Halstead Property

The Art of Columbia County, NY

Mary Stapleton

Mary Stapleton
Halstead Property
Click Here To Contact Mary

Columbia County in Hudson Valley is known for its varied landscapes, winding country roads, majestic mountain ranges, lakes, streams, the mighty Hudson River and some of the finest historic estates in New York.

Photo Courtesy Of Sandy ArthurOnce a hidden secret, the county has become a haven for weekenders from the TriState area and beyond. Well-known artists, musicians, actors, and writers are calling Columbia County their home for the same reason many day trippers hop on the Amtrak or wind up the beautiful Taconic Parkway. They come for the majestic beauty, endless outdoor activities for every season, quintessential country towns dotted about, and the hippest little city in the Northeast: Hudson.  There you can find unique and important antique and design establishments, as well as some of the finest galleries, shops and restaurants in the Hudson Valley. In Hudson, you may feel like you stepped back in time, (for the boomers) to the West Village, say forty years ago—or the new running joke, ‘Hudson is the new Brooklyn!’

These are some of the same reasons that brought myself and countless others to the area. Many start as weekenders, but we have been seeing a trend of people coming with the intent of becoming full-time residents. Not only is the Baby Boomer generation transitioning, but it seems every generation is coming as well, bringing creative, innovative businesses to the area. As we are in a mobile, global time, it is easy to see why so many are wanting to call Columbia County their home!

 

 

Photo Courtesy of  Dan Tappan - featuring  The Kennedys

Photo Courtesy of Dan Tappan – featuring The Kennedys

Another trend is the Modern Organic Farmers and the Creative Chef figures that are flocking to the area— where the lands are bountiful and the ‘farm-to-table’ explosion is making this region a popular food adventure destination. Add several first-class ski resorts, golf and tennis, boating, hiking and bike trails to the mix and it’s easy to see why so many have shifted from the weekender to the full- ime resident. Of course, there are countless farmers markets, music, art, and film festivals, and many historic sites here, such as Clermont Historic Estate. The Fredrick Church’s Olana, another historic site, is where the famed American School of Painters obtained their a good deal of their inspiration.

Once seasonal, it is easy to see why the area has become a four season destination. The eclectic mix of real estate is so complimentary to a wide range of buyers, keeping the rural communities beauty intact. It’s also easy to understand why Columbia County has become the place for artists, writers, actors of stage and film wanting to be anonymous in our beautiful environment.

Logistically, we are within two hours from New York City, and are centrally located in the Hudson Valley, where we can easily enjoy and utilize the services the surrounding communities.

Photo Courtesy Of Jay WoodworthHalstead’s Hudson Valley office opened its doors in Hudson eight years ago and continues the tradition of offering the finest properties and service available, as in all our offices throughout New York City and the TriState area. I walked into the office five years ago and was greeted by a vibrant New Yorker, a successful New York City Halstead agent and broker, and instantly felt at home. Whether you are looking for a minimalist retreat hidden down a wooded path, a majestic Historic Estate, or a Mountaintop modern masterpiece, you will find it here.

residencyNY Roundtable – April, 2014

Ryan SerhantRyan Serhant
Elizabeth Lee SampleElizabeth Lee Sample
Louise Phillips Forbes
Maria Babaev

Ryan Serhant, Nest Seekers International
Elizabeth Lee Sample, Sotheby’s International Realty
Louise Phillips Forbes, Halstead Property
Maria Babaev, Douglas Elliman

 

Give us your view of the impact the international buyer has had in the NYC luxury residential market, and what you do as an agent to manage the expectations, perspectives, and needs of such a diverse marketplace of customers?

 

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: The real estate market in Manhattan follows the currency market.  When the dollar is cheap for one country, we see many buyers from that country buying real estate.  Any strong broker in the city follows the FX market and reacts accordingly as it moves.  Foreign money provides liquidity for the property market in New York, which allows for faster appreciation, relatively speaking.  To take advantage of new investors, we educate them on the tax advantages, process of ownership, and property management (a service we provide in-house for all clients). Very rarely do I call myself a “real estate agent” in front of foreign buyers.  To gain their trust, I am an international property investment advisor.

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: The International buyer has a different perspective to our market then we do. They see the pricing in other major capital cities and realize the upside potential of NYC real estate. It is also viewed as a safe haven for investment. As a result the competition for premiere properties is evident by our current supply.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: Just ten years ago the high-price apartments were coops.  However, the financial requirements and strict house rules around subletting kept foreign buyers out for the most part.  Enter the rise of the luxury condominium.  “If you build it, they will come.”  This development boom began with buildings like the Time Warner Center in 2003 that captured $3,571 per square foot for the apartment on the 76th & 77th floors and The Park Imperial at 230 West 56th Street, but now includes One Madison Avenue, 157 West 57th Street, 15 Central Park West, 432 Park Avenue, The Plaza, and 50 United Nations Plaza, soon to be home to a $100M apartment.  These exclusive buildings, among many others, offer privacy because there is far less financial disclosure required, and they have quickly established a new kind of exclusive club where the only qualification is extreme wealth.  As a result the foreign wealth has had a dramatic impact in transforming our market place setting record-breaking prices. The demand has elevated what is being built.  These opulent condo buildings provide the ultimate in luxurious living from outstanding amenities to sophisticated finishes and materials in apartments designed by renowned architects.  Even the wealthiest and most discerning of New Yorkers have recently aspired to buy a luxury condo and join the ranks of the international elite.  It is my job to financially qualify the buyer, educate them accordingly, and introduce them to the wide range of high-end developments citywide.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: In my opinion, the international buyer has a major impact on the NYC residential market. Specifically in the luxury segment of the market place, we’ve recently witnessed record breaking numbers with international buyers driving the sales. Global buyers continue to invest in real estate, often in second and multiple homes while looking for unique and special properties — limited supply of which attribute to healthy activity and increased prices in NYC. For today’s real estate professional it is extremely important to manage the expectations, needs and wants of international buyer and act as a trusted consultant to provide unique insights into the state of the NYC luxury real estate market. Overall, to have an experience and expertise not only to discuss record and average luxury home prices, inventory, and housing market supply, but also to be sensitive to buying trends, client profiles, and lifestyle amenities that shape the luxury segment of the market.

 

The outlook on the US financial markets isn’t overly optimistic; how does this impact the international buyer? How deeply do the  European or Asian stock markets affect the appetite to invest here in NYC Real Estate, and what other factors have you seen make our market more appealing?

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: The US financial markets are not currently affecting purchasers of NYC real estate based on our experience. I feel the overseas financial markets have driven international buyers to live and invest in New York City.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: The outlook on the U.S. market is always changing… it depends on the day and the news source.  But regardless, I don’t believe it has a negative impact on the international buyer.  NYC has always weathered volatility better than other international cities like London and Dubai.  Even within our own domestic boarders during the recent recession, NYC faired much better and with far less severity than other cities.  Additionally, many countries have unstable infrastructure, stringent government regulations including higher taxes and strict guidelines around cash leaving the country, threats of war, etc., so they recognize the long-term value in owning a piece of the rock.

For the past three decades I have watched the ebb and flow of stock markets and witnessed the safe haven of NYC real estate.  Owning a piece of the rock is a great place holder for money and protects their investment from volatility in the stock markets.  Only 33% of the NYC inventory is available for ownership creating a very healthy efficiency in our real estate market with respect to value.  Additionally, at one point, cities like Miami and Las Vegas had an investor profile as much as 62%, while NYC is only 6% investor concentration making it much more appealing.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: Real estate trends are driven, by global and US Financial Market trends as well as political currents. From the fluctuation of the stock market to concerns regarding global political events, international financial factors affect residential real estate spending.  Even with the outlook of the US Financial Markets isn’t overly optimistic – US still remains a “safe haven” for global buyers. In fact, Real estate is one of the most important storage of wealth in the economy. International buyers tend to hold wealth in their homes rather than in stock market.

In addition, the luxury housing market remains insulated from money flows and political shifts, as these concerns are less likely to determine the purchase of a luxury home for the high net worth international buyer around the globe. NYC remains top city on the list in which international buyers feel comfortable investing their money, despite the economic downturn. In that context, luxury residential purchases, even trophy properties, can be considered a conservative investment. Many buyers both local and international  are purchasing and enjoying a home instead of counting on return on investment in the stock market. Recent changes to tax laws in some countries have impacted market activity and is just another factor that make our market more appealing.

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: The international buyer invests in real estate here in New York City for reasons beyond financial return. More often than not, they purchase here to secure a good education for their children or an opportunity for citizenship, as well as to expand their portfolio. If the stock markets are proving to be too unsteady, they will likely move their investments into something more stable and less risky. Even during the midst of the financial crisis, when the entire country’s real estate market was at a collaborative standstill, Manhattan’s market was still performing relatively steady when compared to the rest of the nation. It also was one of the first markets to recover and recover quickly, which is an attractive feat for any investor looking to invest in NYC real estate. As for any investment, investors will always have to assess the risk — the fact that NYC’s market can recover at so quickly certainly provides investors with some level of comfort.

What features make a residence more appealing to one demographic group more than others? For example, this may include feng shui elements such as apartment number or construction to other elements such as home staging or amenities.  

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: Some focus on luxurious living in a specific location, while others are more concerned with finding the right space.  They tend to prefer apartments and rooms on a grand scale that are fully renovated and they are prepared to pay a premium for it.  They aren’t interested in managing a renovation project from afar, they want to buy and move in, which is why they respond very well to nicely staged apartments.  Aesthetic is everything!

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: A lot of my Chinese investors will immediately disregard an apartment that they feel has “bad flow”. An apartment that has good feng shui can be as important to them as its amenities are for us. They firmly believe that an apartment with good flow (whether with the construction or placement of the apartment within the building) will promote good fortune. Apartment numbers or floors can also be a deciding factor. My Asian clients prefer if the numbers three or eight to be attached with the investment that they make. The reason being that “three” is often linked to “health” and “eight” to “prosperity” in the Chinese culture. If it comes down to two very comparable properties and its time for them to make a decision, they will likely lean towards the apartment numbered 1808 than apartment 1809.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: We do see that certain demographics are seeking specific features, for example Chinese buyers are influenced a lot by the art of fengshui as well as even house or apartment number. I find that international buyers are value-driven and look for luxury homes with large open spaces, a lot of natural light and finished to exceptionally high standards. Prime locations, architectural excellence, latest finishes, incredible views, high ceilings, an en suite bathroom for each bedroom, massive master bedroom suites, a gym, home office, a meditation room, movie theater, balconies, and terraces  – just to name a few features that can be found on the requirements list of the global buyers.  Overall, the residence must be great for large-scale entertaining but also very comfortable for the simple moments of everyday living.

In the last 18 months I have seen the new wave of international buyers coming into the market place. Most of them have an apartment in Manhattan or Miami, but when they move families out of their countries – they show great interest in luxury suburbs such as Gold Coast Long Island or Greenwich, Connecticut. Proximity to Manhattan, excellent school districts, private golf and tennis clubs, equestrian estates, dining and shopping establishments, fantastic parks and gardens and overall infrastructure — are the driving forces to this market’s desirability.

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: That completely varies from buyer to buyer. One may want a grand mansion while another must have a view.

 

What are a few general challenges an agent will encounter when representing an international buyer and/or seller, and how do you overcome them?

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: I feel that the complexities and rules of the cooperatives and condominiums are not fully understood by the international buyer

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: The language barrier can certainly make things a little more difficult sometimes, but fortunately I work with a multi-cultural team and can always count on their assistance when needed. There are a lot of moving parts involved in a foreign transaction on top of the already intricate nature of Manhattan’s real estate market, so it is critical that I always keep an open line of communication with my foreign buyers and sellers so they can feel more at ease when performing what may be the largest transaction in their life.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: I find that the biggest challenge an agent will encounter when representing an international buyer is to serve not just as a real estate broker facilitating a transaction but to be the link to the entire team of professionals such as real estate attorneys, inspectors, designers, tax advisors, immigrations attorneys, etc. For an international buyer the purchase of a property is so much more than just a standard closing and title search, – it’s a lifestyle change and adaptation to the new country and its customs and ways of doing business. So I am, as a real estate broker, always act as a trusted advisor and the source of the source of the entire chain of qualifies professionals to provide the best experience to the buyer thru the international real estate transaction.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: Sometimes language and culture can be challenging so occasionally I use translators to make it a more comfortable and productive experience.  Additionally, foreign buyers often have pre-conceived ideas (that are usually outdated) about New York real estate as it relates to neighborhoods.  For example, they will want to live in a five block radius of Madison Avenue because they think that’s the only high-end shopping area.  They aren’t aware of how the city has evolved in almost every segment.  So one of the first things I do is emphasize the importance of the education process to establish realistic expectations.  In order to obtain a successful transaction, they have to understand their financial qualifications for coop vs condo, investment vs primary residence, accessibility to cash and guidelines for removing it from their country, etc.  And just like American buyers, I have to find the balance between priorities.  One partner tends to be more focused on value & investment, while the other is concerned with proximity to schools & shopping.

Do you find certain international buyers prefer to purchase in certain seasons, and is there a time of year when buyers tend to be more domestic?

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: Unlike the rental market, which is always significantly more active during the Summer months, I work with active purchasers all year round. Historically, there is always a spike in market activity in the Spring, but I would attribute that to the seasonal affect on personal behavior rather than the internationality or domesticity of a transaction. I’ve taken clients on tours in the middle of a blizzard to see apartments the same way as I would in the spring or summer time. Serious international buyers will fly in and want to see apartments despite what the weather is like.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes:  Based on my experience, international buyers are most active between March & August, especially the Europeans, who are focused late spring/early summer.  For real New Yorkers, with respect to buyers, July & August is usually a reprieve from pounding the pavement, which makes the fall season extra exciting.  Interestingly, the cycle has shifted since the recession.  November & December are now one of the most competitive and active times of the year.  In fact, this past December I was managing seven contracts during the week of Christmas!  As a result of the 2010-2012 shift in bonus payments and adjusted cash distributions on Wall Street, moving from 50-90% cash to 30% cash, deferred income through restricted stocks weighs heavier.

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: Our Fall and Spring seasons are the busiest as are the auction houses. That goes for international as well national clients.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: Frankly, I don’t see pronounced purchasing seasons anymore, not even for domestic buyers. However, in the last few weeks right after Chinese New Year I had a lot of activity and showing requests from Chinese buyers and brokers as a lot of families are visiting New Year for a Chinese New Year celebration and they are actively looking for properties both in Manhattan and the luxury suburbs.

 

If you can, share the most interesting experience you¹ve ever had working with an international client.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: I had a particularly interesting deal that was also an eye-opener with respect to post-contract management of a deal for a foreign buyer.  Most recently I worked with a gentleman from India who purchased an $11M condo. Because it was new construction, we had a delayed closing.  After the contract was signed, I had limited access to my client once he returned to his home country, and the exclusive agent had moved on to other deals.  It became my responsibility to protect my buyer from a temperamental developer and project manage the completion of his apartment, which included multiple appointments with his designer.  There is a lot of hand holding and going beyond the usual scope of work when the buyers are not living full-time in the United States, but if you are willing to commit to the extra time, the advantages can be very fruitful.  This buyer was so pleased with how we managed the deal completely from start to finish, he has since recommended several new clients.

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: They’re each interesting in their own respect. I’ve worked with clients who would fly into New York City every couple of months and bring a different group of friends and colleagues with them each time who are all interested in purchasing here, each group larger than the last up to the point where I had to rent a bus to accommodate them. I’ve also worked with clients whom I closed a deal with while they were still overseas and not meeting until months after the fact and I get to introduce to them the multimillion dollar home they purchased for the first time. I just did a deal through Instagram with a business man in South Africa.  (The deal was done by email via attorneys, but the initial meet and greet was all on Instagram.) Each experience is definitely a learning experience for me and I continuously look forward to next one.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: I think that the most interesting and rewarding experience while working with an international client is once you earn their trust, they become your client for life and not just in your immediate market place. They expect that you can provide professional guidance for their purchases in other parts of U.S. and abroad.  I also find that for some international buyers their first purchase is a “trial one,” and most of them will buy a bigger and better, more expensive property shortly after the first transaction. So it is extremely important to provide exceptional service, to become a trusted advisor and develop a great business relationship to get the client for life.

 

residencyNY Roundtable – Featured at the REBNY’s 25 Anniversary Awards Gala

Jim Gricar  Halstead Property, President
Dottie Herman  Douglas Elliman, CEO
Kathy Kaye  Trump Organization, Executive Director of Sales and Marketing
Barbara S. Fox  Fox Residential Group, Inc., President

1. The current real estate market is characterized as being “very low on inventory.”  Is this accurate? If so, how do you set realistic expectations for both a buyer and seller in this type of market place?

James Gricar: It varies from submarket to submarket, but yes, we are in a generally low inventory atmosphere.  The Upper West Side, for instance, is the tightest; the Upper East has a bit more breathing room in some categories.   This is, of course, most responsible for the rising prices we’ve been seeing across the board.  Expectation management is what sales is all about, so buyers require extra care and attention right now.  It’s quite likely that as a buyer, you may well lose out on an apartment you love.  Our agents’ advice is “If this is the right time for you to buy, don’t get discouraged.  Keep at it.”  And for the seller, it’s creating an atmosphere of negotiating power and desirability, but not arrogance.

Dottie Herman: Inventory rates are low, but so are mortgage rates. Listing your home now can help potential buyers qualify for lower interest rates on their mortgages. Likewise, buyers who are seriously in the market for a new home can take advantage of the competitive rates.

Kathy Kaye: In today’s competitive landscape, it is crucial to educate both the buyer and seller in advance so they are adequately informed about market conditions. Sellers are watching the strength of the market grow, buyers remain vigilant, and it is our job to manage expectations and set realistic goals for both buyers and sellers. The ultra-luxury sector in real estate has been particularly strong. There are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities coming to market right now and we are seeing buyers react quickly and ultimately reach into their pockets.

Barbara Fox: The market is at an all-time inventory low.  Buyers must be prepared to act quickly in this market environment when they find their dream property.  There isn’t time to mull over decisions right now, and buyers need to be educated in advance by their brokers on the best way to secure the property they want to buy.  Sellers need informed broker advice on pricing their properties in this kind of market — while not overpricing.  Overpriced properties still don’t sell, even in this frisky market.

2. Over the last 3 months, we’ve seen a gradual rise of mortgage rates.  Although we are still at the bottom, it appears as if many borrowers are on the sidelines.  Do you agree, and if so, has that affected the number of transactions that are closing within the luxury market?

James Gricar: I think serious buyers are moving forward, and if financing, often times proceeding to contract without a finance contingency in order to compete with all-cash buyers. For the comfortable buyer with good assets and a high, reliable income, but who still wishes to finance, going non-contingent is an option.  Where it’s roughest is for the buyer who can qualify for a mortgage, but is unwilling (for financial security reasons) to go non-contingent.   The sheer number of cash and non-contingent buyers is so high right now, making the market a frustrating (though not impossible) atmosphere for the buyer who wishes to make his purchase agreement contingent on his ability to obtain financing.

Barbara Fox: If many borrowers are waiting on the sidelines, I haven’t witnessed it. To the contrary, people are afraid the rise of mortgage rates will be greater, and they are anxious to secure mortgages prior to that happening.

Dottie Herman: Although the mortgage rates have been climbing, they are still low when you look at the big picture – and the rising interest rates are actually bringing buyers off the sidelines because they want to lock in at these rates. The luxury market is not tethered to mortgage rates as much as the entry-level market is. Some of the really high-end inventory is bought in all-cash deals.

3. How do you advise a buyer and seller to proceed in a transaction when the property appraises below the purchase price?  What steps should a real estate broker take to ensure the property is being listed at the right price?

Dottie Herman: When a property appraises below the purchase price, the appraiser is not always wrong.  The first step is to take a look at the appraisal for reasonableness because that will determine your course of action. If the appraisal is well supported and reasonable (very hard to see this when buyer and seller have already committed emotionally to the sale), then the broker might consider renegotiating the price to save the deal.

Barbara Fox: If a property appraises below the purchase price, it could mean that several things could have happened:  1) the appraiser relied on information which was not up-to-date with current market conditions; 2) the brokers didn’t provide adequate comparables for the appraiser;
or 3) the property was overpriced in comparison to other comparable sales (not unusual in the current market climate).  It’s a broker’s responsibility to advise his sellers about accurate pricing and to discourage overpricing – all justified by a study of comparable apartments in similar locations both recently sold and currently available for sale.

James Gricar: Proper pricing is key, but bear in mind that brokers use closed comparable sales to determine an asking price.  Those closed comps are reflective of deals that were struck 2 – 6 months ago.  With the market rising as it has been, choosing the proper price requires thorough research and frankly, some hypothesizing.   In terms of appraisals, we’re seeing less of an issue at present.  ‘Non-appraisals’ are generally more a feature of a declining, rather than escalating, market.  In 2009 and 2010, non-appraisals were a daily occurrence.

4. Certain buyers prioritize amenities in their search for a residence.  Which amenities are the most sought after, and why?

Kathy Kaye: Amenities are still incredibly important to today’s buyer and the offerings are more expansive than ever. In the ultra-luxury sector, buyers now have access to world-class chefs, restaurants, incredible spas and a number of other five-star offerings. At the Trump Buildings, for example, Trump World Tower at 90 stories boasts amazing views, an incredible fitness facility and is home to Megu Restaurant. Trump International Hotel & Tower at Central Park West is the only Forbes Five-Star and Five-Diamond hotel with a Five-Star and Five-Diamond restaurant in New York. These are just two examples which are the types of incredible offerings that are available to buyers today. Traditional amenities will always continue to be attractive such as a full service concierge, outdoor space and full fitness facilities.

Barbara Fox: I believe the amenities most desired by buyers are:  attended buildings (doorman and/or concierge or elevator attendant), washer and dryer either in the unit or allowed in the unit, fitness room pets allowed in the building.

James Gricar: This is, as you can imagine, very budget specific:  the more money a buyer spends, the more he or she expects in terms of amenities.  I think sexy building amenities are great and very useful in selling the ‘lifestyle’ of the building.  But in my experience, the amenity most buyers want is simple:  useable, well laid-out space.  That’s something every buyer, regardless of price point, seeks.

Dottie Herman: Big kitchens, SMART technology, high-end finishes, and concierge-style services (such as room service and spa amenities) are becoming more sought-after features.

5. What areas of the city excite you the most in terms of development potential, and are their certain projects that you are eager to show?

James Gricar: I’m particularly excited about the Hudson Yards/Far West Side   As a loft owner in the neighborhood myself, I look forward to more neighbors and services.  I think it’s the go-to value proposition in city real estate right now.  Gotham West and the surrounding condo conversions in the west 40’s are of particular interest.
Dottie Herman: I think the area around Madison Square Park and NoMad is really booming right now. There are some very high quality new development projects on the market like the Whitman and 10 Madison Square West that have seen tremendous interest over the past few months and I believe they are setting the pace for a very dynamic market in that part of the city.

Barbara Fox: I really love the fact that fabulous buildings are going up in the most unlikely spots around the city.  I like to watch the gentrification of those areas over time.  That’s exciting to me!

6. Have you found any success in using social media to market a luxury property? If yes, can you share the experience?  How important of a role does social media play in marketing real estate?

Dottie Herman: Social media is a very important component when it comes to marketing properties. It’s a great way for agents to communicate their listings en masse with an engaged audience. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram lend themselves so well to fabulous real estate photography. I have heard of agents getting solid offers based on a picture they posted on their social media sites. It’s really pretty amazing.

Kathy Kaye: At the Trump Organization we have a very unique platform, in the sense that our community via the Trump Family has a following of over 3 million people on Twitter alone. Hundreds of news stories are generated from 1 single tweet. Recently, we unveiled a new ultra-luxury development in Mumbai, India and we broke the news via Twitter. It is an incredibly powerful tool and one that can be highly effective to generate buzz and awareness worldwide. Additionally, we have spent quite a bit of time exploring the new opportunities in the interactive space and as such, will be launching a new cutting edge luxury property application for iPhone/iPad that will be a unique tool for our brokers and their clients.

Barbara Fox: We post all our new listings on our facebook page.  It gets the word out quickly but I don’t think it is, as yet, integral in our business model.

James Gricar: We have an extensive social media operation at the firm headed by a marketing and tech wunderkind, Matt Leone.  He and his team not only market property via social media, but are tireless in creating endless social media opportunities for our agents. And our corporate presence is quite robust as well.

7. Buildings are on the rise…literally!  Several new projects are setting height records in New York City.  What is your opinion on these massive structures?

Kathy Kaye: It is incredible to see the recent changes in the New York skyline. The designs are increasingly cutting edge and pushing the architectural boundaries while catering to the desires of today’s buyers. This is happening not only in New York but in major cities around the world. For example, we have recently announced a new building in Vancouver which is a perfect example of a highly advanced style. The property is an Arthur Erickson design with an actual twist that will undoubtedly reshape the skyline in Vancouver. Developers today are more resourceful than ever, and as such are taking city living to new heights in New York and beyond.

Barbara Fox: Mayor Bloomberg created a fertile environment for growing our city over the past 12 years.  Since we can’t add any additional land to Manhattan Island, the best and only way to grow is UP!

James Gricar: Call it mid-western of me, but to me New York City equals skyscrapers.   While height, light, and density are things we need to regulate (and do, incidentally), I believe that New York needs to remain the most vital and exciting vertical living experiment in the world.  We started it, we should keep building it!

Dottie Herman: New York is a place where people come to reach for big things, so I think that these tall buildings echo that spirit. Aim high!

 

Upper East Side – Amy Herman, Halstead Property

The Upper East Side is my favorite New York City neighborhood as it’s the neighborhood where I bought my own coop apartment in 2013 in the east 70s. It’s where I live and work and super convenient in terms of access to Central Park and the 6 train. The real estate is breathtaking -prewar and postwar coops and condos and historic townhouses, some built as early as the 19th century. The Carlyle Hotel adds to the beautiful UES skyline and the Museum Mile allows for everyone to enjoy some of the finest art exhibits in the world. There are incredible date-friendly and kid/stroller-friendly restaurants and shops around every corner on Madison Avenue and farther east on Third Avenue-York Avenue too.

Amy’s Suggestions:

01JG Melon
For late night burgers and some unexpected celeb watching after midnight

02Maison Kaiser
For breakfast or lunch- baguettes and brioche

03Exhale Spa
Relaxation or workout classes

04The Mark Hotel Bar
For Cocktails

05Daniel
For dinner on special occasions


REBNY 25TH ANNUAL RESIDENTIAL DEAL OF THE YEAR AWARD

As a media sponsor and proud partner of REBNY, residencyNY Magazine congratulates the Real Estate Board Of New York on a fantastic event, and salutes the many winners, both with and without awards, that make our community special.

Jeffrey Rothstein of Douglas Elliman receives Henry Forster Award for lifetime achievement. Heather Stein of Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales receives top sales prize.

All photos by Gotham Photo Company.

Miriam Harris, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Transactions at New York City’s Economic Development Corporation presents the proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that declared October 24, 2013 REBNY Residential Division Day.

Miriam Harris, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Transactions at New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, presents the proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that declared October 24, 2013 REBNY Residential Division Day.

2

Jim Gricar, Sara Rotter, Diane Ramirez and Richard Grossman

Stephe Kliegerman

Stephe Kliegerman

Dottie Herman, Jeffrey Rothstein, Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston, Abby Gellert and Jim Gricar

Dottie Herman, Jeffrey Rothstein, Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston, Abby Gellert and Jim Gricar

Lisa Larson and Frederick Peters

Lisa Larson and Frederick Peters

Ellie Johnson, Suzan Kremer, Alfred Renna and Nan MarElia, J. Roger Erickson

Ellie Johnson, Suzan Kremer, Alfred Renna and Nan MarElia, J. Roger Erickson

Heather Stein and Peter R. Marra of Brown Harris Stevens

Heather Stein and Peter R. Marra of Brown Harris Stevens

Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston Barbara

Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston Barbara

Barbara Fox and Lori Huler

Barbara Fox and Lori Huler

Heather Stein, Suzan Kremer, Lisa Larson and Judith Oston

Heather Stein, Suzan Kremer, Lisa Larson and Judith Oston

 

Jeffrey Rothstein

Jeffrey Rothstein

Dottie Herman, Suzan Kremer, Ken Haber, Neil B. Garfinke

Dottie Herman, Suzan Kremer, Ken Haber, Neil B. Garfinke

Suzan Kremer, Luis D Ortiz

Suzan Kremer, Luis D Ortiz

James Gricar, Gerald Makowski

James Gricar, Gerald Makowski

Ilan Bracha and his team

Ilan Bracha and his team

Ryan Serhant, Jessica Campbell

Ryan Serhant, Jessica Campbell

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams

Jeanne Oliver Taylor, Rich Cave, Gregory Frank, Nik Kolidas

Jeanne Oliver Taylor, Rich Cave, Gregory Frank, Nik Kolidas

Gerald Makowski, Diane Ramirez, Peter Grazioli

Gerald Makowski, Diane Ramirez, Peter Grazioli

Michael Sorrentino, Gary Malin, Alicia Marenzana, Jay Heydt, Corlie Ohl, Danny Charles, Peter J. Sobeck

Michael Sorrentino, Gary Malin, Alicia Marenzana, Jay Heydt, Corlie Ohl, Danny Charles, Peter J. Sobeck

Shlomi Reuvini,Pamela Liebman, Paul Wexler, Bess Freedman, Gene Martinez

Shlomi Reuvini, Pamela Liebman, Paul Wexler, Bess Freedman, Gene Martinez

Mickey Conlon and Tom Postilio

Mickey Conlon and Tom Postilio

Rich Cave, Nik Kolidas, Cheryl Eisen, Gregory Frank, Harry Armon

Rich Cave, Nik Kolidas, Cheryl Eisen, Gregory Frank, Harry Armon

Andrea Daniels, Deborah Lupard, Karen Gastiaburo, Lisa Larson, Marc Palermo, Claire Groome and Doug Williford

Andrea Daniels, Deborah Lupard, Karen Gastiaburo, Lisa Larson, Marc Palermo, Claire Groome and Doug Williford

Heather Stein

Heather Stein

Eric McCarthy , Kristin Thomas ,Wendy Maitland, Ari Lefauve

Eric McCarthy , Kristin Thomas ,Wendy Maitland, Ari Lefauve

Nicole Beauchamp

Nicole Beauchamp

June 2013 residencyNY Roundtable – New Developments

Kelly Kennedy Mack, President of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group
Stephen G. Kliegerman, President of Halstead Property Development Marketing
Edward DAmbrosio, Vice President of Douglas Elliman, New Development
Melissa Pianko, Executive Vice President of Development for Gotham Organization, Dev

1. New developments are a very popular topic right now! Why do you feel that New developments have become so “hot” again?

Kelly Kennedy Mack: This may be the strongest real estate market in New York history, and it is being driven by a new development revival. Of the $6.3 billion sold in Manhattan in first quarter, more than a third came from new development. Manhattan has been starved for new condominium inventory over the past five years which has created intense pent-up demand for new product. Low inventory is propelling sales in every submarket and at every price point, resulting in truly astounding sales.

Stephen G. Kliegerman: The new development market has seen a tremendous resurgence in the past twelve months as New York has lead the country out of the housing recession due to numerous factors.  First and foremost, as the economy has healed, job growth in the city has created an overwhelming demand for housing – pushing rents up while the economic stimulus has kept interest rates low.  Thus, for the first time in many years, it has once again become more affordable to own than to rent in the city.  In addition to that, the number of new housing units built since the summer of 2008 has dropped to a 30 year low as financing for new developments dried up due to the recession.  Secondly, there has been an increase in interest from foreign buyers looking for a safe haven for equity preservation and future appreciation in the market.  Foreign buyers are willing to accept relatively low returns in order to safeguard their savings in anticipation of rising housing costs as demand for new housing still outweighs supply.  Lastly, there is always a high demand for new housing with the latest and greatest amenities, finishes and, of course, location. Many of today’s new developments are located in highly sought-after neighborhoods such as Tribeca, the West Village, Upper West Side. Now Midtown, with the emergence of One57, 432 Park and Baccarat has been established as a residential destination for the wealthy.

Edward DAmbrosio: It’s pretty simple… there is a natural cycle of home ownership… which includes ownership of a “new” home.  That cycle was interrupted with the onset of the recession. In general, people are now feeling a bit more secure about the financial status of the economy and their own financial status. People are finally adjusting and accepting what some call the “new normal.”  There is a pent-up demand and inventory is low, so right now there is a flurry of activity from both the builder/developers and the buyers.

Melissa Pianko: During the downturn (2008 to 2010) there were not many new developments started.  So for the past few years, there has been a limited amount of new residential product brought to market. Gotham Organization is bringing our first post-recession building to market this month – Gotham West – located at 510-550 W. 45th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in Hell’s Kitchen.  We are thrilled to be bringing this large development to market at a time where there is a significant demand for new buildings.

2. What amenities are today’s buyers looking for in a new building?  Name 4 that are the top of the list please.

Stephen G. Kliegerman: Buyers seek amenities that enrich their lives and add value to their residence.  The most sought-after amenities today are well appointed fitness centers that offer services such as personal training and wellness programs, swimming pools, resident lounges and children’s play rooms.

Kelly Kennedy Mack: Buyers don’t respond to gimmicks. Useful and time-tested amenities including parking, storage, fitness and multipurpose rooms, especially those designed with children in mind, resonate with today’s buyers. More recently, we’ve seen a proliferation of global buyers with multiple homes around the world, so properties offering full-service amenities supported by a hotel operator are actually an everyday need in their jet-setting lifestyle. In recent months, Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York has captured the world’s attention with the most exquisite amenity package available – anywhere.

Edward DAmbrosio: Today, amenities may be interpreted as “features.” What features rank high on the list for buyers?  1-Kitchen design and layout.  How they integrate into the homeowners lifestyle.  2- Outdoor living space – Patios, gardens, cooking areas, areas to entertain.   3- Open floor plans – great rooms that lend themselves to entertainment and ease of flow.  4- Master bedrooms or master suites that are on the main floor with generous closet space.

Melissa Pianko: We tend to focus on rental developments so I will speak to what renters are looking for in new buildings.  We believe the New York renter has gotten smart.  They want amenities they will actually use rather than fads (like Wii machines).  At Gotham West, we have a large courtyard which is an oasis from the craziness of New York.  It is beautiful to look at and a great place to relax.  We also have a really great gym – with spinning and yoga, a large lounge, some more intimate gathering spaces, a business center and a roof deck. We offer an array of concierge services.  The idea is that our renters are busy and we want to make their complicated lives as relaxed and convenient as possible.

3. What are some of the biggest challenges developers face in the market today?

Edward DAmbrosio: Scarcity of residential parcels of land. Not having enough inventory, or the right product, available for today’s buyers.  Trends in the market have changed rapidly. Lifestyle and location demands have shifted dramatically.  On Long Island, particularly, dealing with communities and local municipalities that oppose new construction has been a major challenge. There is a fear that new building will result in higher school taxes, more traffic, etc. Many studies show the exact opposite. Over time new communities often increase tax revenues, will bring new jobs, new retail. Overall it enhances the living experience in the community.

Melissa Pianko: Development is fun because it is challenging!

Kelly Kennedy Mack: Every developer I know is looking for a plot of land to build on. Scarcity of land is a growing challenge to developers.

Stephen G. Kliegerman: Developers face numerous challenges particularly in New York City.  First off, obtaining construction financing is still more difficult than it was prior to 2008 as lenders are still being very conservative, causing developers to either pony up more cash on their own or to find equity partners to join them in order to get a development off the ground.  Secondly, in the past four months land prices have sky-rocketed as developers compete for sites as the market continues to flourish on both the rental and condo side.  In addition, as the development market heats up, construction costs are starting to rise again as the competition for quality contractors increases.

 

4. Let’s talk money. How difficult is it for someone to finance a new construction purchase? What should a buyer ask their mortgage banker or mortgage broker in advance? Do any developers provide financing for buyers?

Kelly Kennedy Mack: Financing for purchasers varies by building and is less prevalent at the highest end of the market where Corcoran Sunshine mainly operates. That being said, buildings over 50% sold are relatively easy to finance. Many developments have preapproved lenders, so it’s wise to speak with the sales team for lender recommendations specific to the building they represent.

Stephen G. Kliegerman: Well, not only have I been a development marketing expert for quite some time, but my wife is actually a private mortgage banker at Wells Fargo, so I know a lot about this.  Obtaining financing is not as difficult as the press has made it out to be, although lender requirements have become more stringent post Lehman.  Purchasers need to be well prepared to obtain a mortgage today.  First off, know your credit score and make sure it is over 700 in order to get the best rates and have the most options.  If your credit is not good obtaining financing will be difficult.  Second, prepare for the process by having your last two years of tax returns, most recent pay stubs and all of your financial documents ready to present to your lender.  In addition, for the most part be prepared to put 20% down and if you are self-employed have plenty of backup information prepared with your accountant to present your actual income to the lender.  The days of no income verification loans are gone, so be ready to have your entire financial profile scrutinized.

 

Edward DAmbrosio:  Let me put it this way: financing any purchase nowadays can be complicated and surely frustrating.  Buyers for new construction qualify as they would with any conventional loan to purchase a home. However, what becomes difficult is navigating and understanding the banks underwriting process and paperwork most lenders require.  Every buyer should ask their mortgage banker or broker specific questions regarding that process and know where the underwriting actually takes place. Most Loan Officers know which banks and or lenders have the most common sense policies.  Most developers do not readily offer financing. What they have done over the past few years is become much more flexible in terms of extending the length of contracts – offering the buyer more time to secure financing and/or sell an existing property.

5. Excluding developments that you might be working on at the moment, what new development do you admire, and why?

Melissa Pianko: Rather than a residential development, one of my favorite upcoming new developments is CornellNYC Tech. This is an incredible opportunity to help the City of New York on so many levels and truly feel that this brings us to the 21st Century.  In case you’re not familiar with it, New York City’s plan to establish a world-class applied sciences university received a major boost recently with the announcement of a $133 million donation from prominent tech billionaire and philanthropist Irwin M. Jacobs, the founding chairman of mobile technology giant Qualcomm. Jacobs and his wife Joan are making the donation to Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which have joined forces with New York City to launch Cornell Tech, a $2 billion research university to be located on Roosevelt Island, between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens.

Kelly Kennedy Mack: I’m very interested to see how the residential conversion of the Woolworth Building turns out. It’s always been one of my favorite buildings in the city.

Stephen G. Kliegerman: 18 Gramercy is a favorite of mine.  The location is one of the best in the city and the fact that they were able to enlarge the windows had a huge impact on the park views and amount of light the residences receive.  One of my other favorites is Walker Tower.  The developers of Walker Tower took a huge risk putting what I consider the best fit and finish package in any development into the kitchens, baths, floors and hardware and it really paid off.  Not only are the views amazing but the finishes compliment the amazing views.  Every developer is now using Walker at the gold standard for what a quality, top of the line product is.

6. When constructing a new building, what modern technologies are developers incorporating into their projects in order to “Go Green?”Can you name a few changes all developers should make in order to build smarter and more efficient buildings?

Stephen G. Kliegerman: Developers are using everything from recycled materials, beautifully manufactured ceramic tiles rather than natural stone, high efficiently HVAC systems, high E rated glass to state of the art mechanicals in order to conserve energy, respect the environment and maximize efficiency.

Edward DAmbrosio: ’Going green’ really is important to me personally, but also for the overall environment, so it’s very exciting to see that Geo-thermal and Solar energy is incorporated more and more into the initial design plans for new homes.

Kelly Kennedy Mack: One of the newest properties in our portfolio, Watchcase in Sag Harbor, has extensive planted green roof technology. This looks beautiful and provides ecological benefits and cost savings to the homeowner, the property, and the entire village of Sag Harbor.

In other LEED-certified properties like Riverhouse and The Laurel, buyers have noted their appreciation of green features like filtered fresh air, tobacco smoke protection, and use of low-VOC paints and sealants. HVAC systems that require less energy and produce fewer CO2 emissions are popular as well.

These systems are environmentally friendly and add real value to the lives of purchasers. What’s interesting is that developers who have built their careers around green properties, like Michael Namer at Alfa Development, say that it ultimately doesn’t cost more for a developer to build green.

Gradually, more and more towns have raised the energy saving requirements for the home; not just Energy Star appliances, but for all the mechanical systems in every new home. It is costly, but best for the consumer today and the environment in the future. What can, and should be done, without having it required by the local building codes, is to insulate each home to meet higher standards on a regular basis. Additionally, there are many materials available such as recycled products or materials that are environmentally friendly.

Melissa Pianko: Thinking long-term here about green building is important: what can be done upfront to reduce long-term energy costs and make the building more sustainable.  I think we will start to see developers using more innovative approaches – particularly as the government incentives start to catch up with the technology.

March/ April, 2013 residencyNY Rountable

Diane M. Ramirez Halstead Property, CEO
Dottie Herman Douglas Elliman,  President & CEO
Reba Miller CORE , Director of Sales-Madison Avenue
Roberta Axelrod Time Equities Director of Residential Sales and Rentals

1)  The market has had a great year relative to the last 4 years.  Do you think this trend is going to continue in 2013? What 3 factors influence your outlook?

Dottie Herman: At our recent meeting with our 1,000 Agents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I shared that I was no longer ‘cautiously’ optimistic – I was definitely optimistic. In 2012, Halstead Property had our best year in the firm’s history. Combined with our high level of deals in just the first two months of 2013, I know it’s going to be a great year. Three factors that influence my outlook are low inventory, increased consumer confidence and the rising numbers of construction permits (for new developments.)

Diane M. Ramirez: At our recent meeting with our 1,000 Agents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I shared that I was no longer ‘cautiously’ optimistic – I was definitely optimistic. In 2012, Halstead Property had our best year in the firm’s history. Combined with our high level of deals in just the first two months of 2013, I know it’s going to be a great year.

Three factors that influence my outlook are low inventory, increased consumer confidence and the rising numbers of construction permits (for new developments.)

Reba Miller: It’s definitely going to be a great year ahead. The three factors influencing my outlook are the tempo of deals being done each day, the quick sell-out of new developments, and lending  being cheap and readily available.

Roberta Axelrod:   In 2013, it looks as though the market will continue to be strong throughout the year since there is a serious shortage of available inventory, interest rates remain low and many purchasers and sellers have been waiting on the sidelines to be sure the market is back.

2) When representing a buyer, you are trying to secure the lowest purchase price.  When working with a seller, your goal is to command top dollar.  However, putting a deal together that will close with a qualified buyer/motivated seller can impact those numbers.  What advice do you give your clients early on in the process to manage expectations?

Diane M. Ramirez: It’s imperative that the broker represents the best interests of their client – whether it be a seller or a buyer. We take that very seriously at Halstead. We advise our Agents to manage expectations by keeping a clear line of communication, a calm demeanor and to be thoughtful of the stress on a buyer or seller.

Dottie Herman:  It’s imperative that the broker represents the best interests of their client – whether it be a seller or a buyer. We take that very seriously at Halstead. We advise our Agents to manage expectations by keeping a clear line of communication, a calm demeanor and to be thoughtful of the stress on a buyer or seller.

Roberta Axelrod: We are advising purchasers that product is very low and that they need to be able to see units they may be interested in at the first showing, have their lender pre-qualification letters in hand and be prepared to make a serious offer that day if they love it.  We are advising sellers that they can typically price their units above the level of the past selling prices in the building.

Reba Miller: If I am representing a new seller, then I do my best to prepare them on proper pricing which is reflected in market data from the past 30 day. If priced properly, multiple bids are possible!   If I am representing a buyer, I am preparing a strong offer that can be acted upon quickly in order to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced market.   A knowledgeable and prepared broker will help to guide both the buyer and the seller.

 

3) I want to purchase a new home in your market.  What is the best deal right now, and why?

Reba Miller: The best deals are going to be with units that are in need of renovation.  With time, energy and creativity, a buyer can get a good deal and have their dream home when construction and design is complete.

Roberta Axelrod: The best deals can be found on “fixer uppers” that are priced low as most purchasers are not willing to put in the time and effort to get involved with major renovations. But beware, if you are not experienced, renovations always take longer and cost more than originally planned.

Dottie Herman: Inventory is extremely tight in Manhattan right now. The best “deal” is to find a home that meets your individual needs and you will have a bit more luck where the inventory is not as tight such as the Upper East Side or certain Downtown areas.

Diane M. Ramirez: Inventory is extremely tight in Manhattan right now. The best “deal” is to find a home that meets your individual needs and you will have a bit more luck where the inventory is not as tight such as the Upper East Side or certain Downtown areas.

4)  What are 3 items your buyers seem to ask for on their “wish list”? What amenities are you seeing as the new trend?

Roberta Axelrod: Purchasers are asking about children’s playrooms, dog friendliness and bike storage. We are seeing more buildings with refrigerator storage for grocery deliveries and concierge services that do more than sit at the front desk.

Diane M. Ramirez: Three things that buyers seem to ask for is a great location, lots of natural light and a good flow. The amenities that we are seeing as a new trend are over-the-top closets, his & her closets, an open flexible floor plan and outdoor space.

Reba Miller: Reasonable Maintenance, Space and Light Good data to support the purchase.  A pet washing station would be an example of a trendy amenity.

Dottie Herman: Three things that buyers seem to ask for is a great location, lots of natural light and a good flow. The amenities that we are seeing as a new trend are over-the-top closets, his & her closets, an open flexible floor plan and outdoor space.

5)  There is plenty of chatter on the street that the banks aren’t lending.  Is this true? Are you buyers having difficulty obtaining mortgages?

Dottie Herman: It all depends on the individual buyer. If they have great credit and the funds to purchase a home, the banks are lending. They are stricter than in years past but that is actually for the best. Buyers should be prepared to present lots of documentation and be patient with the process.

Diane M. Ramirez: It all depends on the individual buyer. If they have great credit and the funds to purchase a home, the banks are lending. They are stricter than in years past but that is actually for the best. Buyers should be prepared to present lots of documentation and be patient with the process.

Reba Miller: Some buildings showing a high concentration of sponsor or investor units are still having difficulty and buyers with poor credit scores are having trouble.

Roberta Axelrod: Qualified purchasers utilizing professional experienced mortgage brokers are obtaining financing in this market. A competent real estate broker generally can recommend a mortgage broker to their clients to meet their financing needs.