Archive for the ‘Around Town’ Category

Top NYC Neighborhoods for 2013 Real Estate Investment

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Wondering where you should spend your real estate dollar in 2013? We asked our agents to pick out the neighborhoods that they felt were going to be hot in the coming year and got a wide range of answers. While our top picks aren’t necessarily hidden gems or NYC bargain neighborhoods (as if!), they are areas where home buyers are likely to see a strong return on their investment while enjoying a high quality of life. Whether it’s ease of commute, great schools, trendy nightlife, fine dining or open space, there’s something for everyone in our list of top  NYC neighborhoods for 2013 real estate investment. (more…)

All Manhattan, Except the Financial District

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

As a real estate agent, I often hear from my buyers that they are interested in all Manhattan neighborhoods EXCEPT the Financial District. Why exclude it I ask? Their reply is the usual… “Well…there’s no night life…there’s no shopping….too many suits… it’s not trendy…there aren’t any good places to eat…too many young kids…. too many old kids. It’s…well… just too boring! Get the picture?”

Listen to me buyers: within the next five years, we will witness a drastic change in the Financial District (in a good way) and it’s surrounding areas. Mark my words and let me explain why.

The East Village – A Love Story

Monday, November 12th, 2012

My first New York City apartment was on 2nd avenue and 9th street before all the luxury apartments went up. I lived there because it was cheap Manhattan. It was described as a two bedroom but the second bedroom, my bedroom, was a closet with a closet.
The floors sloped severely towards the bathroom and when Starbucks moved out of the downstairs commercial space, we acquired a resident mouse.

My rental was dark and small but it didn’t matter because once I left my prewar, 450 square foot, two bedroom apartment, I was in walking distance to the hats, gloves and wigs on St. Marks, cheap food, a jazz trio at Louis, a Nirvana cover band at Sidewalk. My apartment was for sleeping. My neighborhood was for living.

Since then, I’ve lived in New Jersey, other parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn but always found my way back to the East Village.

When it came time to buy, I did my due diligence and looked everywhere I found palatable within my budget. But I knew where I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to own a part of east downtown and now, I do.

Location, Location, Location

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Location, location, location.

Why bother living downtown? As my first Real Estate broker assured me, if you really like a neighborhood that you don’t live in, you can always take a $10 cab ride and you’ll be there in five minutes. Right?


The truth is that if you live in the Upper East Side, you live on the Upper East Side. After a long day at work, you’re not going to hop into a cab, navigate traffic, and go to the local bistro at the corner of Thompson and Grand. Shopping, dining, and bar hopping will, more often than not, happen within ten blocks of where you live. To think otherwise is naïve. And for a lot of folks, that’s just great. But there’s a reason why people pay big premiums to live downtown.

Case in point: I live in the northwestern SoHo. It isn’t cheap, but it’s s-o-o-o-o-o-o worth it. Steps away from Raoul’s,  Mercer Kitchen, Blue Ribbon, Lure Fish Bar, and Aqua Grill. Bars? How about Pravda, Merc Bar, Café Noir, Macao and 60 Thom, to name just a few. Shopping? Like Fifth Avenue, but cooler.

And what about the living space? No cookie cutter floor plans here. No way. You get genuine authentic cast iron buildings pre-dating 1900: Open floor space, high ceilings, and rarely more than six stories. I live in a loft built in 1850. It has 20-foot ceilings, a 14-foot window, and walls so thick that I never hear my neighbors. Try finding that uptown.

My advice? Pay the premium and be a downtowner. It’s worth it.

image courtesy adamina

From Russia With Love

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I’m a proud American and I’ve been living in New York for almost 10 years. I love this city and it’s people. One benefit of New York is the fantastic restaurants where the staff speaks Russian, my native tongue. But it’s not just the purveyors of fine caviar that speak the language of Czars; heck no—not by a long shot. There’s my watch repairman, my dog-sitter, and my favorite real estate attorney. I can even go to hockey games at Madison Square Garden, curse loudly in Russian, and half of the New York Rangers will get offended. I don’t actually do this, mind you, but my point is that there are Russians everywhere. Most of them will tell you that communism sucks. But wait, does it?

Let’s take a communist organization like RealDirect, for example. Of the 5%-6% commission typically charged to a property seller, we take up to 1% and redistribute it to the people. That’s right: from the pockets of your real estate broker to the pockets of the needy—that’s you, apartment hunters. Because Carl Marx knows you’re going to need that 1% to help you cover your closing costs, mark my words.

The communist revolution is back, but this time it’s different. Is the message getting out to my fellow comrades? I hope that one day we’ll have a button on the top right hand corner of this website that says “Russian”, so we could share the benefits of the City’s most innovative Real Estate agency in Cyrillic. In the meantime, comrades, give me a call.

Image via Forbes

Don’t Know Lenox Hill From Lenox China?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Robert Lenox was an immigrant Scottish merchant, (1759-1839) who owned a large farm on the Upper East Side. When he bequeathed it to his son, James Lenox, his son divided the land into lots and sold them during the 1860s and ’70s. One of the lots on Fifth Avenue was allotted for the The Lenox Library, now known as the Frick Museum, which houses some of the world’s finest art works on the Upper East Side on 70th Street and 5th Avenue, while another lot was donated for the Union Theological Seminary.
Lenox Hill is the area that now ranges from East 72nd Street to East 59th Street. The neighborhood assumed the name after the German Hospital was renamed Lenox Hill Hospital as a way to acknowledge the legacy of the Lenox family and distinguish the area from Murray Hill.

Walter Scott Lenox, on the other hand, was from Trenton, New Jersey. In 1889 he founded Lenox China, a company that would come to elevate ceramic art and porcelain in the U. S. Thanks to Walter, porcelain tableware came to adorn state functions hosted by presidents and diplomats. By 1897, examples of Lenox’s work were included in the Smithsonian Institution and by the early 1900’s, Lenox china became the first American china to be commissioned by President Wilson and the First Lady. Lenox china still exudes quiet elegance and like Lenox Hill, a Zen timelessness that can be appreciated by the trendy and the traditional types that now reside at Lenox Hill.

Image via Edgar Zuniga Jr.

Making the Impossible Possible

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Real estate is a tricky business. You see, buyers want everything. I don’t blame them. The thing is that they don’t want to pay for everything. Like I said, tricky… but not, as it turns out, impossible. What you need is a neighborhood expert who’s in the know. What follows is a mostly true summary of a conversation I had with a recent apartment hunter who was looking for the impossible.

Client: I’m looking for an apartment in the West Village.

Me: You’re in luck. I’m RealDirect’s downtown specialist. What kind of apartment?

Client: One bedroom. An affordable one.

Me: Shouldn’t be a problem. There are lots of affordable one bedrooms available in the West Village. May I suggest—?

Client: (interrupting) Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before. And now you want to show me some 6th floor walk-up. Look at me. (Points to his belly) Do I look like the kind of guy that wants to deal with that?

Me: (attempting not to look at belly) The building I have in mind has two elevators.

Client: Okay, but you need to know I have a ridgeback.

Me: (aghast) I’m so sorry. But, you know, isn’t that treatable?

Client: (looking confused) Wha? No! It’s not a medical condition; it’s a breed of dog!

Me: (relieved) Ohhhhh! I mean, of course it’s a dog. Well then. No problem. Pets are allowed in the building, and there’s even a doorman if you need someone to accept your pet food delivery.

Client: Spike only eats steaks.

Me: Really? Is that healthy?

Client: Vet says it’s fine, so long as he gets exercise; that’s why I need my apartment to be near a park.

Me: It’s west of Washington Street. You’ll be one block away from Riverside Park. That close enough?

Client: Should be.

Me: If it’s not, the building has a courtyard.

Client: (stroking beard) Hmmm. Sounds pretty good. My only concern is that I might have to be out of the country for prolonged periods of time. I’ve recently invested in a Tasmanian wallaby farm, and you never know when business calls. What if I have to rent it out?

Me: This co-op is one of the most lenient boards for renting I’ve ever seen—there are no rental restrictions at all.

Client: Good. Now what about the financial condition of the building? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from investing in Tasmanian wallaby farms, it’s to make sure to do your due diligence!

Me: The financials look strong when you dig into the statements. The building’s mortgage will be paid of in 2014. That’s going to free up plenty of cash flow.

Client: (suspicious) Say… how do you know so much about this building?

Me: I own a unit. Plus I have a few listings in contract there right now, as well as three apartments available for rent, so I can answer virtually any question you have.

Client: Wow, that’s great… but we still have a problem.

Me: Still?

Client: My budget is $500,000.

Me: How about a newly renovated junior one-bedroom for $480,000?

And that’s how the impossible—or, at least, the improbable—was made possible. Would you like to see what’s available in this fantastic building in the heart of the west village? Give me a call today! 917.414.8240

image via wwarby

Downtown Storage Solutions

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

How often does Leia Furer need her pirate costume?
There are only two valid reasons to wear a pirate outfit: Halloween, and hijacking sailing ships. In other words, a pirate outfit is something you’ll probably only be wearing three or four times a year. But what to do with the outfit during the off-season? The feathered hat; the scimitar; the puffy shirt, all the plunder you amassed from your last pirate mission—it all takes up closet space. But you’re a downtowner. You live a sardine-packed existence…

You need extra storage space.

X marks the spot! Not one block a way from our apartment we found not one, but two Manhattan Mini Storage locations.

So we made enquiries. In fact, we did more than that—we are now the proud renters of a 4′ by 4′ by 5′ storage compartment. The cost? $60/month. Worth it? You bet! We couldn’t part with hundreds of books, or ski gear, or the Oscar trophy, or—how could we forget—the bomb defusing equipment. But with the high cost of real estate south of 14th street it just doesn’t make sense to pay for more square footage to house inanimate objects. The best part of the deal is that Manhattan Mini Storage will help to move your precious storables to and from their facility at no extra charge, saving you money and hassle.

We were relieved after having stored our sundry paraphernalia, as you can see.

Manhattan Mini Storage: Check them out here.

The Best Manhattans in Manhattan

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Around Town” is a new series of posts written by RealDirect Neighborhood Guides who wish to share the best places, sights, flavors and experiences NYC has to offer.

You’re thirsty. Not the kind of thirst you feel after jogging five miles, and certainly not the thirst you have after a hot summer day on the porch, rocking on grandpa’s chair. After all, you can’t live by hydration alone. You have other needs.


Not cosmopolitans. Not screwdrivers. Not spritzers. Why mask it? Hell no—embrace it! And if there was one cocktail in the world that thumps on its chest and says, “I am booze—hear me roar!” it has to be the Manhattan who, like a good friend, is readily available, always dependable, and let’s face it: makes you feel good about yourself. (more…)