Robert Knakal

concrete thoughts

Did the Door Just Open to Reforming Rent Control?

In a decision made last month, New York’s highest court has decided that tenants who reside in rent-regulated apartments are receiving a “local public assistance benefit.” Essentially, the court determined that rent subsidies are not different from social security, Medicaid, disability, welfare or unemployment benefits. So, if rent-regulated tenants are receiving rent welfare, why won’t a single politician support means testing for those who receive this public assistance benefit?

We all know that the answer to the question at the end of the last paragraph is: votes. But let’s take a closer look into the court’s decision. (And “rent welfare” isn’t a new term. I have been using it in these pages for years—because that is what it is.) Read More

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Bizarro Brokerages: Businesses can teach us something

Today let’s travel to a place made famous in a Seinfeld episode: Bizarro World. In Bizarro World, there are many countries and each has a commercial real estate market. The size of the markets in each country is different and different countries implement the brokerage business in different ways with different rules.

One of the largest markets in Bizarro World is in the nation of UpSide Down (US). The commercial real estate market in US is massive and, historically, there has been one brokerage company that has essentially had a monopoly on the market. Read More

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Will 2015 Be More Like 2008 or 1998?

The result of the November elections could have a lot to do with answering that question

Last week, I wrote about the potential fate of the rent regulation system in New York, which is highly dependent upon the outcome of several senate races in our state elections in November. The reaction to this column was Read More

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Rent Regulation Outlook

The investment sales market for multifamily properties in New York City is at a historically strong point. There are more buyers of apartment buildings than any other type of building. More lenders are willing to make loans on these properties than any other type. Until now, New York’s rent regulation system, which dictates what rents Read More

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Checking in Before the Dog Days

The good folks at Commercial Observer are nice enough to give me a writing break each August. Therefore, this will be my last column until after Labor Day. The first half of the year has been extremely eventful and the balance of the year is poised to round out what is likely to be a Read More

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The Land Rush Continues in 2014

The market for land revolves around what is probably the most perplexing product type in New York City today. While underlying fundamentals in the commercial real estate market have improved, on average, by 15 percent to 20 percent, land values have, in some cases, doubled, tripled and in rare instances quadrupled.

The disconnect between underlying Read More

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The Rent Guidelines Board’s Recent Debacle

Recently, the Rent Guidelines Board adopted rent-regulated rent increases at historically low levels of 1 percent for one-year leases and 2.75 percent for two-year leases. Property owners and tenants both lamented the result, with owners complaining that rents were not rising to the same extent as expenses. Tenants are complaining that rents should be rolled Read More