Team Spotlight

Marie went on a road trip to our 6th borough this past week, Miami, and visited some of the latest residential development projects coming to market!  We like to stay educated on our brand’s affiliate offices and markets, so we can assist our clients on residential opportunities in other cities.  Take a peek at what is hot in Miami!

Eighty Seven Park by Renzo Piano:

Marie Espinal - The Margolis Team

1 Hotel & Homes:



Apple Bites

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and that means a great opportunity to experience some of the fantastic culinary treats that NYC has to offer with your honey.

While there are a myriad of restaurant lists to consider, we found the one curated by TimeOut was our favorite due to the sheer diversity of their options.  They consider different price-points, neighborhoods, ambiances and cuisines.  They even point out singles’ specials that some restaurants offer prior to the 14th.

So whether you’re still looking for that special someone, or already have a date that evening, take a look at these 24 restaurants.  The list inspired us to discover some spots that had never even made it on our radar screen before!


Ask The Experts | Purchasing Next Door

In this section we answer either very frequently asked or unusual questions we hear that we think our readers would benefit from learning about. In this issue, we’re tackling the question of:  What are some of the considerations I need to think about when looking to purchase the unit next door?

Indeed, the dream of most NYC property owners is that some day, some way, they will have the opportunity to purchase the apartment next door. Not only would this increase their square footage while maintaining the original cost basis of the first purchase, but they could benefit from the general premium that gets tacked on to larger footprints. In this case, 1+1 usually equals 2.5 or 3.

Although every situation is very different and there are more nuances that we could possibly touch upon in one issue, here are some of the top-line considerations to keep in mind:

Combine right away or keep separate and rent? The first question is: are you looking to immediately combine the units upon purchasing or will you be looking to rent the new addition out for some time? The decision you make will have significant financing implications. If combining, you’d be looking to combine both loans into one large one, and treat the property as a primary residence, thereby getting you the best loan-to-value requirement and the best corresponding rate.   Note that the financing terms would be contingent upon your beginning the combination during a short window of time post closing, and needs to be backed up by architectural plans and costs. If, however, you want to rent it out for a while, or merely not combine the units, your new purchase will likely be treated as an investment property, meaning a likely 65% loan-to-value and a rate higher by at least 35 basis points. This would have a material impact on how much cash you need to put down at closing.

Condo or Coop? As you probably know by the relative ease or pain you encountered when initially purchasing your place, board approval is a significantly different experience at condos vs. coops: relatively easy for the former, onerous for the latter. Make sure you account for the time it takes to get any renovation/combination approval, along with the requirements of you.

Certificate of Occupancy (CofO): Often, this piece doesn’t surface in the process until very late, but it’s of great importance. If you live in a condo building that’s 5 years old or less, you need to find out whether the building has yet received a permanent CofO or still has a temporary one. “Who cares?” you might ask. Well, the difference is significant. If you only have a temporary CofO, each and every exception to it, each and every request for a renovation that requires board approval, delays the process of getting to that permanent one. The docket needs to be clear of all exceptions and requests before a permanent CofO can be issued. This means that your board may not actually approve your combination in the timeframe the bank wants it done, resulting in potentially severe ramifications.

Is the resulting layout worth it or not? Sometimes, the idea of combining two apartments sounds better in intention than it is in practice. Often times, things like wet walls, vent shafts, or merely odd shapes get in the way of a dream setup. If the resulting apartment is a Frankenstein of a property, even if it works just fine for you, you may wish to consider the impact on the overall value once you sell. Would other buyers be interested in your creation? Make sure you understand what is and isn’t possible prior to your purchase.

The bottom line to these considerations, as you can probably garner from reading the above, is that it takes a village. Many of the steps you need to take in consideration of the factors we mentioned happen simultaneously.  Often times lawyers need to insert the protections you need, while banks churn their numbers against their appraisals, and architects work their magic to determine what’s possible.  Often, there is an interdependency among them … and brokers are the glue, the magic that makes it all work together as a symphony.  There are many people to manage, many delicate steps in the process, and you want to make sure that you are careful along the way, lest your NYC property dream turn into a nightmare.

We want to hear from you! What questions do you have that you’d like answered in our next issue?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Email us at

This Month’s Gem | One Wall Street

Almost two years ago, Harry Macklowe purchased one of the most iconic Financial District skyscrapers:  One Wall Street.  At a $585 million purchase price, the Ralph Walker-designed tower is being converted from a bank space (versus the typical telecom building) to a residential space to be split between condos and rentals.   Now, two years later, we have a far better understanding of the bragging rights that the building will have.

Why was this our pick for a property spotlight? There are so many reasons.  First, it is truly an architectural jewel. Second, it will become a major retail destination. And third, it powerfully cements FiDi’s arrival as a residential destination neighborhood.  Let’s dive into each of these pieces one by one.

Retail destination

The building’s base is set to be transformed into a major retail destination. The first two floors and the cellar will host 95,000 square feet of retail. For one of the retail spaces, architect Robert A.M. Stern who is designing the conversion hinted that a tenant like Whole Foods Market would be ideal for the space. With plenty of room to spare, he noted that some of the remaining retail space could be occupied by a high-end jeweler such as Cartier.  If we zoom out, it’s clear that FiDi will be bustling with a plethora of shopping opportunities that include the WTC Transit Hub, Fulton Center and Brookfield Place.

Architectural jewel

You may have noticed that most FiDi office buildings are rather unremarkable. Especially the interiors leave much to be desired and have a ho-hum feel to them.  Not One Wall Street! It is home to two of the most spectacular places in NYC:  The Red Room and the observation room.

The Red Room was the original bank lobby and was designed by Hildreth Meière as an homage to the Roman god, Vuclan. As such, it is entirely covered in a tiled mural that makes the space actually look like the inside of a volcano.

The observation room is even more impressive than its Empire State Building or One World Observatory competitors. Boasting a height of 4 stories, its ceiling is completely covered in shells from the Philippines, glistening in any light.

At The Core | Keep Calm & Carry On

If you’re listening to the mainstream press, you may think the sky is falling.  Between stock market volatility, a hard landing for China and crazy low oil prices, we understand why some buyers may be getting jittery.

So here is some information to help you to keep calm and carry on.

Stock market volatility: While recent volatility may be making some people queasy, most economists believe that the fundamentals required for a recession are just not there. Furthermore, the VIX index, which generally tracks volatility and risk, is still at reasonable levels, meaning no one is panicking. Lastly, dividend yields are the highest they’ve been in years, and that’s in an ultra low interest rate environment. Did we mention the continually improving employment picture?

China’s hard landing: China has been on an unsustainable growth path for some time now, having increased debt 28 times since 2000 and bringing it north of 300% of GDP.  We are now seeing a very natural unwinding of this debt bubble playing itself out in its stock market, with global ripple effects.  While it is painful in the near term, it is a very positive turn of events from a long-term perspective, creating the foundations for a far more sustainable growth trajectory from such an economic powerhouse.

Low oil prices: With the price war continuing between Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers, oil has taken quite a hit.  Our ally continues keeping supply high to make sure it’s not losing market share during a time of decreasing prices because of its low cost of production.  Newer, more expensive producers will drop out and most experts believe prices will once again hit $50/$60 a barrel in two to three years’ time.  Basically, this is a short-term trend that will impact those economies dependent on exporting oil.

What does this mean for NYC Real Estate?  The Big Apple continues to be a safe haven for global investors, both from a capital preservation and asset appreciation standpoint.  Regardless of how things will actually turn out, what we can reasonably predict is that the first quarter will experience lower sales volume altogether.  Buyers are taking longer to decide and are more trigger-shy than they have been in some time.

What does this mean for you seller?  If you’re serious about selling now, you need to increase your willingness to negotiate.   We’re not saying completely cave in to all demands, but take into account your open house volume, the number of offers you get and the quality of those offers.  While we believe spring will bring with it more activity, this also likely means more competition for you from the additional inventory that’s likely to hit the market.  Proceed wisely.

Date Your City

February is turnover month at the museums and there are some fantastic exhibitions you don’t want to miss.  We curated a sampling that may pique your interest, along with the teaser for each on behalf of the New York Times.  It is time to “date your city” and enjoy the cultural wonders of New York City.

Museum of Modern Art: ‘Picasso Sculpture’ (through Feb. 7) “Nearly a work of art in its own right, this magnificent show redefines Picasso’s achievement with the first full view here in 50 years of his astoundingly varied forays into sculpture. His materials, not his female loves, become the muses, and are different each time out. The basic plotline: After introducing sculptural abstraction and space, he spent about 50 years counting the ways that the figure was far from finished.”

Whitney Museum of American Art: ‘Frank Stella: A Retrospective’ (through Feb. 7) “This grand, high-spirited, slightly overstuffed exhibition pays overdue tribute to a prominent American artist whose 60-year odyssey through and beyond painting began in this city. It further anoints the Whitney’s new building: The show could never have been pulled off at its old uptown address. And its ingenious installation — alternately dazzling, oppressive and nuts — resounds with stimulating clashes of color, style and process that bring a new unity to his contentious achievement.”

Metropolitan Museum of Art: ‘Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection’ (continuing) “This lavish roll out of 160 objects came to the Met from the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation last spring. The Burkes loved Japanese art — all of it — and the collection is close to compendious in terms of media, from wood-carved Buddhas to bamboo baskets, with a particular strength in painting, early and late.”

Jewish Museum: ‘The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film’ (through Feb. 7) “Revolutions sell utopias; that’s their job. Art, if it behaves itself and sticks to the right script, can be an important part of the promotional package. That’s the basic tale told by this exhibition of photographs and vintage films of the 1920s and ’30s, but with a question added: What happens to art when the script is drastically revised? … Remarkably, the show presents a dozen films — some familiar, some not — full-length, on a rotating schedule of four a day, in a small viewing theater built into one of the Jewish Museum’s galleries.”

Guggenheim Museum: ‘Photo-Poetics: An Anthology’ (through March 27) “Formally complex and expressively reserved, even hermetic, the work by 10 photographers in this stimulating show has roots in Conceptualism and takes language, history and speculative thinking as its raw materials. Photographs are structured with the equivalent of poetry’s metrical cadences and internal rhymes, and treated less as generators of translatable ideas than of suggestive metaphors.”