Government briefs

City’s stalled sites program gets few takers

Only a handful of developers who own the nearly 600 stalled construction sites in New York City are participating in a city program in which developers maintain their sites in exchange for an extension of their building permits, Robert LiMandri, commissioner of the city’s Department of Buildings, said last month. Owners of a dozen sites out of the 572 stalled sites the city is tracking are in talks with the city, LiMandri said. But he expected that number to rise in the next few months as the developers come up against expiring permits. Under DOB regulations, a site that is stalled for 12 months must reapply for its permits. If a developer does not join the program and its permits expire, it will have to reapply under the new 2008 building code, which would be difficult and costly.

Transfer taxes dragging down commercial deals

A budding recovery in New York City commercial real estate could be thwarted by some of the highest transfer tax rates in the country, industry executives told the New York Times last month. Combined, state and city transfer taxes here add up to 3.025 percent — by comparison, Chicago’s taxes are a combined 1.2 percent and San Francisco’s are 1.5 percent — and that number is complicating a number of would-be transactions in a market where lenders are keeping a closer eye on their bottom lines. The most notorious recent example is the case of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, where lender Appaloosa Management is suing to force a bankruptcy rather than a foreclosure that would result in $200 million in transfer taxes.

Fannie Mae to step up BPC financing

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Battery Park City condominium owners and buyers may soon find it easier to obtain government financing for their purchases in the area. Fannie Mae had, in recent months, taken issue with Battery Park City’s ground leases, which vary widely from condo to condo and have an additional layer of complexity that comes from the Battery Park City Authority holding a master lease for the entire area. As Fannie Mae became more cautious, its mountain of paperwork grew. But the government-sponsored mortgage giant has now hired an outside law firm to help it tackle the Battery Park City logjam, which, sources told the Broadsheet Daily, will make the process move much more quickly.

Jamaica worst in nation for mortgage fraud

South Jamaica, Queens — zip code 11436 — ranks first in the nation for mortgage fraud, according to a new report from First American CoreLogic, which used data from 80 million loans nationwide between 2004 and 2009. Jamaica, which is also the New York City neighborhood hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis, has a mortgage fraud rate four times the national average, the report says. Mortgage fraud there included faking income statements, inflating home values through straw buying schemes, bribing appraisers and stealing identities, the New York Daily News reported.

Bronx tenants’ motion could affect thousands in foreclosed apartments

Tenants at nine Bronx buildings in Kingsbridge have been forced to live in squalor since their landlord, Milbank Real Estate, defaulted on its $35 million mortgage and the properties went into foreclosure, according to the New York Times. But that could all change after the Bronx chapter of Legal Services NYC filed a motion in the State Supreme Court last month demanding that the mortgage holder, Wells Fargo, make the necessary repairs to maintain an improved quality of life in the buildings. It’s a move that could have far-reaching effects in New York City, setting a precedent for tenants in the estimated 4,700 foreclosed apartments in the city.