Manhattan Real Estate: A Conversation with Lisa Larson

By Sami Karam  |  April 14, 2015

Sami Karam speaks with Manhattan’s Lisa Larson, a licensed associate real estate broker with Warburg Realty and a REBNY Deal of the Year award recipient. Topics include the state of the residential market and the boom in supertall tower construction, from the real to the surreal.

“I get asked almost daily: ‘How is the market? What is happening in the market?’ And increasingly, it is getting much harder to define the market as a whole. So I always say: ‘Which market are you talking about?’ The super tall and skinny market [of new high-rise towers in Midtown], we read about every day. It is exciting and we see the towers from every angle. But that is not really the market that most of us live and work in, and buy and sell in. What really makes this job so exciting to me is that there are so many different sub-markets in this city.”   Lisa Larson, Warburg Realty.



Fixer-Uppers Gain Appeal

By E.B. Solomont  |  February 2, 2015

A key piece in a broker’s toolbox these days is an architect’s business card.

Buoyed in some cases by fat Wall Street bonuses, buyers are increasingly willing to consider condos and co-ops that need work. That’s a marked difference from a few months ago, when homes that needed renovations were often considered too risky. The resurgent interest in the resale market is partly a result of sky-high prices for new development condos.

Warburg Realty agent Lisa Larson said some of her clients who are looking in the resale market have been priced out of new developments. “New developments are sexy and people love talking about them,” she said. But increasingly, clients seeing new construction price tags say they’ll look at the apartments that need some work.

In fact, so many are considering apartments that could use an update, Larson has been referring her architect to prospects who need help envisioning a renovation. “A lot of people are afraid of the unknown,” she said. “I’ll say, ‘Let me bring in my architect. Let’s get a rough idea of what can be done with the space and what it will cost you.’” 

For many buyers, the resale market is a value play, said Town Residential’s Jarrod Guy Randolph. “Typically, you can buy something that needs to be renovated or combined for a 15 percent discount,” he said. 

Randolph has a client who was searching for a four-bedroom condo in a new development for under $8 million. “It was nearly impossible to find,” he said. Now, the client is considering units in new-ish buildings (circa 1990s or 2000s) that can be renovated. “Every time I send them something, I send the plans to the architect and ask, ‘Will we be able to work with this plan?’” he said. 

Randolph said the trend reflects the market’s limited inventory. “Because there’s not enough resale inventory and new developments are so expensive, buyers are starting to look at alternatives,” he said. “One choice is a renovation to get a great space and neighborhood that’s not $2,000 per square foot.” 

Overall, Manhattan’s median sales price rose to $980,000 during the 2014 fourth quarter, up 14.6 percent from the prior year, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. 

While new development prices were higher, resale prices showed larger gains. The median price for resale apartments rose 8.1 percent to $888,000, compared with the median price for new development apartments, which rose 3.5 percent to $1.8 million. 

New development price spikes pulled the resale market up, said Brown Harris Stevens’ Wendy Richardson. “But there’s still a big gap. It’s apples and oranges.”

Richardson identified two distinct types of buyers. “Your buyers looking at new development, they want new, incredible trophy apartments. That’s a different person than someone who’s buying there to really live in it,” she said. 

Larson said some buyers, particularly those who work in finance, are newly emboldened by expections for a good bonus season. 

For example, one client — with a budget of $5 million — has been searching for a year. After getting a promotion, the client is willing to invest in a renovation. Larson is now showing the client apartments slightly under $5 million that need work. According to a recent CityRealty report, resales showed significant price gains last year: Condos bought in 2013 and resold a year later averaged a 23.6 percent price gain. 

Roy Silber, an agent at Citi Habitats, said demand for resales is strongest among New Yorkers looking for a primary residence.  “The increase in price per square foot is not as crazy as the new developments,” he said. That’s why he’s seeing multple bids on regular apartments.

Silber recently put Unit 6E, a 950- square-foot apartment at 44 East 12th Street, under contract for above the asking price of $1.625 million. Three months ago, a similar apartment on the fourth floor sold for $1.4 million. “When we priced the apartment, we added a premium,” he said. “We had multiple offers and we took the highest one. … I was able to get $200,000 more than what [the fourth-floor seller] got.”

Silber said high demand and low inventory led to multiple bids on the unit, a junior four configured as a two-bedroom. “People don’t have good choices. [They can pay] $3,000 per square foot for new development, and most buyers can’t afford that,” he said. By comparison, the apartment on East 12th sold for $1,710 per square foot. “That’s why they’re looking at this type of property.” 

To be sure, renovated apartments still sell faster, Warburg’s Larson said. “But when you’ve got still-chronic inventory shortage,” she said, “the people that really want to buy are looking at things that need work.” 

Bigger Wall Street Bonuses, Bigger Home Budgets

By Julie Satow  |  January 16, 2015
It is Wall Street bonus season, the time of year when Porsche dealerships are known to polish their inventory and private clubs stock up on Krug Champagne and bouncers.

The last several years have been lackluster, as the extravagant compensation lavished on financiers during the boom years failed to materialize following the recession. But this year signs are emerging that bountiful bonuses are back, at least for some, and those who sell high-end real estate are seeing buyers return to the marketplace with more confidence and thicker wallets.

Cindy Scholz, a real estate agent at Urban Compass, has been working with a couple, both of whom are at hedge funds, for several months as they searched for two-bedrooms in the $2 million range. When their bonuses came in at figures almost equal to their pay, they decided to set their sights higher. “They took off for the holidays and came back and said their budget was $4 million to $5 million,” Ms. Scholz said.

Adam Lynch, an associate broker at Town Residential, had a similar experience. He had buyers looking to purchase something in the low-$2 million range, but their bonuses “far exceeded their expectations, and since it was somewhat unexpected, it is almost like found money,” Mr. Lynch said, adding that the clients “have upped their budget to well into the $3 million range.”

Compensation experts say that bonuses this year will be a mixed bag. Most employers began revealing their plans late last year and into the beginning of 2015, and will be distributing their bonus checks over the next several weeks. This is just in time for spring, when the weather warms and the real estate market emerges from its winter hibernation.

Some hedge funds have done relatively well of late, and their owners, in particular, who earn fees for money under management, should be flush with cash. Investment bankers who work in mergers and acquisitions should also do well, but traders and those in fixed income will have less lucrative payouts.

“Investment bankers could see an increase in their bonuses of 8 to 10 percent, but bonuses are going to be down for fixed income and traders,” said Michael Karp, the chief executive of the Options Group, an executive search firm.

Lawyers at the city’s white-shoe firms, particularly those in mergers and acquisitions, should also do well, Mr. Karp added. Another group receiving a cash infusion are the Wall Street employees who were given deferred compensation during the dark days of the down market. Employers doled out both cash and stock options that did not vest for several years, resulting in much grumbling from the rank and file. Many of these options finally vest this month, and the results are likely to be better than expected, said Alan Johnson, a managing director at Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm.

“In 2011, 2012 and 2013 they were getting shares that didn’t vest for three or four years,” Mr. Johnson said. Speaking hypothetically, he added, “But they were paid at $40 a share, and now the stock is worth $80 a share, so they are able to get a large lump sum.”

Further buoying this buying trend is the news that some banks, like Morgan Stanley, would revert this year to the precrisis practice of relying more on upfront cash bonuses than deferred compensation.

And even some Wall Street employees who won’t be seeing a big increase in bonuses this year may still be better off financially. Many of them have spent the last several years shoring up their personal balance sheets. “In the years after the crisis, many bankers were in bad shape, but they have spent the past few years digging themselves out of the hole they were in,” Mr. Johnson said. “Even though their pay is not up significantly since the recession, their net worth is.”

Lisa Larson, an associate broker at Warburg Realty, says that several of her more reluctant clients are now ready to jump into the buyers’ pool. “A couple of my clients, even just a year ago, were sitting on the sidelines and didn’t want to get involved in bidding wars,” she said. “But now there has been a perfect storm of conditions that are making them more optimistic and ready to buy.”

Her clients, and others like them, have a general feeling that they have weathered the recession and are now more confident about holding onto their jobs. Many are also looking to take advantage of low interest rates, amid speculation that rates may rise toward the end of the year.

A number of properties have also been sitting on the market unsold and represent a good value. “There are co-ops on Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue that aren’t renovated and aren’t selling, so a year or two ago, my clients didn’t want to take the risk,” Ms. Larson said, “but now that they are more flush with cash, they have the stomach to take on an apartment that needs renovation.”
As professionals in finance, many bonus-rich buyers put a premium on making sound investments. “It is the old saying that cash flows never grow old, and covering your expenses never grows old,” said Daniela Sassoun, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “A lot of my clients are in private banking or private equity, and I think the bonuses create a sense of financial security, like, ‘I have more liquidity to spend,’ but of course it is very well thought out. These are bankers so they run their numbers.”

Some of Ms. Sassoun’s clients are searching for investment properties in areas like Aspen, Colo., and the Hamptons. “They can buy a huge house in Aspen, use it a few weeks a year, but since they have several houses, they can put it out to rent and it generates income plus appreciation,” she said. “After 2007, people are either going to buy premium properties and be very smart about it, or buy second or third homes that produce a cash flow.”

Mike Schulte, a salesman at Citi Habitats, is working with a group of hedge fund colleagues who would like to invest in a small residential building in the $5 million to $10 million range south of 96th Street. “They are looking in areas where they feel there may be some upside, but they want something fully leased, and the problem is inventory,” he said. “There are no deals out there.”

Real estate developers undoubtedly are also welcoming Wall Street buyers, especially with growing concern that there may be a slowdown at the high end of the market, with a rising number of luxury units saturating a relatively small buyer pool.

At the Marquand at 11 East 68th Street, for example, a penthouse has been on the market for $46.5 million since November, but interest has picked up in recent weeks. The triplex unit, which is priced at $6,588 a square foot and has five bedrooms and six full and two half baths, received one bid that was rejected as too low. It now has three more “serious contenders,” including Wall Street types, said Madeline Hult Elghanayan, a Douglas Elliman agent marketing the building.

Ziel Feldman, the founder of the HFZ Capital Group, which is developing the Marquand, a century-old Beaux-Arts Revival building, said, “We have seen a big surge after a lull during the summer months.” In the past five weeks, three units have gone into contract at full price — likely driven by the bonus bump.

Brokers Show Clients Properties That Leave Room For Bidding Up

By E.B. Solomont  |  July 1, 2014


Warburg Realty’s Lisa Larson scoured the East Side for more than a year with clients looking to buy a two-bedroom for less than $1.3 million.

Ten months ago, they lost an apartment on East 78th Street that was listed for $1.25 million, and which later sold for $100,000 more than the asking price —and $50,000 more than Larson’s clients had offered. In March, Larson and her clients tried a different tactic: They found an apartment on East 90th Street listed at $1.09 million — well within budget, and with ample room to bid up.

“We were able to go up easily to 10 percent,” over the asking price, said Larson, whose clients will be paying just under $1.2 million for the Carnegie Hill co-op. A week after seeing the apartment, she said, her clients presented their “best and final” offer, which was accepted, and they are set to close the first week in July. “They were comfortable with that price and were not going to back out,” she said.

In today’s über-competitive market, when even qualified buyers are losing apartments to competing bids or all-cash offers, Larson and other brokers say one way to ensure their clients present the best offer is to look slightly under their budget, leaving room to negotiate.

“If you have a buyer that’s looking in the two-bedroom category, if they have a budget of $1.8 million, I wouldn’t even look at anything above $1.7 million realistically,” Larson said. “No matter how prepared you are, if someone can bid 10 percent over you and it’s all cash, it’s hard to beat that.”

To be sure, low inventory levels are so well documented that serious buyers should expect to fight hard for desirable units.

In the first quarter of 2014, the listing inventory in Manhattan was relatively unchanged at 4,968 units compared with 4,960 units a year earlier, according to a report by appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Meanwhile, the average number of days a property was on the market dropped to 115 from 132 last year.

Miller Samuel’s data show 45.9 percent of Manhattan condos and co-ops sold at or above the listing price during the second quarter, up from 38.1 percent in the first three months of the year.

“If it’s a well-priced property, you’re not the only one seeing it,” said Dovanna Pagowski, an agent at Rutenberg Realty.

Douglas Elliman’s Jessica Cohen said the so-called average buyer, who is qualified but needs financing, often suffers some kind of heartbreak. “If you can’t afford to be all-cash or non-financing-contingent, if you find yourself in a multiple-bidding situation, you almost always lose,” she said.

How much over asking price?

Larson said in the last four months, she’s done three deals — in Carnegie Hill, Turtle Bay and NoHo — and in each case, the buyer paid 10 percent to 12 percent over the listing price. She said neighborhoods like the West Village can command even higher premiums, around 15 percent to 20 percent over the asking price.

“To feel confident you can win, you need to be 10 percent over the ask on a renovated, triple-mint apartment,” Larson said. “If it needs work and it’s overpriced, there are nuances. You have to do your homework as a broker obviously.”

Benjamin Benalloul of Piquet Realty, who frequently works with clients from Brazil, said when buyers come to him with a budget of $1.7 million, he directs them to property in the $1.5 million range. “If it was listed three days ago and the [average] price is $1,200 per square foot, and this is asking $1,250 or $1,350 per square foot, you have to know you’re going to pay a market price and you should put in an offer that will be accepted,” he said. “You’re standing in line with three or four other people.”

Similarly, Gea Elika, the principal broker at Elika Associates, said he no longer shows clients a range of properties priced at, below, and above their budget, which he might have done in years past. “Above their budget in today’s market doesn’t make a lot of sense unless they really can go above,” he said. “If it’s priced fair to the market, it’s going to trade up.”

On the seller’s side, listing agents can also set prices on the low side to escalate competing bids.

Rutenberg’s Pagowski said she recently listed a two-bedroom co-op on lower Fifth Avenue at $1.65 million. After competing cash buyers duked it out, the seller accepted an offer for $1.72 million and closed within six weeks. “We did price it almost slightly under market,” Pagowski said. “It worked to [the seller’s] advantage. She got a lot of interest.”

Likewise, Elliman’s Cohen said she’s noticed that small price drops bring in more interested parties.

This spring, Cohen represented the seller of an apartment on West 63rd Street that didn’t get any offers when listed at $2.35 million. After the seller lowered the price to $2.195, he got multiple bids. The same was true, Cohen said, for an apartment on West 70th Street.

That apartment sat on the market for a year listed at $3.15 million until Cohen lowered the price to $2.995 million. Then, she said, “We had multiple offers. We got the asking price.”

Daniel Hedaya, president of Platinum Properties, said he wouldn’t necessarily advise a client to look in a lower price range. But he said in a bidding war, he advises buyers not to bid their highest number right away. “You want to approach it with an incremental increase,” he said. “If you go to your ‘best and highest’ offer, in a bidding war typically it will go even higher.”

REBNY's 25th Residential Brokerage Division Deal of the Year Charity and Awards Gala

Jeanne Oliver-Taylor  | October 30, 2013

Last Thursday, REBNY celebrated its 25th Residential Brokerage Division Deal of the Year Charity and Awards Gala.  The event, held in the Grand Ballroom of the Pierre, continued the tradition of celebrating the best and brightest in residential real estate.

The evening featured the presentation of the Deal of the Year Awards, the Most Promising Residential Rookie Salesperson of the Year Award and the prestigious Henry Foster Award.  Each year, REBNY’s Residential Board of Directors combs through countless nominations to select the two most impressive deals amongst seemingly all of the City’s re-sales, new development sales, and rental transactions, as well as two individuals most worthy of praise. 

This year’s Deal of the Year Award for Sales went to Heather Stein of Brown Harris Stevens.  Her determination in the face of the seller’s capital gains issues, need for a new apartment, and a mortgage appraisal lower than the sale price proved her tremendous skill.  In a perfect storm of deal complications, Heather juggled five complex interrelated transactions to close the deal in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy.  The 2nd prize went to Suzan Kremer of Douglas Elliman Real Estate for a deal co-brokered with Daniela Kunen also of Douglas Elliman and J. Roger Erickson of Sotheby’s International Realty.  3rd place went to Lisa Larson of Warburg Realty Partnership. 

The Rental Deal of the Year Award went to a team of Halstead brokers for their negotiation of a lease for two floors in a mansion-sized five-story townhouse.  Judith Oston and Donald Correia lead the deal, co-brokered with their colleague Lisa Rosenstein.  To complete this rental, the Halstead team had to convince the owners to remove decadent furnishings, piece by piece, to make room for the tenant’s belongings.  After hundreds of emails and hours of negotiations, an upsettingly detailed lease rider, and an agreement for monthly free dinners and brunches, the lease was finalized. 

In addition to the Deal of the Year awards, REBNY honored two individuals that standout in our industry.  The Most Promising Residential Rookie Salesperson of the Year, which recognizes current and potential professional achievement as well as high moral character and ethical professional conduct, went to Vincent Smith of Halstead Property.  The most prestigious award of the night, the Henry Foster Award, was presented to Jeffrey Rothstein of Douglas Elliman Real Estate for his outstanding record of achievement and conduct within both the industry and the community.  It recognized Jeffrey’s outstanding leadership within REBNY and the generosity of his time and talents to so many worthy New York charitable organizations.  The Charity Awards Gala also featured a special acknowledgement of past award winners and an In Memoriam tribute to those who have passed away. 

The residential real estate community came out in full force, as we had a full house with more than 600 attendees.  The proceeds for the event will go to REBNY’s Member In Need Fund, established to benefit REBNY members who are experiencing crisis or hardship. 


Top Residential Dealmakers Turn Out For 25th Annual REBNY Awards

By Katherine Clarke  |  October 25, 2013


Manhattan’s top dealmakers, dressed in their finest furs and dapperest suits, poured into the Pierre Hotel last night via an elaborately muraled rotunda for the 25th annual residential Deal of the Year awards hosted by the Real Estate Board of New York.

After cocktails and caviar and scooping up their awards, they made their way to the hotel’s famed Grand Ballroom — positively dripping with chandeliers — for a dinner of salmon or short ribs and, for many, a twirl around the dance floor.

The top brass from nearly all of Manhattan’s biggest residential firms was there: Diane Ramirez of Halstead Property, Dottie Herman of Douglas Elliman, Pamela Liebman of the Corcoran Group, Andrew Heiberger and Wendy Maitland of Town Residential, Fred Peters of Warburg Realty and Gary Malin of Citi Habitats. Paul Massey of investment sales firm Massey Knakal Realty Services was also spotted.

Herman had just returned from Atlantic City, where Elliman had held its annual conference. She raved about the 1920s masquerade ball she’d hosted but bemoaned the lack of time available for gambling. “They were all over me,” she said of the brokers grappling for her attention at the event.

Liebman and Herman rubbed elbows during the awards ceremony while Peters busted moves on the dance floor. Ramirez, as always, was keen to direct attendees to the raffle table, which raised money for REBNY’s Residential Member in Need Fund. Up for grabs for the lucky winner of the raffle – a ball gown by Cesar Galindo, whose fashion designs were showcased during a catwalk show at last year’s same event.

Top brokers making the rounds at the gala included Keller Williams NYC’s Ilan Bracha, Elliman’s Vickey Barron, Corcoran’s Tamir Shemesh, Sotheby’s International Realty’s Nikki Field and Mara Flash Blum and Core’s Reba Miller and Tom Postillio. “Million Dollar Listing New York” stars Ryan Serhant and Luis Ortiz also appeared.

Heather Stein of Brown Harris Stevens won for sales deal of the year. The first runners-up were Suzan Kremer and Daniela Kunen of Elliman and Roger Erickson of Sotheby’s, while the third runner-up was Lisa Larson of Warburg. For rental deal of the year, Judith Oston, Donald Correia and Lisa Rosenstein of Halstead took first prize.

Rookie of the year went to Vincent Smith of Halstead, who came to real estate later in life after working for a number of Fortune 50 companies such as American Express, Pfizer and Citibank.

But the biggest applause of the evening came when Jeffrey Rothstein, the executive vice president and director of sales of Elliman’s West Side offices, took home the Henry Forster Award for lifetime achievement. Herman joined him on stage, exclaiming “I’m verklempt!” Rothstein oversees more than 300 Elliman agents.

And there was more to celebrate. In a somewhat bizarre turn, Miriam Harris, executive vice president of real estate transactions at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, proclaimed that the day had officially been dubbed REBNY Residential Division Day by the mayor’s office.


In a Seller’s Market, Every Minute Counts

By Michelle Higgins  |  May 31, 2013

If there was any doubt that New York City real estate has become a seller’s market, consider the following: open houses are packed to capacity, bidding wars and all-cash offers have almost become the norm, and some listing prices actually rise, not drop, after a home is listed.

“It’s the kind of insanity you live for in this business,” said Mickey Conlon, a broker with CORE, recalling a two-bedroom two-bath condominium at 49 East 21st Street in the Flatiron neighborhood that he listed with his business partner, Tom Postilio, for $1.89 million in early January.


At the moment, that was considered aggressive pricing,” Mr. Conlon said. Yet within 24 hours, the brokers had received a flurry of requests to see the place, which prompted them to be bold. The next day they raised the price by $100,000, to $1.99 million. Though some potential buyers grumbled about the change, about 100 people came to the first open house. Soon, there were multiple offers above the asking price. By the end of January, there was a signed contract for $2.16 million — all cash. The sale closed in April.

Shamoun Afram didn’t want to lose another bidding war, so he put in an offer, sight unseen, at the asking price of a one-bedroom at the Orion, in Midtown. A contract was signed within days.CreditDustin Aksland for The New York Times

The rules of engagement for buying an apartment in the city have changed. Negotiation, brokers say, is no longer part of the equation. Forget about taking time to mull over your decision. Serious buyers need to be prepared to pounce. And while lots of cash has always helped, it’s now more important than ever, as sellers select the best offers with the least amount of hassle involved.

Not that sellers can name just any price. Brokers caution that even in this market of extremely tight inventory, listings priced too high tend to linger, and low prices intended to bring the biggest crowds through the door could result in lowball offers. There is an art to choosing the right price.

While housing prices across the country recently posted their biggest gains in seven years, New York City’s market has been experiencing a slow and steady recovery ever since the market hit bottom in 2009.

More recently, scarce apartment listings and low mortgage rates have stoked competition among buyers and driven up prices. The number ofManhattan apartments for sale dropped 27.6 percent last month, to 5,077, versus 7,011 for the same period a year ago, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. At the same time, prices have inched up. The median sale price rose 12 percent to $930,000, from $829,000 a year ago, according to the most recent available data for the second quarter, which began on April 1. That follows a 5.9 percent year-over-year increase in the median sale price, to $820,555, in the first three months of the year.

Apartments are going into contract at a faster pace, with listings lasting 105 days on the market, down from 156 a year ago, according to Miller Samuel. In popular neighborhoods like the West Village, it’s not uncommon for sought-after properties to go into contract well above the asking price in the head-spinning span of 10 days or less. Brokers are fueling the frenzy, turning open houses into pressure cookers, with tactics like one-day-only showings and short deadlines set for best and final offers.

Yet for the tenacious buyer, it is still possible to land an apartment without offering a pound of flesh.

After losing one place in a bidding war and another because he waited a week to make up his mind, Shamoun Afram, a program manager at an investment bank in Manhattan, kicked his search for a one-bedroom condo into high gear and homed in on the Orion, a modern high-rise condominium in Midtown. In January he toured about 10 units there with the help of his real estate agent, Patrick Mills of CORE, and he was about to sign a contract on an apartment slightly above his $1 million sweet spot when he noticed a new listing on late on a Tuesday.

The next morning he was on the phone with his broker to see if he could get in to see the apartment that day, but it wasn’t being shown until Thursday. “I knew I had to make a decision fast,” Mr. Afram said. He put in an offer that day, sight unseen, at the full asking price of $999,000. “We decided, let’s just be cavalier about it,” Mr. Mills added. The offer was accepted on Wednesday; on Thursday they toured the apartment; and on Friday they signed the contract.

But that didn’t stem a wave of interest in the apartment. “After we had the contract out, people started to call,” said Sarah Son, a broker at Keller Williams Realty who represented the seller. “Even after we told them we had a signed contract,” she said, “they kept trying to make us an offer. It was really crazy.”

The Orion, on West 42nd Street in Manhattan.CreditDustin Aksland for The New York Times

In a highly competitive market, where cash is king, here is what you need to do to buy an apartment in the city.

REFRESH, REFRESH, REFRESH. With prime listings being snapped up, the faster you get to an apartment the better. Web sites, and eliminate some of the work by automating your search. Apartment hunters can save search criteria, and the sites will e-mail new listings that meet their requirements.

DON’T WAIT FOR THE OPEN HOUSE. “If you can’t see an apartment the first week it is on the market,” said Doug Perlson, the chief executive of the online brokerage RealDirect, “there is a good chance you will not even get a chance to make an offer. Schedule a showing during the week before the first open house and use the open house for your second visit. Then you should be ready to make your offer.”

FORGET ABOUT GETTING A DEAL. The conventional wisdom over the last few years has been to come in at 5 percent below the asking price when making an initial offer. That won’t fly for attractive listings that are particularly scarce, especially if they are priced fairly. “Give the full price with no contingencies and leave that offer on the table for 24 hours,” said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of CORE. “You want to let the seller know that you’re really serious, that you really want the property, but you’re not going to let them use you as bait to get a higher offer.”

DON’T DELAY. Being the first to make a solid offer can give you an edge. When a one-bedroom two-bath unit at the Memphis Downtown Condominium in the West Village drew more than 100 people to its first open house, Adolfo Brenes and Lena Datwani of Bellmarc Realty knew they had to act quickly on behalf of the buyer they were representing. They submitted an all-cash offer at the full asking price of $1.65 million. The next day they received a call from the seller’s broker informing them that two other full-price all-cash offers had been made. “Because we were first,” Mr. Brenes said, “the seller was giving us the chance to come up to $1.8 million to take it off the market.” Having been outbid for other West Village apartments at the full asking price, the buyer decided to meet the seller’s increased price. They closed the deal in April. A few weeks later, a similar apartment four floors above was listed at $2.1 million.

BE THOROUGH. A well-prepared offering package can be a leg up for buyers. When submitting an offer on behalf of her clients for a two-bedroom in Carnegie Hill recently, Lisa Larson, a Warburg Realty associate broker, “prepared the buyers’ financial statement, as well as a short bio, as this was a co-op and we also needed to show that they would pass the board’s approval process. We also presented the offer as all-cash and agreed to sign the contract in five days.” Her clients, she said, were recently approved by the board.

RAISE YOUR DOWN PAYMENT. Thirty or 35 percent down is the new 20 percent, brokers say. In a rising market, appraisals tend to lag behind asking prices because they are based on past sales of comparable apartments. Banks will not lend more than the appraised amount, so buyers need to come up with more cash to make up the difference. “The stronger offers are the ones putting down more money,” said Josh Scheier, a public defender with the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn who was recently in the enviable position of choosing among 30 offers for the two-bedroom two-bath co-op in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, that he and his wife, Anat Soudry, listed in April for $699,000. After winnowing the possibilities down to two of the highest offers — both of which were more than 20 percent above the asking price — Mr. Scheier said the decision came down to who was “less of a risk” if the apartment were to appraise for less. The winner offered to put 50 percent down and had more money left over after the purchase.


BEWARE MORTGAGE CONTINGENCIES. With demand high, fewer sellers are willing to accept contingencies, and desperate buyers may feel pressed to waive the mortgage contingency and risk losing the typical 10 percent deposit, in order to have a shot at an apartment. But unless you have the cash to cover your losses, it’s not a good idea. Without a contingency, you will lose your deposit if the appraisal comes in low and you are unable to make up the difference, or if the bank finds something wrong with the building and will not lend the money.

NEGOTIATE THE CONTINGENCY. Christopher Kromer of Halstead Property and his business partner, Nora Ariffin, recently found something of a middle ground. The buyer they represented wasn’t comfortable making his offer of $1.7 million for a two-bedroom in TriBeCa without a mortgage contingency, and the seller was concerned that a low appraisal could ruin the deal. “What I suggested is that we present our offer with a 70 percent contingency, while reserving the right to finance 80 percent,” Mr. Kromer said.  “This is essentially telling the seller that the buyer will put down 30 percent if the bank requires it, but he is also reserving the right to put down 20 percent if allowed.”  This addressed the seller’s concerns while creating a 10 percent cushion for the buyer.

SET YOUR ULTIMATE PRICE. If a bidding war ensues, buyers will need to have a “walkaway number,” Mr. Kromer said. Mr. Conlon of CORE put it this way: “Think of it like anything else you are going to buy or like something on eBay. What is the number you are willing to go up to and be able to sleep at night?”

SIGN YOUR CONTRACT QUICKLY. A year ago, buyers could take as much as two to three weeks for due diligence and negotiation before signing a contract. “Today’s sellers are less patient and may pull a deal from a buyer that is taking too long,” said Mr. Perlson of RealDirect. “Also, since there is nothing binding until a contract is signed, we have seen very aggressive buyers try to steal a deal by offering an amount significantly above ask to try to get the seller to switch buyers.” Ethical brokers, he added, will not abandon an accepted offer, but if it takes too long, they will go to their backup faster than in the past.

Realty Honors Top Agents Of 2012

By MR Staff  |  February 2013

Warburg Realty Partnership, one of New York's oldest and most respected residential brokerage firms, held its annual awards ceremony during the firm's holiday gathering at Dylan's Candy Bar in Manhattan. Frederick W. Peters, President of Warburg Realty, presented awards to agents based on merit and performance demonstrated throughout the year.

"I am always proud of my agents, but this year, our second best ever, has inspired particular pride about their accomplishments. I am delighted to make awards to our top producers, led by the highly skilled and modest Bonnie Chajet and our hard-charging TV personality Richard Steinberg, as well as those whose creativity brought together the firm's most complex deals. The continuing success of our firm is a testament to the expert client-focused service all my agents are providing throughout our marketplace every day," said Peters.

Bonnie Chajet, Senior Vice President was honored with the prestigious Warburg Realty Company-Wide Highest Achievement 2012 Award. Executive Managing Director Richard Steinberg was recognized with the Company-Wide High Achievement Award. Lisa Larson was awarded first prize for Warburg's Deal of the Year.

During the evening, Peters also recognized the entire Warburg staff for their dedication. Special Awards were given to Miriam Miranda for Team Player of the Year Jean Ignacio was the recipient of the 200% Award.


Warburg Honors Top Agents of 2012

By REW Staff  |  December 26, 2012

Warburg Realty Partnership held its annual awards ceremony during the firm’s holiday gathering at Dylan’s Candy Bar in Manhattan.

Frederick W. Peters, president of Warburg Realty, presented awards to agents based on merit and performance demonstrated throughout the year.

“I am always proud of my agents, but this year, our second best ever, has inspired particular pride about their accomplishments,ˮ

“I am delighted to make awards to our top producers, led by the highly skilled and modest Bonnie Chajet and our hard-charging TV personality Richard Steinberg, as well as those whose creativity brought together the firm’s most complex deals.
“The continuing success of our firm is a testament to the expert client-focused service all my agents are providing throughout our marketplace every day.”

Bonnie Chajet, senior vice president, was honored with the prestigious Warburg Realty Company-Wide Highest Achievement 2012 Award. Executive managing director Richard Steinberg was recognized with the Company-Wide High Achievement Award. Lisa Larson was awarded first prize for Warburg’s Deal of the Year.

In addition to the company-wide achievements, the 969 Madison office recognized Robert Schulman, Lisa Chajet and Amanda Brainerd as the office’s top producers. Jay Glazer was honored with the Fast Track Award.

In Warburg’s Eastside Gallery office, Susan Getz was named as the top producing agent, with Leslie Modell and Rebecca Edwardson in second place.

The 100 Hudson Street Office in Tribeca recognized Deborah Lupard as the top producer with Jocelyn Turken as second in overall sales.

Special Recognition Awards were given to 969 Madison’s Susan and Michael Abrams, Keren Ringler of the East Side Gallery, and the Tribeca office’s Marc Palermo. It was also announced that Maria Daou, Christine Miller Martin, and Dorothy Schrager were being promoted to Senior Managing Director; and Michael Abrams and Miles Chapin to Managing Director.

During the evening, Peters also recognized the entire Warburg staff for their dedication. Special Awards were given to Miriam Miranda for Team Player of the Year Jean Ignacio was the recipient of the 200% Award.

Top Honors at Warburg’s Annual Awards

By Hayley Kaplan  |  December 13, 2012

Warburg Realty awarded its top honors to broker Bonnie Chajet at the firm’s annual award ceremony held Monday at Dylan’s Candy Bar, the firm said today.Chajet, a senior vice president at the firm, received the highest achievement 2012 award, while executive managing director and “Selling New York” regularRichard Steinberg received the company-wide high achievement award.

“I am always proud of my agents, but this year, our second best ever, has inspired particular pride about their accomplishments,” Warburg President Fred Peters said in a statement.

In addition, broker Lisa Larson received first prize for Warburg’s Deal of the Year. Warburg’s 969 Madison office recognized Robert Schulman, Lisa Chajet (Bonnie’s daughter) and Amanda Brainerd as the office’s top producers. Jay Glazer was also honored with the company’s fast track award. In Warburg’s Eastside Gallery office, Susan Getz was named the top producing agent, with Leslie Modell and Rebecca Edwardson in second place. And in the 100 Hudson Street office, Deborah Lupard was recognized as the top producer with Jocelyn Turken as second in overall sales.