Is Now A Good Time To Buy A Home? (WSJ)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Is Now A Good Time To Buy A Home? (WSJ)
Monday, September 29, 2008
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)
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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.
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
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)
Friday, September 12, 2008
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.
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
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
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
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:
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)
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
Sunday, September 7, 2008
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.
"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
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
US Near Deal On Fannie, Freddie (WSJ)
Paulson Meets With Benanke, Fannie And Freddie Chiefs (Bloomberg)
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
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
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
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)