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Monthly Archive for July, 2012

Downtown Brooklyn Led City in Job Growth and Wages, Report Shows

Private sector employment in the greater downtown Brooklyn area rose by 18.3 percent between 2003 and 2010, according to a report by NY State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Greater downtown Brooklyn accounted for 17 percent of all private sector jobs in Brooklyn, and the area’s median household income rose by 40 percent since 2005 to $71,790 in 2010. The greater downtown Brooklyn area, which includes Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO/Vinegar Hill, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and downtown Brooklyn, has the largest business district in New York City outside of Manhattan. In 2010, business, finance and education accounted for nearly one-third of the jobs in the area.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of all goods and services produced in the U.S. economy, grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter, down from 2 percent in the first quarter, and 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the Commerce Department reported. Negative factors in the second quarter include declines in retail sales, a drop in consumer confidence, fewer jobs created, and a drought in the Midwest, which has caused an increase in food prices. Positive factors include increased home sales and a 5.3 percent rise in exports.

It’s finally settled. The New York City Council voted to approve NYU’s expansion plans, paving the way for construction to begin on the first new buildings in 2014. Although community opposition caused the university to reduce the size of its original proposal, NYU will end up adding nearly 2 million square feet to its Greenwich Village campus under the revised plan.

West Farms Road, a low- and moderate-income project planned for The Bronx, recently received a boost when Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced his office would provide $1.2 million in capital financing for the project and City Councilman Joel Rivera said he would allocate $1.3 million. This funding combined with financing from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development will enable construction to begin on two buildings and 4,200 square feet of retail space next year. Signature Urban Properties, headed by former NYC Council Speaker Gifford Miller, is developing West Farms Road, a 10-building, 1,325-unit residential development with 46,000 square feet of retail space on five acres of land in an area south of the Bronx Zoo.

Rising rents in Brooklyn are prompting many young professionals to abandon the borough and move into apartments in Manhattan instead. An analysis by the Wall Street Journal showed that the mean rent in June for studios in DUMBO and Williamsburg exceeded the mean studio rent for all Manhattan neighborhoods, including Greenwich Village. Many of the young people who left Brooklyn are moving to the Upper East Side, where trendier retail shops are opening to accommodate the newcomers.

Second Quarter Multifamily Report Shows 48 Percent Increase In Multifamily Transactions

Multifamily Quarter In Review: New York City

Multifamily transactions continued to climb in New York City, increasing 48 percent in the second quarter 2012 compared to the second quarter 2011, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Quarter in Review: New York City.

Throughout New York City during the second quarter 2012, there were 144 multifamily transactions comprised of 193 buildings totaling approximately $1.379 billion in gross consideration, compared to second quarter 2011, which had 97 multifamily transactions consisting of 149 buildings valued at $1.031 billion. The second quarter gains were more modest compared to the first quarter of 2012, which saw 129 transactions comprised of 209 buildings valued at $2 billion. Nearly half of the total dollar volume in the first quarter resulted from two institutional sales.

“Our research demonstrates the tremendous upward momentum both sellers and buyers are experiencing in today’s multifamily market,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “Recent bidding activity, low interest rates, and increasing prices lead us to believe that this pace should carry on through the end of the year.”

Below are key highlights from the second quarter report:

Manhattan (below 96th Street): As expected, Manhattan led the city in dollar volume with $629 million in gross consideration in the second quarter, accounting for 46 percent of the city’s total volume. Fewer portfolio sales compared to the first quarter 2012 led to a quarter-over-quarter drop in the number of buildings traded, but year-over-year volume remains up. The second quarter 2012 also registered an impressive average price per square foot of $574, which is 20 percent higher than last quarter, and 12 percent higher compared to the second quarter 2011.

Northern Manhattan: While the first quarter saw several portfolio sales, the second quarter was dominated by a number of smaller transactions. The result was a 21 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in dollar volume to $133.6 million from $169 million. It’s worth noting, however, that multifamily transactions in Upper Manhattan more than doubled and dollar volume jumped 136 percent in the second quarter 2012 compared to the second quarter 2011.

The Bronx: The Bronx had a very active second quarter, posting major gains compared to the first quarter. Quarter-over-quarter, multifamily transactions were up to 31 from 23, a 33 percent increase; building volume was up to 42 from 30, a 39 percent increase; dollar volume rose to $203 million from $103 million, a 97 percent increase; and median prices rose to $4.375 million from $3.9 million, a 12 percent increase. The average price per unit fell 15 percent and the average price per square foot dipped 9 percent in the second quarter compared to last quarter, but this can be partially attributed to a few large portfolios whose pricing metrics dragged down the averages. Transaction and dollar volume also increased 17 percent and 41 percent, respectively, in the second quarter 2012 compared to second quarter 2011 figures.

Brooklyn: In terms of the number of transactions and buildings sold, Brooklyn was New York’s most active sub-market in the second quarter of 2012. Year-over-year, the number of multifamily transactions in the borough climbed to 39 from 24, a 63 percent increase; building volume rose to 60 from 45, a 33 percent increase; and dollar volume jumped to $348 million from $152.796 million, an 128 percent increase. Brooklyn captured 25 percent of the city’s multifamily dollar volume, and 31 percent of the city’s multifamily building volume in the second quarter.

Queens: Following a strong first quarter 2012 for Queens’ multifamily sales, second quarter 2012 multifamily transactions declined slightly. However, second quarter 2012 transactions represent an improvement compared to the second quarter last year. In the second quarter 2012, there were 13 multifamily transactions consisting of 13 buildings valued at $64.9 million, compared to the second quarter of 2011, which had eight multifamily transactions, comprised of nine buildings valued at $75.8 million. Though few trades take place, investors thrive on the boroughs steady, reliable returns.

Please refer to our Comp-Trak application for a full list of transactions across the five boroughs.

Our Observations For the Week

Mortgage rates fell to historic lows and mortgage applications increased 16.9 percent the week ended July 13 compared to the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The refinance share of the mortgage activity increased to 80.1 percent of the total applications. Average interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.74 percent for conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less), to 3.98 percent for jumbo mortgages, and to 3.55 percent for FHA loans.

Although New York City had a net gain of 80,000 private sector jobs in the 12 months ended June 30, the city’s unemployment rate rose to 10 percent in June compared to 9.7 percent the previous month and 8.9 percent in June 2011, the state Labor Department reported. New York State added 15,400 private sector jobs in June bringing the total number of private sector jobs in the state to 7,327,100. The state’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in June, up from 8.6 percent in May, and 8.2 percent in June 2011. Since the beginning of the recovery in November 2009, the state has added 342,600 private sector jobs, regaining all of the private sector jobs it lost during the recession.

Year-over-year, the inventory of residential homes in Brooklyn declined 18 percent, and the median sales price of co-op, condos, and one- to three-family homes in the borough was $586,000, up 2 percent. The median sales price for Brooklyn brownstones was $1.3 million, up 9.5 percent year-over-year.

Between January and May, permits issued for new residential housing units in New York City increased 39.4 percent to 4,059, REBNY reported. Most of the permits were in Manhattan, which had 1422 new permits, compared to 146 a year ago. New permits for Brooklyn increased 42.3 percent to 774. In the 2008, new permits in New York City peaked at 9,723.

The Lightstone Group, which paid $30 million for a nearly 1 million-square-foot property in the Castle Hill section of The Bronx, is exploring the possibility of developing an outlet mall at the site, Bronx officials have disclosed. In the meantime the Whitestone Multiplex Cinemas will continue to operate on the property. The company has an extensive track record as a buyer and developer of outlet malls.

Danforth Development Partners’ proposal to build two, 26-story buildings featuring 229 apartments and 210 hotel rooms on 125th Street in Harlem has been approved by Empire State Development Corp. The 360,000 square foot, $143 million project has been designed as an addition to the Victoria Theater and will preserve the iconic theater’s lobby and fountain. One final public review is required before the developer can break ground.

NYC Multifamily Sales Rise 14 Percent in May; Most Active Month of 2012

Multifamily Month In Review

The latest Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Month In Review showed a jump in multifamily sales activity in May, which was the strongest month of the year so far.

May 2012 multifamily sales saw 50 transactions comprised of 59 buildings totaling $523.386 million in gross consideration. This represents a 14% increase in transaction volume and a significant 39% increase in dollar volume, but also an 8% decrease in building sales volume compared to April, which saw 44 transactions comprised of 64 buildings totaling $376.832 million in gross consideration.

May’s figures also continued the trend of showing major year-over-year improvements with transaction volume up by 85%, building volume up by 44% and dollar volume 172% higher compared to May 2011, which saw 27 transactions comprised of 41 buildings totaling $192.400 million in gross consideration.

Below are key highlights from the Multifamily Month in Review: NYC:

Manhattan led May in dollar volume with $259.155 million in gross sales. This month saw 12 transactions take place consisting of 14 buildings throughout the borough.

In Northern Manhattan, May 2012 figures declined compared to April 2012 levels but were four times higher than May 2011 figures. For the month, 8 transactions took place comprised of 8 buildings totaling $31.292 million in gross consideration. While the vast majority of sales continued to take place in Washington Heights, it’s worth noting that East Harlem saw its first multifamily sale of the year at 425 East 114th Street.

The Bronx saw 9 transactions comprised of 10 buildings totaling $77.877 million in gross consideration. Transaction and building volume dipped compared to April levels while dollar volume increase 90%, mostly from the $51.5 million sale of 823 Colgate Avenue. Overall, Bronx multifamily sales activity is consistently outpacing 2011 figures.

Brooklyn had another very active month, leading the submarkets covered in this report in terms of building volume and transactions. For the month, there were 16 transactions comprised of 22 buildings totaling $133.217 million in gross consideration. More than half of this came from the sale of 111 Kent Avenue, a luxury rental building in Williamsburg that sold for $56 million.

Queens’ multifamily sales in May remained relatively consistent compared to the previous month, as 5 transactions comprised of 5 buildings totaling $21.845 million in gross consideration took place.

Trailing 6-Month Sales Averages: For the six months ended in May 2012 (page 8), average monthly transaction volume went up for the fourth consecutive month, coming in at 45. The 6-month average dollar volume shot up to $479 million, the highest level seen since December. We believe these figures will reach new heights in next month’s report.

Please refer to our Comp-Trak application for a full list of transactions across the five boroughs.

Our Observations For the Week

Macroeconomic Advisors, an economic consulting firm, is forecasting that the U.S. economy will grow to around 2.4 percent in the third quarter, up from an estimated second quarter growth of 1.2 percent. Falling oil prices, a stabilizing housing sector, increased auto sales, and jobless benefits that dropped recently to their lowest levels in four years are contributing to the cautiously optimistic economic forecast.

The average sales price of New York City co-ops, condos, and one-to-three-family homes was $789,000 in the second quarter 2012, up six percent from the second quarter of 2011, according to the Real Estate Board of New York’s Second Quarter New York City Residential Sales Report. The Brooklyn neighborhoods with the most sales were Williamsburg (183 sales), Bedford Stuyvesant (142), Park Slope (140), and Bay Ridge/Fort Hamilton (108), while the most active neighborhoods in Queens were Flushing (339 sales), Rego Park/Forest Hills/Kew Gardens (260), Springfield Gardens/Jamaica (252), and Jackson Heights/Elmhurst (235).

The Wall Street Journal profiled the development of Red Hook, Brooklyn, noting that the O’Connell Organization, which owns and manages about 50 properties consisting of 1.3 million square feet in the Brooklyn neighborhood, offers the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition free space in a 25,000 square foot gallery on Van Brunt Street. In addition to artists, Red Hook is attracting new businesses such as Vern’s Kitchen and Pub, Brooklyn Crab, Red Hook Winery, and Pok Pok. Fairway Market and IKEA have been enjoying success in the former port community for several years.

Members of Brooklyn’s development royalty were honored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce at its Building Brooklyn Awards held at Red Hook’s Liberty Warehouse, located in one of the pre-Civil War waterfront warehouses developed by The O’Connell Organization. David Von Spreckelsen, Division President for Toll Brothers City Living, and Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of the Fifth Avenue committee, were honored. The Hudson Companies snagged two awards—the National Grid Award for Energy Efficiency for Dumont Green in East New York, and the Residential Low Rise Housing Award for Third + Bond, a condo development in Carroll Gardens.

Oak Point Property will be named the Bronx Small Business of the Year this week at the city’s annual Neighborhood Achievement Award ceremony. Steven Smith spent years cleaning up the 28-acre site in Hunts Point, which had fallen victim to illegal garbage dumping, and has transformed it into a food distribution center. In 2010, food wholesaler, Jetro, purchased 12 acres on the site for a distribution center, and Smith is developing an $85 million, 300,000 square foot, three-story distribution center with a rooftop greenhouse. He is currently seeking tenants specializing in distributing farm produce, dairy, and meat from NY State.

Manhattan Condo and Co-op Prices Steady in Second Quarter; Inventory Falls

Reports from four real estate firms show that the median sales price of condos and co-ops in Manhattan rose about 2 percent in the second quarter to around $850,000. Only one report by Prudential Douglas Elliman showed a drop in median sales prices of 2.5 percent to $829,000. Studios and one-bedrooms drove sales, making up 52.9 percent of the sales for the quarter. Listing inventories fell 12 percent to 13.5 percent, depending on the firm, leading experts to predict that prices will rise. Condo development froze during the recession, and new units aren’t expected to come online for another year or two.

The U.S. economy created 80,000 jobs in June, nearly equal to the 77,000 jobs created in May. Only 225,000 jobs have been added in the last three months combined, fewer than the total number of jobs created in January. The weakest quarterly job growth number since 2010 has prompted some experts to fear the economic recovery has slowed. The unemployment rate remained 8.2 percent in June

The view from the Court Square subway station in Long Island City will soon change if owners of the graffiti-covered 5Pointz warehouse proceed with plans to demolish it by the end of 2013 and build two residential towers in its place. A variance will be required to build the proposed 47-story and 41-story buildings, which will feature 1,000, market-rate rental apartments. The warehouse at one time housed about 200 artists, but has been nearly vacant for about two years.

The New York State legislature passed a bill that will make it easier to rezone seven acres of waterfront property in Queens for Lincoln Equities Group’s $1 billion Hallets Point development. Plans call for seven residential buildings with about 2,200 residential units, 20 percent of them affordable, a landscaped public waterfront esplanade with pedestrian walkways, bike paths, and a water taxi stand. The City Council must approve rezoning the industrial area for residential development.

Columbia University’s planned 17-acre extension in West Harlem has become the first university campus in the country to earn LEED Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Neighborhood Development rating system. Columbia was recognized for sustainable neighborhood development. The campus will create an energy-efficient, pedestrian-friendly environment, with local retail outlets and public green space designed to unify the university and community.

The Bronx River Alliance is promoting recreation along the 23-mile river, a third of which runs through the center of The Bronx. The nonprofit says Shoelace Park, Bronx River Forest, and Soundview Park are ideal for bikers, runners, hikers, and other athletes, while a stretch of water from Concrete Plant Park to Hunts Point Riverside Park is attractive for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

City Council Approves $68.5 Billion Budget

The NY City Council voted to approve a $68.5 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, but voted to override Mayor Bloomberg’s vetoes of three bills—requiring businesses receiving $1 million or more in city subsidies to pay workers $10 an hour with health-care benefits or $11.50 an hour without; creating a board to evaluate banks seeking to do business with the city; and amending the city’s collective-bargaining law to protect workers’ rights to bring non-contractual matters to court. The council also voted to protect “mom and pop” stores on the Upper West Side.

Six years after the recession threw the housing industry into a downturn rivaling the Great Depression, experts believe that the worst is over. Although millions of Americans are still underwater on their mortgages and facing foreclosure, realtors are reporting bidding wars for homes, and recent reports show an increase in housing construction and a rise in pending home sales and home prices.

In the 15 months ending July 1, 2011, the population of New York City grew at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the metro area and faster than the city’s annual growth since 2000, according to Census Bureau estimates. The analysis shows that as the crime rate dropped, services improved, and new housing was developed, the city became a more desirable place to live and, as a result, grew faster than surrounding regions. Between 1980 and 1995, New York City accounted for 17 percent of the housing permits issued in the metropolitan area. Since 1995, the city’s share doubled to 34 percent.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation has released an RFP seeking the purchase and development of four primarily vacant and underused industrial sites in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. The sites include a 95,000 square foot property at 2399 Watson Avenue in the Zerega section of The Bronx; an 80,000 square foot property on Atlantic Avenue and Chestnut Street in East New York Brooklyn; a 53,000 square foot property on 24th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park Brooklyn; and a 40,000 square foot property at 28th Avenue and 122nd Street in the College Point Corporate Park section of Queens.

Central Harlem now boasts outdoor cafes at four restaurants on Lenox Avenue between 125th ad 127th Streets. Diners patronizing at Sylvia’s, Chez Lucienne, Red Rooster, and Corner Social are enjoying the street scene with their meals.