Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Inatteso Pizza Bar

Inatesso Pizza Bar in Battery Park.

They provide this fresh, mashed up garlic bread dip.  The uneven wood paneling on the walls and sparkling clean glasses on each table provide a modern and bright ambiance.

Best Christmas Present

This was given to us wrapped in an old version of the world map.  Both highly educational and Rosetta Stone is addictive.

Monday, December 24, 2012

9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier (Inc.com)

By Geoffrey James, Inc.com

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it's almost impossible to make others happy if you're not happy yourself.

With that in mind, here are nine small changes that you can make to your daily routine that, if you're like most people, will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

1. Start each day with expectation.

If there's any big truth about life, it's that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: "something wonderful is going to happen today." Guess what? You're probably right.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jack's Wife Freda

One of my favorite brunch spots.  Good food, classy ambiance and reasonably priced.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why invest in New York property

While taking a break from my regular type of workouts today, I did 30 mins on the stationary bike. By the way, I did 37 straight chin ups recently!  It's significant because I finally managed to do the same number of straight chin ups as my age.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Investment Boot Camp

Article that came out in Brick Underground for which I was interviewed.

Investment Bootcamp, Part 3: 10 mistakes to avoid when investing in NYC real estate

In the third part of our series, we look at some of the biggest mistakes investors make when buying a NYC property:

1. Deciding on a property based on the wow factor.
Don't be too impressed by superficial features, says Wei Min Tan of Rutenberg, who works with many foreign investors. “If you’re buying as an investment, there’s a lot more to look at than just the lobby and amenities,” he says.

“Look instead at location of the building--driven by proximity to the subway or some kind of driver in the neighborhood, like Wall Street for example--as well as the overall quality of the building, and supply and demand within the building. There are certain buildings that have just so much supply, and it’ll take a long time to rent those apartments out,” he says.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


W57 residential building at 625 W 57 St by star architect Bjarke Ingels.  600 apartments in a ski-slope structure with a courtyard in the middle.  Will be one of Manhattan's coolest buildings.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Most expensive areas in Manhattan

The most expensive areas in Manhattan are generally West Village, Tribeca and Soho.  

However, as I always mention to clients, a good buy depends on location and building quality.  Just because a property is in the West Village doesn't mean it's hot, will appreciate tremendously etc.  "Most expensive" here refers to what you can get for a certain price point.  Or the amount of extra renovation you should still expect to put in despite already paying a very high price.  

For example, $1 million may only get an old 1-bedroom condo in the West Village.  But in another area, it may get a 1-bedroom in a nice luxury condo with amenities such as a pool, fitness center and nice courtyard.  To get a 1-bedroom in a luxury condo in the West Village, you may have to pay $2 million.  Hence West Village is "expensive."

Monday, November 12, 2012

U.S. to overtake Saudi Arabia as top oil producer by 2017

The New York Times reports that, according to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top   oil producer by 2017 and will be a net oil exporter by 2030.  Increased oil and gas production and new energy efficient policies with new cars will make the United States "energy self sufficient."

The resurgence of oil and gas production is driven by unlocking reserves found in shale rock and new techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Buying apartment in New York - insights, surprises, points of view

Buying an apartment in New York is an experience that ranges from scary for the first time international property investor to weekend shopping for a seasoned, high net worth, individual.  In both cases, the buyer is venturing into a different country.  The rules of the game are different, laws are different, you're wary on who can be trusted etc....

I've been on a writing spell the past week hence would like to share some insights from working with clients from all over the world when buying an apartment here in New York.

Townhouse walkthrough

Townhouse walkthrough this morning.  This is a brownstone building in excellent condition.  We even went back to have lunch within the same block of the property 1 hour later.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy

Manhattan has been relatively safe from Hurricane Sandy.  The crane at One57 (the $90 million penthouse) snapped and a tree fell on a low rise Chelsea building.  Overall, structures in Manhattan are fine  because (i) Manhattan island is well protected geographically (ii) structures in Manhattan are made of brick/concrete/steel.

Many buildings in Lower Manhattan have flooded basements, no power and some had to evacuate residents/employees post hurricane while building management fixes the problems.  This is incomparable to the damage seen in the news in parts of Queens, Long Island, Jersey.  Subway systems are still down but everything should be back to normal in a week.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Running a neighborhood

Learning a neighborhood can be done several ways - by car (least effective), by walking (most effective) and by running (which I often do).

Overseas investors buying property in USA

Overseas investors have been active in buying property in the U.S. especially in the last 2 years.   In Manhattan, my first interview by the media on the topic was with the New York Times in Aug'2011 in the article A Second Home For Affluent Chinese.  There has been numerous foreign investor articles since including Wall Street Journal's Foreigners Snap Up U.S. Properties and most recently AM New York's What International Buyers Want.

Most expensive cities in the world

CNN reports that according to Mercer Cost of Living 2012, Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world for Americans to work as an expat.  Singapore is #6 while Hong Kong is #9.  The study looked into cost of living items such as a movie ticket ($23 in Tokyo, ouch!), and a cup of coffee ($8.29 in Tokyo and $4 in Manhattan).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Manhattan Investment Condominium Buyer's Broker

I am a Manhattan, New York investment condominium buyer's broker with a focus on foreign buyers.  It's a very specific niche representing probably 3% of transactions in Manhattan.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What International Buyers Want and Buy - AM New York

What International Buyers Want and Buy
AM New York 9/26/12

BY Marjorie Cohen
More and more real estate professionals are dealing with international clients, and interviews with some of the most active agents in the city indicate a clear trend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

QE3 and property

QE3 is the Federal Reserve Bank's recently announced initiative to buy $40 billion of mortgage backed securities per month indefinitely until the economy improves.  The main goals of QE3 are to (i) improve the housing market by decreasing mortgage rates and boosting housing demand (ii) stimulate the economy by pumping money into the financial system.  The Fed hopes this would spur business investment and hiring.

Manhattan Apartment Sales Highest Since Crash

The Wall Street Journal, in the article Manhattan Sales Continue To Climb, reported that Manhattan apartment sales is at the highest level since the crash.

Sales in the third quarter of 2012 was up 9.3% compared to last year.  This is also the highest sales pace since the third quarter of 2008 when a financial crisis was triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein is long real estate

Bloomberg reported today that Goldman Sachs' CEO Lloyd Blankfein is long real estate amid anti-deflation actions by central banks globally.  Given that asset prices are expected to increase, Blankfein said,"I accept that invitation to have higher asset prices, and so I would go long more the real assets."

Manhattan condo prices up as supply shrinks

Manhattan condo prices continue to increase as supply is at the lowest level in years, according to Crains New York.  432 Park Avenue, which will be the city's tallest residential tower, is now increasing average asking price to $5,800 per square foot.  This is three years before scheduled completion.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bill Gross' prediction for stocks and bonds

Bill Gross, PIMCO bond king, wrote the following in his recent August Investment Oulook - Cult Figures.

1.  From 1912 to 2012, stocks had a real return of 6.6 percent per year and this is fading.  This 6.6% return will be hard to replicate in the future because two drivers that contributed to corporate profits are already at historical lows (i) labor costs (ii) corporate taxes.  Bond returns are fading as well.  The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index currently yields only 1.8%.

2.  Today, a diversified portfolio comprising stocks returning a nominal 4% and bonds returning a nominal 2% may produce an aggregate portfolio return of 3%.  After inflation, it becomes zero.  Bill Gross goes on to say that assumptions of 5-6% real returns used by portfolio and pension fund managers are unrealistic.  Realizing this, policymakers' solution will be to inflate ourselves out of the predicament.  But growth from inflation is not real growth as people will realize.

U.S. Home Prices Rise

U.S. home prices rose again in the 20 city S&P/Case Schiller index in June.  The Case Schiller index showed that home prices rose in 18 out of the 20 markets tracked.  It's still 31% off the peak of 2006.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Buying a townhouse in New York

Process for buying a townhouse in New York.

Our clients who decide to buy a townhouse in New York realize the advantages of owning a building include having potential air rights, owning the land and having substantially larger space than owning an apartment.  A client may decide to buy a single family townhouse or buy a small multifamily building where they have primary residence in one unit and have other apartments within the building rented out for investment income.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Manhattan Property Attracts Buyers from Hong Kong and China

Cover Story:  Manhattan Property Attracts Investors From Hong Kong and Mainland China
Hong Kong and mainland investors see the Big Apple as a less risky place to buy
Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 12:00am

Peggy Sito

Hong Kong resident Jacky Yeung is going to complete the purchase of two Manhattan flats in one go.
Like many buyers of New York property, the purchases were made, he said, based on the drawcard of the city's status as an international financial centre.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Residential property construction permits New York City

Number of new residential property construction permits in New York City is at close to the lowest level since the 1960s according to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).  In the last decade 2000-2009, there were 231,228 residential housing permits issued.  The estimate for 2010-2019 is only 78,315 permits or slightly higher than the worst decade of the 1990s when about 70,000 permits were issued.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Negotiation Mistakes Everyone Makes

I was interviewed for this article in Business Insider, "Negotiation Mistakes Everyone Makes."  Bullying or being heavyhanded is one of the worst things you or your broker can do.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beaux-Arts in the St Regis

The St Regis, a landmarked hotel in Midtown Manhattan, has received Forbes' Five Star Award for 18 consecutive years.  Here the Beaux-Arts features in the lobby is  profiled on HGTV.

The Reward

Moving in day.  This is my reward - the day the happy client, beaming with pride, moves into the new apartment.   This is what we work for and the reward at the end of the transaction journey which includes viewings, analyses, negotiations, emotions, big sums of money, hundreds of phone calls, surprises, countless emails etc.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Warren Buffett Betting On Real Estate

The Wall Street Journal reports that Warren Buffett is betting big on the continued improvement of U.S. real estate.  Housing inventory is at a 49 year low, price-to-rent ratio is back to 1998 levels and the positive momentum continues as evidenced by continued price increases.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How To Find A Good Real Estate Agent in New York

How does a buyer find a good real estate agent in New York?  Should you select the agent with ads everywhere, the cousin of your college friend, or your former colleague who became an agent a year ago?  This is probably one of the biggest questions buyer clients have.  It becomes even more challenging for foreign buyers as their pool of agent candidates is smaller.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New York Restaurant Week Jul 16 - Aug 10

New York Restaurant Week 2012 is going on from July 16 to August 10.  How many new restaurants can you visit?  View participating New York Restaurant Week restaurants and menus.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New York's most iconic foods

Le Cirque's Pasta Primevera has been ranked one of the 20 most iconic New York foods by Curbed.  Others include the Shake Shack burger and Plain Pizza at DiFara's.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How Foreigners Can Buy New York Property

International homebuyers have been pouring billions of dollars into the U.S. housing market as they take advantage of lower home prices and a weaker dollar.

But many foreigners find it difficult to navigate the complex homebuying process when living abroad -- especially when they want a mortgage to finance the home.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

London vs New York property

Many of our foreign investor clients tend to be more comfortable with buying property in London because they were either educated in the UK or live in a Commonwealth country with legal systems similar to that of Britain's.  

Having born in London and lived in New York for the past 12 years, it struck me this morning to compare London vs New York.    

Friday, July 13, 2012

New condominiums being built again

From left, Arch Partners; SLCE Architects; Herzog & de Meuron; below, Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
New residential condominium buildings are being built again in New York.  The New York Times reports that prices of the new buildings such as the Baccarat Hotel Residences, 56 Leonard and the revived One Madison Park are higher at $2000 to $4000 per square foot.  While this wave of new developments is not as large as during the pre-recession, it signifies a comeback for New York high end residential property.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chilean wines

One of the nicest things about New York is accessibility to good (and inexpensive) wines.  For example, Chile produces some of the best value wines in the world, and Puro Wines in Soho is a Chilean wine specialty shop which we visited this afternoon. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New York breaks for Fourth of July

New York is on break today for Independence Day.  In anticipation of the Macy's fireworks show tonight, some are doing BBQs, enjoying a boat ride, watching a movie or just simply relaxing with the family.   Happy Birthday, America!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hudson River Park run

Hudson River Park has been my new running route as of 6 months ago.  Specifically from Battery Park to the Superior Ink building on W 12 St (easy run), to W 72 St by 220 Trump Place on Riverside Blvd (longer run) or to W 96 St for the longest run.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New York, Where To Live

Photo credit: Battery Park City's waterfront set to make the nabe real estate hotbed this summer. (Mario Tama)

New Yorkers can usually be divided into two types -- the die-hards who would never leave the city for all the backyard space in the world, and suburban-dreamers who long for a calmer, more serene life among the concrete.
Here are five neighborhoods for each type of New Yorker.