From the list below choose one of our FAQs topics, then select an FAQ to read. If you have a question which is not in this section, please
When buyers put down payments on apartments they are looking forward to living with features that have been promised. Although as the construction completion date nears, they are still living in a construction site with an unfinished lobby, uncarpeted hallways and no access to the garden that was supposed to help them escape from the city’s stresses. People are spending a lot of money and have high expectations.
After three days of fielding press and industry-insider interviews, I have a new perspective on people's knee-jerk reaction to what we are doing. Now, keep in mind that these are, by definition, the most jaded and cynical questioners with regard to new business models in the real estate arena. They know all the ways people have tried to skin the cat, and they assume we fit into one of the pigeonholes they've created.
The greatest skepticism was reserved for our Free Mortgage. The assumption is that this is done with smoke and mirrors. Partly, this is due to the way traditional brokers have used ABA and in-house mortgage companies to abuse their customers--making extra money from them in the name of "one-stop shopping". So there is a tradition in the industry of using mortgage as a sneaky way to make money and pad the bottom line.
Second, mortgage is such an easy thing to play numbers games with. It's like a balloon--squeeze on the rate and the points increase; squeeze on the points and the "fees" increase. Anyone can offer a "no closing cost" loan (if you don't care about the rate). Anyone can offer a super-low rate (if you don't care about points and fees).
So, I wanted to address this issue directly: What makes our Free Mortgage legit? How can our buyers really get a well-below-market rate AND pay no closing costs?
I'll start with the origin of our company. My co-founder and I have owned a successful mortgage company for the last four years. We know all about the residential mortgage business, from the investors on the secondary market to the big lenders to the local retail shops and loan officers. We know how they work, how they make money and what their incentives are.
Most people know they need to get title insurance when they buy a home, but aren't sure what it is or why they might need it.
Title insurance ensures that the abstractor and title company have done their jobs correctly in perfecting title to your new property. In fact, the reason so much of the premium goes to the title company is that they do all the work ahead of time to make sure there never is a claim. It also insures against title issues they couldn't know about. In short, title insurance gives you (and your mortgage lender) confidence that you really do own the house you just bought. (For more details on title insurance, visit Wikipedia or the American Land Title Association.)
In most states the cost ("premium") for title insurance is filed with the state. That means that for a given purchase price, all buyers will pay the same amount, no matter which settlement company they use. Settlement companies can't mark up or discount the premiums they charge.
Still, in recent years the title industry did invent a new way to make more money on title insurance. They created "enhanced" coverage. While it does offer some additional protections, the primary "enhancement" is that it costs about 20% more than what is now called "standard" coverage. (Just ask any title attorney if they paid for "enhanced" coverage on their last home purchase.)
Increasingly, settlement companies default to selling enhanced coverage unless buyers specifically ask for the standard policy. This is another way settlement companies make more money.
We do our best to keep our website updated. We enter new listings as soon as they come in, so please stay tuned.
Here's a look at the key differences between condos and co-ops to help you decide which may be best for you.
Form of ownership: The key difference between a condo and a co-op. A condominium owner actually owns the apartment in fee simple, like any other homeowner, and owns an undivided interest in the common areas like parking lots, recreations areas, lobbies and hallways.
In a cooperative apartment complex you don't actually own any real estate. Rather, you own shares in a not-for-profit corporation. As a shareholder you get the right to lease space in the building. The corporation owns the common areas. The effects of this are varied. Real property, for example, descends to your heirs while the co-op's tenant-stockholder's shares pass as personalty to your personal representative and may be subject to securities regulations. Generally, a condo is considered real property and a cooperative is considered intangible personal property.
Property taxes: Because condos are owned individually, they appear in the property tax rolls as separate entities and, accordingly, individual owners are taxed separately.
The entire property co-op is owned by the corporation, so it appears on the tax rolls as a single piece of property. The corporation pays the property taxes and passes along the cost to the tenant-shareholders, usually as part of the monthly maintenance fee.
Property taxes generally run lower in co-ops than in condos. That again goes back to the form of ownership. When condos are resold as separate entities, the appraisals and higher sales prices are recorded individually. This has the effect of producing higher assessed values and consequently, higher property taxes. Co-ops -- as sales of stock -- are not recorded at all and the only way a sale could be reflected in tax rolls is if the entire piece of property were sold, which is rare. Therefore, the rising value of the property usually lags in terms of assessed value and corresponding tax bills.
Financing: Generally speaking, there are two issues of financing when speaking about cooperatives. First, there is the underlying mortgage -- or blanket mortgage or master mortgage or corporate mortgage -- that funded either the original construction or conversion of rental apartments to a co-op form of ownership. Payments on that mortgage are paid by the corporation and then are passed along in the monthly maintenance fee to the tenant-shareholders. Secondly, there is the matter of whether the tenant-shareholder had enough cash to buy into the building or if he had to borrow the money.
Attorney St. John points out that since there is no fee simple ownership of the unit, it is sometimes difficult to obtain financing because the security for the
loan is the resident's shares in the corporation. Many lenders will not lend money on a co-op at all. Consequently, most co-ops have relationships with a few "approved" lenders who will finance sales. But that means those lenders have an actual stake in the building and often demand that they have a voice in how the corporation is run. These lenders also generally offer far fewer mortgage options, normally require larger down payments and charge higher interest rates.
Other important points: Most co-op owners cannot get a home equity loan or line of credit and in a co-op each individual is dependent on the solvency of the entire project. If the corporation were to go bankrupt, all shareholders would feel the pinch. Individual condo owners are responsible only for mortgage debt and taxes solely on his property.
Federal tax deductions: In the condo situation, each individual is able, easily, to deduct payments made for mortgage interest and property taxes if he resides in the unit and further deductions for such things as depreciation and maintenance if the condo is used as a rental property. The co-op tenant-shareholder can only easily deduct his proportionate share of the property taxes and interest on the underlying mortgage. If other monies were borrowed to finance the actual purchase of the tenant-shareholder rights, deductibility depends on several different factors and is not done as easily.
Monthly fees: Maintenance fees, paid usually on a monthly or quarterly basis, generally are significantly higher in a cooperative because the corporation is collecting mortgage and property tax payments from each shareholder in addition to the periodic assessment for things like lawn care, pool cleaning, security and insurance. The corporation also frequently includes all utilities.
Co-ops have an advantage when it comes to special, costly repair or capital improvement projects, because they can borrow funds, adding to the amount of the blanket mortgage. The shareholders then pay off the cost of the project in their monthly fees. Condos cannot borrow money as an entity and therefore unit owners often face large assessments for similar projects.
Ownership Transfer: One of the good things about not being considered real estate is when the lease rights to a unit in a co-op change hands (because a seller sold his stock shares to a buyer) there is much less in the way of state and local taxes on the transaction and far less in settlement costs because there's no appraisal, survey or title work to be done. This also comes in handy for celebrities who want to keep their address and purchase price hidden from the public. Again, because it's a transfer of shares and not real estate, the transfer is not recorded in any public place.
Powers of the board: Despite the fact that many condo associations contend that they are empowered to either approve or disapprove the transfer of ownership, the reality is that they have almost no power at all. Co-ops, on the other hand have the right to approve or deny the sale of shares on the basis, for example, of the buyer's perceived inability to make the payments. They can also block the sale to celebrities; for example, who they feel may disturb the peace and quiet of other shareholders. Cooperatives, of course, are bound by federal fair housing laws and cannot discriminate against buyers due to race, religion, sex, nationality, etc., but they can -- and do -- choose people based on financial resources and criminal background. Condos cannot exercise that kind of control.
Source: By Wayne Grover • Bankrate.com
Below is a list of attorneys in no particular order:
Roman Kuzmin, Esq.
Attorney & Counselor at Law
2747 Coney Island Ave. Suite 205
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Peter N. Matsoukas, Esq
505 Park Avenue, 17th floor
New York, NY 10022
Tel.: 212.688.1408 / Fax: 212.688.1741
Law Office of Mitchell Cantor
470 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Rajan Patel, Esq
747 Chestnut Ridge Rd
Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977
Tel.: 845.352.3434 / Fax: 845.818.3698
Moritt Hock Hamroff and Horowitz LLP
330 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10001