New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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I'd probably be dead right now. Maybe you, too.

That's because in all the years I've been writing about co-ops and condos, including fire-exit regulations and Fire Dept. inspections, I probably would have headed down the stairs at The Strand. That's what Daniel McClung did during the blaze at that W. 43rd Street condominium on Jan. 5. Knowing only that his building was on fire, he tried to escape from the 32nd floor — and ran headlong into smoke from the 20th that killed him.

But I mean — it's a fire. You're supposed to get out, right?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op board didn't want to let a diabetic senior with Parkinson's disease have air conditioners since, really, what's more important? Your life and health or your building's aesthetic profile? Elsewhere, a hedge-fund giant wants what he wants at his condo's pool — but can he fight the condo's moms and win? In Tribeca a gym is out, in Greenwich Village Philip Seymour Hoffman's last apartment is on sale, and in NoMad — yes, NoMad, that's a thing — there's a high-tech condo called Huys, pronounced "house." Plus, here's what'll happen at your own apartment huys if workers go on strike.

When the co-op board at 90 Riverside Drive in Manhattan got ready to refinance its mortgage in 2012, a round of Local Law 11 repairs came due — and once work began, the board found itself with a cash-flow problem when unanticipated repairs and expenses arose. So by the summer 2013, realizing the building needed a bridge loan, the board put out a request to shareholders, offering an interest rate significantly above that being offered by current money-market accounts.

May unit-owners transfer their condominium unit when to do so avoids foreclosure of that unit to pay a debt? 

Sofia Frankel owned a condominium apartment at 160 West 66th Street in Manhattan. She had been a broker at Goldman Sachs when Jeffrey and Lauren Sardis entrusted her with some $19 million to invest on their behalf. They remained clients when Frankel left to join Lehman Brothers but, by 2004, complained that she had fraudulently churned their accounts, causing them more than $9.5 million in losses. The Sardises began an arbitration against Frankel and Lehman, and about two weeks before Lehman filed for bankruptcy, the court awarded the Sardises $2.5 million, holding both Frankel and Lehman responsible.

As a rule, co-op and condo boards achieve fiscal security through conservative strategies and long-range planning. But occasionally a dash of creativity can help.

That has been the experience of the co-op at 90 Riverside Drive, which enjoys an enviable financial profile with low maintenance and solid capital reserves. The shareholders have never been hit with an assessment. But as the co-op board got ready to refinance the mortgage, a round of mandatory Local Law 11 repairs came due in the summer of 2012, a year before the board's latest 10-year mortgage expired. Once the LL11 work began, unanticipated repairs and expenses arose. By the following summer, with the mortgage about to expire, some sort of interim backup financing became crucial for the co-op to cover the unanticipated bills.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, one of the world's richest condominiums has a big, circular driveway it won't let limo drivers use. Why should it? The NYPD looks the other way as a half-dozen or more limos idle daily in a no-parking zone, spewing fumes to other, less connected buildings. Very nice, 15 Central Park West. Meanwhile, rent-controlled seniors in a co-op are forced to evict their son, and a co-op board president admits that people were ahead of him in line when he took a four-bedroom apartment at the affordable-housing East Midtown Plaza. He doesn't have six people in his family like City rules say, but so what? He's just practicing to be the kind of people who live in 15 Central Park West.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a 63-year-old woman in a Fifth Avenue co-op has had the same Maytag washer in her apartment for 20 years with permission and without trouble. Now the co-op board won't approve a replacement unless it's one of three hoity-toity brands. Well, lah-de-dah ... Maytag's not good enough for 'em? Let's go to court! And court may be where Trump Village West board president Igor Oberman might wind up, since a New York City Department of Investigation report accuses him of less-than-ethical things. Plus, Co-op City has an asbestos problem. Or does it?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Remember that deaf grandfather a couple of weeks ago in Battery Park City, where the condo board disapproved a service dog? Yeah, that dog died, but the man has another one and the board's not pursuing eviction. However, the homeowner is still pursuing an anti-discrimination lawsuit. In better news for boards, the U.S. Senate is delaying an increase in the cost of mandatory flood insurance — and speaking of which, some New York City property managers are encouraging serious disaster-prep at their buildings. Plus, it's the latest amenity: personal shoppers! Which they still don't have at Billy Joel's former co-op, now up for sale.

Michele Kleier, president of Kleier Residential and a frequent presence on the HGTV reality show Selling New York, is trying to sell Apartment 7A at 1125 Park Avenue. She describes the unit in this prewar co-op as "gracious" and "elegant," and the luxury property itself as having great amenities and lovely neighbors. She should know. She's lived in the building for 32 years, part of a phenomenon known as "resident brokers."

Resident brokers such as Kleier can be a blessing: Because the building they represent is also their home, they know it well and understand the quirks of the condo or co-op board, and thus are more likely to deliver buyers everyone will love. They have been selling apartments for a long time, frequently with few problems. Your building may have someone like this, who has become the "go-to" salesperson for residents.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, we learn that property taxes are going up. That's news? It is when the jump will be 5.5 percent for co-ops and 7.4 percent for condos (per the New York Post) or 7.5 percent for co-ops and 9.6 percent for condos (per The Wall Street Journal) — as opposed to just 3.8 percent for owners of single-family homes! Wait, don't single-family homes already get their assessed values capped at 2 percent each year, while there's no cap on how high co-op and condo valuations can rise? Plus: We've board members who somehow couldn't predict the headline "Deaf Grandfather Fights Condo Board to Keep Service Dog." And isn't all this is exactly the kind of stuff a new co-op / condo social-media site will let apartment-owners talk about amongst themselves?

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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

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