General

Get a free copy!! – How to buy a condo in NYC

I am now at the point where I am asking all of my friends and family for some assistance (no I have not lost my wallet in another country).

I am looking to assemble a group of people who are willing to get a free copy of my book, read it and post an honest review on Amazon prior to the official launch of the book. The reason why that is so important is that the more reviews I get on Amazon, the more visible my book will be once the launch takes place in approximately 30 days. Of course feel free to spread the word to other people.

To be part of my street team, go to http://gocondo.nyc/ and sign in on my email list. Once it is finished (finally!), everyone will get a free copy of the enhanced version of the book accompanied with the a check list which will be integrated with the book. Each Ambassador will also be entitled to take part in a group Q&A session monitored by me.

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WRITING A BOOK (GOCONDO.NYC)

 

Many of my clients are purchasers of condominiums in New York City. These clients have a lot questions and concerns about what to expect and what needs to be done during the process. These unknowns can turn what should be a very exciting and joyous process into a stressful and nerve wracking experience.

In an attempt to alleviate the overwhelm, I have written a pretty comprehensive guide to purchasing a condominium in NYC. This book explains what purchasers should expect and look for during the process with a detailed check list.
Not having done this before, I am told that the correct book cover is very very important. I need everyone’s help in choosing a cover for the book before the official launch.

PLEASE LOOK AT THE NUMBERED SAMPLE BOOK COVERS AND LET ME KNOW WHICH ONE YOU LIKE AND IF THERE IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT IT.

Thanks- Phil

Real Life Monopoly

Monopoly

Growing up, my brother, cousins, nephew and I would play Monopoly all  night. We would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing, building our pretend empires, arguing over who was cheating (Dan . . . ).

This past week, I played Monopoly for real. A year in the making, we closed on the sale of a $21,000,000 hotel. One of the more intense projects I’ve been involved with. In the days (really months) leading up to it there were countless things that had to be accounted for, prepared and crossed off huge checklists which seemingly got longer as we got closer to the day we were working towards. Even though the deal was done and we were close to the end there were last-minute side deals that had to be thought out, negotiated and documented as parties jockeyed for position. I found myself up late the night before sitting in my dining room answering emails, proofreading documents and much like the Monopoly marathons I had as a kid, making sure no one was cheating.  The morning of the closing was bright, sunny and not as hot as it could have been for an August day on Wall Street. Surely a good sign as we arrived from that far off land called Brooklyn.We came armed with accordion files, computers and cell phone chargers, The room was filled with paper. Lots of paper. Lawyers on phone arguing with other lawyers. Others leaning over laptop spreadsheets mulling over numbers; Title closers running back and forth from a huge copy machine down the hall from this glass cubicle which seemed to hold a hundred people. Everyone in my office worked incredibly hard. It started at 10:00 in the morning and broke up at 5:30 p.m. Business finally concluded 1:00 the next day.

This (The Closing by Jimmy Dyer) is what it looked like:

close

There is no rest for the weary as we are on to multiple replacement deals spanning from Manhattan to the Hamptons.

As to complexity and magnitude there was a  big sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and relief that we got it done.  Still not as fun as Monopoly as a kid . . . .

 

 

 

Happy client

Zaira ZafraLong time client selling her coop apartment in preparation for the next phase of her life. A great source of satisfaction is meeting a client early on and over the years I get to take part in helping her move on to bigger and better things. I am proud of Zaira Zafra and know she’ll be great.

TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule Primer

Loan officers, attorneys and borrowers alike should take notice when loan document notice requirements change. Loan officers and attorneys need to know to appropriately advise and guide their clients. Borrowers should know the rules of the process to be, well, smart informed consumers.

Federal Law has required for many years disclosure forms be provided to consumers by lenders. In an effort to eliminate inconsistency, overlapping language and confusion to consumers, lenders and settlement agents, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was directed to integrate longstanding loan mortgage disclosure forms under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulation X) and the Truth In Lending Act (Regulation Z) (78 FR 7973, Dec. 31, 2013) (TILA-RESPA rule), into two understandable (hopefully) consolidated forms. They are the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure.

The Loan Estimate is designed to give disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding the key features, costs, and risks of the mortgage loan for which they are applying.

Timing:      Upon receipt of an application by a mortgage broker or a lender (referred to in the rule as a “creditor”), this form will be provided to consumers within three business days after they submit a mortgage loan application. An “application” for these purposes consists of the consumer’s name, income, social security number to obtain a credit report, the property address, an estimate of the value of the property, and the mortgage loan amount sought.

Even if the mortgage broker provides the Loan Estimate, the actual lender remains responsible for complying with the all requirements concerning provision of the form.

What’s in it?      This document provides you with the general terms of your loan. Things like loan amount, interest rate, if it is a fixed or adjustable rate loan and the sales price if the loan is financing the purchase of a property or apartment. It clearly identifies what the monthly principal and interest payments are, if there is a prepayment penalty and if a balloon payment is due at the end of the loan term. It clearly provides the monthly payments of property and hazard insurance being collected by the lender which when combined with the monthly installments of principal and interest, comprise your total monthly payment.

On another section of the form, it itemizes a borrower/purchaser’s closing costs and informs the consumer the amount of money that a consumer needs to close that particular transaction.

The form further provides the consumer a five (5) year comparison on the amount of principal, interest, mortgage interest and loan costs that will be paid. It also discloses how much of the original principal is paid down during the first five years. As previously disclosed in the TIL, the APR * (see below) is identified and the borrower is told the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

* APR (annual percentage rate) is the interest rate of your loan after deducting certain closing costs (points, mortgage broker fees, and other charges that you have to pay to get the loan). Because the APR is calculated based on a smaller amount of money, all other things being constant, the interest rate contained in the note is usually higher.

Replaces:       The Good Faith Estimate (AKA, GFE) designed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under RESPA & the “early” Truth-in-Lending disclosure designed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) under TILA.

GFE jpeg

Good Faith Estimate

 

Fee limitation:      Generally, consumers cannot be charged any fees until after they have been given the Loan Estimate and have communicated their intent to proceed with the transaction. One exception to that is that consumers can be charged fees to obtain their credit reports prior to the issuance to the Loan Estimate.

Early estimates and disclaimers:      Consumers can be provided written estimates prior to application as long as there is a disclaimer provided to prevent any confusion with the Loan Estimate. Disclaimers are required for advertisements as well.

The following disclaimer needs to be clearly and conspicuously placed at the top of the front of the first page of the estimate in a font size that is no smaller than 12-point font: “Your actual rate, payment, and costs could be higher. Get an official Loan Estimate before choosing a loan.” (12 CFR Part 1026 § 1026.19(e)(2)(ii)).

Below is a sample of a Loan Estimate:

Loan Estimate Page 1

Loan Estimate Page 1

 

Loan Estimate Page 2

Loan Estimate Page 2

 

Loan Estimate Page 3

Loan Estimate Page 3

 

The Closing Disclosure is designed to provide disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding all of the costs of the transaction.

What’s in it?     Like the Loan Estimate, it provides the consumer with the general terms of your loan, the loan amount, interest rate, if it is a fixed or an adjustable rate loan and the sales price if the loan is financing the purchase of a property or an apartment.

It sets forth the monthly principal and interest payments, if there is a prepayment penalty and if a balloon payment is due at the end of the loan term.

The document discloses monthly payments (projected calculations in years 1-7 and in years 8-30 of the loan term) of property and hazard insurance being collected by the lender which when combined with the monthly installments of principal and interest, comprise your total monthly payment.

Much like its predecessor the Hud-1 Settlement Statement, the Closing Disclosure itemizes in separate columns, the costs of both the purchaser and seller and identifies between costs that are paid at and before closing. What differs from the Hud-1 is that this form has a separate column for costs paid by others (i.e. bank paid mortgage tax).

Similar to its predecessor, the Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement as well as the Loan Estimate, it provides the consumer the APR of the loan, the amount of the loan after deducting the payment of upfront loan closing costs as well as the total amount of the interest paid over the life of the loan.

At the end of the loan, it provides a contact sheet for the names of the lender, its loan officer and the settlement agent. I think this is very useful.

This is a link to a Guide to the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms: (http://goo.gl/vu1eF9) which sets forth the content of the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms.

Timing:      This form will need to be provided three (3) business days before consumers are to close on a mortgage loan.

Replaces:       The current form used to close a loan, the HUD-1, which was designed by HUD under RESPA.

Hud-1 Settlement Statement

 

 

It also replaces the revised Truth in Lending disclosure designed by the Board under TILA.

 

Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement

Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement

Changes:       If between the date the Closing Disclosure is given and the date of Closing significant changes occur to:

  • the APR (above 1/8 of a percent for most loans & 1/4 of a percent for loans with irregular payments or periods);
  • to the loan product, or
  • if a prepayment is added to the loan-

the consumer must be provided a new form and an additional three (3) -business-day waiting period after receipt of the new form.

A revised Closing Disclosure form can be issued at or before closing showing less significant changes, without actually delaying the closing.

Unless an exception applies, charges for the following services cannot increase: (1) the lender’s or mortgage broker’s charges for its own services; (2) charges for services provided by an affiliate of the lender or mortgage broker; and (3) charges for services for which the lender or mortgage broker does not permit the consumer to shop. Charges for other services can increase, but generally not by more than 10%, unless an exception applies.

The exceptions include, for example, situations when: (1) the consumer asks for a change; (2) the consumer chooses a service provider that was not identified by the lender; (3) information provided at application was inaccurate or becomes inaccurate; or (4) the Loan Estimate expires. When an exception applies, the lender generally must provide an updated Loan Estimate form within three business days.

Following is a sample form Closing Disclosure Form:

closing disclosure pp1

Closing Disclosure Page 1

 

Closing disclosure pp2

Closing Disclosure Page 2

 

Closing disclosure pp3

Closing Disclosure Page 3

 

Closing disclosure pp4

Closing Disclosure Page 4

 

Closing disclosure pp5

Closing Disclosure Page 5

 

The TILA-RESPA rule applies to most closed-end consumer mortgages. It does not apply to all cash transactions (no financing is involved), commercial purpose loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), reverse mortgages, mortgages secured by a mobile home or by a dwelling that is not attached to real property (i.e., land). The final rule also does not apply to loans made by individuals, estates or trusts lending five or fewer mortgage loans per year. The new disclosures are used when a mortgage loan application is taken on the implementation date of October 3, 2015.

Additional Information:
A wealth of information and forms on this topic is located on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website located at:
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/regulatory-implementation/tila-respa/

Compliance guide (link): A plain-language guide to the new rules in a FAQ format which makes the content more accessible for industry constituents, especially smaller businesses with limited legal and compliance staff.
Guide to forms (link): Provides detailed, illustrated instructions on completing the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure.
Closing Fact Sheet (link): An overview of the limited circumstances when changes to the loan require a new three-day review.
Disclosure Timeline (link): Illustrates the process and timing of disclosures for a sample real estate purchase transaction.
Integrated loan disclosure forms & samples (Link): Downloadable Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms in both English & Spanish and samples for different loan types.

Should you forego inspections when buying a condo unit or coop apartment ?

home inspection check list for ceiling and wallsIt depends on your comfort level. The reason why you get an inspector when purchasing a coop or a condo is to try to determine, not only the current physical condition of the unit but also the general condition of the building’s structure, mechanical systems and common area. Problems with any of which, could potentially lead to future increases in monthly common charges/maintenance or assessments. These issues may not come up when reviewing the minutes of the board (if a cooperative) and may not be in the offering plan if not the initial offering from the building’s sponsor. Even then, you never know. If you decide to forego an inspection, assume a worst case scenario when contemplating to buy a unit. Even then, you can never anticipate everything.

Roll of the dice

A wandering eye . . .

stock-photo--eye-with-arms-and-legs-walking-d-illustration-119238250I admit it. I’m a sucker for watching those shows where people buy properties in different places around the world. It can be in any country. Alaska, Hawaii or the Caribbean. It doesn’t matter. I’m not picky. I have to watch it. It’s not only limited to television nor does it have to be very exotic or far away. It can be another town or another block. If I am in an area that I am not familiar with, I often will take a side trip or purposely get lost, just to see houses. One of my closest friends lives in a very affluent area located on the North Shore of Long Island. The road to go to his house is very winding and passes a number of huge beautiful Victorian homes and large estates. I find myself (much to my wife Laura’s angst) drifting to one side of the road or the other to get a better look. She does’t let me drive there anymore. If there is a private road leading to some mysterious grand estate, I have to become “lost” trying to find a through street. Especially if there is a sign that says “PRIVATE”. How dare they keep me from seeing what is in there. I know, I have a problem.

It is not that I’m unhappy what I have or where I live. I am quite happy where I live and with the house I live in. Realistically, I have absolutely no use for a house with 8 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Nor does anyone in my family want to clean them. Whether or not I want it, my wife is a grounding force. On more than one occasion I have heard to the effect, “no Phil we do not need a house with a boat slip”. I don’t own a boat. In the back of my head I am thinking “but I might get a boat”. As I sit here writing, I am trying to figure out why I do this. I don’t get the sense I am jealous or want what other people have. I am quite happy for friends and family who may have a larger house or a more expensive car.

I think it’s what houses/homes/real estate represents. When I was younger, (not that long ago) I guess owning property represented financial security, wealth, continuity and permanency. Growing up, our family moved a lot. As a child, I daydreamed about owning office buildings and maybe even my very own island some day. . . My wife still kids me about the island. 32 As I got older, the need and desire developed a sense of urgency as I needed a home of my own to raise a family. I got the house but that need for continuity continued as I often thought about buying a building to have an office to run a law practice. While traveling, my family often heard the phrase “that building would be a great place for a law office”. Over the years, law school loans, mortgages and college tuition tempered my motivation to get that building. Now that I am planning for my golden years (very far off in the future), my thoughts have once again turned to real estate as a way in which to provide investments as a means to generate income in which to retire. There is a good chance that social security may not be a viable option when the need for it comes. I don’t see me receiving the same kinds of returns from the stock market or lotto as I could get from real estate.

I guess I practice real estate law because of what real estate means to me. That paired with the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I feel when I put together (and close, most of the time) a complicated transaction or the purchase of a person’s first home. There is a feeling of pride that I have provided my clients (with what I hope is) a valuable service in achieving their goals and/or dreams. Very similar to the ones I’ve had throughout my life.

Hudson Yards Development. A long wait and walk?

I knew there was a lot of development going on the west side but not to this extent. An article in Curbed (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/09/08/the_definitive_guide_to_the_hudson_yards_development_boom.php) shows 33 projects in the works within the Special Hudson Yards District, which stretches roughly from 30th Street to 41st Street and from Eleventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue.

In articles (the above as well as others), it seems as the area will be served by the 7 subway line, Amtrak and a greenway.  I am curious how the city will be able to get access to this area through public transportation unless you are walking, on the 7 subway line or traveling on Amtrak. Will there be shuttle service to Time Square, Penn Station and the Grand Central Terminal? I am assuming there will be bus service into the area and of course taxi cabs but getting into the area from other subway lines may be pretty inconvenient.

I can only assume it will be a long while before the proposed projects are completed and the infrastructure is fully developed.  It will be a long walk  during the winter months.

 Hudson Yards Development Map

Hudson Yards Development Map

4 Downing Street (Broken Angel House)

Below is an article about the bright future of a much beleaguered property known as the “Broken Angel House”.  Alex Barrett and Barrett Design and Development who purchased the property and are developing the building are clients of Marcus Attorneys which represented them  ( by Guillermo Santiago, Esq.)  on the acquisition.

I can honestly say that in our years of representation they have always put out attractive and quality projects. If anyone can fix this broken angel, they can.

I can’t wait to see how it turns out. There will be future posts on the progress of the development as it becomes available.

Barret Design

News from Barrett Design & Development

Clinton Hill Development Boom
As land prices in downtown Brooklyn climb, investors
are migrating north to the area that hosts four subway lines

Barrett Design and Development, led by Alex Barrett, is reinventing one of the community’s beloved properties, 4 Downing St, formerly known as the Broken Angel House, as named by the pair of artists who lived there and turned it into a piece of art. (It also was the backdrop for the ’05 movie Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.) Barrett acquired the property for $4.1M in January. The four-story, 10k SF building will become eight 1,100 SF condos by Q1, and a vacant lot next door at 8 Downing will become a four-story, duplex condo building within 12 months.

Our friends at Honest Buildings clued us into the project, which has a storied history. Alex believes it was built in the late 1800s as an eight-unit railroad apartment building (albeit uncommonly wide at 40 feet). The previous owners, artists Arthur and Cynthia Wood, acquired it in 1979 and made it quite the single-family home. They removed floors to create a ziggurat-style interior and added artistic embellishments, including a 50-foot tower. The additions weren’t in line with building codes, and the property got the attention of the city after a fire in ’07. Arthur and a partner developer started removing the code violations, but the JV had financial troubles, and eventually the bank foreclosed.

Alex and team have finished removing the illegal additions (they’re keeping others). He expects to launch sales in the fall. His company also partnered with Groundswell, which identified a local artist – Misha Tyutyunik, who lives three blocks away – and The Urban Assembly Unison School, just half a block away, to work on the mural that covers the construction site fencing. The mural traces the site’s past as a farm, apartment building, Broken Angel House, and soon-to-be condos. When construction is complete, the mural will move to the school.

[Located just a short walk from 4 Downing St], the focal point of Clinton Hill’s residential development, says Massey Knakal’s Stephen Palmese, is the three-year-old Putnam Plaza at Fulton, Grand, and Putnam, part of the Department of Transportation’s initiatives to put unusual intersections (this one is a triangular intersection) to better use. Already, the public project has attracted trendy eateries Lox and Hill Cafe to open there.

More information on area development can be found in the original article:
Source: http://www.bisnow.com/uncategorized/2647-clinton-hill-development-boom/

To gain some perspective of what they started with, below is a video (Hugo’s Peep Box) of the building prior to development.

List of Manhattan Condo Projects

The Real Deal has put together a guide to more than Manhattan 70 new condo projects with units for sale. http://therealdeal.com/new-development-show-case-2014/

Scan a plan and save the world !!!!

Scan a plan and save the world !!!!

If anyone has copies of offering plans for any of these projects, please forward them so that they can be posted on Offering Planet (www.offeringplanet.com)  and made available to everyone. Thanks.