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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obama Budget Seeks Cap on Itemized Deductions

President Obama is targeting the tax deduction for mortgage interest payments and charitable contributions made among high-income earners.

The proposed budget cuts call for taxpayers in the 33 percent and 35 percent tax brackets to be limited in deducting charitable contributions and mortgage interest payments at the 28 percent rate. The deduction would affect households with taxable income of $250,000 or more. The White House says the move would bring in $321 billion within 10 years.

"NAR will remain vigilant in opposing any plan that modifies or excludes the deductibility of mortgage interest," National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps has said in opposing any MID cuts.

Other real estate industry and nonprofit sectors are also joining in the resistance, arguing that capping the deduction will hurt an already battered housing market even more.

"This is an attack on the middle class," says Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders.

At a time when charities continue to struggle with a drop in donations, limiting the charitable deduction will likely cut large donations for the arts, environment, education and other sectors even more, says Tim Delaney, head of the National Council of Nonprofits, a network of charities.

In the past, the Obama administration and several tax deficit commissions have unsuccessfully called for limiting or eliminating MID. MID costs the Treasury Department an estimated $131 billion a year.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brian James Diary Of A New York City Real Estate Broker

Please visit the New blog DIARY OF A BROKER of New York Real Estate Broker Brian James

Diary Of A Broker is about interesting New York City neighborhood news and information to help understand the United States largest real estate market (NEW YORK) and how it effects the economy. You can also find tips for real estate sellers and buyers. The new blog and website also offers free listing service for For Sale By Owner (FBO) listers in Manhattan.

Real Estate Survival Guide: New York Edition

Now taking pre-orders on FREE downloadable version of the REAL ESTATE SURVIVAL GUIDE, New York City edition.

If your interested please send your email address, firstlast name and Zip Code to the email address below.  ** Because of the high demand for the download only emails WITH first, last name, email address and zip code will be added to the Opt-In download directory list. **

By clicking on this ORDER LINK, your computers default mail application will open and send the request via your mail application. 

Please make sure you provide all the information requested. A more elegant request solution will be implemented when the official release happens on May 25th, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Homepage Of Brian James


Summer edition of my new landing page located at Brian James NYC dot com. Just the basic information, for more current relevant up to date info visit my new blog (Diary Of A Broker)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go Green Manhattan Style! Earth Day 2008

Earth Day should be every day, but today it is a time to remind us of how important our everyday actions affect the planet. With so many resources and information guides out there, one person can make a huge difference.

Be it recycling, walking, mass transit, or taking you own mug to Starbucks, there are many easy tasks and small changes can really make you feel like you are contributing.

Recycling everyday items alone can help protect our ozone layer, decrease pollution and decrease tree cuttings. Recycling is a start but using organic products such as food, cotton, baby products and wine are becoming readily available and economic to buy!.

Another easy change is to use compact fluorescent bulbs. Not only will you save energy by at least 75 percent, they work just as well as regular light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.

In Manhattan, this is not only a trend but becoming a way of life. There are so many sites available to help you stay green and turn your home into an eco-friendly environment. New construction like The River House or your current apartment can achieve these guides of green.

GreenHomeNYC where their mantra is “we're working with building owners, builders, and suppliers of building products to promote the use of environmentally friendly, energy-conserving building practices and products in small buildings.”

They also hold a Green Building Forum on the third Wednesday of each month where green building practitioners present new ideas and then a discussion follows the presentation. It is co-sponsored by Pratt Institute.

Another cool city based organization is Green Apple Map. "In mid-2008, a new online interactive OpenGreenMap edition will feature NYC’s sites! Debuting a decade after our original online edition of the Green Apple Map, it will provide a forum for open submissions, commentary and green ratings, so everyone can help make this map a current resource for everyday sustainability, citywide and far beyond!" Definitely keep this in your bookmarks if going green is on your to do list!

10 Great Green Products:
1. Hybrid Cars
2. Cork Flooring
3. Organic Food
4. Organic Fertilizer
5. Organic Cotton
6. Green Cleaning Products
7. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
8. Bamboo Clothing
9. Organic Baby Products
10. Organic Wine

Happy Earth Day! Let's all try to do our part!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mortgage Mess! Lot's of Us Might Be Losing Out.

Three months ago, one of my good friends attained an accepted offer on a co-op. It was a second purchase for him and he knew the ins and outs of the entire co-op process. I put him in touch with a few mortgage brokers and he went with one guy who really made sense, and informed him of some amazing products that were out there.
The Contract was signed in December and now after a long process, submitting the package and board approval we were set to close May 1. That was until yesterday.
Some big name banks and many other lenders the mortgage people work with on the wholesale side became very ugly in their rates.
After speaking with the buyer, the finance guy flipped the loan to smaller bank who has a great 7 year ARM @ 5.375% with a point.
Everything was great until they came back and said their guidelines require all 4+ story buildings to have an elevator. Ughhh! What a MESS! To make it worse the next best bank was @ 6.25% without points.
Long story short, The "Big Bank" or (retail) had better terms then their wholesale counterpart for the buyer's scenario.
So now the next step is re-submitting all the papers to the board hoping it is approved. So at this moment, The mortgage lost his sale, I may lose mine, and even more of an impact the buyer might lose his deposit. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Store Openings

Check out these hot stores, Also featured in New York Magazine as The best of...

Soha Style
(Photo: Courtesy of Soha Style)

Soha Style15 W. 116th St., nr. Fifth Ave. 212-828-3700It’s just a couple of months old, and already the Harlem store—the brainchild of Gwen Wallace and her son, Don—is smartly attuned to the tastes of the neighborhood’s brownstone renovators and new-condo dwellers. An on-site design consultant (call ahead for an appointment) steers buyers toward Philippe Starck chairs (from $330 to $410), Bernhardt sofas (from $4,824), and Desiron dining tables ($2,500 to $3,800).

Georgia Tapert Living456 Broome St., nr. Mercer St.; 212-334-7969Georgia Tapert’s Soho boutique opened in December, but its fresh, eclectic homewares seem ripe for spring. On the high end, you’ll find $9,000 Dorothy Draper screens; on the low end, there’s a set of four linen cocktail napkins ($38) and delicate water glasses with handpainted bluebirds ($15 to $18 each).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Buying property in today's market...

Tumbleweeds roll by and the street seems empty. It's high noon and two men at 50 paces stand ready for the fire. Arms at their sides, guns on their hips each ready to reach... grab... and shoot. But nothing happens, almost 1230 now and they are still standing.

Lately this image is conjured up in my mind when doing a deal. Whether it be the seller and the buyer or the the two brokers facing each other and ready. The pace has changed indeed and now its taking everyone a little longer to pull that trigger.
Financing, proper comps and negotiations are all playing a huge factor. So for you sellers and buyers out there, make your move before the next guy does. Its all in your draw but make it count. Low ball offers and Not willing to counter or work together to reach your number will make this showdown a daily event!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

7 Questions You Must Ask Before Buying A Condo

I came across this list today while doing some research for a great couple who is buying a condo. After the accepted offer we have encountered many little hiccups that are now adding up to agita!

So before we can continue I want them to ponder what SMART MONEY POSED: These 7 questions to avoid a sour mess...

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR DREAM CONDO, and you're ready to relax . Hold everything. To keep from getting stuck with a lemon, you've got to do some homework. Here are the seven most important questions you need to ask before buying a condo.

1. "What's the beef?" Take a look at the minutes of the condo association board meetings to see what the owners have been griping about. If everyone was complaining about the faulty plumbing or the gardener's absence, you know that the complex is having management difficulties. Even if there aren't any complaints, reading the minutes will reveal the sorts of projects that are under way at the complex -- projects the seller may have neglected to mention.
2. "Who's been naughty and who's been nice?" Find out the delinquency rates of present owners. If people aren't paying their association dues on time, that is either a sign of discontent or an indication that the association might be underfunded.

3. "How much is in the repair fund?" Ask if the community has done a reserve-fund review in the past five years. Lester Giese, the author of The 99 Best Residential & Recreational Communities in America, recommends the following formula: If the complex is one to 10 years old, the reserve fund should have 10% of the cost of replaceable items (roofs, roads, tennis courts, etc.). Between 10 and 20 years old, the repair fund should be at 25% to 30%. At 20 years, that amount should be 50% or above. Residents who brag that they don't pay much in maintenance may be in a complex that either is not being kept up well or is living beyond its means.

4. "Can you cover me?" If you look at nothing else, get a copy of the certificate of insurance, which is a summary of the association's policy. Then make sure that the policy has a building-ordinance clause, which means that the insurance will cover the cost of bringing the building up to code if there is any rebuilding to be done. Finally, make sure that you understand exactly what the association policy covers and what you are responsible for.

5. "Does the association present any legal problems?" With a condo, Contact a local real estate lawyer and have him or her go over the bylaws of the association. Do they make sense? Are they consistent with the state laws? Giese, the author, once found that the association bylaws of a large garden-style condo complex had been lifted from the books of a high-rise condo, leaving confused tenants with rules about shared hallway space and the correct use of garbage chutes. Benny Kass, a Washington real estate attorney, recommends that you also have your lawyer screen the association at the local courthouse, to see if any owners have filed suit against it.

6. "Is the complex renter-friendly?" If the renter population is over 10%, there should be clear rental policies. Keep one thing in mind, though: An association can change its bylaws to prohibit or restrict renting at any time. The more owners who rent, the less chance that will happen.

7. "Am I my community's keeper?" Watch out for a condo whose owners manage the place themselves. Although many are operated efficiently, self-management can lead to more hassles for owners -- especially those who live thousands of miles away. If you hook up with a bad manager, you can be sure of this: Your dream condo will keep you up at night.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Homes Stolen via ID Theft on the Rise

Check this out! And you thought locking your door or a pit bull was good security!- Brian

Homes Stolen via ID Theft on the Rise
The FBI calls it the “latest scam on the block,” but for years now we’ve been warning people and reporting about scam artists who steal your identity and then your home. Now, after years of reporting and writing about this sinister act, the FBI is stepping up its efforts to make homeowners aware of the horrible connection between identity theft and real estate fraud.

Full Story

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Out and about for Open houses? How to use your Mobile Phone and the NY TIMES!

Check out this magic symbol and trick. the folks at the New York Times have made it even easier and greener when you are on the hunt. If you find yourself lost or having written down the wrong address use this easy way to track down your next home!

From your mobile device: To search for properties directly from your mobile device, go to m.nytimes.com/re and enter your property criteria (such as location and price) or find a specific property by listing ID.

About New York Times Print to Mobile Listings
When you see the New York Times mobile icon in an ad , use your mobile phone to send a text (SMS) message to 698698. The body of the message should contain "re" [space] and the Real Estate ID. For example, a print ad may have the NYTimes Real Estate ID CO12345. Send a text message to 698698 with "re CO12345" (without the quotes, but with the space) as the message.
In response you will get a text message from The New York Times with some property details and a link to a mobile Web page containing full information and photos, if available.

About New York Times Mobile Search
From your mobile phone you can go to http://mobile.nytimes.com/realestate (or http://m.nytimes.com/re ). From there you can search for a real estate listing, either by typing in the listing ID or by selecting search criteria such as location, price, number of bedrooms or specifying only new listings or listings with open houses. You may receive up to 200 listings at a time, displayed 10 per page. Click "Next" or select a page number to access the next set of listings or click "modify search" to narrow your search criteria and results.

Friday, April 4, 2008

What's Sellin...

March 13- March 28 2008
Average Sales price increased to $2M from $1.3M
Median Sales price increased to $1.3M from $935k
Sales above $3M increased to 22% of transactions from 8%
Sales below $1,000,000 decreased to 41% from 54%
Discount from last asking price increased slightly to 2% from 1.4%
Discount from original asking price increased to 3% from 2.1%
Transactions sold at ask or above increased slightly to 56% from 49%
Median number of days on market from last ask price decreased to 42 days from 47 days
Active listings on market have increased to 8,984 from 8,650

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Manhattan Condo, Co-op Sales Decline Most in 18 Years

Below is an article that was sent to me by one of my customers. At first I flinched, then I decided to slowly read it and take it in. Yes we are in an odd economical state, but there is opportunity out there.

Buyers can really capitalize and sellers are making profits. They might make a real profit of 400K instead of 480K on a property they are selling.

If we all decided to cash out our stocks and funds, stuff our money under mattresses and wait for a brighter day it would be much worse. We must control the situation and not let the media control us.

In time things will even out, just like the 4 dollar cup of coffee, apartments prices went up dramatically. Cheap money and limited stock furthered this phenomenon. But just because things have slowed or tipped down, it doesn't mean Starbucks will start selling their cup of joe for 1 buck instead of 4.

I say be educated, but be realistic. Its a recession, we are in one but historically 8 months is what we need to wait it out. GIVE IT SOME TIME. Time will tell and things will balance out.
By Sharon L. Lynch April 2 (Bloomberg)
Manhattan apartment sales plunged the most in 18 years in the first quarter as buyers faced the prospect of a recession and job cuts at Wall Street securities firms.
Sales fell 34 percent from a year earlier and inventory rose 4.6 percent to 6,194 units, New York-based real estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and broker Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate said in a report today. The median price of a Manhattan co-operative apartment or condominium increased 13.2 percent to a record $945,000.
``If it continues along this pattern, we're in a period of transition to a weaker market,'' Miller Samuel President Jonathan Miller said in an interview. ``You typically see a slowdown in sales activity precede a slowdown in pricing.''
Financial companies have cut at least 34,000 jobs in the past nine months as losses and writedowns related to mortgage- backed securities climbed to at least $230 billion. Wall Street drives Manhattan real estate, with the median apartment price roughly tracking bonuses paid by investment banks since 1997, Miller said.
``There are a lot of buyers out there,'' said Prudential Douglas Elliman Chief Executive Officer Dottie Herman.
``It's not that they're not looking, but there is no sense of urgency,'' she said. ``If you continue to see inventory rise, that would be a sign that you are going to see a price dip.''
Prices Rise
Until now, Manhattan has avoided the national housing slump. Last year, the U.S. saw the first drop in existing home prices since the Great Depression, while Manhattan apartment prices rose 3.6 percent, according to Miller Samuel.
Gains continued in the first quarter, according to today's broker reports. The Corcoran Group said the median for condos and co-ops rose 9 percent to $917,000. Terra Holdings LLC, which owns brokers Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property LLC, said the median climbed 13 percent to $855,000. The numbers vary in part because each broker includes some of its own sales that have yet to show up in the city's public records database.
About 30 percent of all first-quarter closings were for apartments in new developments that went into contract before turmoil hit the credit market, said Gregory Heym, chief economist for Terra Holdings.
``They are pre-credit crisis, pre-Wall Street worries, pre- new mortgage standards,'' he said in an interview. ``You see a delay in impact in these numbers.''
`Emboldened' Buyers
Areas where buyers are worried about future price appreciation will be the first to slip, particularly neighborhoods that saw quicker-than-average price growth in recent years, said Pam Liebman, Corcoran's chief executive officer. She declined to be specific. Harlem in Manhattan and sections of Brooklyn including Dumbo, short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, are possible locations.
Brokers are waiting for any fallout from job losses on Wall Street or from JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s takeover of Bear Stearns Cos.
``What we are seeing now is buyers who are emboldened to be more aggressive in their offers,'' Liebman said. ``They don't hesitate to bid lower and sellers now will have to decide whether or not they want to lower their prices.''
Apartments are already taking longer to sell. The average time spent on the market rose 12 percent to 146 days, according to Miller Samuel.
Luxury Gains
In Brooklyn, New York's most populous borough, the median price fell 2 percent to $549,000 last quarter, according to Corcoran and real estate appraiser Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson Inc. Both Manhattan-based companies are closely held.
The average price per square foot of a Manhattan co-op rose 16 percent to $1,128 for the quarter, Miller said. For condos, the price per square foot gained 21 percent to $1,416. Co-ops make up more than two-thirds of Manhattan apartments. Residents of them buy shares in a corporation that owns the building, rather than having a deed to the property itself.
On the East Side, the greatest price appreciation was in apartments with at least four bedrooms, with the average rising 53 percent to $13.6 million, according to Brown Harris Stevens. On the West Side, three-bedroom apartments gained 90 percent to an average of just under $5 million.
Lofts Fall
Prices on Fifth Avenue jumped 63 percent in the quarter to a median of $6.5 million, and on Park Avenue the median jumped 23 percent to $3.3 million. The median price of lofts fell 12 percent to almost $1.45 million, Corcoran said.
The luxury market also saw big increases, largely due to multimillion dollar condominium sales at the recently converted Plaza, and at architect Robert A.M. Stern's 15 Central Park West.
The median price of a luxury apartment rose 46 percent to almost $5 million, Miller Samuel said. Corcoran's estimate was an increase of 18 percent to $4.4 million. Both companies consider apartments of more than $2.8 million as luxury.
``There is no question 2007 was the record year for real estate in New York City,'' Liebman said. ``I don't think any of us will be surprised if 2008 doesn't hold up in comparison.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Sharon L. Lynch in New York at sllynch@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: April 2, 2008 10:59 EDT

Tuesday, April 1, 2008