded at or only around what previous similar listings have sold for. So, the real discounts are in the details. There are 3 paths to a discounted price.
First, a "closing credit". A closing credit really works for both the developer and the buyer. On that $2Mil. apartment, rather than discount the price $100k, and record the sale at a lower price than others have paid, a developer would be much more apt to sell it to you for $2Mil, and give you a $100k back at closing. With this method, the various taxes are paid and recorded at the higher price, but you get money back.
Second, closing costs. Again, the developer may not want to reduce the price for appearances, but you could save significantly by asking them to pick up some or all of the closing costs. Closing costs for a new condo can run up to and above 5%, so this represents significant potential savings.
Finally, broker representation can make a big difference- particularly by a small yet experienced and savvy firm (like A. Fine Company). I have found that my relationships as a broker have gone a long way to getting the right price. A good broker can work effectively as an intermediary in negotiations and feel out the sponsor without insulting them. I have also experienced sponsors who have been willing to bend for me where they may not for others because they like the way that my company works.
My experience is that the real estate market revolves around fear and greed. These primary emotions change rapidly and the second that owners get the idea that the market is firming, negotiating power vanishes. That's why I see this period of time as an opportunity. Truth is, there are many, many positive fundamentals going for our market. Obviously, the island is only so large, but there are positive demographic trends (families staying in the city, retirees moving in), low rates, a cheap dollar, and very little new inventory in the works, to name just a few of the positives looking forward.
So, with a little help, and a little strategy, a new home can be yours for less than you might expect.

Saturday Morning Links

Some Of NY's Middle Class Welcome "Bear Discount" (NY Times)
Sign Of Spring, Water Taxi Beach Gets It's Beach (Eater)
Outrage Grows Over Faked Crane Inspection (NY Post)
West Side Yards Decision Nears (Observer)
MTA Leans Towards Tishman's West Side Yards Bid (NY Times)
Reactions To Atlantic Yards Delay (Curbed)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Morning Links

Atlantic Yards Rendering Courtesy Gehry Partners

Ratner's Atlantic Yards Could Be Delayed For Years (NY Times)
J.P. Morgan Says It Will Still Develop 5 World Trade (NY Post)
Wealthy Also Caught With Adjustable Rates (NY Times)
Massive Pillow Fight Planned For Union Square Tomorrow (CityGuideNY)
Israelis Bullish On NY Housing (Jerusalem Post)
Financial Firms Commercial RE Ripple Effect (NY Times)
Bear CEO Takes Home Off Market (WSJ)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What A Week, Dow Finishes + 3%!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the collapse and bailout of Bear Stearns, a 3/4 cut in the fed funds rate, and a 1 point cut in the discount rate, and numerous 300-500 point swings, has finished the week with a 3% gain. Phew! Now, if we can make it through a Good Friday extended 3 day weekend without another bank failure, maybe we can begin to make some real progress next week. Despite Bear's collapse and the 7000 jobs it will likely cost, and the 2000 additional jobs cut by Citicorp this week, some good things did happen. Mortgage rates, as reported earlier, at least conventional ones, have made a solid move down. There was also the US regulators lowering the capital reserve requirements for Freddie and Fannie that have put an additional $200 Billion in mortgage financing on the table. Also, the feds moves to open the discount window to brokerages and stoke the market with unprecedented liquidity. I think it was Joe Kiernan that put it best this week, 'Ben Bernanke went into the week with a grade of C or C+ and somehow came out with an A'. Let's see if he can hold that grade, I sense that we haven't hade finals quite yet.

Breaking: Crane Inspection Was Falsified- Inspector Arrested

Edward J. Marquette, of the Department Of Buildings, has been found to have falsified inspection records, rather than inspecting the crane atop 303 East 51st that fell to the ground last weekend killing 7 people. The inspection which never happened was on March 4th. City officials claimed that the inspection would have done nothing to prevent the March 15th catastrophe. I'm sure I'm not the only one taking that assurance with a grain of salt.

Conventional Mortgage Rates Take Big Dip

30 conventional mortgage rates have taken a sharp dip over the last week according to Freddie Mac's weekly rate survey. The average rate moved from 6.13% to 5.87% during the week, with showing today's rate further improved at 5.66%. Such a move indicates that the several moves on part of the feds and regulators has indeed had a beneficial effect on liquidity. Hopefully that trend continues. At the same time, the jumbo mortgage rate is still problematic. The average rate on a jumbo loan which was at 6.4% in mid-January has risen to 7.12%. If the liquidity injection is indeed working, we should see a dramatic decrease in that rate. Such a decrease would be welcomed and beneficial to the NY Real Estate market.

Thursday Morning Links

Hampton Management Employee Charged In $1 Mil Scam (NY Sun)
Grandmother Molesting Councilman Gets Extra $10k (Queens Crap)
Deutsche Bank Analyst Sees Drop In Demand For Office Space (NY Sun)
Bear Bust Good For City Renters? (Observer)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Regs Move On Fannie And Freddie Could Finally Drive Rates Down

In a move that is expected to add $200 Billion to the frozen mortgage market, regulators have eased restrictions on the surplus capital requirement for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from 30% to 20%. Fannie and Freddie are now expected to fund $2 Trillion in mortgages this year. In conjunction with previous moves like temporarily lifting the amount the agencies can lend from $407,000. to over $700,000 (know by the oxymoron "jumbo conforming loan"), true liquidity may finally return to the mortgage market, resulting in lower rates. Lower rates, of course, would be a great help in slowing or reversing the downturn in housing that has created the "sub-prime" debacle.
Now, let's see if we can really get the jumbo from 7% to where it belongs in the mid-5's!
Capital Requirements Cut For Fannie, Freddie (Jacksonville Business Journal)
Fannie, Freddie Get US Ok To Buy More Mortgages (CBS Marketwatch)
Fannie, Freddie Initiative To Add $200 Billion (CNN Money)
Fannie, Freddie Debt protection Costs Fall (Reuters)

Wednesday Links

Toll Bros. And Kibel To Build Condo On 33rd + 2nd, Cantor Broker (Curbed)
Toll On NYC Expansion (Observer)
JP Morgan WTC Building Could Go Residential (NY Sun)
A Look At Coop Speared By Crane (NY Times)
Court: Diplomats Must Pay Real Estate Taxes (The Hindu)
Bear's Building Worth Six Times What The Company Sold For (Bloomberg)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Night Links

Big Name Landlords Downgraded After Bear Goes Bust (Crains)
Rockrose Building Mammoth Rental In LIC's Courthouse Sq? (LIQCITY)
Fed Cuts Rates, Market Soars (NY Times)
Fox News Has Bedbugs! (Gothamist)
Party! Webster Hall Gets Landmark Status (Observer)
Corcoran Shifts To Web Ads (The Real Deal)
Bear Building On Madison Stolen By JP Morgan (WSJ)
After Bear Buy, JP Morgan Abandons Downtown Building Plan (Forbes)
Rates Going Wrong Way Despite Fed (New Zealand Herald)
Sub-prime Turmoil: Is There An End In Sight? (Fox News)
Fate Of "Iron Triangle" Behind Shea Still In Doubt (Newsday)

Tiger Drops $65 Mil For New Southampton Home

Adding to his $40 Million home on Jupiter Island and 16,500 s.f. palace in Dubai, Tiger Woods has purchased a 6 acre, 13,200 sf beachfront estate (with 7500 sf guest house) on Gin Lane in Southampton. I really have 2 questions for him. First, where are you gonna golf out there (plenty of good options)? Second, when you want to add a sweet Manhattan pad to your portfolio, will you be sure to look me up?
In any case, on behalf of all my friends in the Hamptons, let me be the first to welcome you to the neighborhood!
UPDATE: Tiger and his agent deny the purchase, The New York Post stands by the, maybe, maybe not?

Implications Of Fed Rate Cut

After some see-sawing, it appears that the market likes today's 3/4 point cut in both the fed funds rate and the discount rate (note that the discount rate was also cut 1/4 point on Sunday night). At this hour, the major indices are all showing better than a 3% rise, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is better by 500 points from yesterday's low. While Wall Street may be giddy, we know how quickly things can change- just ask Bear Stearns. At this point as it relates to NY Real Estate we have 2 opposing trends. On the negative side, we can expect significant job cuts on Wall Street (Bear will likely lose 7,000 jobs-half their staff), and Wall Street bonuses should pale in comparison to the past 2 years. On the plus side, if the fed is successful in bringing meaningful liquidity to the markets, we should see a significant drop in mortgage rates. Also, the dollar is exceedingly cheap, and with the market expecting another 1/2 point cut in rates by May, it is likely to stay cheap, if not get cheaper. As I mentioned before, the key here for our real estate market is a drop in jumbo mortgage rates. With a significant drop, say from 7% to around 5.5%-5.75%, the New York market, with it's limited supply, would likely see prices begin to appreciate once again. But, don't get too excited by the big rally on Wall Street. You can be sure that there are lots of shorts who are covering here, and despite short term jubilation, we still need to be weary of another Bear Stearns type debacle.

Breaking: Fed Cuts Rates 3/4

Tuesday Morning Comments

What a difference a couple of days make, especially for Bear Stearns. The vibe I am getting from the media, whether the NY Times or CNN, or others, is that everything is fine, the financials are rebounding, and the fed's move to open the discount window to Broker Deals for the first time is the panacea that we have all been waiting for. Yes, the market is up nearly 300 points today, the financials are rebounding (today), and the fed discount window move should have a positive impact. However, I find it extremely difficult to just shrug off the nearly overnight collapse of the nation's 5th largest brokerage. Clearly, there are deep seeded issues which must be addressed. Unfortunately, so much attention is being focused on the symptoms than the cause. The primary problem that must be addressed is the overuse of leverage in the financial markets. For instance, Bear Stearns was utilizing leverage 30 times it cash balance. In uncertain times, such leverage has proven deadly. Yes, the fed can pump plenty of cash into the system and keep these bank on life support, but what really has to be undertaken is significant bank reform to insure that this doesn't happen again. In the meantime, in an attempt to stoke liquidity, it is widely expected that the fed will cut rates by 3/4 of a point to a point later this afternoon. Yes, these moves are significant and by many means historic, but the key here is for the banks to regain the confidence to lend. While the fed funds rate has been reduced 2.5% since the summer, mortgages rates have moved very little, and actually moved up over the past couple of months. The spread between fed funds rates and mortgage rates has soared in that time, thanks to fear and liquidity (especially for jumbo mortgages). Should the spread narrow to historical norms, the upside economically would be very significant. In a real estate market like Manhattan, which has held up extraordinarily well, such a dip in mortgages rates, coupled with a cheap dollar would be very beneficial. So the key here as I see it, is not the actual funds rate, but the spread between the funds rate and what bank are will to lend. Hopefully the stoking of liquidity by the fed works, and soon.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Happy St. Patty's Day to all. Sorry for the late post. No, I wasn't getting drunk and rambling down the street loud and belligerent, like so many that seem to be roaming the streets tonight. This has been a week of dramatic changes and for not taking things for granted. On occasion we are reminded not to take things for granted. This week there were numerous reminders. Spitzer's career was over in a New York second when his lust for prostitutes was revealed. Bear Stearns' 85 year legacy of never losing money collapsed inside of a week and it's stock price sank 95%. Finally, I lost a good friend, Paul Ferrigno, to heart failure at the senseless age of 40-leaving behind 2 beautiful young children and an incredible wife. Paul was the consumate man. An established professional, a fantastic father, and a spirit that lit up every room that he walked in to. His love and his willingness to display it openly to his friends and family was an inspiration to all. I spent last night and today at a wake, funeral, and luncheon for my old pal. His spirit will continue to burn bright in all of our hearts.
I'll be back tomorrow blogging on the impact of the collapse of Bear Stearns, the expected fed rate cut (of up to 1%), and the impact of recent events on local real estate prices.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Links

In Burbs, Low Ball Offers On The Rise (NY Times)
Broker Incentives, Commissions On The Rise (The Real Deal)
Manhattan's High End "On Fire" (The Financial Post)
Streetscapes: 72nd And Madison (NY Times)
Overseas Firms Buying Manhattan Condos (Journal Gazette/Ft. Wayne, Indiana)
European Buyers Prop Up Manhattan Market (NY Post)
Latest On The Fatal Crane Collapse (NY Times)
Proposal To Raise London Congestion Pricing Charge To $50/Day (TimesOnline/London)
The Latest On NY Congestion Pricing (NY Times)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Breaking: Deadly Crane Collapse On 51st Street Kills At Least 4, More Trapped

(Image Courtesy Drudge Report)

(Image Courtesy NY Times)
A tragic accident on 51st and 2nd Avenue. A massive crane has collapsed backward falling off the top of a high rise under construction. The crane broke into pieces, struck the top of a coop building across the street while another piece crushed an adjacent 4-5 story building. A 15 story piece of the crane is still lodged into the side of the coop building and extends all the way to the ground. Initial reports have at least 4 dead , believed to be construction workers, while many others may have parished or been trapped.
WNBC Coverage
NY Times Coverage
NY1 Coverage

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Morning Links

(Photo Courtesy NY Times/CityRoom)

Walls Replacing Glass As Developers Cut Costs (More)
Ultra-Pricey 11 Spring Street Not Selling (NY Sun)
Cement Plant Roils Wainscott Residents (East Hampton Star)
Hamptons Market: Dip Or Dive? (East Hampton Star)
Morphosis' Cooper Union Building Looking Dynamic! (NY Sun)
Paterson Prepares To Become Governor (City Room)

Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

If a market could be diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, the stock market would certainly qualify at this point. After dipping nearly 250 points yesterday on poor retail sales and the probable collapse of esteemed Carlyle Group's municipal bond fund, the market made a remarkable reversal to close up 35 points. The rally can be attributed to a report by Standard & Poors, which while putting a massive tally on the sub-prime crisis of $285 Billion, also said that the global players have already disclosed a "majority" of the write downs. In other words, the crisis has peaked. Whether this is in fact the case is questionable, as is S & P's poor track record of making predictions. Perhaps they are correct. If they are, the economy is clearly still feeling pressure from out of control oil and commodity prices, food prices, and a dollar that is getting so cheap that it should be an inflationary concern as well. While bank write-offs from the sub-prime mess may have peaked, what's more important at this point is their willingness to write new loans which are essential in stimulating economic growth. Numerous moves by the fed, many late, yet dramatic, have yet to feed into the market. Whether these moves work remains to be seen.
End Of Sub-Prime Mess In Sight (CBS Marketwatch)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Irish Eyes Not Smilin' As Gramercy Green Sold To NYU (Irish Voice)
Yards, Moynihan Station In Peril With Spitzer's Resignation (Crains)
Middle East Investors Make Big Splash In US (WSJ)
Fed: Manhattan Real Estate Market Up 5% (NY Sun)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

I'm back! It was quite a refreshing week, but now it's back to business. While I was travelling the fed took agressive action to stunt the liquidity crisis on Wall Street. The fed is making up to $200 Billion available to banks and brokers in the form of 28 day paper, which the institutions will be able to borrow using some of the much-maligned mortgage backed securities as collateral. Just a couple of months back, the fed announced a $30 Billion dollar plan, which, at the times was seen as dramatic, so $200 Billion is truly huge. The stock market reacted with it's largest gain in 5 years, yet, it should be considered that such a huge scheme on the part of the fed is indicitive of a huge problem in the markets. I met several bankers from UBS on my trip, one of them put it quite succinctly: "this is a major fuck-up of epic proportions", and that his firm was "getting it's ass handed to us". As for our local market, which has largely weathered the storm thus far, my greatest concern is the creeping up of mortgage rates in the face of numerous fed cuts. This is a direct result of the freeze up of credit markets. Hopefully the fed's plan helps stoke liquidity which would bring down mortgage rates significantly and benefit our market. Will this happen? The jury is out.
Breaking: Spitzer Expected To Resign This Morning (NY Times-No Link Just Headline)
Fed Injecting $200 Billion (NY Times)
Update On GM Building Bidding (NY Post)
Solow East River Vote Today (Curbed)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Morning Links

Last day of vacation here in TCI. I have included a picture of "Chalk Bay", quite a wonder of color to behold! There are many parallels between the TCI and NY real estate markets. Much like NYC the high end here seems to be escaping untouched. 2500 Square Foot Beachfront condos in luxury resorts are going for as much as $2.6 Million and more. There are bargains to be had in older resorts, like Ocean Club West, where a 1600 sf 2 bed/2.5 bath could be had around $900k. Most of the resorts offer a program to rent out your condo while you are home, and many of them end up being cash flow positive. When I get back to New York I will try to put together a more comprehensive analysis. There is an incredible amount of construction on the island, so much so that you would have to wonder if the TCI housing market is just lagging the US housing market and heading for a bubble. I'm no expert of the local economy, so I can't quite answer that question. Just calling it the way my gut feels it. However, like the Manhattan coop market, most transactions require a significant portion down, usually 30% or more, so there is some insulation. And, if you had to live in your investment to ride it out, it would be hard to pick a better place.
Here are your monday morning links:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Morning Comment And Links

Good morning all from sunny Turks and Caicos. Needless to say, all is well here. I've included a picture of the reason I came here, the beach! Live blogging from Grace Bay may just be the way to go. Later this morning, I am meeting with a local real estate broker to get a sense of the market, and I'll likely blog back with some comparisons to the New York market. So far, I'm finding that income producing condo units start at around $500 per square foot with ocean view, while premium beachfront condos start slightly higher. I'm interested to see how the fees, insurance, and taxes work here in this British territory and what the state of the market is here where construction seems to be the island's #1 business. In the meantime, here are this morning's links.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday Afternoon Links

A bit of a Robert A.M. Stern lovefest in the press today, but, hey, what's not to love?
Police Investigate Small Blast In Times Square (NY Times)
Robert A. M. Stern, The City's Best (NY Post)
Goldman VP Buys At Two Robert A.M. Stern Buildings (Real Deal)
NYC Rental Development Grinds To A Halt (NY Sun)
City Council, Solow Grapple Over Huge East River Plans (NY Sun)
More Controversy Over Meadlowands 289' Ferris Wheel (Bloomberg)
Risky Mortgages A Thing Of The Past (CNBC)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday Evening Links

Well, I have made it to my remote location on wonderful Grace Bay here in Caicos. The 3 hour flight was a breeze, aside from everyone in my family, aside from me coming down with a 24 hour stomach virus, less than 24 hours from departure- ay yi yi! And waking up at 4 in the morning for a 7 30 flight with 2 kids, also not a charmer, but who am I to complain. People have already asked me why I would blog remote- that I need a break. Believe me, sitting on my terrace here with the whisper of gentle turquoise waves crasing on the shore is a break. I'll be back with a little on Real Estate here, and I must say, it looks like I have found myself in another boom town here. Here are today's links:
First Glimpse Of A World Without Madison Square Garden (Curbed)
Saudi Prince To Be First In Plaza's Grand Suite (Real Deal)
15 Union Square West Open For Business (Curbed)
Brooklyn Foreclosures Up 20%, But Not Many In Manhattan (Brownstoner)
More tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tuesday Links

Yesterday was a rare miss in my daily posting routine. Unfortunately, I found myself spending the entire day preparing for an upcoming vacation. The good news is that A. Fine Blog will be blogging from outside the US for it's first time (for a week) starting Wednesday. Look for a real break in the routine.
NYC Continues Historic Building Boom (Observer)
NYC's Big Projects Feeling Credit Crunch (NY Sun)
Park Slope Battles Arrival Of Sex Shop (NY Mag)
76 Crosby Packing In The Celebs (Curbed)
MTA Unveils More Grand Plans, But Will They Ever Happen? (NY Times)
Building Manhattan In Dubai (Curbed)
Gray's Papaya Endorses Obama With Big Signage (Observer)
Obama And Clinton Debate Housing Plans (WSJ)
NY State Legislators Call For 1 Year Foreclosure Moratorium (NY Times)