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Middle-Market Apartments Tough to Come By; New Incentives

1) This week's hunter, Keith, an art dealer, has some thoughts on apartment hunting theory. He's waiting for either a perfect deal or a big price cut, as a slight price reduction could entice buyers and incite a bidding war. He also has some thoughts about doormen, mainly that they have no place in the elevator. "It is such an anachronism to get on an elevator and have somebody press a button," he says. With those two guidelines in mind, he begins looking for a 2BR co-op for $1 million or less. He looks at a few places and holds true to his principles, refusing to live anywhere with an attended elevator. A man's got to have a code. He eventually finds a 1BR in the East 90s that had just been pricechopped from $599K to $499K. "Before I would look at an apartment, I would study the listing to try to figure out what's wrong with it and what they aren't telling me," he says. This one has no hidden downside that he can find, so he buys it for $487K. Everybody should look for apartments like this guy. [The Hunt/'Away From the Illogic of Elevator Men']

2) Buyers in Brooklyn and Queens (as well as Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles) looking for middle-market 2BRs between $1.4 and $3 million have been frustrated as of late, due to a scarcity of inventory. Loans are getting harder to come by, competition is fierce—bids are regularly exceeding asking prices for these apartments, which sell almost as quickly as they're listed, sometimes for cash. As a result, many aspiring second-time buyers are stuck in their starter homes, with an upgrade nowhere in sight. ['Trading Up Can Be Hard to Do']

3) But what to do with those apartments not in the middle-market range, many in still gentrifying neighborhoods, which are having trouble selling? For the buyer that just needs a little push through the door: The Incentive. New condos in Long Island City are offering incentives, such as a credit for between five and six percent of a unit's cost with purchase. The developer of 39 East 29th Street had some success offering to pay all the transfer taxes and lawyer fees. Although these incentives can be costly for developers in the short term, so can advertising, and, obviously, having units sit on the market for long stretches of time. ['Some Buildings Find Buyers Need a Nudge']