Two of the most common NYC real estate fantasies are finding a rent-stablized apartment and getting a hefty buyout for said apartment. Reclusive New Yorker Herb Sukenik managed both. The story--considered to be the largest buyout in NYC history -- is chronicled in real estate journalist Michael Gross' House of Outrageous Fortune, a new book that goes behind the scenes of 15 Central Park West, the city's premier condo for the rich and richer.
Sukenik waited until all other rent-stabilized tenants at the then-Mayflower Hotel had left, knowing that by being the "last man standing," he had tremendous power over the developers of 15 Central Park West, who were looking to turn the shabby rental building into a luxury condo.
Take note: If you are one of the last holdouts in a building, and the landlord is paying interest on a large loan, he/she not only has to maintain essential services in the building with little income, but also has to make payments on the loan. Translation: Higher bargaining power on your end.
While we can't promise the same jackpot Sukenik scored, we have compiled a list of what to keep in mind when negotiating a buyout of your rental, among them:
1. Use your age to your advantage. If you're young, and therefore could occupy the apartment for a long time, you can potentially demand more from the developer.
2. Know your worth. If your apartment is in an amazing location (e.g., across from Central Park as 15 Central Park West is), understand that it's worth a lot to the developer. Also, if your rent is way below market rate, the landlord's profits from fixing up your apartment and re-renting or sellling your apartment are that much greater. The more the landlord stands to profit, the bigger incentive he/she has to pay you the big bucks.
In New York City, buyouts range from the mid- five-figures to over $1 million, says New York City real estate attorney Steven Wagner of Wagner Berkow, who has negotiated hundreds of buyouts for rent-regulated tenants. Knowing your rights--and putting up a good fight with an attorney experienced in buyouts and real estate development--can significantly increase the amount you walk away with.
“One of the biggest mistakes you can make is telling your landlord how much you want before you know how much it’s worth,” says Wagner, who negotiates most buyouts on a contingency fee basis. “A good buyout attorney will analyze the strength of your case, the potential value of your apartment to your landlord, and any taxes you may owe. They'll also structure the buyout in the most advantageous way for you, not your landlord, and help make sure your landlord actually pays.” To schedule a free 15 minute telephone consultation with buyout expert Steven Wagner, click here or call 646-780-7272.