the politics, wisdom or inanity of airing dirty linen about your coop or condo

something in the water??
I had intended this morning to do a post focused on one particular dispute between a condo developer and unit owners in Brooklyn, but then I saw an article in today’s NY Times airing angry emails between Manhattan coop board members and I just saw a Wall Street Journal article about new development condo buyers who are suing their developer and, in the process, attacking one of the prime marketing prongs for their Manhattan building.

So at this point I will simply note the sources, and hold off for a day or two (or more??) from offering the kind of general New York real estate commentary that I had intended, about why and under what circumstances owners make a stink about their apartments in ways that might cause The Market to punish them by discounting the value of their apartments because of the controversy.

condo board vs. developer
I will start with last week’s news about a not-recent lawsuit between a condo developer in Brooklyn and the unit owners, including a quite recent website created by the condo owners in an explicit effort to shame the developer into compromise. The website is here. I saw it first on  Brownstoner, but it has also been on Curbed and The Real Deal.

The Manhattan Loft Guy short story: the website manifestly was newsworthy, but the condo board made the (presumably, well considered) decision to declare all out war on the developer when they started the lawsuit some time ago (2 years??), so any damage was done then; the later website should not materially impact values.

coop board members vs. each other
The Times article this morning details internal disputes within a Manhattan coop board that someone involved thought would be a good idea to share with the Times in advance of the annual shareholder meeting later this month. The Times reviewed:

more than a dozen angry [email] exchanges among board members since last summer that dissolved into name-calling and taunts about board members’ height, spouses, intellect and virility

and cites the Board president as saying that "personal attacks and profanity continued at a May 25 [board] meeting".

The Manhattan Loft Guy short story: if this is the only way that Board members can encourage shareholders to attend the next shareholder meeting (at which Board members will be elected / reelected), this coop is nearly fatally dysfunctional; the fact that the disputants hold hands on The Big Picture ("even the ones sending the most contentious e-mail messages agree that it has been well run for decades") might change The Market’s perception of this from a Very Red Flag to only a Slightly Red Flag, but there is still a very public flag about the coop’s management waving.

condo purchaser vs. developer
The Wall Street Journal article  (dated Friday but I am not sure if it was posted or published then; h/t to The Real Deal for a reference this morning) is about a lawsuit by 2008 purchasers in a Manhattan new development that is being aggressively marketed because the developer is seeking Gold level LEED certification. It is not clear if the owners assert that the building will not get that level of LEED certification, or if they merely assert that the building is not as environmentally advanced as they were led to believe.

The Manhattan Loft Guy short story: individual unit owners should have a long-term view if they publicly and aggressively contradict one of the features of the building that the developer feels is a key to establishing premium value; other purchasers may not agree that this single purchaser is taking the right approach.

Longer stories may follow….


© Sandy Mattingly 2010



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