NY home foreclosures up 2%

The number also increased by 7.4% in New Jersey and 5.2% in Connecticut, while dropping by the greatest amount on the west coast. “(It’s) a tale of two countries,” says an analyst.

(Bloomberg) – The number of homes in the foreclosure pipeline is increasing in states including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where the process is slowed by courts, as Arizona, California and Nevada digest their backlog.

Home loans that were delinquent or in foreclosure fell in three states hit hard by the housing market collapse, dropping 19% in Nevada, 21% in California and 25% in Arizona in the year through Nov. 30, Lender Processing Services Inc. reported Friday. At the same time, they rose 7.4% in New Jersey, 5.2% in Connecticut and 2% in New York, as mandatory judicial procedures delayed seizures.

“(It’s) a tale of two countries,” said Herb Blecher, senior vice president at LPS Applied Analytics, a unit of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based mortgage-services company. “There are certainly two different scenarios that can play out.”

The pace of foreclosures slowed in the past year in so-called judicial states after banks and loan servicers faced investigations over documentation procedures used to seize property. Speedier foreclosures may allow housing markets to recover faster while not giving homeowners as much opportunity to stop the repossession of their properties, Mr. Blecher said.

The 24 judicial states include Florida, where 23% of homes with mortgages were delinquent or in foreclosure, the most of any state, Lender Processing Services said. The state also took the longest to foreclose, with an average of 1,017 days of delinquency in November, followed by Maine, New York, Vermont and New Jersey, all judicial states.

The average U.S. loan was 667 days delinquent when a foreclosure sale was held. The average was 839 days for judicial states and 587 for non-judicial states. Homes sold in foreclosure auctions were an average of 659 days delinquent in California, 629 days in Nevada and 541 days in Arizona, where court approval isn’t needed.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week called the weakness in the housing market a “significant barrier” to U.S. economic health and said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprises that control the majority of mortgages, might have to bear greater losses to stoke a broader recovery.

“The large inventory of foreclosed or surrendered properties is contributing to excess supply in the for-sale market, placing downward pressure on house prices and exacerbating the loss in aggregate housing wealth,” he said in a Jan. 4 report to congressional leaders.

The U.S. delinquency rate fell to 7.7% in November for mortgages more than 90 days late, compared with 8.2% a year earlier, according to Lender Processing Services. The total number of loans that were delinquent or in foreclosure fell to 6.26 million, down 24% from their January 2010 peak. The number of homes that had received a foreclosure notice and were awaiting seizure by a bank was 2.1 million, little changed from a record 2.22 million in March.


Cuomo wants nation’s biggest convention center

In laying out a plan with $25billion in economic development initiatives, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that constructing the nation’s largest convention center —and razing Javits—is a priority.

Jan 4th, 2012 — Article by: Jeremy Smerd, Crains New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined his administration’s second year priorities
Wednesday in a State of the State speech that described $25 billion worth of economic development i

nitiatives. At the top of the list for New York City is a push to build the country’s largest conve

ntion center in Queens, raze the Jacob K. Javits Center and then redevelop the 14-acre waterfront property on the far West Side of Manhattan.

The governor also said he wants to invest $1 billion to grow the high-tech economy of Buffalo. That proposal drew the largest applause during his address to lawmakers and the public in Albany. The investment would be modeled after the success of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, where a research center has attracted computer chip developers and manufacturers.

Mr. Cuomo also reiterated his proposal for an infrastructure fund that would coordinate the capital plans of various state agencies to rebuild state bridges, highways, dams and railways. He also gave preference to plans to upgrade the state’s aging and inefficient energy transmission lines.

Topping the list of priorities, though, was the convention center plan. He said he wanted to replace the Javits Center with 3.8 million-square-foot exhibition center at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens through a joint-partnership the administration is developing with Genting Americas, the gaming corporation that operates the racino.

“Let’s build the largest convention center in the nation, period,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It will be all about jobs, jobs, jobs, tens of thousand of jobs.”

Razing the Javits Center would leave a multi-block, $4 billion piece of waterfront property that could be parceled off and developed alongside Related Cos.’ planned Hudson Yards project and the redevelopment of the Farley Post Office into Moynihan Station. The redevelopment of Javits will be modeled after Battery Park City, where the state leases the land to developers in exchange for a percentage of their rental income. Revenue for the state would increase along with apartment values.

Economic development officials had considered Willets Point, Queens, a possible site for a new convention center because of its proximity to La Guardia Airport and infrastructure improvements that are already underway. But the Aqueduct Racetrack site in Queens has clear advantages, too: Genting could build a convention center on one story and, perhaps most importantly, finance it.

“Genting Americas is extremely excited about this opportunity to partner with Gov. Cuomo to build the largest convention center in the country,” said Christian Goode, the company’s senior vice president for development. “It’s a great time to invest and grow in New York, and we are thrilled to be able to play a role in creating jobs and increasing tourism.”

The governor described the convention center as a $4 billion project that would include as many as 3,000 hotel rooms.

An insider familiar with the issue said a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling would not be a necessary incentive for Genting to build the convention center, but the governor nonetheless reiterated his belief that the state must allow Las Vegas-style gambling in order to compete with casinos operated in other states and by Indian tribes in New York.

“It’s not a question of whether we should have gaming,” he said. “We have gaming in the state of New York…We’re not doing it as well as we should be doing it, but we are in the gaming business.”

Observers have discussed upgrading subway access to Aqueduct and possibly building an AirTrain spur to connect John F. Kennedy International Airport to the site. Mr. Cuomo controls the authorities that manage those systems—the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Cuomo used slides and pictures to make his point and, at one moment, make fun of himself and other legislative leaders. Last year he used battleships to highlight the Legislature’s bickering that had made Albany ineffective. On Wednesday, he showed photoshopped pictures of Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver holding hands. Signaling a return to the camaraderie of the past, the two men were portrayed in black and white photos wearing boys’ short trousers. (Were those knickerbockers?)

The speech first read as a highlight reel of the governor’s rookie year accomplishments: an on-time and slimmed-down budget, a property tax cap, a marriage equality bill and a tax “reform” bill that cut taxes for middle class households, among other legislative victories.

But Mr. Cuomo quickly cut to his “three-part plan” focused on economic development, streamlining government and his “vision for a progressive future.” He promised this year, as he did in early 2011, to introduce mandate reforms that would ease the burden the state places on local governments to provide services. Part of that was a promise to reduce the pension benefits to future government workers.

Mr. Cuomo ended his wonky speech with a pep talk to rally the audience to support his jobs plan. Raising his voice and trying to sound inspirational, he said, “This isn’t the end but the beginning…last year we learned to walk, next year we learn how to run.”

Public Review Begins for Zoning to Reinforce the Vibrant Retail Character of the Three UWS Avenues / Hudson Yards

January 3, 2012 — City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden today announced the beginning of public review for new zoning that would reinforce the character of the Upper West Side’s main shopping streets. The proposed regulations will help ensure that over time the general multi-store character of Amsterdam and Columbus avenues would be maintained, while promoting a more varied and active retail environment on Broadway. These zoning tools have been crafted to respond to community concerns about the potential erosion of the Upper West Side’s unique commercial character and to support active pedestrian retail streets.

The Upper West Side Neighborhood Retail Streets Initiative is the result of a partnership with Manhattan Community Board 7 and elected officials and extensive outreach with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), local property owners and other stakeholders. The proposed regulations reflect the existing local retail dynamic while still allowing flexibility for property owners and retailers to invest and provide necessary goods and services on the Upper West Side.

Commissioner Burden said, “The Upper West Side’s traditional retail streets offer diverse retail services to one of the most dense and vibrant residential neighborhoods in the city. These successful corridors provide services, jobs, housing and open space all within a walkable area. I was delighted to work with the community and elected officials to craft the Upper West Side Neighborhood Retail Street Initiative. This modest proposal would help maintain the existing vibrant retail character along Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus avenues by providing a framework for new establishments that builds on the strengths of these corridors, ensuring that over the long term they continue to serve the needs of Upper West Side residents.”

City Council Member Gale A. Brewer said, “Diverse retail has always been the soul of our neighborhoods, and the Upper West Side is no exception. When local stores are lost to large chain stores and banks, our private lives and the community’s character are damaged. These retail losses are permanent, and they drive other small business owners from the neighborhood. The Neighborhood Retail Streets Initiative is intended to protect our retail character, and I commend Commissioner Burden and her staff for their leadership. I will continue to work closely with her, the City Council, and all stakeholders to restore balance to our retail landscape, and to keep the Upper West Side a vital place for residents and merchants alike.”

“We must do all that we can to ensure that diverse retailers continue to define the distinct character of the Upper West Side,” said City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am thrilled that part of the Manhattan Valley neighborhood which I represent is being included in this proposed zoning change, so that it can also be protected from the increasing dominance of banks and retailers that tend to occupy a large ground floor footprint, leaving little room for the diverse small businesses that fuel our local economy. I applaud Commissioner Burden and my colleagues for their leadership on this zoning change and look forward to voting for it in the City Council.”

City Council Member Inez E. Dickens said, “I strongly endorse the Upper West Side retail proposal rezoning plan. This proposal will preserve the historic fabric of the Upper West Side that provides a diverse repository of unique small businesses, a place where the entrepreneurial spirit can flourish, and economic stability that yields jobs and job training experiences. I congratulate my colleague, Council Member Gale Brewer, who I work very closely with on her careful attention to every aspect of this plan.” 

The proposed regulations would be applicable to 73 block fronts along Broadway generally bounded by West 73rd and 110th streets, and 77 block fronts along on Amsterdam generally bounded by West 73rd and 110th streets (except for 87th-105th Streets on the east side) and Columbus generally bounded by West 72nd and 87th streets.

The initiative is comprised of targeted regulations to maintain the general multiple-store character on these avenues, which residents of the dense Upper West Side neighborhood rely on for retail services. This modest proposal would foster over time multi-store ground floor retail spaces within a framework that would maintain the current vibrant streetscape. The proposal would not modify or expand the uses currently permitted under the existing zoning district regulations. As requested by the community, new banks would be permitted, but they could not occupy large amounts of ground floor space at the expense of the variety of retail services. The proposed rules for both commercial and bank frontages on Columbus and Amsterdam, and for bank frontages on Broadway, would apply only to new stores in new and existing buildings. Existing stores would not be affected.

The PDF Document proposed zoning text amendment will be referred to Manhattan Community Board 7 and the Manhattan Borough President’s office for a 60-day review period, followed by a City Planning Commission and City Council review.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) promotes strategic growth, transit-oriented development, and sustainable communities in the City, in part by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts, as well as establishing policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, waterfront and public space.

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Crain’s 2011 Best Places to Work in New York City Luncheon – December 2, 2011

Crain’s 2011 Best Places to Work in New York City Luncheon – December 2, 2011.

ForSalebyOwner.com founder gives up on own listing, hires real estate broker

Former FSBO CEO sells home the traditional way

Founder and former CEO of ForSalebyOwner.com, Colby Sambrotto listed his 2,000 square foot New York condominium on his own through online classified ads and FSBO sites, but after six months, he opted to hire New York broker Jesse Buckler who immediately advised a price change as the listing was not attracting the right buyer.

After giving up on the DIY route, Sambrotto’s decision to hire a broker led to attracting multiple offers, closing for $150,000 over the original asking price. The Wall Street Journal reports the listing sold for $2.15 million including a 6% commission.

Many FSBOs turn to Realtors

The news stands as an enormous validation of the real estate profession and while some may tease, it is no laughing matter and the former FSBO CEO made a good financial decision.

AGBeat columnist Herman Chan said, “If people want to take a stab at For Sale By Owner (ie FSBO), go for it. But well over 80% of FSBO’s eventually have to list with an real estate agent to get their house sold. It’s harder than it looks!”

Not a new dilemma

Marlow Harris, Seattle Residential and Investment Consultant at Coldwell Banker Bain Associates told AGBeat, “The ForSaleByOwner.com founder’s dilemma is one we see quite often and is not unusual. Trying to sell your own property yourself or using a discount brokerage, is not the solution for everyone. Unusual properties, properties in the higher price range, these are more difficult to sell and often require specialization.”

Harris continues, “We see these choices across the board, from single family homes to huge housing developments. For instance, Vulcan, one of Paul Allen’s companies which has invested heavily in Redfin, does not use Redfin to market their many condominium projects. They use traditional real estate firms such as John L. Scott, Williams Marketing and Matrix Real Estate, finding that the do-it-yourself approach to real estate just doesn’t work for these types of sales.”


This article was published on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 5:54 PM


AGbeat News



Letter from the President of REBNY


The Real Estate Board of New York had a number of important accomplishments in the New York State legislative session that ended on June 24, 2011.  These accomplishments and a summary of our activity on other legislative items that would impact our industry are presented below.


For the first time in 15 years, New York State adopted a budget that reduced spending below the year before.  The $132.5 billion budget was adopted on time and reduced overall spending by more than 2 percent. More importantly, it eliminated a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes, without new borrowing and without budget gimmicks.  In addition, the adopted budget agreement puts us on a path toward fiscal responsibility by cutting next year’s projected budget deficit from $15 billion to $2 billion.

We commend Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for making difficult budget decisions that were necessary to improve our state’s prospects for renewed growth and economic prosperity for all New Yorkers.

REBNY has worked diligently for a meaningful reduction in state spending this year and a continuation of fiscal prudence in the years ahead.  The adopted budget which we strongly supported achieves these important goals.  We will continue to advocate for reduced state spending and for lowering the cost of doing business in New York.

As part of the legislative activity prior to the adoption of the budget, we vigorously opposed the extension of the personal income tax increase (the millionaire’s tax) that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.  There was intense pressure to continue this tax and continue state spending at unsustainable levels.  REBNY was a strong steady voice to let the tax expire and to bring spending under control.

We were successful in stopping two bills that would impact Mitchell Lama buildings.  One would have required Mitchell Lama owners upon sale to dedicate all surplus and escrow funds to major capital improvements whether they were required or not.  The other bill would have retroactively imposed rent regulations on buildings that have left the program. The first bill was more an attempt to discourage the owner’s sale than improve the overall physical condition of the building.  The other was an attempt to expand rent regulations on currently market rate buildings.  We have strongly maintained that the legislature not unilaterally alter the contractual agreement between the Mitchell Lama and the state which allows owners to leave the program once the owner’s contractual obligations have been fulfilled.

We successfully opposed a bill that would have forced sponsors to put unsold units on the market regardless of whether there was a market demand for these units or whether such a sale would result in a loss to the sponsor. 

The State also enacted legislation that would also have a beneficial impact on the real estate industry.

The legislature adopted a two percent real property tax cap to control the growth of government spending.  This statewide cap however does not apply to New York City.

Two major New York City economic development programs—421a Partial Tax Exemption Program and the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP)—were renewed without a prevailing wage requirement.  These programs are crucial to the encouragement of capital investment in new housing and new commercial and industrial development and renovation and to offset the heavy tax burden our real property tax system places on these properties.  In the last few years, there has been a persistent attempt to diminish the value of these necessary benefits by mandating that these projects pay prevailing wage for construction.  This requirement would have made numerous projects, especially affordable housing and commercial and industrial development outside Manhattan, economically infeasible.  The 421a program was extended to June 15, 2015, eighteen months longer than its typical renewal period.  ICAP was extended to February 28, 2014 and does not require the approval of the City Council.

The provisions that permit the allocation of tax exempt bond financing for housing construction over a three year period, which has been a catalyst for 80/20 projects, was renewed.  State law required that a project awarded tax exempt bonds would receive the total allocation in the first year, even though the project would only require a fraction of the total in the first year, limiting the number of new projects that can start.  Permitting the allocation of three years (the multi-year provision) has increased the number of new projects that can begin and take advantage of favorable market conditions as well as increasing the amount of tax revenue and jobs that these tax exempt bonds can generate.

In addition, the 50 percent reduction in the transfer tax for the conveyance of a property to a REIT was extended for another three years.  Reduction in the transfer taxes to facilitate the formation of REITs which REBNY advocated has led to the emergence of REITS in New York and a surge in transfer taxes.  This bill extends a provision that has facilitated and continues to facilitate transactions.  This bill has passed both houses and we expect the Governor will sign this extension into law.

We introduced a bill that passed both houses and we expect the Governor to sign it that would permit HFA and HDC to place tax–exempt bonds for 80/20 housing directly with a financial institutions, instead of having these short-term variable rate bonds sold weekly in the bond market with a requirement to have credit enhancement from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  This direct placement will help to lower the cost for the financing of these projects as well as provide an alternative to the credit enhancement from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac whose activity in this area has been diminishing and whose services are becoming more costly and whose future is uncertain. 

We successfully supported power plant siting legislation which would allow for the development of new, more energy efficient power plants to meet the growing energy needs of our growing city.  This bill has passed both houses and we will urge the Governor to sign it into law.

The renewal of Rent Stabilization preserved an owner’s ability to deregulate apartments above a fixed threshold and avoided the proposals of the tenant advocates whose cumulative effect of their changes would have resulted in a virtual elimination of the deregulation of rent stabilized apartments.  Rent Stabilization was extended to June 15, 2015.  The rent threshold for vacancy decontrol was increased to $2,500 from $2,000; the income threshold for deregulating a unit above the rent threshold was increased to $200,000 from $175,000; the allowable monthly rent increase for an individual apartment improvement was changed to 1/60th from 1/40th of the cost of the improvement for buildings with more than 35 units; and owners are allowed only one vacancy increase a calendar year.  However, noteworthy are the tenant advocate provisions that we were able to keep out of the extension. There is no indexing of the rent or income threshold; there is no change to the vacancy allowance percentage; there was no limit imposed on the number of apartments an owner may reclaim for his personal or family use; there is no change to the MCI provisions,; and there are no restrictions on the readjustment of the preferential rent at vacancy or lease renewal to the legal rent. 


As part of our legislative activity we have expressed our opposition to bills that in our view would have increased costs or added more unnecessary administrative burdens on our industry.  Through our efforts we have prevented the passage of legislation that would have allowed ECB violations that are unpaid for any reason to be converted into a tax lien and another bill that would have mandated owners to create a separate and sizable escrow fund for repairs for neighboring buildings that could potentially get damaged from the construction work. Also, we successfully opposed a bill hat would have required owners to show prospective tenants the gas and electric charges incurred by the previous occupant of the apartment.  We successfully opposed a bill that would have required owners or contractors to create separate escrow accounts for retainage that entitled the subcontractor to draw down these funds after 60 days, even if there is a dispute about the completion of the work.

Nevertheless we were disappointed that we could not convince our leaders in Albany to adopt J-51 legislation to address the Court of Appeals decision in the Robert’s case, which we strongly supported, that would return these units to rent stabilization, that would establish a mechanism for determining rent and overcharges and that would bring order and clarity to the owners and occupants of the 40,000 units affected by the Court of Appeals decision.   This court decision two years ago maintained that apartments receiving J-51 benefits could not be deregulated.  It also overruled the directive from the State Housing agency (DHCR) that, consistently for more than a decade, advised building owners that these units could be deregulated. The Court decision has created chaos in the operation of these properties by effectively mandating reduced rents and imposing regulation status to tenants who freely signed market leases and who had no expectation of this protection.

Without passage of this J-51 legislation, thousands of tenants and numerous building owners remain unsure how to set rents for these units, how to calculate a refund for current and prior tenants, and how to proceed now that the courts have said that these units should not have been deregulated.  Though we avoided the most onerous proposals supported by the tenant advocates in the extension of rent stabilization, the proposed increases in the rent ($2,500) and income ($200,000) thresholds are still too high and weakened the fundamental principle of the rent reforms in the mid-1990s, namely to provide a slow and orderly transition to a purely market rate rental housing sector.  The legislative changes in rent stabilization have effectively expanded regulatory protections to high income household lucky enough to live in a rent regulated apartment and does nothing to address the shortage of affordable housing our city faces.

As part of our legislative effort to preserve affordable housing and to lower the unsustainable real property tax burden on residential rental buildings, we recommended a provision of the 421a renewal that establish a cap on property taxes for 80/20 owners that agreed to keep the low-income units in their building affordable for an additional 30 years.  This proposal could have preserved as many as 5,000 affordable units and provided assurance to low-income families that they could stay in their apartments for decades to come.  Unfortunately, they city objected to this proposal as too costly and the legislature would not override the city’s objections.  In addition, despite support from the city, both houses and the Governor, the 421a provisions in the Omnibus bill enacted at the end of the session did not contain the language we recommended that would have restored tax exemption benefits for high density districts (FAR 15 zoning districts).

At the request of the city, the legislature again lowered the cap on class share adjustments from 5 percent to 2.5 percent.  Each of the four tax classes pays a share of the tax levy burden based on the value of the property in class.  Class shares are adjusted annually and capped at 5 percent to reflect the changing value of property in each class.  The sole purpose for this reduction to 2.5 percent is to lower the tax burden on New York City single family homeowners who, compared to the other three classes, are already paying a disproportionately lower share of the tax levy relative to their value.  Our persistent objection to lowering the cap has ended the practice in which the cap was lowered to zero thus providing these homeowners complete protection from class share increases at a time when their homes were rising in value at a rate greater than the other three classes of properties.

There have been reports that the legislature may come back later this year to enact requirements needed to comply with federal health care legislation.  If so, we will urge them to review our 421a cap proposal on 80/20 projects as a prudent method to preserve affordable housing, to address the J-51/Roberts issue, to extend the J-51 program which provides residential building owners an incentive to make capital improvements and  to restore tax exemption benefits in  FAR 15 areas in the 421a program.


Steve Spinola

REBNY President


Do your clients get it?

Home affordability in the United States is nothing short of amazing. Even though current price trends for the United States and Canada are considerably different, the same principle applies in both cases: clients need perspective and they need to look beneath surface statistics before making informed decisions

The first chart below dramatically illustrates the impact of lower interest rates on housing costs, and the relative affordability of housing in the United States. The cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas has more than tripled since 1989, and car prices have nearly doubled. While the median price of a new home has increased by 70 percent, mortgage interest rates, which stood at 10 percent back in 1989, are less than half of what they were back then. The impact of rock-bottom interest rates is that the monthly mortgage payment on a median priced home in the United States has increased by a mere $4 since 1989.

Unless a buyer is paying cash, the monthly payment tends to be a far more relevant number than the home’s actual purchase price. So for buyers who are waiting for home prices to hit the floor, before buying it’s important to point out that the possibility of a slight drop in the price of a home will have very little impact on the monthly payment, while even a slight rise in interest rates (a far more likely scenario) will have a significant impact.


Published on KW Blog, May 2, 2011
by Gary Keller, Co-founder and Chairman
on May 2, 2011