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New York City On Sale

 

Once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City began its phased reopening in June. But the impact on local businesses continues to reverberate across the city.

The real estate sector has been particularly hard hit. Manhattan apartment sales in the past quarter saw their biggest decline in 30 years, while renters are vacating en masse.

According to PropertyShark, March 2020 kicked off with sales activity 15% higher than the same period last year, only to see it drop to 36% by the end of the month, and then plummet 61% lower in April. A rebound began in May, putting an end to the slide, with strengthening numbers continuing in June. Nonetheless, price drops that began to hit the market upon the initial lockdown are still in effect. Among the steepest are Trump branded apartments, with cumulative reductions of 25-50% from initial asking price.

 

 

On the rental side, April saw a 71% plunge in new leases from last year, according to Miller Samuel. 

NYC’s rental vacancy rate doubled this year, to reach a record high of 3.67%, with available inventory in Manhattan up 85%, Brooklyn up 57% and Queens up 41% from last year. The median rental price of $3,378 is a 4.7% drop from just a month ago, reversing gains from the past two years. In this surreal environment, property owners and landlords are in panic mode and willing to offer big concessions to bring back business.

 

 

With the ban on in-person showings now lifted, many prospects have returned to the marketplace, but sales and leases are still stagnant. Buyers and renters now have significant leverage that would have been unheard of at the beginning of the year. 

Many of the best apartment deals in New York City are closest to offices that people no longer go to. According to StreetEasy, the Flatiron District had the largest share of reductions with 45% of apartments getting price cuts. The Financial District was next at 42% and Midtown West next at 40%.

“The bargains are concentrated in neighborhoods where many residents left the city during the pandemic lockdown,” says Nancy Wu, an economist with StreetEasy. “Those areas in close proximity to Manhattan’s prime office towers aren’t as appealing to renters now, while people work from home and no longer worry about commute times.”

As the market adjusts, deals vary widely with little consensus on what it will take to turn things around. As a buyer or renter, your best bet is to work with an experienced agent who knows where the best deals are. 

 

For more information on buying, selling or renting in the current market, please contact Batra Group at (646) 202-1877.

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A Guide to Renting With Roommates in NYC

 

For many people searching for an apartment to rent in NYC, it can seem impossible to find a great place within their budget. Rent prices in NYC are among the highest in the country, and even professionals with good salaries can have a difficult time paying all their living expenses on their own. It’s not surprising, therefore, that nearly half of New Yorkers have roommates. 

The roommate approach offers NYC renters a chance to live in a larger space and perhaps enjoy some luxury amenities too. The approach also brings with it new challenges that can make or break your living experience. Therefore, it is important to consider a few key factors before choosing roommates based on not only your expectations but on theirs as well. Below are 4 essential factors to keep in mind and openly discuss with potential roommates to ensure that your living expectations are met:

Budget: Before even looking for a roommate or an apartment share, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you’re willing and able to pay for rent and other expenses such as internet, electric, security deposit and broker fee – keeping in mind that you will also need to budget for food, travel, shopping, healthcare essentials, and more. You should make a weekly or monthly budget of how much you can reasonably pay for all your expenses, and identify how much you can truly allot for rent.

Apartment Needs: Once you identify your rent budget, you’ll need to prioritize which apartment features are most important to you. Is it the neighborhood, the apartment size, how modern it is, whether there is a view, or convenient public transportation, has lots of closet space, outdoor space, has a doorman, a gym, etc. Rarely can you find a place within budget that has everything you want, but you can certainly find one with the features most important to you. Know ahead of time which features are a must and which ones you’d be willing to live without. Also consider that many apartments have different sized bedrooms which could affect the rental split. Determine if you’d be willing to spend a few hundred dollars more per month for the larger bedroom, or if you’ll need someone else to. Finally, you’ll want to come to an agreement with your potential roommate(s) that you share the same priorities or at least negotiate a priority list together so that each feels comfortable enough to move forward. 

Lifestyle Compatibility: Another essential conversation to have with potential roommate(s) is how you live. For example if you’re not a smoker and your roommate is, this can cause friction in your living situation. Factors like what schedule the other person keeps, their personal habits, and how often they are willing to clean may not be compatible with yours. So make sure these things are discussed beforehand. If you choose someone you already know, such as a friend or coworker, make sure you don’t skip over this essential conversation. While you may already have a great rapport, things can change quickly when living in close quarters. Interview all potential roommates the same way to determine just how compatible you are likely to be in a shared space. 

Boundaries: Once you have general agreement on roommate compatibility, you’ll want to establish specific ground rules. From paying bills to noise to guests to cleaning, there are many ways roommates can put a strain on each other’s lives. Will you be sharing food or keeping it separate? How about bathroom courtesy? A useful tool is a roommate agreement, with many variations and templates online, that you can fill out together to ensure everyone is on the same page and help prevent any potential misunderstandings down the line.

Renting with a roommate doesn’t have to be stressful as long as you take the proper steps to establish budget, apartment and lifestyle compatibility, and ground rules. Besides lessening the financial burden of living in NYC, living with roommates can even yield long lasting friendships and open up great networking opportunities, too. Since many people in NYC are looking for roommates, there is surely plenty of opportunity to create your ideal home environment.

 

For more information on renting apartments in New York City, contact us today at (646) 202-1877.

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A Guide to the NYC Housing Lottery (and how to increase your chances of acceptance)

 

As no surprise to New Yorkers, housing prices in NYC are out of reach for many lower income residents. In an effort to provide a fair chance at affordable housing for New Yorkers, the city works with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and real estate groups throughout the city to make affordable housing available to those who “win” various housing lotteries. Fortunately the process for all the various lotteries now takes place through one platform, known as NYC Housing Connect, making it easier to apply.

Affordable housing as defined by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) simply means a monthly rent costing no more than 30% of the individual’s income. These prices are found using your area median income (AMI). In other words, half of the people in your geographical location earn above this income while the other half earn below that number. 

The NYC housing lottery will calculate your rent based on your area median income (AMI) and your own personal income. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development have come up with a calculated chart of AMI according to family size which can be seen below.

 

 

The NYC housing lottery sounds like an opportunity many New Yorkers would like to be involved with, and while that may be true it’s a very lengthy process and is not easy to get accepted. In fact the chances of winning the NYC housing lottery are only 1 in 592. NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio says that 300,000 affordable apartments will be made available for the housing lottery by 2026. Of course with the increase in affordable housing units, applications will also increase. Following is a guide to the application process:

How to apply: Applications for the NYC housing lottery are done through NYC Housing Connect. First you will need to create an account using your name and email address. When filling out your application, you’ll be asked for information regarding your employment and income as well as others in your household. It’s extremely important to ensure all entered information is correct, as incorrect information in your application can get you disqualified. After submitting your application you’ll be able to track its progress. Be aware that the application process is a lengthy one. Applications can expect to wait several months before hearing the decision of their application.

After you apply: Your application will be assigned a number at random. The HPD will go through the numbers started from the lowest numbers and working their way upwards. This means getting a lower number can mean hearing back about your application sooner than if your application were assigned a higher number. To increase your chances of being selected for the housing lottery, you may apply to different housing programs. Although it’s important to note that applying to the same housing lottery more than once will get you disqualified as the HPD can weed out duplicate applications.

If the NYC apartment lottery contacts you: If you are contacted by email or phone for an interview, congratulations. You have been selected as a potential winner. You may be asked to provide additional documents verifying your income level as well as other household information. These documents can include pay stubs or tax return documents, among others. If the interviewer determines that you’re still eligible, they will send your information on to the HPD, who will make the final determination whether you are indeed a lottery winner. Only after official approval from the HPD can you begin to sign any paperwork to move into your new apartment.

If you’re selected and officially approved in a NYC housing lottery, you are among the rare group of applicants who have beaten the odds. If your application is not selected, however, you may apply again and again. To increase your chances of getting approved, it’s important to ensure correct information and documentation each time you apply as well as applying as often as you can to different housing lotteries as this will increase your chances of being selected.

 

For more information on renting, buying and selling apartments in New York City, contact us today at (646) 202-1877.

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How to Find More Space For Less in NYC

 

As New Yorkers know all too well, space can be hard to come by in the city. This is especially true for NYC apartments, where more space typically requires more money. However, there are exceptions to the rule. There are actually a few ways to find more living space without paying more, as long as you are willing to compromise a bit on other apartment features. Following are 4 common ways you can acquire more living space without paying higher prices:

1. Renting / buying on the first floor:

Renters and buyers generally prefer higher-floor apartments to minimize noise disturbances and enjoy better views. In NYC specifically, noises ranging from sirens to vehicles to people can be heard at all hours. Rental and sales prices for first floor apartments are typically 15% lower than second floor apartments, and prices for third floor apartments can increase about 10% more, and so on. By living on the first floor you could potentially save 25% or more for the same apartment. If your particular neighborhood is more on the quiet side or has a noise level you can tolerate, renting or buying on the first floor is certainly an option to consider.

2. Older buildings/ pre and post war buildings:

Buyers and renters tend to favor new construction, making older units ripe for deals. Importantly, ‘old’ does not necessarily translate to poor condition. In fact, many older apartments have been beautifully updated over the years to compete with newer offerings. Pre war buildings are those constructed before World War I (between 1900 and 1939), while post war buildings are those constructed in NYC after World War II (between 1947 and 1990). Both have a similar style, yet post-war buildings tend to have more modern conveniences and amenities. Once you enter the apartment itself, you may not find much of a difference in the living spaces of older versus newer units, depending on how recently they have been renovated. Prices per square foot in pre war and post war buildings tend to be lower than new construction. So if you can forgo trendy architecture and ultra-modern amenities in exchange for more space, this option may be for you. 

3. Less sought after locations:

Apartments closer to public transportation tend to be higher than those further away. With so many New Yorkers who commute on a daily basis, the competition for living spaces as close to public transportation as possible makes sense. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind walking a few blocks to the nearest subway or bus station, you drive, or perhaps work from home, these apartments may be just what you’re looking for to get more living space for less. Expanding your search beyond midtown Manhattan also offers big opportunities for lower rents. Choosing a beautiful space uptown or in an up-and-coming area of Brooklyn or Queens is likely to land you a larger space for less. 

4. Walk-ups/non doorman buildings:

Doorman buildings are favored by renters and buyers in NYC for both security and convenience. Those who rent or buy in non-doorman buildings may save around 10-15% on average. Buildings without elevators tend to cost less as well, saving you even more. If a doorman isn’t a priority for you, and you don’t mind walking up stairs to your apartment, you can save quite a bit on rent and get more space for less.

Finding space in New York City can be challenging. But by following the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to spacious living for less. 

 

For more information on renting, buying or selling apartments in New York City, contact us today at (646) 202-1877.

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How to Get Approved For a Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

 

If you’re like most homebuyers, you’ll need to secure a mortgage loan before closing on your dream home. In fact, 88% of all homes purchased in the past year were financed through mortgages, while the remainder were bought outright. While applying for a mortgage can be nerve wracking for many, it’s generally a straightforward process. You prepare a series of financial documents and follow each step of the application process as directed by your broker. 

For most people with steady, traditional employment this runs rather smoothly.  But what if you are self-employed? Financial records tend to be more complex with this group. Lenders also tend to worry that self-employed income could suddenly dry up at any time. But while self-employed mortgage applicants are more highly scrutinized, they do regularly win mortgage approval. The key is to file the required paperwork in a way that most appeals to lenders. 

Following are some important ways to improve your chances of mortgage approval while being self employed:

Showing your income:

Being self employed means having a non traditional income. Your income will likely vary month to month. You may also have a trail of cash, check and digital payments for which you may or may not keep accurate records. But you can show income through filed taxes and profit and loss statements. So be prepared to tidy up your records and be able to speak about your business income. In the eyes of mortgage lenders, they are interested in seeing mortgage applicants not only have a high income but also one that is steady and consistent. Mortgage lenders will look at your tax returns from past to present. If there is a large fluctuation in income lenders will want to know why. Even if your income has had a large increase, you should still have an explanation for this as lenders will want to know that your income is stable enough to take on a mortgage.

Important documentation:

You’ll need to provide documentation that proves your creditworthiness in the eyes of mortgage lenders. This includes:

  • Federal tax returns for at least 2 years (you may be asked for more).
  • Statements regarding your business profits and losses.
  • A copy of your business license, if applicable.
  • Supporting documents from your CPA showing a consistent income for at least 2 years.
  • Bank statements for 1-2 years.

All of your reported income will be verified by your lender using the IRS 4506-T form. When you sign this document, you give your lender permission to order copies of your tax returns in a summary type statement. Your mortgage lender will review not only the information you submitted but also other factors such as dependents you may have, expenses that haven’t been paid back or other home property expenses. Considering this, it’s better to disclose all financial aspects of your life upfront, including things you may feel are unflattering to you as an applicant. 

Having your paperwork lined up in a way that makes you look like a financially stable and qualified applicant while being self-employed isn’t out of reach. If some factors of your financial situation worry you, having a good credit score may help increase your approval odds. It’s advisable to work with financial professionals such as your CPA to assist you in a smooth application process.

 

For more information on buying apartments in New York City, contact us today at (646) 202-1877.