October 25th, 2014

Posted by Leonard Steinberg on October 25th, 2014

I live in a building where several people own apartments that they only use a few months of the year. I am in no way offended by this. My neighbors paid lots of transfer and mansion taxes buying, pay monthly real estate taxes, employ decorators, trades people, cleaners, drivers, cooks, etc. When they are in town they support restaurants, trainers, theaters, etc. They spend LOTS. Each time they spend, sales taxes are collected. I am offended by the likes of State Senator Liz Krueger quoted in this mornings absurd story in the New York Times who probably has bemoaned the congestion in New York, yet is quoted now bemoaning how these part-time-property users will not be in town all the time filling up the streets: what exactly does she want? The contradictory messaging is alarming at best. Here are some examples:

1)   Some are upset because when they look at buildings at night they are not brightly illuminated as many owners are not in town, yet they want to cut energy use in the City.

2)   Some are upset because part-time owners do not pay enough taxes, yet each of these property owner has paid MASSIVE taxes to buy their apartments, continue to pay real estate taxes every month they own, and have to pay MASSIVE taxes when they sell their apartments.

3)   What are taxes? They are monies paid by residents to pay for services, welfare, debt payments, wars, etc. Surely the real estate taxes paid by these part time owners covers much more than the services they are being provided for the few weeks they are in  town?

4)   When a 100+ unit building like One 57 is built atop a hotel, surely the vast volume of people going to the hotel far outnumbers the number of full time residents that would inhabit the building if it were all residential and all full time occupants?

5)   A building like THE PLAZA may experience low occupancy levels in the residential component but its hotel component is bustling with people: the development added a food court that benefits all. The building produces MUCH more in real estate taxes now than before when it was just a hotel. And it continues to employ hundreds.

6)   New Yorkers complain too much: I don’t love these super-tall structures personally, but they do house more people and they replace buildings that produced far lower real estate taxes in their prior life. Often the real estate taxes the new buildings collect are double, triple or more. You can’t collect more real estate taxes when you have full timers living in fewer apartments in smaller buildings. Thats basic mathematics.

7)  While higher real estate prices make it more difficult for some to buy, none of the union workers are complaining about their improved incomes. The cost to build in New York is huge and costs continue to rise: the numbers these construction sites employ is massive. Will all the full time New York residents be happy paying more taxes to pay for more welfare when these builders are unemployed?

8) How much taxes will need to be collected to compensate for the loss of taxes collected when sales drop? When construction slows and no-one is buying all those Sub Zero fridges and fancy Waterworks fixtures? Who will be paying for those lost jobs making, selling and distributing the components of these buildings?

Just look across the pond to London t see how negatively over-taxing those who are not full-time residents can be. Senator Krueger: please stop the political pandering and open your eyes to the facts, before they come back to bite you…..and all of us full time residents who are not complaining!



October 24th, 2014

Posted by Leonard Steinberg of URBAN COMPASS on October 24th, 2014

Speculation can be a powerful thing: as New Yorkers awaken this morning to the reality that the first local EBOLA case has been identified, many are wondering what or if they have been exposed in some way to this deadly disease? Did you walk The Highline Park and breath in the air of this infected doctor? Did he sneeze on you on the ‘L’ train? We know the facts about Ebola, how it requires substantive exposure to a highly infected symptomatic victim’s bodily fluids, that it is not airborne, yet speculative doubt is enough to invoke fear in many.

In the world of London real estate, the effects of speculation about new taxes on foreign owners and the owners of higher priced real estate are being felt. The markets across the pond have cooled notably and most blame the prospect of new taxes on this. The taxes have not been approved or implemented yet, but the speculation is enough to impact markets negatively.

In New York, chatter about additional taxes on real estate for non residents is applying a pause button on our markets for some buyers. The irrational behavior of people and governments can have a HUGE impact on markets well before they are an actuality. The mathematics of applying these new, additional real estate taxes is spoken about with little mention of the LOST revenues from decreased transactional activity. Its a version of incompetence and political pandering (not to mention recklessness!) that is truly astounding. Hopefully sanity prevails.

Maybe the negative results of speculation are enough to serve as a warning to those thinking about policy knowing the effects could be much, much worse once enacted?



October 22nd, 2014

la-et-mg--20140612-001Posted by Leonard Steinberg of URBAN COMPASS on October 22nd, 2014

Jennifer Lopez, the fly-girl turned super-star from the Bronx is moving Downtown according to the New York Post: she is supposedly in contract to buy the penthouse above Chelsea Clinton at The Whitman, a newly renovated condominium facing Madison Square Park. The massive penthouse listed by Melanie Lazenby and Dina Lewis that spans the top floor from 26th Street through to 27th Street has two additional pop up add on structures with two separate stairways with huge terraces. After sitting on the market for almost 2 years at what on market standards was a relatively great price ($22.25m), the property boasts one impressive exposure looking over the park towards its newest neighbor 10 Madison Square Park West where penthouse pricing is about double, justifiably so considering that building has substantial amenities, panoramic protected views and tremendous privacy. J-Lo will be able to look up from her terrace to Rupert Murdoch who bought the penthouse across the park at One Madison Park, a few dozen floors above street level. To those frowning about the moves of the wealthy, this sale will produce around $600,000.00 in transfer and mansion taxes alone and J-Lo will have to pay real estate taxes of over $ 170,000 per year, every year…..benefitting all New Yorkers.

TRENDLAND: 200 Eleventh Avenue, PH1

October 21st, 2014

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October 21st, 2014

30scap.xlarge1Posted by Leonard Steinberg of URBAN COMPASS on October 21st, 2014

A new pricing record has been broken in New York: For the first time ever a co-op located at 834 Fifth Avenue has been sold for $80 million. The buyer is the quintessential Russian Billionaire Len Blavatnik.  834 Fifth Avenue is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious building in New York City and some call it “the most pedigreed building on the snobbiest street in the country’s most real estate-obsessed city”. It is considered one of the finest buildings designed by Rosario Candela, constructed in 1931, and was one of the last luxury apartment houses completed before the Great Depression halted such projects in New York City. The limestone clad building features Art Deco styling on the entry ways and portions of the Fifth Avenue facade. The home was sold by Woody Johnson. The building has housed the Rockefeller, Bass, Murdoch, Taubman, De Lorean, Schwab,Wexner families. The building’s board welcomes more entrepreneurs than any of its peer buildings.

This sale proves that some condominiums don’t look that prohibitively expensive anymore, and how contrary to most beliefs, to some of the super-wealthy a tough co-op board may not only be a non-issue, but may actually be an attraction.


October 18th, 2014

rembrandt-self-portrait-at-age-of-63-ng0221-smPosted by Leonard Steinberg of URBAN COMPASS on October 18th, 2014

There is rich and then there is REALLY rich: As a New York real estate broker I often get lost in this micro-world of what is completely removed from the ‘real’ world, and I try to see the humor in it all. Yes, the really rich are different! Here are some noteworthy quotes I have heard along the way:

“Mommy, Daddy: who are all these strange people on our plane?” (A rich kid confused while flying commercial….)

“We want to give up the New York apartment…..we are just so used to having help in the house and this apartment doesn’t accommodate help well. At the house we have 9 in help…. its just so much easier!”

” I guess we could install an elevator in this apartment: we installed an elevator connecting the 6 floors of the boat.”

“I bought the nicest new set of sheets for the bed….on our plane.”

“Lets take three sets of that: one for New York, the other for Paris and the third for the yacht.”

“This apartment is a bit noisy: I sleep best while driving: the back seat of the car reclines into a bed and its just heavenly!”

“That wall is a problem as it gets so much light: Old Masters don’t like bright light!” (referring to the placement of a masterpiece painting)

You see, all human beings have problems: they are just a wee bit different for some than for others.


2 North Moore Featured in Wall Street Journal Today!

October 17th, 2014

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October 16th, 2014

Posted by Leonard Steinberg of URBAN COMPASS on October 16th, 2014

Wall Street is lamenting lower oil prices, yet this delivers some great news for consumers: the average American consumes about 35 gallons of gas per week, or 140 gallons per month. If gas prices are down about 50 cent per gallon on average since June, the consumer now has about $70 more spending money per month. Granted this money will not be going to the oil companies, but it could come at a very good time to boost consumer spending in other areas. The US is a consumer-driven economy: when the consumer spends, our economy does well. A healthy economy is good for real estate which represents a big chunk of the economy. Lower gas prices are coming at a good time as the major shopping season approaches.


October 9th, 2014

soho_460x285_lomogirlPosted by Leonard Steinberg of URBAN COMPASS on October 9th, 2014

Are Soho artists living in the third most expensive zip code in the USA? It appears so…..The median price for a home in Soho is $6 million yet the City still keeps Soho in the grasp of an antiquated zoning law called A.I.R, or Artist in Residence, a law which zones the entire area for the housing of fine artists only: Are fine artists really that rich?

According to Forbes Magazine, Six of the USA’s 10 most expensive ZIP codes are in New York City. 94207 in Atherton, Calif., is the nation’s most expensive ZIP code. The median home price in that Silicon Valley town halfway between San Jose and San Francisco is a little over $9 million.  The second-most-expensive ZIP code is 11962 (Sagaponack in the Hampton’s) where homes cost an average of $6.4 million. Nos. 3 through 5 on the pricey ZIP-code list are all in Manhattan — 10013 in Soho, at $6 million; 10065 on the Upper East Side, at $5.9 million; and 10075, also on the Upper East Side, at $5.3 million.

Alpine, NJ (07629 ZIP code)came in No. 6, at $5 million, followed by Aspen, Colorado (81656)., at $4.95 million. The top 10 is rounded out by three Manhattan ZIPs — Chelsea (10011), at $4.9 million; the West Village (10014), at $4.8 million; along Houston Street (10012), at $4.7 million. Two of the high-priced Big Apple ZIPs, 10075 and 10014, were not in 2013’s top 10.

How is it possible that the City of New York is blind to the facts….again?


October 6th, 2014

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by Leonard Steinberg

Presidents of both parties have to visit big cities for official business. But surely the President does not have to visit New York tomorrow, the second time within a month, for a FUNDRAISER, thereby blocking off traffic, making navigating the West Chelsea area a total and thorough nightmare and costing the taxpayers of New York and the USA at least $1 MILLION for security and all the complexities involved in transporting a President into a large City like New York? Tickets for this event cost $ 25,000 per person (about 66% more than the annual earnings of a worker earning minimum wage in the USA). We all know how expensive politics is, but surely the excessive cost to the city for a fundraiser (not something related to government business) shouldn’t be the burden of taxpayers? Why don’t the costs of these fundraising trips get picked up by the political parties who are swimming in money? Surely Presidential visits should stimulate the economy not suffocate it?

This trip will cost the taxpayers over $1 million…..the cost for flying, security, transportation, barricades, overtime, etc. Parking has been eliminated from countless blocks obstructing commerce. Then add in the extra fuel used by additional traffic congestion, not to mention the pollution it creates. Surely in this digital age we are capable of doing fundraising speeches via satellite? Surely the government has better things to do with our tax dollars than to spend it on fundraising trips at a time when Isis, Ebola and whole host of other issues should be the priority? Do voters not contribute enough dollars to their respective parties unless there is a good photo-op? Surely their belief in their cause combined with a speech broadcast via satellite should be enough?