Does a Building’s Age Affect It’s Rent?

Just as a spate of new housing units comes to market in New York City — the newborn sheen and amenities accompanied by premium rents — a study by the website RentHop offers a look at the relationship between a building’s age and the rents charged.

Among newer buildings, it found, rents decreased as a building’s age increased. The drop was particularly obvious in Battery Park City, where the median-age building was constructed in 1998.

Citywide, however, the median age of buildings is about 90 years, and in most older neighborhoods there was a more complicated relationship between the age of a building and the rent.

Location, not surprisingly, often mattered more. And buildings with historic merit were also sometimes more expensive than newer buildings nearby, as were older buildings with elevators.

Focusing on one-bedroom apartments in Manhattan, in buildings with elevators, RentHop produced a list of neighborhoods in which the greatest age-related discounts can be found.

Posted on August 23, 2017 at 5:14 pm
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

What You Get for … $700,000 – NY Times

Roxbury, Conn.

WHAT A 1790 house with four bedrooms and four bathrooms

HOW MUCH $715,000

SIZE 2,496 square feet


SETTING This two-story farmhouse is in the lush, rolling landscape of Litchfield County, about a mile from the center of town, where there is a small market. It is about a 10-minute drive from the larger towns of Washington and New Milford, which have more stores and restaurants. New York is about 80 miles away.

INDOORS This charming clapboard house has many early details, including wide-plank chestnut floors, exposed beams, small-pane windows with antique glass and distinctive woodwork. It was featured on the cover of the May 1981 issue of Architectural Digest. The ground floor is organized around a central chimney connected to two large fireplaces — one anchoring the living room, the other in a cozy sitting area at the foot of the stairs — and two smaller fireplaces near the entrance and the dining area. The kitchen was updated a number of years ago with skylights, custom cabinetry, a paneled refrigerator and wood countertops in keeping with the style of the house.

The master suite is on the ground floor. The large bedroom has an open cathedral ceiling and a small Danish wood stove. It connects to two bathrooms, updated with marble tile and vanities, and clerestory windows. Upstairs are three additional bedrooms and two bathrooms.

OUTDOOR SPACE The house is on a 4.28-acre lot defined by old fieldstone walls. A gravel driveway runs from the road to the rear of the house, where a stone walkway leads to manicured gardens with mature plantings surrounding an old well. The remainder of the property is open field and woods. There are two patio areas: one that is partially covered outside the kitchen, and another with a fire pit. There is also an in-ground pool with a free-form naturalistic shape that gives it the appearance of a pond.

TAXES $5,474 a year

CONTACT Austin Farmer, the Matthews Group, 860-248-0160;

Ada, Mich.

WHAT A 1969 house with five bedrooms and three bathrooms

HOW MUCH $715,000

SIZE 4,260 square feet


SETTING This house is in a secluded part of Ada Township, about four miles east of a village center undergoing an extensive redevelopment project to expand retail, residential and restaurant offerings and to make it more pedestrian friendly. It is about 15 miles from downtown Grand Rapids, which has a wide range of stores, restaurants, craft breweries and entertainment opportunities.

INDOORS This low-slung brick house retains much of its midcentury appeal, including original doors, trim and cabinetry. The roof, windows and electrical system have been updated. A porch leads from the driveway to double front doors that open into a wide tiled foyer. Straight ahead is a large carpeted living room with an integrated mantel-free fireplace and windows extending across two walls to offer views outside. The kitchen has its original cabinets, which still look contemporary, and updated stainless-steel appliances. There is a dining nook open to the kitchen as well as a separate dining room.

The carpeted master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and a walk-in closet next to a dressing area equipped with a double vanity. It is in the same wing as a second bedroom and a den; three other bedrooms and a family room are in another wing. A large basement serves as a storage space and a utility ro

OUTDOOR SPACE The house sits on a high piece of land, overlooking a wooded valley. The lot is 2.61 acres: About an acre of that is manicured lawn; the rest is woods. An attached two-car garage is equipped with electric car chargers.

TAXES $4,714 a year

CONTACT Katie Karczewski, Keller Williams Realty, 616-575-0119;


San Antonio

WHAT A 1902 house with four bedrooms and four bathrooms

HOW MUCH $695,000

SIZE 3,637 square feet


SETTING This three-story house is in the Monte Vista historic district, a residential area built mostly in the early 20th century with an eclectic collection of architecture, including neo-Classical, Tudor and Queen Anne-style houses. Stores and restaurants are just steps away on North Main Avenue; Brackenridge Park, the San Antonio Zoo and downtown are within about two miles.

INDOORS The clapboard house was extensively renovated by the owner, the interior designer Megan Rice Yager, in 2015. The ground floor has high ceilings, tall windows, tiger oak floors and large openings between the living room, dining room and kitchen. The kitchen has custom cabinetry with panels to conceal the dishwasher and refrigerator, and a La Cornue range. It has a honed marble backsplash and countertops, a large farm-style marble sink, an island with built-in refrigerator drawers, a walk-in pantry and a butler’s pantry with a second dishwasher.

There is one bedroom on the ground level; three additional bedrooms are on the second floor, including a master suite with two closets and a bathroom updated with marble hexagon floor tile, a free-standing soaking tub, a tiled shower, two vanities and a dressing table. French doors provide access from the bathroom to a private deck. The third floor has sloping ceilings and could be used for more bedrooms, an office or a studio.

OUTDOOR SPACE This house makes the most of its 0.16-acre lot with a covered wraparound porch in front, a second porch in back, a patio with a fire pit area, and a small vegetable and herb garden. It also has a driveway leading to a detached garage with space for storage and a workshop.

TAXES $13,208 a year

CONTACT Ann Van Pelt, Phyllis Browning Company, 210-829-2535;

Posted on May 8, 2017 at 10:55 pm
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Renting Your Home Out, by the Hour

By New York’s Times

Like other New Yorkers, Alex Story occasionally rents out her home through Airbnb, relinquishing her East Village townhouse to strangers who sleep in her bed, eat in her kitchen and lounge on her sofa. But she has found a less intrusive way to profit from her property: She rents it out by the hour, instead.

In the last three years, a handful of companies have entered the New York City marketplace, providing an internet platform that allows people to list their properties for parties, corporate events and photography shoots. Companies like Splacer, Peerspace and Thisopenspace allow ordinary New Yorkers to turn their living rooms into venues for corporate retreats or baby showers, charging as much as a guest is willing to pay.

For New Yorkers who want to make money off their apartments, but are reluctant to skip town to do it, these companies offer a viable alternative to vacation rentals. “You don’t have to wash your bedsheets, you don’t have to find another place to sleep,” said Yashar Nejati, 31, the founder of Thisopenspace, a company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that opened in New York last year. “You can rent out your space while you go run errands.”

Splacer, which started in Tel Aviv, has attracted 700 New York City listings since it entered the marketplace in 2014. A third of the spaces are residential, and the rest are commercial, like restaurants, galleries and warehouses. Peerspace, a San Francisco-based company, arrived in New York in November 2015 and now has 600 listings in this market, about 150 of which are residential. And about a third of Thisopenspace’s 300 listings in the city are residential.

The sites operate much like Airbnb. Hosts list their property online, uploading photographs, a description of the space and the rental price. All three companies charge hosts a commission. Peerspace and Thisopenspace charge the guests a fee, too. These companies are tapping into a trend that has become a hallmark of the so-called sharing economy: With a clever app and a smartphone, everyday objects in our lives can become viable revenue streams.

“Your apartment is standing vacant 14 hours a day,” said Adi Biran, 45, who started Splacer in 2014 with Lihi Gerstner, 41. “Why not use it?”

Proponents of these new sites see hourly rentals as a way to avoid the legal quagmire of vacation rentals, which can run afoul of state and city occupancy laws. However, commercial use of a residential space could raise other thorny legal issues. Operating a de facto party business out of an apartment in a residential neighborhood could violate city zoning codes or a building’s certificate of occupancy. Most residential leases prohibit commercial uses of an apartment. And co-op and condo buildings have similar restrictions. “There are all kinds of issues,” said Phyllis H. Weisberg, a real estate lawyer and the managing partner of Montgomery McCracken’s New York office. “It’s problematic.”

Ultimately, the debate about the merits of short-term rentals is not really about legal statutes, but about how people want their apartments, buildings and neighborhoods used. While supporters see short-term rentals as a relatively painless way to help pay the rent in an expensive city, critics argue that the trend turns homes into hotels. People who live next door to an apartment that is used for short-term rentals often complain about a rotating cast of endless guests diminishing their quality of life.

So, as far as the neighbors are concerned, is a site like Peerspace really all that different from Airbnb? If your neighbor turns her living room into a venue for corporate retreats, the guests may leave at nightfall, but the vibe is still altered. “It used to be that you had a group of people, and this was going to be their homes, and they had a common interest in preserving it,” Ms. Weisberg said. “Now, that’s gone.”


When Spacebase, a Berlin-based event rental company, opened in New York in October, it excluded residential listings from its database, worrying that neighbors would balk. “You’re renting out residential space to corporations, it’s the ultimate evil,” said Jan Hoffmann-Keining, 29, a founder of Spacebase. “If you already feel like tourists are taking away the residential vibe of your apartment building, corporations would do that even more.”

But for the people listing their homes online, corporate clients can mean corporate-size checks. Ms. Story, 48, a jewelry designer and an adjunct professor at New York University and the Fashion Institute of Technology, makes enough money from hourly rentals that she was able to reduce her teaching load. She rented out her three-story East Village townhouse about 20 times over the last year on Splacer and Peerspace, charging users $173 an hour. Facebook and Etsy have held company retreats in her living room, which has an exposed brick wall and a floating staircase. The space has also been used for wedding receptions, baby showers and photo shoots.

On a good month, Andrew Matusik, 47, a fashion photographer who owns a 1,600-square-foot loft on Park Avenue South, makes $11,000 through Splacer, more than enough to pay the $8,000-a-month mortgage on his $900,000 apartment. He charges renters, mostly film and photography crews, about $1,800 a day to use his studio space with vaulted, 13½-foot ceilings and oversize windows. Mr. Matusik spends six to 10 hours a week coordinating rentals. His guests have included Absolut vodka and the VH1 show “Love & Hip Hop.”

While Mr. Matusik does not mind strangers overtaking his apartment twice a week, his wife, Sunni Spencer, 42, is less enthusiastic. The couple married in 2015, about a year after Mr. Matusik started the endeavor. The couple sleeps in the mezzanine level of the loft on a Murphy bed. “For the first year of marriage, it was difficult,” he said. Ms. Spencer, a brand adviser, had trouble adjusting to the endless stream of visitors in an apartment with an open floor plan that leaves little room for privacy.

Not all parties go as planned. About a year ago, Ms. Story walked in the door of her townhouse at midnight to find that a party that was supposed to end at 10 p.m. was still going strong. Added to that, about 70 people were in her home, well over the 30-guest limit. “I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Ms. Story recalled. “They were supposed to be in the cleanup phase. The guy gave me an attitude.” The bathroom was flooded. Ms. Story insisted that the group pay for a maid service.

All three companies provide liability insurance, and hosts can request that their guests leave a security deposit. While many hosts have renters or homeowners insurance, a residential policy may not cover damage from a commercial use. Corporate guests generally have insurance, too.

Still, cleaning up a mess takes time. In Bushwick, Brooklyn, Cristina Puron spent two days refinishing the floor of her 1,200-square-foot loft after a dance troupe destroyed the varnish and cracked the wood with their shoes. But the incident did not deter Ms. Puron, 27, from listing her rental apartment again.

She lists the space, with a hammock and a rope swing hanging in the living room, on all three sites for around $100 an hour. As for the potential for mishaps, she said: “It’s a risk that you have to take when you do this.”

Posted on March 15, 2017 at 7:52 pm
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

NYT’S What You Can Get for $1,225,000 | PDX vs. SF


Built in 1909 / Redone | 4 Bedrooms | 2.1 Bathrooms | 3,148 Sq. Ft. |

This completely remodeled classic Old Portland residence is located in the heart of Portland Heights. Formal areas, marble bathrooms and eat-in kitchen, high-end finishes, period moldings, hardwoods, wainscoting, family room, master suite. Ipe deck and porch, partial views. Minutes to the city, NW 23rd Ave, trails, park. High tech, walk-ability.


Built in 1907 | 3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms 1,535 Sq. Ft.

Step into this quiet Edwardian home & instantly feel at ease. Soaring ceilings, hardwood floors, double pane windows, & open living space set the mood. The nicely sized front bedroom features built-in window seating. Follow the hallway down to the master bedroom w/ updated en-suite bathroom. The third bedroom is ideal for a home office/nursery. In-unit laundry & 2 hallway closets complete the front of the home. The back of the house has been opened into a great room that hosts the living, dining, & kitchen space. The kitchen has granite countertops, SS appliances, a 5-burner range & space for bar seating.

Posted on March 13, 2017 at 7:29 pm
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The Right Time to Sell is Anytime – NY Times

When Aaron Thornton and his wife, Michelle League, decided a few months ago to sell their brownstone on West 120th Street, they first tended to some maintenance issues, then consulted their calendar to figure out the best time to put the property on the market.

They knew, of course, that the last chunk of the year would be one long stretch of turkey and tinsel with prospective buyers more likely to be shopping for Christmas gifts than real estate. Nonetheless, the couple wasn’t inclined to delay; the house went on the market in the middle of December.

“Our attitude,” Mr. Thornton said, “was: no time like the present.”

It’s an increasingly popular stance.

A real estate article of faith once had it that mid- to late-February, the start of the so-called spring season, was the best time to list a property. This allowed breathing room for the buyer to get a mortgage, and in the case of a co-op purchase, time to assemble the board package and meet with the board, and to close the deal before the end of the school year and the start of the summer exodus. September was another good option, as long as sellers took care to wait until after Labor Day.

Only the clueless or the foolishly optimistic, so the thinking went, would list a property in New York City around the Fourth of July, during the Jewish holidays in the fall, or any time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. And it was definitely better to wait until after Wall Street’s bonus season, usually in January. As for August, well, just forget it: Surely you’re not thinking about real estate when you’re trying to enjoy the final days of summer?

But now, because of digital marketing and the masses of online information available to consumers, “all the rules about timing are gone,” said Barbara Fox, the founder and president of the Fox Residential Group. “The rules are out the window. My theory is: Get it out there. Let’s see if there’s someone out there waiting for it.’’

Kathy Braddock, a managing director of William Raveis New York City, agreed. “Pre-internet, we were much more seasonal,” she said. “Now, real estate is a 24/7 exercise. Some people are buying from photos. There’s always, always a market.”

Indeed, Mr. Thornton and Ms. League found the brownstone they are now selling online one December day just before Christmas about six years ago.

Victoria Rong Kennedy, an associate broker at Citi Habitats, has notched a number of holiday sales. “There’s a happy mood because it’s Christmas and investors may decide to buy something,” she said. “I have a lot of international clients who come from Asia who are Christmas shopping for luxury goods and they also may decide to look at some real estate.”

In fact, sellers who decide to list a property during a traditionally slow time like Christmas may be at a real advantage. “It helps you showcase it because there’s less competition,” Ms. Fox said.

Seasonality can’t be totally dismissed, though. It certainly continues to play a role in the suburbs where curb appeal is crucial, according to James Gricar, the general sales manager of Houlihan Lawrence. “Selling a house in the winter is more of a burden,” he said. “Almost any house looks prettier when the leaves are on the trees and the weather is pleasant.”

Because the goal is to get as many motivated, qualified buyers as possible, Darren Sukenik, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman, believes in blackout dates for high-end listings, namely from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 and from July 15 through Labor Day. “I feel I would be doing properties over $2 million a disservice to put them on the market at those times,” he said. “People of means are not in the city. They’re on vacation. They’re traveling.”

Other brokers seem to share Mr. Sukenik’s view.

“August is the low point of supply for every year,” said Jonathan Miller, president of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, who examined listings data from 2010 to 2016. “After Labor Day inventory surges, with a slight peak in October.”

According to Mr. Miller, there is a similar surge in the spring, with May as the high point.

But to get too caught up in the calendar is to miss the point, many real estate agents and executive say.

“The data doesn’t support that if you put it on the market in a particular month you’re going to sell it faster or that you’re going to get a 20 percent premium,” said Stuart Siegel, chief executive of Engel & Völkers.

Put another way, it isn’t so much when you put a property on the market but what price you put it on the market.

“You can list something in the spring,” said Victoria Vinokur, an associate broker at Halstead Property, “but if the property is overpriced nothing is going to happen to it even if, conceptually, it’s a hot time in the market. And if you’ve got a motivated buyer for a particular property, that buyer doesn’t care what time of year it is.”

Mr. Siegel advises clients to be guided by their own particular circumstances rather than by the calendar. Are you selling now because you want to be in another house before the school year starts? Do you need another six months in your old place to give you time to finish construction on your new place?

“It’s personal needs and lifestyle questions rather than you’ll do better in September than November,’’ he said.

But old ways die hard. Some sellers remain convinced that it’s all in the timing.

“A client told me she wanted her two-bedroom apartment on West End Avenue to go on the market the Monday after the Super Bowl,” said Susan Forrest-Reynolds, an agent at William Raveis New York City. “Her theory was that men don’t come to open houses during football season.”

Posted on January 16, 2017 at 9:48 pm
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The 10 Most Cost-Effective Renovations



By Pablo Enriquez, NY Times

High-end, major remodeling projects don’t always offer the most favorable return on investment when you sell your home. Lower-cost but highly visible changes can often do more to increase profits in a sale, as Tim McKeough writes in this week’s cover story in the Real Estate section. Here are some simple improvements that may offer the most bang for the buck.



In apartments and houses:

Refinishing hardwood floors

Painting walls

Replacing kitchen countertops

Installing new kitchen appliances

Replacing kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts

In houses only:

Replacing the front door with a new steel-and-glass door

Replacing the garage door

Replacing siding

Adding a wood deck

Replacing windows with wood windows

Posted on April 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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