Inheriting a huge Paris apartment: less exciting when it's already got a lifetime tenant in place.
It seems like the kind of elaborate obstacle that only ever exists in the movies: man inherits apartment, only to find it's got an elderly tenant, who gets to stay in the apartment for life—and to whom he's contractually obligated to pay a monthly fee. But the seemingly outlandish plot of My Old Lady, a film starring Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith that hit theaters earlier this month, is actually based on the very real "viager" system in France, in which an individual can buy an occupied apartment by paying the (usually elderly) owner a stipend every month until their death.The buyer is required to pay a down payment—or "bouquet"—of around 30 percent of the total sale price; the size of the monthly payments is determined in part by the seller's age.
Drew is a real estate agent, Jonathan a contractor and home designer, and as well as being supreme experts in buying, selling and renovating, last year the brothers made People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue. Here, they explain via email how to revamp your small New York apartment, the biggest mistake you can make renovating, and why open concept design is no passing fad.
WHO: Singer Alexa Ray Joel said recently that she doesn’t own sweatpants, and hangs out at home in kimonos and robes. We, on the other hand, live in sweatpants, not that we actually sweat in them. We think of them more as TV pants, and hope one day to own 200 pairs, one for every cable channel.
The term “penthouse” is bandied about rather freely these days to describe almost any apartment on a high floor. (The most recent offender is 388 Bridge Street, a hybrid rental-condo tower in Downtown Brooklyn that's got 40 penthouses, as DNAinfo reports.) But the technical definition is actually something along the lines of a structure on the roof of a building that’s set back from the outer walls to create a private and secluded outdoor space. So even though this Long Island City two-bedroom, two-bath with a terrace is only $1.5 million (not exactly the eye-popping price tag you'd expect when you hear "penthouse"), it qualifies.
Just because you live alone doesn't mean you can't tackle home improvement projects
Renovating your apartment solo—without a family member or significant other to pitch in—gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “do it yourself.” Luckily, there are a ton of shortcuts to make all sorts of jobs easier and safer. Apartment Therapy has a rundown of advice from around the web, including pointers on installing cabinets and using an extension ladder when you're taking on a project on your own.
Is it worth dealing with the noise (and extra train time) for a solid apartment at a good price? We consulted our experts, including RentHackr founder Zeb Dropkin as well as real estate bloggers and veteran NYC renters Julie Inzanti and Lambeth Hochwald (who have a combined 27 years of experience in the world of New York rentals), for this week’s Take It or Leave It.
Panels on the roof can translate into hefty savings for your building.
Talking your board into solar energy just got a whole lot easier: Governor Cuomo yesterday signed into law a bill passed earlier this summer extending until 2017—and doubling—the current tax abatement for buildings that install solar panels.
The new measure will provide buildings that go solar with a tax break equivalent to either 5 percent of the total cost of panel installation; property taxes for the year the solar panels are installed; or a lump sum of $62,500, according to a release from Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill. Residential homes, co-ops, condos, rental buildings, and commercial buildings are all eligible.
A new crop of grocery-delivery apps promise to save you the supermarket schlep
Let's face it: an empty fridge is an inevitability. But trekking to the grocery store, braving the lines and hauling your bags up the stairs? Not so much. A new generation of mobile apps has debuted in the last year, all promising to save New Yorkers the hassle of buying their own groceries. (And unlike fan favorite Fresh Direct, these apps pick up from multiple stores, and some can get your food to you in about an hour.) But which ones are actually worth a download (and the delivery fee)? We tried out four of the most buzzed about options, and weighed the pros and cons of each:
A kitchen like this can be yours at an affordable price if you renovate with care
Renovations are never easy, and we're always on the hunt for stories of New Yorkers who manage to spruce up their homes while keeping their bank accounts and sanity intact. Over at Brownstoner, one intrepid Brooklynite has been chronicling the overhaul of a Bed-Stuy brownstone, an undertaking that the blog describes as a "budget renovation financed with a 203K loan," a federal program that finances home improvements with energy saving upgrades.
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