New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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The Habitat Management Survey: New, Improved Board Responds to Residents

Written by Bram G. Fierstein. The latest in a series of exclusive Habitat Management Survey responses. on August 18, 2014

New York City

At last year's annual meeting, the newly elected board was faced with a group of dissatisfied shareholders. They expressed complaints concerning the board's lack of communication about the slow turnover in apartment sales. The board members then undertook several initiatives to address shareholders' needs.

A READER ASKS: Our co-op is six stories high. Our old board was convinced that this meant that we were exempt from Local Law 11/98 inspection. Now we've voted them out, but no one seems to know if it's true that we're exempt. I thought there was a change to the definition of a "six story building," but now I'm not sure. Can you clarify?

HABITAT ANSWERS: New York City government indeed has gotten tougher with its Local Law 11/98 inspections and, in some cases, it is even redefining what constitutes a six-story building.

Andrea Bunis, founder and president of the New York City property-management firm that bore her name, died Monday, Aug. 25, after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 57.

"You gave her a challenge, she met it, and then she surpassed you. That was a given," her executive assistant, Genevieve Hernandez, told Habitat. Describing her as "tough as nails, with a heart of gold," Hernandez said the company's staff "is very, very heartbroken." Bunis had planned for the company's transition, she added. "Everything she has set up will stay in place. We have a director of management who will handle the agents and make sure they continue to do what they have to do."

UPDATED Aug. 24, 2014 — Terra Holdings' Halstead Property, a residential brokerage with 1,000 brokers throughout the tristate area and a residential management company for more than 180 buildings, has purchased Gerard J. Picaso Inc., one of New York City's earliest co-op and condo property-management firms. Namesake founder Gerard J. Picaso will now lead the Halstead division that bears his name. The change becomes effective Sept. 1.

Anthony DeGrotta and Larry Friedman, co-founders with Neil Binder of what is now the Coldwell Banker Bellmarc Group real-estate conglomerate, filed a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court on Aug. 26, alleging Binder "embezzled many hundreds of thousands of dollars” and made such unusual demands of employees as hiring a man only under the condition "that the man shall commence taking Adderall," a common medication to combat attention-deficit disorder, even though the man was not diagnosed with that condition. The New York Daily News said the partners claim Binder illegally withdrew company funds for private use, including from an escrow account used to fund employees’ health-insurance premiums, and gave his wife a no-show job. They seek $2 million in damages, and a court order barring Binder from the firm. Binder did not respond to the newspaper's requests for comment.

On the one hand, they accept your UPS packages, classy up the joint and serve as a de facto crime-watch. On the other, you need to have the budget to afford them and the temperament for small-talk social graces. But don't take it from us — take it from these six New Yorkers living in a range of Manhattan neighborhoods from the East Village to Hamilton Heights, who spoke with to give their thoughts on those intrepid men (and women) who serve as the Heimdall of our hallways (which is better than the Loki of our lobbies. Everyone here's seen the Thor movies, right?).

Gather 'round, boys and girls ... we're going to tell you a scaaaaary story. One day, a young couple searching for a co-op found an apartment. They settled on a price, were assured of obtaining a mortgage and turned in sound financials to the co-op board. But then they rounded and corner and found themselves ... having to come up with reference letters!!! (Lighting flashes, thunder booms) Whoa, whoa, settle down. It's only a story. In real life, a young couple could just turn to "14 Successful Real-Life Reference Letters," courtesy of Everyone good? Fine. Let's have another story. This time it's ... The Newly Built Condo with Shabby Construction! Bwaa-ha-ha-haaa!!

A READER ASKS: My board wants to replace the flooring in our lobby, and possibly in the hallways. With all the focus on going green and being environmentally friendly, are there green floor options? 

HABITAT ANSWERS: Some flooring options are environmentally friendly because they come from so-called rapidly renewable resources, such as cork and rubber, where trees don't have to be chopped down to harvest materials. Others, such as natural wool, are biodegradable and are also naturally flame-retardant, So additional chemicals are not needed.

Where should a New York City co-op or condo buyer set one's sights — or set one's "sites," hah! — before the neighborhood gets too pricey? distills some data from Crain's New York Business to determine the five hottest up-and-coming areas, price-wise. Two are in Manhattan, three are in Brooklyn. The nabe that saw the biggest rise in sales prices? Bushwick, baby! Bet you thought we were gonna say Gowanus. Because, really, who doesn't like to say "Gowanus"?

Whether you're an ordinary apartment-buyer or a mogul looking to invest in a $50 million co-op or condo, New York City real estate is unlike real estate anywhere else in the world. And given the nature of New York — where a bike messenger and a millionaire can be standing in the same line for coffee — it's not surprising that the same rules for buying real-estate apply to both kinds. recently listed five pretty good rules for apartment-hunters in this rare city with more co-ops than condominiums. As it notes under #3 ("Research the Building and Developer"), "Knowing whether the co-op rules might change to no longer allow pets or if there are plans to completely redo the lobby (requiring you to pay a large monthly assessment) could sway your desire to live in the building." Yeah, but not about living in the City. (Illustration by Jane Sanders)

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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