• Your Celebrity Neighbor

    Your celebrity neighbor: Christine Quinn

    WHO: Newlywed and City Council Speaker (and some say future NYC mayor) Christine Quinn got the real celebrity treatment this past weekend, with scores of paparazzi parked outside her wedding in the Meatpacking District.

    WHERE: Quinn and her wife, Kim Catullo, live in Chelsea, where the median sales price is $1.112 million and the median rental is $4,075, according to StreetEasy.

    Your Celebrity Neighbor is a weekly heads-up on the A-listers who call your neighborhood home and (in theory) shop the same Duane Reade as you.

  • Renovation Qs: Any advice for replacing windows?

    Q. I’m thinking about replacing my windows. Any advice? I’d like to keep noise and drafts to a minimum.

    A. While replacing windows can pay off bigtime in quality-of-life improvements and energy savings, the process can be costly and time consuming.

    If your main goal is to keep noise out, prepare to spluge.

    “The least expensive options often will not last long before components begin to malfunction or seals deteriorate,” warns NYC architect Tom Degnan of Degnan Design. Prices for windows can range from $600 supplied and installed to as high as $6,000 for custom high-performance windows, according to Degnan.

    For keeping sounds and drafts out, Gwen Miller-Topanga, in-house windows expert at RAND Engineering & Architecture, stresses the importance of proper installation and insulation -- whether the window is constructed of aluminum cladding or wood. 

  • How to make it through high rental season alive

    In a city where more residents rent than own, we frequently focus on subjects important to renters. Some of us over here are, in fact, renters ourselves. And because now-through-September marks peak rental season in NYC, we're dedicating this week’s SurvivalList roundup to the dark art of renting.

    We'll start with how to find the holy grail of NYC real estate--the no-fee apartment (beware that sometimes  “no fee” means “some fee” or “no fee under certain circumstances”)--as well as the 7 worst places to live in a building, some
    insider tips on renting, what to do if you can't find a guarantor, and what's going through the mind of that on-site rental agent.

    In NYC, brokers can be a necessary part of renting, so we’ve got posts on how to spot a bad broker, and an Agent Referral Service to ensure you won't wind up in the clutches of a scam artist.

    On that note, here's what a Craigslist scam looks like, as well as signs that an apartment is too good to be true. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the 8 things your landlord will never tell you and these 15 tips for first-time renters.

    We even have a Rent Coach who offers advice just for renters (from the pitfalls of renting an illegal sublet toembarking on a rent-to-own situation) and one from a serial renter, covering topics from how to make a great impression on your future landlord to creating better roommate relations.

  • Ask an Expert

    Ask an Expert: Who pays for defective windows in a co-op?

    Q. Last week one of the windows in my co-op apartment literally fell onto my floor.  These are cheap double-hung windows installed by the sponsor about 15-20 years ago.  It left a deep scratch on the floor, but fortunately, my 2-year-old was in the other room.  I've since learned that there have been two similar incidents in the building over the past couple of years. 

    The co-op is going to repair the window, but I think they all need to be replaced as they're clearly defective.

    My question is, who pays for replacing them? And who is responsible for the damage to my floor--or if God forbid someone were to get hurt next time?

    A.  Co-ops are usually responsible for keeping the windows in good shape--but don't hold your breath for new ones, say our experts.

    Under the proprietary leases of 99% of co-ops, explains real estate lawyer Dean Roberts of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, "the windows are deemed a 'common element' and are the responsibility of the co-op, not the shareholder. The reason is to ensure uniformity of appearance and maintenance."

  • StreetEasy Hot Dozen

    The StreetEasy Hot Dozen: 12 rentals that may or may not be available by the time you read this

    This no-fee $4,300/month 3-bedroom apartment is located in a West 83rd Street townhouse a block from Central Park.

    With summer around the corner, who doesn't want to be near a park? Apartments steps from Manhattan’s outdoor oases are on top of this week’s Hot Dozen -- meaning more Streeteasy.com visitors clicked on these rental listings over the past seven days than any others.

    Gramercy Park is only a block from a convertible two-bedroom apartment at 221 East 21st Street and 3rd Avenuelisted at $2,750/month. The 700-square-foot apartment has plenty of closet space and the building has an elevator, along with laundry in the basement. Shares are OK, making the well-maintained (and well-located) apartment surprisingly affordable, though judging from the photos it may be on the ground floor.

    Just two blocks from Central Park and in a historic townhouse is a no-fee three-bedroom apartment at 169 West 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue listed at $4,300/month. The space boasts 125-year-old white oak floors and new stainless steel appliances.

  • How to get almost anyone past a co-op board

    When it comes to passing a co-op board interview, preparation is the name of the game -- which means even if you weren't totally comfortable sharing everything with your broker before going to contract, the kimono needs to opennow.

    “Don’t be put off by a broker questioning something in your finances or how your package is being structured. As brokers we err on being overly cautious, because you only have one time to do a co-op board presentation,” says Deanna Kory, a real estate broker at Corcoran.

    Even perfect candidates--with solid job history, good references, and debt at no more than 30% of income--can trip up by presenting a disorganized application package to the board, says Brad Malow of Rutenberg Realty.

    "You have to make sure the board has to do the least amount of work and hunting as possible. The minute you make them work, you're in trouble," says Malow.

    If you're not an ideal candidate--perhaps you fall into one of the categories listed below--you'll need more than mere attention to detail. 

    Read on for advice on handling 9 potentially sticky situations.

  • 10 things you don’t want to see in the board minutes


    When you buy a co-op or condo, you’re also buying into a building.   Is it financially healthy? Physically fit? Are there any quality of life issues that could diminish the enjoyment of your new home?

    A review of the financial statements by your accountant or attorney will only take you so far. An essential place to look for clues to the bigger picture is the board minutes--the recorded notes of the issues discussed at monthly board meetings.

    The minutes are typically available for review in the building’s managing agent’s office—and reviewing the past two years worth of minutes is an essential task of any real estate attorney.

    Read on for 10 red flags that require more information before going ahead with the deal.

  • Farm to City

    Farm to City: NYC has tainted my ideas of affordable and desirable real estate

    I’ve always been big into real estate. I enjoy researching what details a certain amount of money will buy and determining which features are most important to me so I can get a sense of how much I’ll need to be happy (give or take) with my future home.

    New York City has thrown me for a loop. Where $300,000 in Little Rock, AR, for example, could buy you a 5,000-square-foot tri-level hilltop castle, in NYC, that amount could only offer a run-of-the-mill studio with hardwood floors and laundry in the basement (if you’re lucky).

    I have decided that a hard comparison is necessary.  This could be the column that drives me out of the city for good, but I’m feeling dangerous. I genuinely want to compare needs and wants in NYC to the rest of the real estate world.

    Here is my list of Normal Real Estate Wants/Needs Vs. NYC Wants/Needs:

    1. Master suite vs Master padlock

    I would venture to say that one of the biggest concerns in the city is security, so it’s understandable why a video buzzer, a doorman, or five or so padlocks take precedence over a room big enough for a California King.

  • StreetEasy Open House Scorecard

    The Open House Scorecard, starring the Upper West Side

    This UWS $575k one-bedroom co-op has 9-foot ceilings and much of the original architecture. The building has a newly renovated rooftop terrace.

    Does the neighborhood-y Upper West Side tickle your fancy? Then grab a pen and take notes on this Open House Scorecard--the 10 open-houses saved most often by StreetEasy users this past weekend. 

    If penthouses come to you in your real estate dreams, consider a $1.285m two-bedroom co-op in The Opera building on Broadway between West 76th and 77th Streets. The corner unit has a wraparound terrace with great potential, judging from the photos on the brokerage website for the listing. But the listing notes the apartment’s in its “original condition,” (a.k.a. it hasn’t been renovated). You'll also have to share a washer/dryer with other nabes on your floor, and the monthly $3,087 maintenance seems a bit steep.

    Ten blocks up and half a block from Central Pakr, a loft-like, renovated two-bedroom condo is on the market for $1.75m on West 86th between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. 

  • How to find a rent-stabilized apartment in NYC

    This 10th floor studio in a luxury doorman building at East 46th and Lexington is being offered at a rent-stabilized rate of $2,300/month. 

    There's a reason why the folks who score rent-stabilized apartments move an average of every dozen years, versus the 4 year average of their market-rate cousins:  The rents, which generally can't exceed $2,500 per month, make living in NYC more affordable for people with average incomes.

    Neighborhood news site DNAinfo posted a very useful rundown today on the ins-and-outs of locating one of these apartments. It's worth a close read. Here are a few highlights:

    • Focus your search on neighborhoods that are stuffed to the gils with rent-stabilized apartments, including Washington Heights and Inwood in Manhattan, and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.
    • Most rent-stabilized units are located in buildings constructed before 1974, though some newer developments that received tax breaks have them too--but they usually start at market-rate prices.
    • Make sure the lease that you sign is actually a rent-stablized lease