In September, the city’s Department of Buildings was roasted in the press after a falling slab of concrete shut down a parking garage at the base of its Lower Manhattan building. “Yes, we get the irony,” a DOB spokesperson said at the time. “But in many ways DOB is just like any other tenant in the city. We have no construction crews of our own, so we need our landlord to repair the building.”
For The Real Deal’s cover story this month, we go inside the DOB and other overworked and underfunded public agencies that are struggling to keep up with regulating New York City’s multi-billion-dollar real estate industry.
We spoke to about 30 real estate professionals, housing advocates and government officials about four key city and state bodies — the city Department of Buildings, the state Attorney General’s office, the city Department of Finance and the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal — to get a sense of their inner workings. In many cases, understaffing and excessive red tape and outdated systems were revealed. But it’s not all bad news. Several agencies are pushing to reform, beefing up staff and launching online programs to accelerate operations. But they are still hampered by layers of bureaucracy set in place decades ago.
Meanwhile, we examine what the current political climate in the United States will mean for foreign buyers of New York City real estate. We take a close look at the townhouse market, which has seen homes lingering for much longer than they did even a year ago — and selling far below their ambitious asking prices. We rank the city’s residential brokerages based on their exclusive and co-exclusive Manhattan rental listings, and we ask: With a slew of new websites and apps trying to cut agents out, can brokers really be bypassed?
Elsewhere in the issue, there are stories on the future of controversial visa program EB-5, how the $2 million-to-$5 million market may be approaching a slowdown, and why the partial sales are picking up steam.
To read the March issue of TRD, click here or on the “Magazine” tab on the top left of the homepage. Enjoy! — Miriam Hall