Landmarks Preservation 101

Landmarks Preservation 101

What can and cannot be done to your landmark building?

There are often many questions related to renovating or modernizing certain elements of your brownstone façade or your prewar apartment that is within in a landmarked district. The Landmarks Preservation Commission provides oversight on all improvements ensuring the history of the city is well-preserved for years to come. There are many complexities related to navigating the ins and outs of building department permits, as well as application and filing processes, so it is best to have a general idea of what is allowed and what is not regarding the work you are intending on undergoing. Hansel Hernandez provides answers to many of the most frequently asked questions.

What is a landmark façade?
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has jurisdiction over a designated Individual Landmark, or any building inside a designated historic district. Work proposed on the main street façade, the side, secondary facades, the rear façade, and the roof of any of these buildings has to be pre-approved by the Commission before the proposed work can take place.

What is the difference between a landmark building and a building within a designated historic district?
There is no difference in the level of protection between an Individual Landmark and a building located in a designated historic district. The difference would be that the Individual Landmark would have more architectural, historical, or social significance relating to the history of the City of New York. The Individual Landmark would have eminent architectural importance associated with a famous and prolific architect(s), or feature significant craftsmanship or particular building technique; important historical events would have taken place in it; or groundbreaking social issues, or an illustrious person would have been associated with it. At the same time, a row-house, office building, apartment building, or commercial storefront in a historic district may, as a whole, contribute as part of the streetscape which contains special architectural character in that particular neighborhood. Taken as a whole, the buildings in a designated historic district come under the purview and protection of the Landmarks Commission.

How do you make changes to a landmark façade – what is the process?
First you will need an application form. You can obtain an application and a copy of filing instructions from the Landmarks Commission’s Web site, www.nyc.gov/landmarks, by calling 311, or in person at their offices, 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10007.

Applications must be accompanied by photographs, drawings, building material samples and/or photo-montages to illustrate the existing condition of the feature that is to be repaired or replaced, and the proposed new work. You can call the Landmarks Commission and speak to a staff member to discuss which materials are needed, or to arrange a meeting at their offices for further discussion of the proposed work.

After you complete the application form, and add the necessary descriptive materials, you can mail or deliver them to the Commission where they will be docketed and assigned to a staff member. The staff member then determines whether the application is complete, and which type of permit is needed for the proposed work. The staff member will contact you to discuss the proposal, the materials, and to indicate if anything else is needed to process the application and issue the work permit. The applicant has to wait until receipt of the Landmarks permit in order to do the proposed work.

The Commission issues two types of permits for work to be done on designated buildings:
Certificate of No Effect (CNE)
• Issued when the proposed work requires a Department of Buildings (DOB) permit, but either does not affect the protected architectural features of a building, or meets criteria spelled out in LPC’s Rules for specific alterations to the exterior of buildings
• Work covered: interior renovations, plumbing and heating equipment installation; rear wall alterations, cleaning or repair that requires DOB approval, such as Local Law 11 repairs
• Valid for four years
• Public hearing not required

Permit for Minor Work (PMW)
• Issued when the proposed work does not require a Department of Buildings (DOB) permit, and which either meets the criteria under LPC’s Rules for specific exterior alterations or is considered to be good preservation practice
• Work covered: exterior painting, replacing doors or window sash, installing storm windows, or masonry restoration, cleaning or repair, and restoration of architectural detail
What is the process to install new windows?

No permit required:
• Weather stripping, caulking, puttying
• Replacing broken glass
• Repairing suspension systems (cords, pulleys, etc.)
• Repairing or replacing window hardware
• Repairing window components by partial replacement, scraping, filling, or sanding
• Painting window sash or frames the same color
• Installing most interior storm windows or panels
• Installing interior security gates or grilles
• Installing regulation child guard

Permit required:
• Painting window sash or frames a different color
• Installing new window sash or frames
• Installing exterior storm windows and exterior storm window frames
• Installing or removing exterior shutters
• Installing window awnings
• Repairing or altering window frames
• Installing or removing exterior security window grilles or bars
• Changing the shape or design of window openings
• Blocking in existing windows or opening up new ones
• Restoring original or architecturally appropriate window openings
• Replacing (extensive) original window materials or consolidating with epoxies or other plastic

If you live in an apartment building and want to replace your window sash or frames you require a permit from the Landmarks Commission. With your application you should include photographs of the existing windows, measured drawings of the existing windows, measured drawings of the proposed new windows, and a color chip of the color that is changing. You generally get these materials from the window installer.

What is the process to install through-wall A/C units?
No permit required for installing:
• Window air conditioners that don’t require brackets affixed to the exterior, or don’t alter the window sash or frame
• Window fans that don’t require brackets affixed to the exterior, or don’t alter the window sash or frame

Permits required for installing:
• Window units that require brackets affixed to exterior or alter the window sash or frame
• Central air conditioning systems that require exterior condenser units, chillers or fresh air intakes
• Through-the-wall air conditioning units
• Split heating and cooling systems

If you live in an apartment building and want to install a through-wall A/C unit it requires a permit from the Landmarks Commission. The proposed unit should be centered beneath a window opening, the exterior grille should be mounted flush with the exterior wall, and the exterior grille has to be painted to approximate the color of surrounding masonry. With your application you should include photographs of the building or area where you are proposing the installation, measured drawings, and a color chip of the proposed color of the exterior grille. You generally get these materials from the A/C unit installer.

A good first step for either new windows or through-wall A/C’s would be to check with the building management to find out if the building already has a Landmarks-approved through-wall A/C unit or window replacement Master Plan. The Master Plan would have the approved window and/or AC unit drawings, which were reviewed, approved, and granted a building-wide permit sometime in the past. This would eminently expedite the application process with the Commission. All you need to include with your application are copies of the approved Master Plan drawings and photographs of the area where you are proposing the unit installation or photographs of existing windows. If management is unsure about the Master Plan, you may call the Landmarks Commission to find out if in fact the building already has one.

What is exempt from a Landmarks designated area/what are the exceptions?
As a general matter, the Landmarks Preservation Commission regulates all outside facades and the roof of all designated buildings. It also regulates “hardscape” features, such as the installation of sidewalks, paths, front areaways, rear gardens, patios, etc., but does not regulate “landscape” features. In addition, the Commission generally does not object to proposed interior alterations in a designated house or apartment, but it is does review interior work which requires a Department of Buildings permit. This type of review is done in an expeditious manner and only takes a few days.

What if the back of a building is not in a Landmark area?
The rear of designated buildings comes under the jurisdiction of the Landmarks Commission, as stated above. All buildings facades and the roof come under the purview of the Commission.

Can you do thru wall A/C in back of building?
Yes you can, see instructions for filing for a permit for the installation of A/C units.


Hansel HernandezHänsel Hernández is an architectural conservator specializing in the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings and monuments, and cultural resource management. He received his Master’s in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. He lives in New York City and has worked for the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Getty Conservation Institute, the National Park Service, The American Academy in Rome, and the Museum of the City of New York.

If you are a townhouse owner or on the Board of your building and would like more information and consultation on how to handle landmark issues, you can reach Hansel by email at hansel5@hotmail.com

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Market Segment Review 2015

Market Segment Review 2015

The NYC market consists of many different types of housing in various locations and buildings which have different and distinct qualities in terms of architecture and amenities. Each segment is affected in a different way depending on supply and demand as well as other factors, especially location.

Re-sale Co-ops
• Prices of uptown sales of co-ops were flat overall. Spring 2014 was a peak time for co-op sales prices uptown. Of course there were exceptions, with some record sales for unique properties.
• Prices of downtown sales of co-ops were also flat, but the inventory of co-op buildings was much smaller than uptown.

Re-Sale Condos
• Overall, sales prices of resale condos were on par with 2014; as above, there were higher sales that bucked the trend.

New Development (new construction) 
• Overall, depending on the building, this segment was a little stronger, but time may show whether there will be a slowdown in this segment depending on how the market evolves.
• There were a few exceptional new buildings where expectations were met. One such building is 220 Central Park South, which is ultra-high end in a special location with unobstructed views of Central Park.

New Development (conversions from rental to condo or co-op)
• This market has fared reasonably well as developers have been “raising the ante” in terms of interior décor and design. Another reason is that developers were ‘listening’ to the market and creating layouts that work for today’s buyer.

The townhouse market fared well in some areas and less so in others.
• The Upper East Side was on-par with the previous year, although overall it took longer to sell each house. There were over 40 sales of single-family homes last year. Two record sales were both grand prewar single-family mansions over 12,000 square feet; 125 East 70th Street for $37M and 41 East 70th Street for $33M.
• The Upper West Side showed a slowdown in sales of single-family homes. There were approximately 20 single-family sales in 2015. Most of the sales took place in the 2nd half of the year.
• Downtown house sales increased with approximately 50 single-family sales last year; a marked increase over the two previous years where both averaged 36 sales. The highest ticket price sale Downtown, 16 East 10th Street, closed in September for $38.5M. The single-family mansion was fully renovated, offered over 10,000 square feet and is located just off Fifth Avenue.

Projections for 2016

Factors that can influence the market:
Interest rates: Since the Fed’s rate increase, mortgage interest rates have been steady if not lower. Given current market violatility, it is not likely we will see the Fed increase rates further. So far, there has not been any significant adjustment related to interest rate levels, which bodes well for the upcoming spring market.

The falling price of oil: The falling price of oil has ultimately wreaked havoc in the financial markets, resulting in volatility and unpredictability in the stock market. Foreign markets are stumbling, Europe never fully recovered, and Russia and the Middle East have been hurt because of the depressed oil prices.

Disclosure of identities mandated by the Treasury Department: The Treasury Department announced that it will begin mandating the disclosure of identities of “secret buyers” of Manhattan (and Miami) homes costing $3 Million and above. This applies to cash-only transactions conducted using shell companies like limited liability companies, or LLCs. The recent announcement caused quite a stir in the Manhattan residential real estate community, but the real impact remains to be seen.

Political uncertainty: The increase in global conflicts and terrorism has been in the spotlight. The recent Paris attacks coupled with the continuing war against ISIS and the potential for additional attacks weighs heavily in peoples’ minds. Moreover, 2016 is a presidential election year, and many candidates have been voicing their concerns about our nation’s security; such talk precipitates heightened anxiety and may contribute to the volatility in the market.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, over which we have little or no control, there are many other factors that can directly impact the market. Here is a list of those primary factors:

Fewer foreign buyers from Europe, the Middle East and Russia are expected to purchase condo units in New York City, which might ultimately impact the co-op market. In addition, China hit a bubble and its strong economic growth could not be sustained. Reports are showing that there is a slight slowdown in Chinese investment in NYC real estate. However, those foreigners who wish to invest money outside their country will still look at New York real estate as a safe haven.

Market volatility has an impact on buyers. Fear and lack of confidence in the economy affects buyers who wish to purchase a new home, that said, this volatility may or may not endure.

sales-tableSupply and demand. Manhattan market wide is currently still considered under-supplied, although most segments recorded a welcome increase over the previous year. In many segments, supply varied considerably by unit size, and three of the four bedroom sizes were undersupplied during 4th Quarter 2015. Studios were the most undersupplied, one and two bedroom residences were also undersupplied, but had increases in supply compared to last year. Three+ bedroom units were roughly equal. This lack of supply of desirable apartments or homes, coupled with strong demand still bodes well for those sellers.

Bonuses are on par with last year, and people with money in hand often look to buy a home.

The new development market is the segment that has attracted much media attention due to high sales figures and ultra-luxury new buildings. There are a lot of fluctuations and potential gains that could take place that will affect the 2016 new development market. The following are factors to consider:
• Developers are eternal optimists. Every developer feels that their project is the best and will engender the highest price. This is a good thing in a strong market, and a liability if the market falters.
• Land prices escalated to exceedingly high figures. There are many developers and would-be developers who are looking to buy land, and thus the demand is far exceeding supply.
• A developer has to make exceptionally high offers on land and feel confident that they can garner a certain amount of square feet and sell at a high price. In addition, labor and soft costs have risen, creating a situation where a developer must attain a certain high price to cover overall costs.
• There are a large number of new development buildings in the pipeline. As of now, 3,000 units are in the pipeline for the near term. That number will increase as the year progresses.

The Good News for 2016

Positive things to remember during a transitional market:
• There are always people in the market who must buy and sell.
• The re-sale inventory is still low relative to previous years.
• The Fed interest rate increases signals confidence in the economy.
• There are some opportunities for buyers in a transitional market (certain market segments may fare well while others suffer).

Proper Pricing is the Key to Success

When a seller prices an apartment based on what the market will realistically bear, it will sell and may even attain higher than the asking price. We price apartments appropriately and on average, our sales are at or above the asking prices we establish. We provide an extensive comparable analysis before pricing a property. Most often our valuation of properties is within 5% of sales prices. Proper pricing and presenting a property in the best possible light are key in this transitional market!

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#1 in Manhattan in 2015!

#1 in Manhattan in 2015!

The Deanna Kory Team was named the #1 Producers in Manhattan for 2015 at the Corcoran Group awards ceremony!

With an excess of $235 million in sales, The Deanna Kory Team outperformed the competition. The Deanna Kory Team are consistently named by industry colleagues as one of the teams they most respect and enjoy working with – small wonder given their enormous capacity for hard work, innovative marketing skills and their sharp, intelligent approach to deal-making. In 2015 this dynamic team dominated the residential sales market and earned their stellar reputation as the best in the industry.


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Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 4: The New Development Market

Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 4: The New Development Market

In anticipation of the Spring 2016 market we analyzed the first half of 2015 across all submarkets. The Spring market is historically the strongest season of the year for residential real estate sales in Manhattan.

New development units led the way in terms of record sales prices. The large number of high end sales in the new development market had a huge impact on the overall perception of the NYC real estate market, yet new development currently makes up only 11% of the total market! It is evident why there was so much press attention on this segment: new development closings in Q2 2015 increased 64% from a year ago, and available new development listings were up 30% compared to last year. (There were 294 sales in Q2 2014 and 481 in Q2 2015). Record high prices of a small percentage of units can skew the average or median price point of a market segment higher. For example, closings of high priced units at the Carlton House (21 East 61st Street) and The Charles (1355 First Avenue at 72nd Street) pushed the East Side median price for new developments to $7.328M! The next highest median price of any neighborhood was nearly half that at $3.954M downtown.

New DevelopmentsProperties sold off the floor plans also have an appeal to buyers who are looking to purchase “pre-construction”, who will have better choices within that building and will potentially see values appreciate by the time they close 1-2 years down the road.

In addition, the finishes in brand new luxury buildings in many cases have a much higher design aesthetic and quality, ultimately creating a spectacular product. In the past 20 years, it was more common for people to buy an apartment for the floor plan, the views, and the building cache – they would expect to customize their unit once it closed. Now developers want prospective purchasers to buy unfinished units in part because the finishes can be tailored to the buyer’s needs. Working with top “star” architects and international designers has become more common in this luxury segment.

Location and views that cannot be disturbed in those new ultra-luxury buildings, especially on ‘Billionaire’s Row’, have – for good reason – become status symbols.

Upper West Side

There were very few new development closings in the first half of this year. Closings in the now-famous One57 averaged nearly $6,000 per square foot, which affected average square foot numbers significantly. On the other end of the spectrum was a wonderful new conversion of a prewar rental to condo called the Mirabeau, located on 91st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, which had several closings averaging $1,800 per square foot. Due to the limited number of new development closings in the beginning of the year and the widely varied price points, the Upper West Side averages are less indicative of the true market condition than other neighborhoods.

50 Riverside Boulevard (between 61st and 62nd Street) is another new development which had 90% of the units in contract over the summer. Closings have just begun to take place; however, these closed sales do not figure into the picture of the first half year’s sales. There are also several luxury conversions on the Upper West Side that have opened sales offices since April. They include The Astor (235 West 75th Street), The Chatsworth (344 West 72nd Street), 360 Central Park West (at 96th Street) and The Orleans (100 West 80th Street). A new building at 1 West End Avenue (between 59th and 60th Streets) also commenced pre-sales in May of this year and will have 246 units with an estimated occupancy at the end of 2017.

Upper East Side

Closings at several premier properties in the first quarter, such as The Carlton House (21 East 61st Street) and The Marquand (11 East 68th Street), drove prices upward (41% surge in average price in the first quarter and 36% increase in the second quarter from a year ago). The East Side’s new development median price rose to $7.328M in Q2 from $4.95M in the first quarter as there was a significant increase in the sale of larger new development apartments in the second quarter.

« Part 3: The Townhouse Market

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Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 3: The Townhouse Market

Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 3: The Townhouse Market

In anticipation of the Spring 2016 market we analyzed the first half of 2015 across all submarkets. The Spring market is historically the strongest season of the year for residential real estate sales in Manhattan.

Typically the townhouse market is analyzed on a yearly basis as the average number of closings in this market are very low; the past 6 year average has been 224 sales. There were 275 closings city-wide in 2014 and only 127 of them were single-family. Below is a snapshot of sales in different neighborhoods in the first two quarters of 2015.

Upper West Side

There were 18 townhouse sales (both multi and single-family homes) in the first half of this year (January 1 through June 30) on the Upper West Side above 57th Street. To put this in perspective, there were only 27 townhouse sales in 2014 all year from 34th to 110th Street on the West Side. The average number of West Side single-family sales in the past 3 years is 18, and the average number of multi-family sales over same time frame is 10.

Single-Family Sales
Below is a list of all the single-family homes that closed during the first two quarters this year.

After less than 5 months on the market, one of the last remaining houses on the avenue, 247 Central Park West, closed in January for $25M; the record high for a single-family home on the West Side.

326 West 89th Street sold at $12.5M; a 20’ wide house with 5 stories and 7,000 square feet on a Riverside Park block. ($1,785/SF)

26 West 71st Street sold at $11.9M; a 17’ wide house with 4 stories and 5,500 square feet on a Central Park block. ($2,163/SF)

296 West 92nd Street sold at $5.771M; an 18’ wide house with 4 stories and 3,240 square feet. ($1,781/SF)

125 West 87th Street sold for $5.4M; a 17’ wide house with 4 stories and 3,400 square feet that needed TLC. ($1,588/SF)

Upper East Side

There were quite a few sales in the first half of this year on the Upper East Side, including 21 single-family homes above 59th Street. There were 63 sales—both single and multi-family in all of 2014 and 45 of them were single-family (34th to 96th Streets). The average number of East Side single-family sales in the past 3 years is 54 and the average number of multi-family sales over same time frame is 15.

Notable Single-family Sales
In stark contrast to the West Side, the East Side’s highest price sale in the first half of 2015 was 125 East 70th Street, which closed for $37M in January. This 40’ wide, 12,000 square foot mansion was built in 1965 by Paul and Bunny Mellon. ($3,083/SF)

12 East 77th Street sold at $32M; a 25’ wide house off Fifth Avenue with 5 stories and 11,450 square feet. A historic property with a famous roster of past owners including Gloria Vanderbilt. ($2,794/SF)

26 East 80th Street sold for $19.85M; a 23’ wide house off Fifth Avenue with 5 stories and 7,450 square feet. ($2,664/SF)


In downtown neighborhoods (Chelsea, Flatiron, Gramercy, West and Greenwich Village, Soho, and Tribeca) the first half of this year, there were 24 single-family closings. Almost all of them were in either the West Village or Greenwich Village with only 2 in Chelsea and 1 in Soho/Nolita.

Note: Single-family sales over $10M in 2014 increased 13% over the previous year, putting upward pressure on average and median price last year; $9,443,000 and $7,250,000 respectively. The average number of downtown single-family sales in the past 3 years is 35 and the average number of multi-family sales over same time frame is 28.

Notable Single-family Sales
West Village
278 West 11th Street sold for $25M in March. Triple mint, this designer-renovated 25’ wide home boasts 4,920 square feet, making this a record price per square foot sale at $5,081/SF.

Greenwich Village
20 East 10th Street sold for $18.25M in June. Also triple mint, this 25’ wide house features 7 working fireplaces and state-of-the-art high-end systems.

231 West 22nd Street sold for $9.5M in May. Featuring an immaculate renovation with 6,000 square feet and 1,450 exterior square feet, comprised of a front and back yard and roof deck with a swim spa and resistance pool.

32 Dominick Street sold for $4.1M. Built in 1826, this 3.5 landmarked Federal style house was in need of renovation.

« Part 2: The Condo Market

Part 4: The New Development Market »

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Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 2: The Condo Market

Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 2: The Condo Market

In anticipation of the Spring 2016 market we analyzed the first half of 2015 across all submarkets. The Spring market is historically the strongest season of the year for residential real estate sales in Manhattan.

Due to a market shift toward new development (a large number of new developments launched for sales in the first half of 2015), the number of resale condo sales declined by 9% from the same time period last year. Inventory did increase in the second quarter, up to 2,222 units – a 14% increase year-over-year. However, inventory levels are still near record lows. With little to no restrictions on ownership, the condo market is open to everyone including foreign buyers, investors, and non-primary residents. This market is not as affected as much by overpricing as the co-op market, as there is a higher demand and a larger pool of ready, willing, and able buyers.


Upper West Side
There was a higher number of sales of studios and one and two bedroom categories in the first half of the year, which may have contributed to a 7% decrease in average sales prices since last year’s second quarter ($2.254M in Q2 2015 and $2.419 in Q2 2014). Interestingly, in the first quarter, the average sales price was $3.009M, 27% above the Q1 2014. However, this significant gain in average price had a lot to do with multiple closings over $10M at Time Warner Center, Trump International, and 15 Central Park West – all of which are prized by foreign buyers! The average median price was $1.3M (over $400K more than co-ops).

Upper East Side
There were double-digit gains (23%) in the average price per square foot of resale condos on the East Side over last year, which was significantly higher than gains in the co-op market. The average price for a co-op was $1.902M and the average price of resale condo was $2.721M. ($1,181/SF and $1,821/SF on average respectively). The average median price of a resale condo was $1.5M (over $600K greater than co-ops).

« Part 1: The Co-Op Market

» Part 3: The Townhouse Market

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Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 1: The Co-Op Market

Year In Review 2015 Spring Market – Part 1: The Co-Op Market

In anticipation of the Spring 2016 market we analyzed the first half of 2015 across all submarkets. The Spring market is historically the strongest season of the year for residential real estate sales in Manhattan.

Since the recession in 2008, the co-op market has struggled in certain price areas, but due to several factors it has picked up a bit over the past two years. With the influx of new development and rising prices in the condo market, co-ops have offered a better value and as a result, prices have slowly increased. Also, co-op inventory fell to a historic low over the past several years and demand increased, partly due to buyers turning to co-ops after being priced out of the condo market.

This year, however, co-op inventory was up 7% in Q2 2015 from Q2 2014. Although a moderate increase, it was the first year-over-year inventory gain for co-ops since 2011. Co-ops still dominate the market share compared to condos, and even with new developments there was a shortage of inventory compared to the demand. For example, 4,617 of the 8,011 sales in the first half of the year were co-ops. While the co-op market closely reflected market-wide trends in the first half of the year, one statistic stands out: the average time to sell a unit fell by 9%, to just 94 days for the overall co-op market.

Co-opAlthough salesprices inched up, and in a few instances there were record co-op sale prices, the increases have not, in any way, matched the increases in the condo market. Co-ops prices were 32% lower than the sale of condos based on median price per square foot in the second quarter. For comparison, the average co-op price in Q2 was $1.319M and the average condo price was $2.045M. The median price for a 2 bedroom co-op was $1.275M, and the median price for a 2 bedroom condo was $1.805M. Properties that were overpriced were hurt significantly in this market. Many sellers (particularly in the market above $3 million) felt that their co-op should sell at the same percentage higher as condos and pressed their agents to set an asking price for their properties at an even higher listing price. Even agents, buoyed by the stronger condo market, felt that the co-op market would follow suit.

In the low and mid-end of the market, sellers were more cautious about pricing and as a result, sales volume and general prices were up. However, in the mid to high-end of the market ($4 million and up), sellers and agents were often overly aggressive with initial asking prices only to suffer for months following the listing’s launch. As a result, in many cases sales prices were well below expectations, and in the mid to high-end were lower than the same time period in 2014.

Upper West Side
Due to the Upper West Side’s continued shortage of inventory, co-ops on the West Side took the shortest time to sell relative to any other segment of the market in Manhattan. Co-op price increases overall were mostly positive year-over-year but significantly less dramatic than condo sales, which are being driven up by high-end and new development sales. The West Side also had the highest resale co-op median price in the second quarter market-wide at $895K. The average price was $1.493M in the first half of the year.

Upper East Side
The co-op market showed some significant growth over last year on the Upper East Side, in terms of the average price, which rose 15-16% over last year. The average price of a co-op in Q2 2014 was $1.641M and in Q2 2015, it was $1.902M. Alternatively, there was no positive growth in average price per square foot. This is important as it reflects a certain malaise in the market. The average median price of a co-op in the second quarter was $875K, which was slightly lower than the West Side median.

Part 2: The Condo Market »

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Park Avenue’s New Development Market: What’s on the Horizon

Park Avenue’s New Development Market: What’s on the Horizon

The new development and conversion market on Park Avenue is primarily centered on just a few buildings. Some of the new development is comprised of older rental buildings which have been converted to condominiums, and the others (now four) are notable new buildings. Park Avenue is seeing reasonably strong buying activity in new development: in the last six months there were 7 closed sales at 737 Park Avenue, 10 sales at 530 Park Avenue and sales are in process at 432 and 1010 Park Avenue. Below is a review of what is currently on the market, as well as what is on the horizon in new development on Park Avenue. Only two of these new buildings are above 75th Street.

432 Park Avenue
432 Park Avenue is the second-tallest building in New York City and will be the tallest and the first luxury residential mega-tower in the Western Hemisphere. The building has redefined the skyline and is adding to the 57th corridor, which is hailed as “Billionaire’s Row.” Apartments will not close until late 2016 or later. The active Penthouse listings are hovering close to $10,000 per square foot!

520 Park Avenue
When 520 Park Avenue’s 12,394 square foot penthouse triplex hits the market, it could be the most expensive apartment in the city with an asking price of $130 million. The 54-story, 31-unit condo tower developed by Zeckendorf Development and designed by Robert A.M. Stern is scheduled for completion in 2017. Four units hit the market this spring ranging in price from $16.6M to a $70M duplex Penthouse.

530 Park Avenue
530 Park Avenue is an exceptional pre-war condominium conversion (converted from a rental building) featuring classic interiors designed by William T. Georgis, one of Architectural Digest’s “Top 100” design firms. Closings began in December 2013 with sale prices averaging $1,792 per square foot.

737 Park Avenue
Renovation is also in the final stages at Harry Macklowe’s Art Deco condo conversion of 737 Park Avenue (a former rental building), where half the units have been sold. There have been 44 closed sales over the last 18 months ranging from 1,330 to 6,003 square feet ($3,530,624 – $32,658,763). The highest-priced sale was an 11-room penthouse.

807 Park Avenue
Aion Partners has owned 807 Park Avenue since 2004 and had a very difficult time selling the condos. The developer is planning to take down the 7-story addition, preserving the original 5-story structure and reconstruct a new 12-story building, which was just recently approved by the Landmarks Commission.

1010 Park Avenue
Extell is planning to build a16-story condominium where the Park Avenue Christian Church rectory and parish hall stand. Although there have been issues because of the height with the Landmarks Commission, the plans seem to be moving forward. 1000 Park views will be impacted by this contruction.

1110 Park Avenue
The Toll Brothers’ luxury condo building at 1110 Park Avenue with nine residences features Barry Rice- and Christopher Peacock-designed interiors. The building’s 7,000 square foot penthouse is asking $35 million and features a 1,738 square foot rooftop terrace. Constrution continues and closings are expected in late 2016.

The Waldorf Astoria
Earlier this year it was also announced that the Waldorf Astoria Hotel is planning on renovating and converting the two towers into luxury residential homes. The timeline has not been announced.

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Inside the Renovation: Top 5 Things to Consider Before Beginning the Process

Inside the Renovation: Top 5 Things to Consider Before Beginning the Process

One reason many buyers are willing to pay the premium prices commanded by new construction is for the convenience of moving into a freshly minted home built with top-of-the-line materials and systems.

Yet there is another category of buyer–a rare, determined and fearless type looking to create a unique space that speaks to his own sensibilities and needs. This is the buyer in search of a renovation project. If you are such a buyer you will come across many properties in need of work, requiring anything from a mild makeover to a full blown gut renovation. With 25 years of experience, I feel strongly that knowing what you are getting into from the start is a crucial first step in the renovation process. I strongly recommend that you should not commit to a renovation until undertaking a thorough assessment of the condition and the scope of work required to realize your vision.

So, what are the first things that you should take into account BEFORE you begin the process of renovating?

Top 5 Planning Phase Tips:

Number 1: Conduct a bank reference on everyone on your design team.
The architect. The contractor. Everyone. No matter how creative or inspiring the team members are, no matter how many recommendations they produce, or magazines and reality TV shows they have been featured in, at the end of the day this is a business transaction. As the saying goes, “funding makes the rocket ship fly to the moon,” and without proper financial backing—with their money, not yours– I guarantee the job will never get done.  Under-funded architects and contractors are the single greatest reason why projects drag on, and ultimately don’t get done.

Number 2:  The change order. 
Imagine going into a fine restaurant, ordering a steak for $50 and while you are eating, the waiter comes back to your table over and over again to explain that the chef didn’t realize his cost for the steak was higher, the cost of gas for the stove went up, and the busboy asked for a raise–so the $50 steak will now cost you $110.  Sound ridiculous?  Well, in the design and construction business this goes on every day. There is nothing that strikes fear in the hearts of those about to renovate than horror stories about change orders derailing budgets and schedules. Change orders are very unwelcomed surprises and they kill projects. The easiest way to avoid change orders is to be sure to work with an architect/design/contracting team that prohibits them unless you, and only you, change your mind on a specification.

Number 3:  Planning ahead pays off.
A successful renovation project is all about thoughtful design, sourcing and specifying BEFORE the hammers start swinging–not after.  In the absence of exacting specifications, placeholders for materials will always result in change orders, additional costs, project schedule overruns and unnecessary contention.  Resist any temptation to work with someone willing to start a project without exact specifications and pricing in place with the expectation that once things get going everything will miraculously “figure itself out.”  This never happens.

Number 4:  Numbers don’t lie.
In a market that is highly competitive for architects and contractors it is not uncommon to receive an unrealistic initial price for a project, only to have the budget double, triple and sometimes worse.  It happens every day and it turns what should be a creative and enjoyable process into a true nightmare.  Be aware that quality materials and workmanship cost reasonable amounts of money and low budgets from the outset never pan out.  Don’t be seduced by a lowball estimate – it never turns out well.

And the final and potentially most important tip?

Number 5:  Be realistic and manage expectations.
Simply stated, a 4,000 square foot apartment cannot be gut renovated in 3 months for $250/square foot, no matter what an architect, designer or contractor might tell you.  If you start with a realistic timeline and budget you will avoid the feeling that everyone you meet is telling you a different story once work begins.  While each project is different and budgets vary, a good estimate for a gut renovation at the basic level starts in the mid-$300/square foot range and climbs from there.  Unless you aspire to have your new home featured in Architectural Digest the high end of a gut renovation tops out at around $725/square foot.  After that, it is less about the value of the engineering and more about very specific designs and unique finishes and materials that surpass even the high end of the spectrum.

Many thanks to Lee J. Stahl
President, The Renovated Home

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Renovating to Increase Value

Renovating to Increase Value

A question that I am often asked is, “Should I undergo renovations or make kitchen, bathroom or system upgrades before I list my home?” The answer to this question is not the same for everyone and depends on many factors including the condition of the property and the current market as well as personal dynamics.

There are typically three types of buyers in the market: 1) those who want a completely renovated property, 2) those who are willing to make limited stylistic changes to personalize the home and, 3) those who are open to a partial or full renovation to accommodate their own needs and preferences. In any market I find that most buyers are interested in renovated properties that ‘show well’ and these are the listings that, if priced right, sell quickly and for the best prices.

Purchasing real estate is an emotional experience and most buyers are easily swayed by properties that are well-designed, renovated with high-end finishes and appliances, and decorated beautifully. Even in a market with limited inventory, a home that shows well and does not require a buyer ‘with vision’ will have a significant advantage over comparable listings that do not show well. That being said, a buyer who is willing to undertake a renovation may not want to pay for someone else’s choice of design and finishes which is something to keep in mind.

Let’s review some basic scenarios:

  • Renovating now for future added value.
    Renovating with a potential resale in mind means selecting designs and materials that will appeal to the widest range of buyers. If the renovations you are contemplating fit that description, and you will be happy living with these upgrades, then it could be a very good idea to renovate. However, if you want to do a high-end renovation, but to a very specific taste or style, it may not be the best investment. Also, keep in mind that if you are not planning to sell for several years, certain designs and finishes may go out of style by the time you are ready to list, although certain upgrades, such as high quality kitchen appliances, have enduring appeal.
  • Renovating kitchen and baths.
    Kitchens and baths are typically rooms where you can add the most value. When buyers see tired or original bathrooms or outdated kitchen appliances and old cabinetry they see a property that requires work, and this perception can significantly impact value in their eyes. Sometimes a $10,000 – $20,000 investment in renovations can yield a higher sales price of $100,000 – $200,000 or more. If you decide to renovate before listing, make sure you seek advice on finishes, fixtures and appliances to be certain your renovation will have the widest appeal for buyers.
  • Estate condition properties.
    Properties that are in ‘estate’ condition (typically not upgraded or renovated in decades) often yield lower sales prices based on the amount of renovation work required to make them ‘move-in’ ready. These properties require buyers who have vision. There is also a perception among many that they can negotiate a deal. It is best to shift that view by investing to properly prepare the home for sale. Some of the most basic tasks might include applying a fresh coat of paint, fixing anything that is broken, re-grouting bathroom tile, re-glazing original tubs and refinishing floors. Modern upgrades such as new appliances, counters, cabinetry and backsplash, flooring, fixtures and vanities can make all the difference. If furnishings in the home feel tired or dated it is a good idea to empty the home and have it staged.

Seeking the Best Guidance
When you are ready to sell, an experienced broker will be able to guide you on how to prepare your home for showing and discuss optional steps that may be taken to achieve the highest possible sales price.

I recently sold an estate condition apartment on Central Park West that was in need of a complete facelift. The executor of the estate did not want to undertake a full renovation so my team and I helped the seller arrange to make basic repairs, install new kitchen counters, appliances and fixtures, paint walls and cabinetry, and refinish floors. Then we staged every room. Even without major renovations, with a relatively small amount of work you can make a major difference in the property’s appearance and sales price. In this case the apartment sold quickly, and near the asking price.

Many brokers do not have the breadth of experience in design and renovation that my team has, nor would they be able to provide all the services that it takes to assist a seller in achieving the best possible sales price. A recent example of our work involved staging a seven-room apartment, including taking on the role of designer and liaison with contractors to renovate the kitchen with attractive finishes and high-end stainless appliances. We had a signed contract after only 10 days on the market, and for $100,000 above the asking price.

Whether you are thinking about the future resale value of your home or you are preparing to sell in the near term, I am happy to answer any questions you may have on what it would take to create the best first impression and highest sales price for your home.

From my experience, a seller who works to improve the appearance of a property that doesn’t show well will almost certainly be rewarded in the end with a higher sales price.

If you have any specific questions about your property or if renovation would increase the value, I would be happy to help. Click here to contact me directly.

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