Monday, September 22, 2014

Say Hello to High Line at the Rail Yards, the Park's Final Leg

The third and final stretch of the High Line will open to the public tomorrow, marking the end of a 15-year development saga, and availing to pedestrians aseamless 22-block stretch between Gansevoort and 34th streets. Known asHigh Line at the Rail Yards, the park's final portion stretches from 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, cuts west, and curves north to 34th Street near the West Side Highway. Just one portion of the 1.45-mile-long park, the Tenth Avenue spur, is inaccessible and will remain closed until construction of 10 Hudson Yards is complete in 2015.
  • 10 Hudson Yards is the first tower to rise at the eponymous development. The 52-story Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed building straddles the portion of High Line at the Rail Yards known as the Tenth Avenue spur, where there will be "an extraordinary, sheltered, and vegetated interior room" (spoiler: it looks like a terrarium out of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids). The spur will open with the tower in 2015.
  • Looking west.
  • Visitors can walk along the original freight line.
  • Like the two phases before it, High Line at the Rail Yards is designed by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf.
    • In a few years when the platform is complete and Hudson Yards rises, the name "High Line at the Rail Yards" will be antediluvian. While the rail yards will still exist under the new neighborhood, they'll no longer comprise the High Line's landscape.
    • Ladies and gentleman, the end—the very, very end—of the High Line.
    Construction on the High Line first began in 2006, so tomorrow's opening is a momentous final chapter for the ambitious public-private venture. Despite the project's maturity, the addition of the third stretch still feels special, expressly in due to its intimate spatial relationship to the rail yards and the impendingHudson Yards mega-development. The third portion opens slightly over two years following its announcement and 34 years following the last use of the cargo train whose tracks are now home to what some hail as the best park in the city, and as a pioneer and triumph of urban regeneration.
  • Saturday, September 20, 2014, by Zoe Rosenberg - Curbed

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Did You Sell Your Home After Making Improvements?

Keeping track of the cost of capital improvements to your home can really pay off on your tax return when it comes time to sell.

It’s no secret that finishing your basement will increase your home’s value. What you may not know is the money you spend on this type of so-called capital improvement could also help lower your tax bill when you sell your house.
Tax rules let you add capital improvement expenses to the cost basis of your home. Why is that a big deal? Because a higher cost basis lowers the total profit—capital gain, in IRS-speak—you’re required to pay taxes on.

The tax break doesn’t come into play for everyone. Most home owners are exempted from paying taxes on the first $250,000 of profit for single filers ($500,000 for joint filers). If you move frequently, maybe it’s not worth the effort to track capital improvement expenses. But if you plan to live in your house a long time or make lots of upgrades, saving receipts is a smart move.

What counts as a capital improvement?

While you may consider all the work you do to your home an improvement, the IRS looks at things differently. A rule of thumb: A capital improvement increases your home’s value, while a non-eligible repair just returns something to its original condition. According to the IRS, capital improvements have to last for more than one year and add value to your home, prolong its life, or adapt it to new uses.
Capital improvements can include everything from a new bathroom or deck to a new water heater or furnace. Page 9 of IRS Publication 523 has a list of eligible improvements. There are limitations. The improvements must still be evident when you sell. So if you put in wall-to-wall carpeting 10 years ago and then replaced it with hardwood floors five years ago, you can’t count the carpeting as a capital improvement. Repairs, like painting your house or fixing sagging gutters, don’t count. The IRS describes repairs as things that are done to maintain a home’s good condition without adding value or prolonging its life.

There can be a fine line between a capital improvement and a repair, says Erik Lammert, tax research specialist at the National Association of Tax Professionals. For instance, if you replace a few shingles on your roof, it’s a repair. If you replace the entire roof, it’s a capital improvement. Same goes for windows. If you replace a broken window pane, repair. Put in a new window, capital improvement. One exception: If your home is damaged in a fire or natural disaster, everything you do to restore your home to its pre-loss condition counts as a capital improvement.

How capital improvements affect your gain

To figure out how improvements affect your tax bill, you first have to know your cost basis. The cost basis is the amount of money you spent to buy or build your home including all the costs you paid at the closing: fees to lawyers, survey charges, transfer taxes, and home inspection, to name a few. You should be able to find all those costs on the settlement statement you received at your closing.

Next, you’ll need to account for any subsequent capital improvements you made to your home. Let’s say you bought your home for $200,000 including all closing costs. That’s the initial cost basis. You then spent $25,000 to remodel your kitchen. Add those together and you get an adjusted cost basis of $225,000.

Now, suppose you’ve lived in your home as your main residence for at least two out of the last five years. Any profit you make on the sale will be taxed as a long-term capital gain. You sell your home for $475,000. That means you have a capital gain of $250,000 (the $475,000 sale price minus the $225,000 cost basis). You’re single, so you get an automatic exemption for the $250,000 profit. End of story.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Had you not factored in the money you spent on the kitchen remodel, you’d be facing a tax bill for that $25,000 gain that exceeded the automatic exemption. By keeping receipts and adjusting your basis, you’ve saved about $5,000 in taxes based on the  15% tax rate on capital gains. Well worth taking an hour a month to organize your home-improvement receipts, don’t you think?
For 2013, the top rate for most home sellers remains 15%. For sellers in the new income tax bracket of 39.6%, the cap gains rate is 20%.

Watch out for these basis-busters

Some situations can lower your basis, thus increasing your risk of facing a tax bill when you sell. Consult a tax adviser. One common one: If you take depreciation on a home office, you have to subtract those deductions from your basis. Any depreciation taken if you rented your house works the same way. You also have to subtract subsidies from utility companies for making energy-related home improvements or energy-efficiency tax credits you’ve received. If you bought your home using the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, you’ll have to deduct that from your basis too, says Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services.
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

Read more: 

Friday, June 27, 2014

How Do I Figure Capital Gains Tax on Real Estate?

In real estate, capital gains are the difference between the purchase price of your real estate and the price you sell it for. Capital gains tax is what you pay on that difference, after adjusting for a variety of exemptions, deductions and tax breaks. The tax on capital gains income is calculated separately from the tax on your regular income and often at a different rate. In addition to federal capital gains taxes, most states, including New York (Fed and State combined is 31.5%), tax the gains too.

1 ) Take the purchase price of your property and add the cost of any improvements, "Realty Times" advises. If you bought a rental home for $300,000, for instance, that would be the basis for calculating your gains. If you later spent $30,000 on capital improvements -- a new roof and a kitchen remodel, for instance -- then your basis goes up to $330,000. This applies only to substantial improvements that add to the home's value, not to repairs. Fixing a leaky shower isn't a capital improvement, but replacing it with a newer, better shower would be. If you've been billed with a special assessment for neighborhood improvements -- $500 toward a new sidewalk, for instance -- you can count those too.

2 ) Take your sale price and adjust for sale expenses. If you sell a property for, say, $400,000, you can subtract the costs of your real estate agent's commission, legal fees and any closing costs you agreed to pay, Realty Times states. If the total bill came to $25,000, your adjusted sale price would be $375,000.

3 ) Subtract your basis from the adjusted sale price. If you have a $330,000 adjusted purchase price and the adjusted sale price is $375,000, for instance, you have $45,000 in capital gains.

4 ) Check for any state and federal exemptions you're entitled to. For example, if you're selling a home you've lived in for two of the past five years, you can exempt up to $250,000 in capital gains from taxation -- $500,000 if you're married. Anything less than that won't be taxed.

5 ) Look at how long you've held the property. Short-term capital gains -- property that was sold less than a year after you bought it -- are taxed at the same rate as regular income, while long-term gains get a lower rate. If your taxable gain is $120,000, for example, and you're in the 25 percent tax bracket, you'd pay $30,000 if you sell after six months, but only 15 percent -- $18,000 -- if you hold on to the property for longer than a year.

Things You Will Need

  • Records of property purchase
  • Sale records
  • Records of any capital improvements


  • If you're adding capital improvements to your basis, make sure you keep detailed records of the money you spent, so that you can prove your tax report is legitimate.


  • Bankrate: Capital Gains Home-Sale Tax Break a Boon For Owners
  • Realty Times: Capital Gains--Determining Basis and Gains Easier Than You Think
  • Invest FAQ: Capital Gains Tax Rate


  • Bank Rate: Home Improvements Reduce Capital Gains Tax

Have you been thinking about selling your Real Estate? Now is the best time! Ask me about it.

Fernando Branco, GRI, ABR, CNE
Lic. Assoc. Real Estate Broker - NY
Lic. Real Estate Salesperson - CT
Realtor NY & CT
Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) 
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) 
Certified Negotiator Expert (CNE)
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 East 56th Street, NY NY  10022
(347) 879-0730
William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance
45 Field Point Rd, Greenwich, CT 06830
(203) 424-0730
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Working by referral. Let me help you find a home too!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Consider Both Sides In Land-Lease Deals

Question: I'm currently in the process of buying an apartment in a co-op building that has what's known as a land lease. The lease won't expire until 2058, but I know that my mortgage company needed to know when it expired because they would not give me a loan unless there were at least 10 years left on the lease. What exactly is a land lease, how common is it, and what are the possible detriments to buying an apartment in a building that has a land lease?
Emily, New York, N.Y.
Emily: A land-lease property is one in which the land beneath the building is owned by someone else. While such an arrangement can make buying a property a little more complicated and can in some cases reduce the unit's resale value, it's usually not a big problem, and it certainly isn't a reason to dismiss the transaction out of hand.
Although land-lease properties are relatively uncommon, they do pop up in some big cities, especially New York. Typically, they occur when a real-estate investor refuses to sell the land that a developer covets for a residential building. If the developer really likes the location, and can't find a good plot of land somewhere else, sometimes he or she will agree to a land-lease arrangement, paying to lease the land for a specified period -- like 50 or 99 years -- and then erecting the building. Land-lease arrangements are also known to occur when developers convert a rental property to an owner-occupied cooperative building, but the original owners refuse to sell the land.
There are downsides for people who want to buy units in these buildings. The properties are sometimes harder to finance and consequently harder to sell, possibly reducing their resale value. There also could be some extra costs involved in owning the units, as well as some negative tax implications.
But land-lease properties also have an upside: They're often discounted relative to other nearby properties, offsetting some or all of the risk and hassle involved in owning them. In some cases, that discount is tiny, but in other cases, it can be as high as 25%, real-estate agents say.
One reason for all the hassle is that someone has to pay for the lease on the land, and often, that cost is split up among the owners of all the units. In many cases, that monthly lease expense is tacked on to the maintenance fees that are being charged to individual unit owners.
Another weak point is that some lenders are afraid to extend credit for a land-lease property if the lease is likely to expire within a few years. Although it's extremely unlikely the landowner would refuse to renew the lease or decide to build something new on the site -- indeed, most leases are renegotiated in advance of the expiration -- lenders still worry about their collateral, and the owner could jack up the lease fee. That, in turn, would raise the unit owners' costs and possibly reduce the market value of the units.
Despite all that, if the land-lease arrangement has plenty of time before it expires -- say more than 20 years -- there's little reason not to dive in. Once some of the terms are worked out, "it's like any other purchase, and as long as you go into it with your eyes open," you should be fine, says Stephen Kotler, an executive vice president at Douglas Elliman, a New York-based real-estate brokerage. At the very least, you could be getting a bigger, nicer unit than you would have been able to afford otherwise.
If you're still antsy and want to learn more about the intricacies of land-lease deals, contact a real-estate agent who has experience in similar transactions. The leading New York City residential real-estate firms, including Douglas Elliman and The Corcoran Group, will have some agents on staff who know land-lease deals well.
By Patrick Barta, WSJ

Have you been thinking about selling your Real Estate? Now is the best time! Ask me about it.

Fernando Branco, GRI, ABR, CNE
Lic. Assoc. Real Estate Broker - NY
Lic. Real Estate Salesperson - CT
Realtor NY & CT
Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) 
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) 
Certified Negotiator Expert (CNE)
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 East 56th Street, NY NY  10022
William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance
45 Field Point Rd, Greenwich, CT 06830
(347) 879-0730
My profiles: 
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Working by referral. Let me help you find a home too!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Priciest 551 West 21st Street pad comes with 61-foot pool

Priciest 551 West 21st Street pad comes with 61-foot pool

Renderings of 551 West 21st Street
Renderings of 551 West 21st Street

Gold-framed windows, storm-resistant design rounds out plush penthouse

The top penthouse at 551 West 21st Street comes with a rooftop pool and a $50 million price tag.
The Norman Foster-designed unit, which also boasts 4,000 square feet of outdoor space, is framed 
with gold windows, the New York Observer reported. Other high-end accoutrements in the 19-story 
building’s penthouse units, which start at $35 million, include double-sided wood-burning fireplaces, 
kitchens with Gaggenau barbecue and Teppanyaki grills, cooling and heating drawers, 12-foot 
ceilings, oak herringbone floors and free-standing bath tubs.
Developer Scott Resnick also decked out the building with a storm-resistant redesign following 
Hurricane Sandy.
The property’s other 41 units are priced between $5.75 million and $17.5 million, the Observer 

Apartment Features
Features: Washer/ Dryer; Layout: Penthouse; Full Floor; Rooms: Dressing Area; Kitchen: Chefs / Gourmet; Service Entrance; Stainless Steel Appliances; Bathroom: En Suite; Outdoor Space: Roof; Terrace; Pet Policy: Pets Allowed.
Building Features
Pool. Rooftop Deck.

Property Summary 
Soaring 250 feet above the Hudson River and downtown Manhattan, this extraordinary 6,265 SF home offers column-free interiors and breathtaking panoramic views in every direction, combining the grandeur of scale and proportion with exceptional craftsmanship and detail. 551 West 21st Street's uppermost penthouse includes direct elevator access to a stunning, 4,000 SF private rooftop garden with infrastructure for a sixty-one foot pool, two kitchens with gas grills, and immense areas for dining tables, lounge chairs, sofas and gliders- providing the perfect setting for grand-scale entertaining and dramatic sunrise-to-sunset views over the Hudson River and Manhattan. With infinite views from every corner, Penthouse A is without peer.

Occupying the entire 20th floor of 551 West 21st Street, this dramatic full floor mansion is defined by an unprecedented attention to detail and features classic layouts akin to those of a bygone era. Elegant and gracious vestibules with custom millwork and cove lighting lead to stately center galleries which delineate the entertaining rooms from the private quarters. Twelve foot ceilings, white oak herringbone floors and sets of nine foot high double doors with deep wood thresholds, immense corner grand and club rooms with sweeping views, a central, double-sided wood burning fireplace and a thirty-three foot long loggia off the living room facing the Riverare just some of the features of this exquisite home.

A majestic thirty-five foot corner dining room off the center library floats high above the Hudson river, inviting lively dinner parties and impressive entertaining. Luminous metal reveals throughout perfectly frame each window and provide perimeter seating for quiet contemplation and breathtaking views of the west side's ever-changing skies.

An eat-in chef's kitchen designed by Foster + Partners and produced by Molteni & C-Dada includes beveled Blanco de Macael marble countertops and backsplash, and naturally stained oak cabinetry. Top of the line appliances, including a Gaggenau cooktop, grill and Teppanyaki grill, Miele integrated coffee machine and warming drawers, and integrated wine cooling drawers adorn this sunlit, south facing kitchen which also includes a separate butler's pantry with additional rows of refrigeration.

Stately double doors provide an elegant entry into the nearly 1,000 square foot, corner Master Suite and its thirty-three foot private loggia with collapsible glass doors which open to the warm southern horizon. The luxurious corner master bath, across from a stunning designed dressing room with custom millwork and direct terrace access, features enormous windows, a vanity and a freestanding bathtub. Two additional large bedrooms have en suite baths with Travertino stone tile floors, custom cabinets with beveled detail and Dornbracht fixtures.

Foster + Partners has infused Penthouse A with custom designed millwork and rich materiality. 551 West 21st Street features a private, gated drive court surrounded by a twenty foot green wall and a dramatic, awe-inspiring thirty-four foot, double height lobby with grand chandelier. Additional amenities include full-time doormen and a concierge, porter and valet services, a state-of-the-art fitness center with a his and her spa, yoga room, residents' lounge, children's play room, parking* for the residents, bike storage, a live-in super and a dedicated, separate service entry. Smaller units located on the 3rd and 4th floors are available for additional purchase. Occupancy anticipated for the Fall 2015.

Price: $50,000,000
Common Charges [monthly]
RE Taxes [monthly]$10,375
Financing Allowed90%

Apartment Details
Apartment SizeThree Bedroom
Square Feet (Approximate)6265

Building Details
Service LevelConcierge
Age / BuiltPost-war / 2015
Building TypeMid-rise
Building Size19 Floors / 44 Apts.
Pet PolicyPets Allowed

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Super Strong 1st Quarter: Manhattan Residential Real Estate Soars Again!

A Super Strong First Quarter: Manhattan Residential Real Estate Soars Again!

Manhattan condo and co-op prices are finally seeing the impact of chronically low residential inventory, and a shift toward luxury in new development.

The average sales price for a Manhattan apartment jumped by a shocking 30.9 percent year over year, according to a quarterly report compiled by appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
The average price per square foot increased by 23.6 percent year over year, to $1,363 in the first quarter of the year.

Rising prices can be attributed to the ongoing Manhattan inventory crisis, which has seen fewer than 5,000 apartments on the market at any given time over five consecutive quarters.

Also contributing is a general upward pressure on new development pricing as the result of an overheated market for land. Competition between developers trying to secure new Manhattan sites has sent land prices above $800 per square foot in some instances, meaning developers have to reach for the skies on pricing to maintain profitability.

The average price of housing stock on the high-end of the market is skewing upward thanks to a handful of luxury buildings like Extell Development’s One57 at 157 West 57th Street, where prices have topped $6,000 per square foot. A large number of sales closings at the building hit public records last quarter, pushing average closing prices up.

The average price in the first quarter of the year for a luxury apartment, classified as an apartment in the top 10 percent of co-ops and condos, was $2,706 per square foot, a 40.6 percent increase year over year and a 17 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2013. To be in the top 10 percent, an apartment had to close for at least $3.72 million in the first quarter, up from $2.94 million in the same quarter of 2013.

I have been working with a Client Buyer, looking to purchase a two-bedroom Condo in Chelsea. We tried getting several apartments, and every single one, we lost out on, because it went above the asking price for all cash offers.

But experts said the overall market numbers, while undoubtedly strong, may be somewhat deceptive. That’s because the first quarter of 2013, with which comparisons are made, was particularly weak, coming directly after a frantic fourth quarter, which saw a rush of closings ahead of an expected rise in capital gains taxes. Month-over-month increases paint a slightly less dramatic picture.

However, even if you try to adjust for that year-over-year anomaly, we’re still noticing a sharp increase in price.

Median prices by unit-type were up across the board in the first quarter.

The median price for one-bedroom condos rose 12.5 percent from the year earlier, to $928,000, the data shows. The median prices for a studio and a four-bedroom also jumped by 7 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively, to $620,000 and $5.42 million.

The average sales price for a co-op was up 41.5 percent year over year, to $1.49 million, and 27 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013.

For new development, the average sales price was $2.83 million in the first quarter, a 47.7 percent rise from the first quarter of last year and a 5.1 percent uptick quarter-over-quarter.

Meanwhile, the inventory shortage shows no signs of letting up soon. While a rise in permit applications over the last three years may signal a jump in the number of units coming to market, those units likely won’t hit the market for some time and, even then, won’t probably be enough to meet demand.

“A permit filing means that you’re not going to see that project be marketable for at least a year or two, and then closing in two or two-and-a-half years,” Miller said. “So, that’s really a commentary on what we’re going to see in the market in 2016.”

Listing inventory stayed steady year over year, rising by only 0.2 percent, according to Miller’s report. The median number of days on the market dropped to 81 in the first three months of the year, from 90 at the end of 2013.

Although the median sales price is currently up 18 percent, they’re still 5.1 percent below the 2008 peak. We are seeing signs that by mid-year we’ll probably have not only reached up to that peak, but very likely we’ll even pass it.

If you are looking to purchase or sell Real Estate in NYC, I would love to have the pleasure to work for you, and find you the best place for you in NYC. I take a different, and special approach to handle your transaction in Real Estate. Also, if you know someone who is, or might be looking to purchase, or sell Real Estate in NYC, I promise you I’ll take great care of them for you.

Please contact me at any time. I look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you with your Real Estate needs.

Fernando Branco, GRI, ABR, CNE
Lic. Assoc. Real Estate Broker - NY
Realtor NY & CT
Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) 
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) 
Certified Negotiator Expert (CNE)
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 East 56th Street, NY NY  10022
(347) 879-0730
Working by referral. Let me help you find a home too!!

Sources: Streeteasy, The Real Deal, The Wall Street Journal

Have you been thinking about selling your Real Estate? Now is the best time! Ask me about it.