Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Morning Links

Wow. Barely made the links on the am side today. Lots going on, but technical difficulties on the home front, delayed my usual 8 a.m. post. I could go on and on about the bailout, politics, and the economy, but we all know that would fill the blog on bore most of you to death, so here are today's links:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Morning Links

UPDATE: Citigroup Takes Most Of Wachovia (NY Times)
Credit Crunch:
Bailout Bill Ready For Senate Vote....Wednesday (NY Times)
Fortis Rescued (FT)
B&B Packaged, Nationalized (FT)
Wells Fargo Now Talking With Wachovia (WSJ) But, Apparently Loses
Dollar Rallies As German Bails Out Hypo RE Fund (Int'l Herald Tribune)
Real Estate:
Brokers Get Creative To Court Brokers (NY Times)
Affordable Housing Could Suffer (NY Post)
Luxist's Nation Real Estate Round-Up (Luxist)
Intrepid Returns Home This Week (AP)
Broker And BHS Boss Disagree On State Of Market (ABC News)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Deal Near On Bailout, Wachovia Woes...

Just after midnight this morning House and Senate leaders as well as Henry Paulson announced that a massive $700 Billion bailout deal has been reached. While the fine print is still to be finished, the bailout plan includes some provisions that House republican insisted on, namely to discourage some dumping of debt in favor of buying insurance from the government for the debt instead. "Reasonable" limits on executive compensation for those that seek assistance have been agreed upon, as well as warrants for taxpayers for shares of those companies that seek assistance. The impact of the deal is expected to unfreeze the credit markets.

Regardless of the results of a package, the fallout continues. According to various sources, Wachovia, one of the nation's largest banks, is in similar if not worse shape than Washington Mutual which was seized by the Fed last week. Talks have begun with Citigroup. The bailout deal may encourage Citigroup to take on Wachovia's bad debt. Again, we may be faced with a Sunday night surprise. If trends are any indication, the moment that your woes are headlined on the front page of the NY Times business section (as Wachovia's were on Saturday), you are usually on a 72 hour death watch.

Meanwhile, overseas, the credit crisis is threatening to fell it's first two major banks- Fortis from Belgium, and Bradford & Bingley from Great Britain. Both banks are working with their respective governments on urgent bailout packages. The fate of both banks could be decided as soon as tonight.
Full Stories:
Lawmakers Reach Tentative Bailout Deal (WSJ)
Wachovia, Looking For Help, Turns To Citigroup (NY Times)
B&B And Fortis, Both In Crisis (Times/U.K.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Morning Links

Yet another day of speechlessness! First Congress has a deal, then the White House calls for a photo op, and the whole thing blows up. Perhaps the failure of WaMu overnight, the nation's largest thrift, will put a sense of urgency in place.
On a much more micro-economic note, I have seen a reluctance of lenders to lend on "jumbo conforming" terms (625k) for 2009. In a recent search for a couple of clients, I found several banks "unwilling to quote" or "unwilling to commit". Fortunately, if you look hard enough, there are banks that are lending.
WaMu Fails, Sold Off To J.P. Morgan Chase (WSJ)
Lower Manhattan Diverse Enough To Withstand Job Losses (The Real Deal)
Bailout Deal Viewed With Hope, Uncertainty In NYC (The Real Deal)
Does Seeing Green In WV Lead To Greenbacks? (CityRoom)
Shea Stadium Toilets To Be Recycled In City Parks (NYDN)
Submarine Spotted In East River (Gothamist)
Europeans Still Buying In FiDi (Curbed)
Agreement Near on Modestly Simplified Calatrava WTC Hub (Observer)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

"Give me your money, or your economy gets wacked!" That's been the theme for the past week as the fed, the gov't, and the administration seeks a $700 Billion that amounts to the handout of the century. Everyone claims some unthinkable calamity if we don't just hand it over. However, nobody is specific. If our president had a shred of credibility left (think yellow cake in Africa), people would be running on the banks this morning after his ultra-gloomy, anti-reassuring sales pitch last night. It's a good thing that nobody believes him.
I have been thinking all week of who or what the bogeyman is that Paulson and Bernanke must be whispering in the ears of congress to sell such a plan. And, I think I've got it. The most significant player that could crush our economy in an instant, the Chinese. Just a theory, but perhaps the Chinese, tired of buying our paper (that keeps turning into toilet paper) signalled that we either clean up our act quick, or Treasuries would hit the market en masse. Now that would cause a true calamity.
Deal Close On Mother Of All Bailouts (AP)
Bernanke Close To Another Rate Cut (Bloomberg)
Hunters Point, Willets Point Projects Move To City Council (Curbed)
Gowanus Bldg Updates Anti-Corporate, Anti-Wall St. Tags (Curbed)
A-Rod's Pad On The Market For $14Mil., Looks For A Double (Observer)
Wind Farm Considered For Queens Coast (Queens Crap)
UES: Eli's Gourmet Shop Now Adding 1.8% Energy Surcharge (NY Times)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Second EDC Official Hit With Fine For Accepting Banned Gifts (The Real Deal)
Tougher Times Hobble Mayor’s Affordable Housing Ambitions (Observer)
AIG May Be Broke, But It Still Holds $16 Billion In Real Estate (Bloomberg)
Lehman May Be Broke, But It Still Holds $30 Billion-ish In Real Estate (Bloomberg)
Brookfield And Other Canadian Companies Seize Chance To Expand US Footprint (Globe and Mail/Canada)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Large Rat Boards 6 Train At Rush Hour

Chalk this one up as a first in my New York experience.

I was walking into the 86th Street station at 8:45ish this morning to get on the 4/5 train to Union Square. Just as I had turned left after passing through the turnstile to head to the stairs, nobody was moving. Suddenly, from the stairs a large rat had finished his climb and darted past me causing me to jump over the nasty vermin. The rat, which looked to be around a foot long and chubby, continued at high speed southbound on the downtown 6 platform. For me, that' s where it ended. That is, until, I just read Gawker.com, and as it turns out the rat actually jumped onto a downtown 6 train just as the doors were closing. Let me tell you, there were signal problems and the trains were slower and even more packed than usual. What a hell ride that must have been!
Full Gawker Story:
Todays Trend: Rats (Gawker)

UES Watch: Chapin School Chafes Neighbors With Expansion

I returned to 100 East End this past weekend to see Chapin School's just finished expansion, which took the building from Six to Ten stories. After doing a little research, I have come across a blogger neighbor who is none too happy about the expansion or the school. In addition to the usual complaints about traffic, taxis, loud assed kids, etc., it seems that the expansion may have ruffled the feathers of neighbors by blocking a number of lot line windows. Now, we know that is no way to make friends with the Crusties next door!

But aside from those issues, what about the design? I hate to get negative here, but seriously, Robert A.M. Stern should have been the guy for the job. Instead, we have a modern building slapped on top of a nice looking prewar red-bricker. That's like a brand new black BMW sedan with a tan hood. Just sayin.

Tuesday Morning Links

'White Flight' Has Reversed, Census Finds (NY Times)
UN In Session, Traffic Stinks, Palin To Meet Her First World Leader (NY Post)
Herald Square Hotel Developer Seeks Financial Aid (The Real Deal)
LIC Busy, Brokers Fight In Streets? (LIQCity)
Development Du Jour: Tempo On 23rd (Curbed)

Monday, September 22, 2008

LIC Mini-Development On 5th St Has Twin On 51st St.

Same owner, same architect, same general look. I have found the twin of the mini-development I pointed out on 5th Street and 47th Road. The twin is on 51st Avenue between 5th Street and Vernon. Again, it has balconies o'plenty and roof terraces as well. It looks like retail on the ground level, but I will work to confirm. I am trying to get in touch with the owner for more details.

Lindsay Lohan Moving To The Dakota- So Doubting It!

Rumors buzzing around the web today have Lindsay Lohan "infatuated" with former John Lennon home, The Dakota. As the rumor goes, she will be paying under $5Mil. for a penthouse that she will share with her lady lover, Sam Ronson.

This story is wrong in so many ways. First, with an average listing price of over $4000 per square foot, what kind of penthouse is she going to find there? The answer is none. Second, The Dakota is a co-op, a coop that turned down much tamer celeb Billy Joel (ok, on a relative basis). So, even if Lindsay wanted to live in The Dakota, but she'd be dreaming.

Monday Morning Links

Wait, wait, wait just a minute! While there is an undeniable need for the Fed's bailout package, suddenly here come the lobbyists to get their part of the biggest handout in History.
The bailout has changed significantly since Friday morning. By Saturday night all bad assets from car loans to credit cards were suddenly being included. By Sunday, we are also bailing out foreign banks. And we now have significant lobbying on the part of firms that caused the mess to actually get hired to manage the bad assets that they have passed on to the taxpayer. Ironically, the longer it takes to pass a bill, the more the markets will hold the proverbial gun to our heads. Let's not be held hostage by the same interests that have gotten us to this place.
Returning To Pre-Depression Financial Structure, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Will Transform Into Regular Banks, Ending An Era (NY Times)
Gasp! Democrats Call For Oversight Of $700 Billion Bailout Funds (NY Times)

Last Night For The House That Ruth Built (NY Post)
The Luxist, All Inclusive National Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Landlords Offer More Concessions, Fear Lease Breaks (The Real Deal)
For Buyers, Many Roadblocks (NY Times)
New York From The Water (Telegraph/UK)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"U Don't Know Nothing Produce" Tells East Siders How It Is

How do you really feel? This market owner is letting it all hang out. I spotted this on 84th and York Avenue yesterday. Apparently, the shop owner knows something, as the shop was well stocked with attractive produce at good prices and was pretty busy.

Update: Apparently the joke was on the owner, who hails from the Black Sea region of Turkey. According to the person I spoke to at the market, the name was lost in translation. Somehow, he believed that it was something positive that he was saying. The example the worker gave me is a phrase like "not bad", a double negative that means something good. Only in New York!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Morning Links

What a week! I am nearly speechless. Looks like the fed has at least doubled our massive budget deficit in a week. Oh, the markets are happy now, but at what cost? And what about the timing of this RTC style bailout? If they had come up with this bright idea a week ago, they could have saved 2 major investment banks and tens of thousands of jobs. Instead we have a massive consolidation and then nationalize the risk of the remaining players. Amazing!
Fed, Treasury, Congress Working On RTC-Style Bailout (NY Times)
NYC Unemployment Rate Jumps 1% (Crain's)
Idiot: Stockbroker Steals Clients Money, Then Loses It In Common Nigerian E-Mail Scam (NY Times)
List Of New York's Richest Real Estate Developers (Observer)
The Game Of Quantifying Square Footage (The Real Deal)
Morphosis Reflects Old On New At Cooper Square (Curbed)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

REBNY Applauds Fed Bailout Of AIG (Observer)
With All That Is Going On, NY Post Runs Cover Story On the Demise Of... A Cat (NY Post)
Fears Of Flood Of Office Space (NY Sun)
Banking Crisis And Consolidation Could Lead To Fewer Branches (The Real Deal)
Not Too Many People Are Crazy About The New Newsstands (Urbanite/AMNY)
Wall St. Fallout Means Change In Tactics For Brokers (WSJ)
Mystery Odor Vexes LIC For Second Day (WNBC)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

LIC's Latest Mini-Development

Spotted this on site rendering while wandering LIC yesterday. Diagonally across from the new Duane Reade on 5th Street and 47th Road is a 25'x100' lot which looks to be LIC's newest development. No details are forthcoming just yet, but I am familiar with the property because I had a client bidding on it. The biggest question was how to make money on a lot zoned for 7500sf when the lot was fetching better than $1.7 Mil.. Apparently, someone has figured that out. Looks like some sort of condo with (hooray) ground floor retail and terraces o'plenty! Good news for North facing 5SL owners- the building at 4 stories will have virtually zero impact on existing views.

Wednesday Morning Links

Risky Real Estate Deals Helped Doom Lehman (NY Times)
Starbucks Opens Stores While Closing Stores (The Real Deal)
NYC Office Market Girds For Lehman Impact (Crain's)
Curvy West Chelsea Design Revealed (Curbed)
Fumes From Construction Sicken 3 Dozen In LIC (QueensCrap)
MTA Told To Buy Bridges, Charge Tolls (NY Post)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reports: Fed To Take 80% Stake In AIG For $85 Billion Bridge Loan

Wowsa! Tonight several news sources report that the fed will be taking an 80% stake in AIG in exchange for an $85 Billion dollar bridge loan. Apparently, the insurance giant/conglomerate was deemed too big to fail, unlike Lehman Brother just yesterday. Efforts by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan apparently failed to find enough interest to do it privately.

Still, how much burden will the taxpayer have to bear this year? Since when does the fed take 80% stakes in Colossal companies? You wonder how the fed may have acted if this wasn't an election year? You frankly wonder how much risk will be nationalized? It really makes you wonder about our capitalist system in general and if the current model is a complete failure? Would it have all been different if we had a more pro-regulation president for the past 8 years? Would it have happened if Clinton and Gramm hadn't repealed The Glass Steagall act in 99'? Just talking out loud here as there is so much to digest and to contemplate. Anyway, here is the news:
U.S. Plans Rescue of AIG to Halt Crisis; Central Banks Inject Cash as Credit Dries Up (WSJ)

Tuesday Morning Links

Lots of links today and I could probably add more! Quite a day yesterday, the worst on the street since 9/11. At least Bloomberg was cool and reassuring.
Cardboard boxes are replacing bonuses this year. I think this hurts the $2Mil and up condo market the most. Most Wall Streeters saw this coming which is why we have seen a slowdown in the middle of the market ($2 Mil-$5 Mil) over the past several months. Looking forward, affordability and value will rule the market. I would expect the lower end (under $2 Mil. and especially under $1 Mil) to be fine, while discounts and negotiability are a certainty for the entire market.
Top Outer Borough Condos- Long Island City Rising (The Real Deal)
Manhattan Median Sales Prices Drop 6% (NY Times)
As Bonuses Dry Up, So Could Condo Sales (NY Times)
Olsen Twins Slash Price For Penthouse At Morton Square (Cityfile)
Google Co-Founder Pays $8 Mil for West Village Duplex (Cityfile)
Bloomberg Says City Is Prepared To Deal With Job Losses (Observer)
56 Leonard Revealed, And It Is Something! (Curbed)
Raw Stanhope Penthouse Sells For $34 Mil, Was Asking $47Mil (The Real Deal)
San Gennaro Menace? (Curbed)

Monday, September 15, 2008

LIC: New Kids On The Block- Vere, L Haus, And Prestige Test Market

L Haus


The Prestige

There is a crop of new condos coming on the market in the coming weeks: Vere on Jackson and Purves (just north of Court Sq.), L Haus on Jackson and 49th Avenue, and Prestige Condo on 50th and 5th Street. These will be among the last of the condos put in the ground in the race to get a 421-a tax abatement. Given the softness in the market of late, these projects will be a real barometer for neighbors and those who have bought recently.

I took a tour of L Haus recently and the place looked very nice. Despite a somewhat challenged location off the Pulaski Bridge, the finishes were high quality, and the amenities including 10,800sf yard, yoga studio, gym, lounge and roof deck were an exceptional potential draw. Also promising is the Cetra/Ruddy (of One Madison Park) design which is far from cookie cutter. L Haus is also priced reasonably with some units as low as $600ish per square foot.

Vere further up on Jackson on the corner of Purves Street is priced a bit higher per square foot averaging around $785 per square foot (for the 17 units listed on StreetEasy). While I won't preview this property until Thursday, it seems that the sell with this building will be the Andres Escobar designed interiors, ceiling heights of up to 13 feet and views. I'll report back on this one soon.

Finally, a real mystery, first mentioned by my friend over at LIQ City. The building called "The Prestige" is a lofty boutique condo on 50th Avenue and 5th Street. Originally, it is rumored that the building was shooting for LEED Gold certification and called the "Greenview". I am not sure if the change of name indicates that they have abandoned the Green concept. While the exterior looks pretty ordinary, the interiors look pretty nice from the limited pictures that I saw on Flikr. Prices are reported to be in the $700's per square foot (not confirmed).

I've been out to LIC quite a bit recently and from the looks of weekend traffic as well as empirical evidence things seem to have really picked up since labor day. These three new condos all open in the next month and will be a good litmus test for demand, type, and price of condo to move in LIC going forward.

Personally, I think value is the big driver to LIC. Which condos sell and how fast will be a good indicator.

Monday Morning Links And Comment

"This is the end of the story, not the beginning" were the reassuring words of a Wall Street confidant reached late last night. Another figured that AIG and Wamu were next, but then everything would be alright and the stage would be set for a rally. Perhaps the events of the past weekend were the capitulation or blow off that we have all been waiting for, time will tell, yet no one can deny that our landscape has changed dramatically overnight.
On my walk through the dark for a cup of Starbucks early this morning a stiff breeze was blowing. A cruel wind I thought, as I found myself avoiding eye contact with anyone in a suit making the predawn trek to work.
AIG Scrambles For Cash, Shakes Cup To Fed (CNBC)

Back To Real Estate:
A Look At The Con Ed Tower- Still Not Landmarked! (NY Times)
7000sf Home Sells At Stanhope, Was Asking $47.5 Mil. (NY Times)
Slope Seeming Less Chic Than Suburban Of Late (NY Post)
Squeegemen Are Back As City Starts Slow Slide (Queens Crap)
Bloomberg's LIC Plan Panned (NY Post)
Sunday National Luxury Real Estate Round Up (Luxist)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lehman Heading To Ch. 7 Bankruptcy By Midnight?

The fed was plenty busy over the weekend spending much of today and yesterday working with Bank of America and Barclay's to iron out a deal for troubled Lehman Brothers, the nation's 4th largest investment bank. The problem is that when both potential bidders learned of the Fed's inclination not to back or bail out the troubled securities both banks have reportedly walked from a potential deal. This leaves only one viable option, liquidation. The day is not quite done yet, and anything can happen, but it's not looking good. The Wall Street Journal seems to have the best beat on this issue. Here is WSJ's full article:
Barclays Walks from Lehman Deal; Likelihood for Transaction Narrows (WSJ)

And Bank Of America To Absorb Merrill Lynch?
Story: Bank Of America Eyes Merrill (WSJ)

Update 8:47p.m.: NY Times Reports That Lehman Plans Bankruptcy Filing

Update 9:47p.m.: Bank Of America Reaches Deal To Buy Merrill For $44 Billion (WSJ)

Labels Added For Convenience

Please note that I have added a "labels" section on the upper right hand side of the blog.
I hope this helps all viewers sort through and find exactly what you are looking for and improves your viewing experience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Looks Like Another Busy Weekend For The Fed

It sure seems that Lehman's days are numbered- very numbered. Word on the street is that the Fed has gotten involved and it is likely that Lehman will be taken over by either Bank of America or Barclay's with an assist from the fed who may backstop any securities with dubious valuations.
It seems that the Achilles heel of the Fed bailout of Fannie and Freddie is that the preferred stock holders were not paid out as the came in junior to the government's senior preferred. So, bank and brokers are stuck with yet another liability in the form of nearly worthless preferred stock. This hasn't helped Lehman or any number of banks and brokers on the street. Such added liability could weigh on the likes of Merril Lynch, Washington Mutual, and a number of others. I am not trying to start any rumors here, just conveying what I am hearing (which could be way off, ftr).
Many that I have spoken to in the financial industry see this as the last wave of bad news and the believe that the credit crisis has officially peaked. We can only hope that they are right.

Friday Morning Links

Burst Of Activity Ahead? (The Real Deal)
Supply Of Homes In Metro Areas Shrinks (WSJ)
Lehman Races To Find A Buyer (WSJ)
City Bracing For Lehman's Demise (NY Sun)
Obama, McCain Make Joint Appearance At Ground Zero (NYDN)
Bon Jovi, Ron Pearlman To Revive East Hampton's Fabled "Blue Parrot"? (East Hampton Star)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flash: Rates continue to go down after the Fannie/Freddie bailout. The 30 year fixed rate is reported at 5.93%, down .6 over the past 4 weeks. Quotes from local mortgage brokers are coming in as much as a half point below that number. Refinancings are picking up- up 18% over the past 3 weeks. The full story from CBS Marketwatch.

Thursday Morning Links

Ground Zero Progress Report (NY Sun)
The Towers Of Memory, Before And After (NY Times)
'Hostile" Lending Environment Weighs On Investors (NY Sun)
Lower Manhattan Dubbed Walker's Paradise (The Real Deal)
Bloomberg Pushes To Keep Astroland Open Next Year (AMNY)
Anne Hathaway's Ex Pleads Guilty To Real Estate Fraud (CBC)
"Collapse" In Mortgage Rates Should Help Stocks (WSJ)
Mortgage Rates Post Steep Decline (MarketWatch)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Union Square Park Update: Tree Pits, Big Pit, And Now- Water Feature!

The Union Square Park reno really seemed to get off to a fast start. Those old trees- gone in a flash! But, things seem to be slowing down a bit. Yes the 15 or so feet on the very North side have been filled with pavers and the first 8 tree pits are in place and seemingly ready to be planted, and that part looks good. However, the pit on the East side of the pavillion, where the future Danny Meyer kitchen may be, is taking what seems like forever. It seems that the bedrock underneath is more stubborn than they bargained for. Us on Union Square are hearing that big chiseler go at it ever day, day after day. To make things interesting though, at least the heavy rain the other day is giving us a new water feature!

Opening In LIC Today: "Shi" Is Sexy, Fun, Tasty!

LIC is about to feel culture shock! As much as I love LIC, it is very rare if ever that I actually felt truly hip being there. That is until today.

"Shi" an Asian fusion restaurant, bar, lounge opens tonight at the ground level of Rockrose's East Coast 1 building on Center Boulevard. After interviewing one of the three owners today, I asked Shih Lee, if "sexy, fun" would more or less sum up the atmosphere he was shooting for in the new eatery. He agreed and believe that "sexy, fun" summed it up.
"Shi" has a little of everything. It's menu is primarily Chinese influenced with some American and Japanese twists, as well as Shi puts it "a kick ass sushi-bar". The interior reflects a wide-range of Asian influences with fantastic river and skyline views, and takes advantage of an outdoor seating area in the back to soak in those views on temperate evenings. In addition to a large and comfortable dining area, the restaurant has a well designed large bar area, as well as a very inviting front lounge with fireplace. To keep in the spirit of fun, there is even a dj booth above the lounge area. The idea, says Shi is that after dinner, the music starts to kick in, and those who have enjoyed a nice dinner are tempted to stay for a nightcap.
I sampled some of the food, and I have to say, to my palate at least, it was quite tasty and would no doubt compete with the best high end in the city. And, the prices are quite reasonable.

I smell a hit here- not just for LIC folk, but I picture people coming to LIC for some sexy fun at Shi. Opens Tonight.

Wednesday Morning Links

I think the big story this week has to be the precipitous and welcome drop in mortgage rates. 30 year fixed rates have dropped from a high of 6.5% in late July to around 5.8% today. Better yet, I am hearing quotes as low as 5.4%- 5.5%.
9/11 Memorial Gets Downsized (Curbed)
Mortgage Rates Take Big Drop After Bailout Plan (MSNBC)
Wilpon Wants Soccer Stadium To Replace Shea (Queens Crap)
UWS Residents Worry About Lines For New Shake Shack (NY Times)
Lehman Brothers Facing Growing Pressure (WSJ)
Arby's Plans 41 NYC Locations (Observer)
Did Apartment At 145 Hudson Set New Downtowns Sale Record? (Observer)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Citizens Arrest, Brooklyn Style! Warning: Graffic And Offensive Language

Apparently being a criminal in NYC has become a much tougher proposition, as people seem to be fighting back with more frequency. This thug, who tried to rob someone using a razor in Brooklyn, was probably lucky that someone had a camera, as he probably would have taken a serious ass kicking. Ok, he did get kicked in the ass once, but I mean a serious ass beating.

A special thanks to Observer 24 (from France). They originally contacted me about my previous article about the citizens arrest in Union Square. While they didn't use my footage, theirs seriously rocks! Here is the full story:

Amateur Video of Citizens Arrest (Observers/France 24)

Mortgage Rates Drop 1/4 Point In 24 Hours

One of the potential benefits from the Freddie/ Fannie bailout could be lower mortgage rates.
If the past 24 hours is any indication, things are certainly moving in the right direction.
Yesterday, the spread between the 10 year T-Bill and 30 year conventional rates dropped by 27/100ths of a point, and mortgage rates effective dropped around 1/4 point to 5.88% according to bankrate.com. This is a welcome relief from the July 23rd high of 6.51%.
Mortgage Bonds Rally Following U.S. Seizure of Fannie, Freddie (Bloomberg)

Tuesday Morning Links

Double Decker Bus Gets Trial Run (NY Times/CityRoom)
A Fresh Look At Toll's Gowanus Project (Curbed)
In Little Italy, Very Few Italians Remain (NY Times)
TKTS "Stairway To Nowhere" Way Late, Way Over Budget (NY Post)
Video Farewell To LIC's McReilly's (Queens Crap)
WTC Tribute In Light Appears Early (Urbanite)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Morning (Mostly Fannie/Freddie) Links

In other news....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Market Update: Unadvertised Bargains Abound In LIC!

From an outsider's perspective, you'd figure that not has changed in the Long Island City market of late. If anything, you may figure that prices seem the same and that perhaps the market is flat and slower. However, I can report from experience, that right now there is a big difference between what is being advertised and what you can bargain for in the current marketplace.

How does having all of your closing costs covered sound? What if they threw in a pile of cash to buy down your mortgage rate a point? What if you offered 10% below ask and they actually take it? Well, a variety of these scenarios are playing out in a number of buildings in LIC. The market is slow and the developers are acutely interested in moving product.

So, you ask, why aren't they putting huge ads in the NY Times to call attention to these deals? The answer is simple. In order to officially reduce price (and then be able to legally advertise it), you have to file an amendment. If you file an amendment, all of the exiting shareholders have to be notified- and you end up with a whole bunch on unhappy shareholders. So, they just wait for prospects and then talk turkey when they have them one on one.

This is not happening in all buildings, I should note. Just look at Star Tower. The apartments at Star are selling like hotcakes and they have amended prices up numerous times. A new development priced right will sell right out of the gate.

If you have bought in LIC in the past year, do not be discouraged. Supply looks to peak in the near term. There are a few developments ready to open soon. However, with changes to the 421-A program, and the surge in building that followed, supply is near peak. Yes, there will be some inventory to be digested, and some people who may have gotten in over there heads and will look to sell as soon as they close. But, these look to be short-term issues. The long term value proposition is hard to deny. NYC is a very expensive place to live and LIC, a hotbed of culture and character, has more and more to offer as time goes by. Nobody can argue with it's convenience to Manhattan and the prices offer a substantial discount to living West of the river.

I guess the point here is that if you know where to look and how to ask, you can get a heck of a deal right now in LIC- better than you'd think.

Times Real Estate Section Headline Reeks Of Sensationalism

Many times a paper will flash a big headline, but when you read the fine print it doesn't justify the headline. Such is the case with the headline this week on the Sunday NY Times Real Estate section:

"Foreclosure Makes Its Move On Manhattan" (NY Times 9/7/08)

Now that's a pretty sensational headline, but look at the facts presented:

- 1 in 50,000 homes in Manhattan "face" foreclosure- that works out to 0.00002% of all homes in Manhattan!

- Foreclosure filings "jumped" to 93 in July 2008 from 52 in July 2007. Sure, that's a big percentage increase, but 92? That's it?

- Only 1 in 10 homes in Manhattan actually go to auction and are sold in foreclosure, so are we talking about 9 homes being sold at auction?

So the Times makes a heck of headline, but there is nothing behind it. This reeks of sensationalism in my book. You could also see it as borderline irresponsible. Then again, if you took your advice from the New York Times headlines, you've missed the past 15 years of exceptional appreciation.

I'm not saying that foreclosures won't pick up, times are tough. However, if you consider all that we've been through over the past couple of years (sub-prime, credit crisis, Bear Stearns, Wall St. layoffs, weak economy, etc.) perhaps the headline should have been:

"Remarkably, Manhattan Foreclosures Virtually Non-Existent"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fannie, Freddie Deal To Lead To Lower Mortgage Rates?

Despite the potentially severe negative impact to taxpayers, the Fannie and Freddie Bailout being crafted by the Bush Admin, Treasury, and Fed may have one very significant positive impact- lower interest rates.
Over the past several months the spread between the 10 year treasury rate and mortgage rates has widened significantly. Similarly, the spread between the fed funds rate and prevailing mortgage rates has widened tremendously. While some of the widened spread can be attributed to banks trying to make a buck to survive (or thrive in a collusion sense if they somehow avoided the mortgage mess), a fair share of the inflated rates can be blamed on the interest cost to Fannie and Freddie to raise capital. Since Fannie and Freddie's fate has been in serious question, the two GSEs have had to pay some serious premiums to borrow money. Since the new plan will essentially burden taxpayers and cement the true full faith and backing of the US Government (rather than an ambiguous one), interest costs to the former GSEs should decline significantly. The 3/10ths of a percent decline in the 30 year conventional mortgage over the past couple weeks (to 6.1%) may have been a harbinger of the move and of things to come.
We can only home that a move back to traditional spreads will aid the housing market and limit taxpayer liability.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Breaking: Another Busy Weekend For The Fed- Fannie And Freddie Bailout Imminent

It's yet another busy weekend for the Fed! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is in the works and an announcement could be made as early as this weekend. Here is the story:
US Near Deal On Fannie, Freddie (WSJ)
Paulson Meets With Benanke, Fannie And Freddie Chiefs (Bloomberg)

Friday Morning Links

Toll Brothers "Scared" About NYC Condo Market (Guardian/UK)
Strong (Canadian) Dollar Brings Buyers From The North (WSJ)
Fewer Foreigners Buying, Mix Changing (The Real Deal)
New York's Most Impressive Real Estate Flips (NY Mag)
Miami And LA Home Prices Begin To Level Off (CBS4/Florida)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gehry Tower: The Base Is In Place

While it has a long was to go, eventually topping 75 stories, Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower (Forest City Ratner) is on the move! The base which will house a school is built and the tower phase is slowing growing. Now, we can't wait to see those impressive curves!

Thursday Morning Links

New York Sun May Close Unless It Finds More Funding (Observer)
Letter From The Editor Of New York Sun About Possible Closing (NY Sun)
Eastern Queens Still Leads City In Foreclosures (Observer)
Is SoBro's Moment On The Fade? (Curbed/The Real Deal)
Deal To Double Wind Power In The State (NY Times)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Scarano Project In LIC Facing Foreclosure (The Real Deal)
New LES Skyline Takes Shape On Ludlow (Curbed)
Going To The Heart Of Hart Island, A Part Of NY Rarely Seen (Gothamist)
How Jamie Diamond And J.P. Morgan Avoided The Sub-Prime Mess (CNN/Fortune)
NYC Seeing Pinch, Not Bite From Housing Crisis (Seeking Alpha)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NYC In Hanna's "Cone Of Uncertainty"

Like planes lined up on a runway, the tropics have gotten quite active. There is Hanna, and Ike, and the future Josephine, all expected to be hurricanes (Hanna already is) that are waiting to take turns moving around a Bermuda High and testing the long odds that the NYC area and Long Island will see a long overdue hurricane. Unlike New Orleans, which luckily escaped what could have been a much worse storm in Gustav this weekend, NYC and Long Island are woefully unprepared for anything close to a Gustav. A Category 2 storm (96-110mph), it is argued, rightly, would pose far more a risk to NYC than to areas more accustomed to such storms.

By far the most devastating to reach our shores was the "Long Island Express" storm of 1938 that levelled Long Island and literally redrew the map and made Montauk an island for a period of time. The scary part is that Long Island has developed exponentially since. And NYC, just check the flood plain map, the NY Stock Exchange under water- not good.

It may be a long shot, but it is always important to be prepared. At any time we could face our test.

Duane Reade, LIC, Is Open!

It just keeps getting better. First, it's the supermarket opening that LIC has waited years for. And, just like that, Duane Reade opens next door. One of my agents was out in LIC on Friday and he can confirm that the Duane Reade is indeed open for business.

Post-Weekend Links

Welcome back everyone! From the looks of the city this weekend, it seemed that there was no shortage of stay-cationers or Europeans tourists. From my 30 hour break out East, it could also be observed that there is no shortage of wealth around these parts. It is a busy time. Kids go back to school. The big vacation weeks with empty streets are over. And, we get our best look at the state of the Real Estate market, as the summer doldrums are no longer an excuse. It should be interesting. I'll be back with a fall preview and a look back at one slow summer.
The Ultimate Luxury: A Garage (NY Times)
Manhattan Shows First Cracks (Financial Times)
Backyard In The City: An Urban Oasis (NY Times)
Flirting With Disaster, City Enters Storm Season (Queens Chronicle)
In West Soho, "The Renwick" Opts For The Soft Sell (NYDN)
Burj Dubai Becomes World's Tallest Building (Yahoo)