Matrix Blog

Development, Construction, Architecture & Land

[Three Cents Worth NY #233] I’ll Take (Manhattan) “Combo” Apartment

June 5, 2013 | 12:15 pm | | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed NY, at the intersection of neighborhood and real estate in the capital of the world…and I’m here to take measurements.

Check out this week’s 3CW column on @CurbedNY:

With inventory hovering around record lows, we’ve started to observe more sales of combined apartments. Combined apartments (i.e. connecting two or more adjacent apartments) tend to have inferior layouts than their equivalent-sized counterparts that were originally designed by the building architect. We are seeing more “combo” sales now and are also performing more hallway appraisals as of late (where apartment owners acquire the end of a hallway to enhance the layout of combined apartments)…

[click to expand chart]


Today’s Post: Three Cents Worth: I’ll Take (Manhattan) “Combo” Apartment [Curbed]
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed NY
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed DC
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed Miami

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[Housing Recovery Update] Proclamations Over Reasons, Statistics Over Logic

December 13, 2012 | 10:20 am |

Once a month a local real estate broker passes out monthly updates of our local Connecticut housing market at our commuter train station. He’s a nice affable guy and I get to hear him explain the market to people as we wait in the warm station. He said this to me after I took a look at his handout this morning,

“The statistics aren’t too shabby, eh?”

And I smiled and responded, “that’s the power of record low mortgage rates.” to which he gave me the “thumb’s up” gesture.

And he’s right, his MLS statistics show a very much improved housing market from a few years ago and nearly all of the improvement has been mortgage rate related.

His view of housing is not unlike most public economic prognosticators from Wall Street, NAR, NAHB and real estate brokerage firms, consumers and general in-the-media-all-the-time types.

However few, if any, prognosticators understand why or seem interested in understanding whether it is sustainable (aka forecasting a trend). Once a metric shows promise, it will rise forever, or something like that.

Here’s my town recap for November being presented as a report (with a wildly low 15 sale data set). All the percentages reflect November 2012 over November 2011:

  • New Listings -40%
  • Pending Sales +36.4%
  • Homes sold +15.4%
  • DOM +53%
  • Average Sales Price +29.4%
  • Average Dollar Volume +49.3%

Despite the low data set, the results are remarkably consistent with national trends. Now look at why these metrics actually changed:

  • New Listings -40% [tight credit pressing inventory down because sellers can’t buy]
  • Pending Sales +36.4% [record low (and continuing to fall) mortgage rates + high rents]
  • Homes sold +15.4% [behind pendings because pace of sales accelerating as rates fall]
  • DOM +53% [older stagnant inventory is getting sold off from lack of supply]
  • Average Sales Price +29.4% [more high end sales are moving this year]
  • Average Dollar Volume +49.3% [same as above]

If you pull the plug on low rates, the housing market (literally) plunges. No one is suggesting this is the scenario that will occur but the national housing market feels incredibly fragile to me.

But why should I (or anyone else) actually care whether we understand what’s actually going on? The stats show sales and price numbers are higher than last year – “bullet dodged” – that’s all we need to know – we did the math.

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When We Say “Gut Rehab” We Mean It

December 11, 2012 | 9:11 pm |

Here is a front and back view of a gut renovation on the Upper East Side of Manhattan observed by one of our appraisers. Offhand I don’t know what the building was or will be but other than the street facade, nothing else remains. It’s like new construction only completely different (the facade keeps it authentic as perceived by the local market).

Street View

Rear View

Not much left inside.


Series of Tubes and Time Lapse Documentation, Manhattan Style

December 4, 2012 | 7:00 am |

With the demolition of the Drake Hotel and the pending construction of Manhattan’s tallest residential condominium 432 Park Avenue, passers by get the opportunity to observe a series of tubes and it’s not the Internet on an adjacent building.

Check out the very cool visual documentation of the 432 Park Avenue development site.

I marvel at old school (modern) engineering when a solution to a problem doesn’t require aesthetics and it’s exposed. Thankfully this masterpiece will be covered as the new 432 Park is constructed.

[click to expand]


Why Doesn’t NAR Lobby Against Standard Time?

November 4, 2012 | 1:30 pm | |

[click to read about Daylight Savings Time]

We got an extra hour of sleep last night (in theory) as we left Daylight Savings Time.

I came across this post yesterday that got me thinking (more like chuckling), why doesn’t the National Association of Realtors rally public support for shifting the US from using Standard Time to go all Daylight Savings Time in order to promote more housing activity?

Afterall, who wants to get up early and view a purchase or rental property and isn’t housing significant part of the economy? Daylight in early hours benefits farming while daylight in later hours benefits housing activity. Agriculture is about 1% of GDP and housing is 17% to 18% of GDP.

From Wikipedia:

As modern societies operate on the basis of “standard time” rather than solar time, most people’s schedules are not governed by the movements of the earth in relation to the sun. For example, work, school and transport schedules will generally begin at exactly the same time at all times of the year regardless of the position of the sun…if “standard time” is applied year round, a significant portion of the longer sunlight hours will fall in the early morning while there may still be a significant period of darkness in the evening.

Admittedly this idea is way out there, and NAR would be unlikely to lobby this point anytime soon because they would look foolish.

I guess I just don’t like it getting dark at 5pm and I don’t even sell real estate.

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Treasures of New York: “Building Stories” Profile of Architect Costas Kondylis

June 14, 2012 | 3:36 pm | | TV, Videos |

Watch Treasures of New York: Building Stories on PBS. See more from THIRTEEN Specials.

If you missed this show on TV, it is now available in its entirety online. It’s an excellent collaboration between WNET/THIRTEEN and The Real Deal on the noted architect. I loved the way the assemblage of development air rights – basically a high stakes secret chess match – was presented.

Note to self: ask Amir Korangy, TRD’s publisher to do a doc on me someday – it would be brief, boring and attract little interest, but hey, who wouldn’t want their own doc?

  • Treasures of New York: Building Stories reveals the private life and the creative process of Costas Kondylis [WNET/THIRTEEN]

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Fraud Never Sleeps – 2 Contractors Sentenced

June 11, 2012 | 3:30 pm |

I got this announcement relayed by REBNY from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. who “has made addressing illegal activity in the contracting community a high priority.”

Here’s the AP story.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office says the men claimed they were from the supposed “Committee on Contract Compliance” and threatened to report bogus violations if they weren’t paid off. They arrived at job sites with clipboards, video cameras and hardhats.

I don’t usually post this stuff on Matrix but the narrative was fascinating. Check it out:

2 get prison in NYC ‘contract compliance’ scheme [My FoxNY]


Manhattan Residential Housing Sales Volume Is Crushing Other Boroughs

June 4, 2012 | 1:38 pm | Charts |

[click to expand]

The aggregate sales dollars (volume) of all residential sales (co-ops + condos + 1-3 family) for the first quarter of 2012 in Manhattan accounted for 62.5% of all residential sales dollars (volume) for the 5 boroughs (New York City). This is the highest market share in over 8 years and likely the highest market share in decades (my Bronx and Staten Island data only goes back to January 2003.)

No wonder real estate firms, whether brokerage or development, are concentrating on Manhattan.  The dollar volume is a reflections of a robust high end market since the market share of the number of sales doesn’t dominate the other boroughs like volume does.  

[click to expand]

The market share for the number of sales in Manhattan began to jump in 2006, right about when the new development boom was accelerating.

Incidentally, it’s interesting how many people refer to “Manhattan” as “New York City”.

  • New York City Residential Housing Market Charts [Miller Samuel]

[Interview] Adam Leitman Bailey, Real Estate Attorney, Founder, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., Author

October 13, 2010 | 10:11 am | | Podcasts |

Read More

[Interview] Orest Tomaselli, CEO, National Condo Advisors, LLC, National Condo Inspections, LLC

June 30, 2010 | 12:06 am | Podcasts |

Read More

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[The Housing Helix Podcast] Jane Gladstein, President, Gladstein Development Group, LLC, Real Estate Developer

June 17, 2010 | 12:03 am | Podcasts |

I talk “dirt” with Jane Gladstein, President of Gladstein Development Group about the process of development.   Hint: it’s not all about bricks and mortar.

Jane is a 30 year veteran who has developed such notable projects as 255 Hudson, The Sycamore, Soho 25 and the award winning 505 Greenwich.

Check out the podcast.

The Housing Helix Podcast Interview List

You can subscribe on iTunes or simply listen to the podcast on my other blog The Housing Helix.

[Interview] Jane Gladstein, President, Gladstein Development Group, LLC, Real Estate Developer

June 17, 2010 | 12:01 am | Podcasts |

Read More

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