New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
Written by Ronda Kaysen on July 17, 2012
The savings can be significant. Last fall, Cooper Square Realty, which manages 600 properties, pooled 250 of them to buy electricity from an electricity service company. So, instead of buying 500 kwh of electricity for a single building, the company shopped for 130 million kwh. Individual properties saved between 9 and 20 percent on electricity costs.
"You get a better pricing structure because of the volume," says Cooper Square president Dan Wurtzel. His firm hopes to eventually bring all its managed properties into the new plan.
Buying in bulk also works for capital improvements. Five years ago, Fairfield Properties offered six of its properties the opportunity to convert to natural gas. By bundling the projects together, the company reduced the upgrade costs. The five properties that agreed to the offer are each saving about $100,000 a year on heating costs, says Alvin Wasserman, director of Fairfield.
Written by Frank Lovece on July 05, 2012
Just like testing for and removing asbestos, co-op boards and condo associations have to test for and remove toxic, brain-damaging lead paint. But to hear engineers, contractors, environmental consultants and others tell it, not every co-op or condo board seems to be aware of or perhaps even care about the myriad city and federal rules for lead-paint inspection and removal — or of the five-figure fines they risk.
Written by Bruce A. Cholst and Mary L. Kosmark on July 10, 2012
A co-op board can use what's known as a "Pullman proceeding" to evict tenant-shareholders for illicit activity, violation of the cooperative's rules or chronic "objectionable conduct" — all based on the landlord relationship inherent in a proprietary lease.
Written by Ronda Kaysen on July 10, 2012
Appraisals are subjective — how much is a view of Central Park worth? In one case, a woman on the Upper West Side wanted to refinance her one-bedroom co-op. Appraisals by two different banks valued the apartment at $350,000 and $400,000. Her mortgage broker, Jordan Roth of GFI Mortgage, suggested she try a new bank. The third time around, the apartment was valued at $550,000.
The rise in low appraisals began in 2009 after then-New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo hashed out a deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to sever a cozy relationship between mortgage brokers and appraisers. Critics of the old system pointed to lax appraisal rules as part of the reason that home values were so woefully inflated.
Written by Lisa Magill on July 06, 2012
Hate dealing with secondhand smoke in your co-op or condominium? As an attorney I often hear complaints from co-op board and condo association members about the extra costs incurred as a result of heavy smokers. Staff sweep up cigarette butts day after day, boards hire outside vendors to steam clean upholstery, curtains and area rugs and the windows must be washed more frequently. The problems are even worse if smokers throw cigarette butts off the balconies.
Costs aside, condo and co-op board members are feeling pressure from residents about secondhand smoke permeating a building, especially where there is a central heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system. In one recent example I learned of a lung cancer survivor that resides next to a heavy smoker — the secondhand smoke presents a very real threat to his welfare.
Written by Ronda Kaysen on July 05, 2012
Last January, Villas on the Bay, a 42-unit condominium in East Moriches, Long Island, switched to Fairfield Properties, a larger property manager than the one it formerly had. The 30-year-old community had capital improvements on the horizon and thought Fairfield could get them better prices.
Written by Bruce Robertson. One in an occasional series of real-life stories by board members about serving on co-op and condo boards. on July 03, 2012
"FINALLY!" That's the feeling many buyers have when it's time to close on their co-op apartment. As a co-op shareholder and a residential real estate broker doing business in my own building from time to time, I always find it challenging to answer buyers and sellers when they ask, "Why is it taking so long to get through the approval process in your building?"
Written by Richard Siegler & Dale J. Degenshein on June 26, 2012
Barbara Hubshman, a co-op shareholder at 1010 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, sued her board, each individual member, the managing agent and others, claiming that they failed to maintain the building, as required by the proprietary lease — and tried to conceal from residents and possibly governmental agencies dangerous conditions that existed in a the building's fireplaces and flues. In fact, she claimed, the board even went so far as to encourage residents to use their dangerous fireplaces even though the board knew there were problems with the chimney.
Written by Stewart E. Wurtzel on June 28, 2012
The condo apartment's occupant, a middle-aged man living alone, had a severe case of Collyer's syndrome. The apartment was littered with papers and garbage and wholly unsanitary. How unsanitary? There were bottles filled with excrement stored throughout. The odor in the hallway and on the floor was horrendous. The apartment was a constant source of roaches.
Written by Jennifer V. Hughes on June 19, 2012
Water rates are one thing that buildings can count on. In May, the New York City Water Board set the rates for fiscal year 2012-2013, pegging water rates to rise 7 percent. One change is that the city is ending the so-called flat-rate frontage program, which set a water rate based on th
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