The Crazy Real Estate Boom Taking Over Flatbush Avenue

This Brooklyn couple had to make a choice, see how their choice and similar choices are changing one of Brooklyn’s most iconic avenues.

The NY Post profiled a couple that had to choose, they could rent a bigger, older walkup in the townhouse-heavy neighborhood, or opt for a small apartment in a brand-new building with stunning views and a play area for their 2-year-old daughter.

“We made a life decision that we needed to take money off our rent, which meant moving further into Brooklyn,” says Jessi Arrington, 38, who, with Creighton Mershon, runs a Gowanus co-working space called Small City. “Somebody is going to move into that apartment. If it’s us, we can try to become a part of the neighborhood as much as anyone could.”  The couple chose to move into the Parkline, a controversial 24-story rental building at 626 Flatbush Ave. that enraged area residents with its height when it was first proposed, and is one of several developments discussed in the piece.

In addition to the Parkline, the Post mentions City Point, which opened this year with an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, Trader Joe’s, Target and more; the historic Kings Theatre, sparkling after a $95 million restoration, which reopened in 2015; 9 DeKalb Ave., which will be Brooklyn’s tallest building, with 73 stories rising 1,066 feet and housing 500 rentals, when the project is completed in 2020; 80 Flatbush Ave, a combo 38-story building and 74-story building that will accommodate two schools for 700 students, office and retail components, as well as 900 new housing units (both condos and rentals); One Flatbush, a 19-story, 183-rental building slated to open in early 2018 with about 19,000 square feet of retail on the first two floors and apartments averaging 674 square feet apiece; and the “city within a city” mega-development around Barclays Center called Pacific Park.

The influx of development has meant saying goodbye to several neighborhood staples that had weathered the storm when the Flatbush was less desire-able, such as Christie’s, “a beloved Jamaican patty shop down the street from Barclays,” which closed in 2014 after 50 years in business.

“It’s like when people discovered there was a Manhattan above 96th Street,” says Lois Thompson of Corcoran, in the piece.  “I take offense to people looking at Flatbush and saying it’s up and coming,” she said.  “Up and coming where? It’s already there.”

If you’re looking to sell a home, buy a home or rent an apartment in the area, Waterman Realty and Tax Pro is here to help, contact us today.


What Trump's Tax Plan Means For You

Last week, President Donald Trump added some meat to the bare-bones tax overhaul his team unveiled earlier this year.  The new nine-page document is still lacking in specifics, however, it does give Americans more information on how his proposed tax overhaul will affect them.

The response the new nine-page plan has been mixed.  According to the New York Times, Conservatives cheered the plan as a “bold and long-awaited step to spur economic growth, while Democratic leaders condemned it as an irresponsible boon to the rich.”

On the individual side, the plan would collapse the tax brackets from seven to three, with tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.  The current top rate is 39.6 percent and the lowest rate is 10 percent. The framework also gives Congress the option of creating a higher, fourth, rate above 35 percent to ensure that the wealthy are paying their fair share.

The plan calls for the doubling of the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. According to Trump, this is an attempt to simplify and cut taxes for the middle class.  That would allow people to avoid a complicated process of itemizing their taxes to claim various credits and deductions, according to Trump.

An increase to the child tax credit from $1,000 has been something that Trump has stated would be a part of his plan, however, the final credit amount has not been specified in this new plan.  What we do know is that he plans to create a new $500 tax credit for non-child dependents, such as the elderly.

However, most itemized deductions would also be eliminated, including those widely used for state and local tax expenses. While, deductions for mortgage interest expenses and charitable giving would be preserved.  Also incentives for education and retirement savings plans remain a part of this plan.  The deductions lost and the incentives preserved, critics say, largely favor the wealthy.

Business and corporate America seem to be the biggest winners with the tax plan.

The proposal calls for a reduction of the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, a shift that supporters say is needed to make American companies more competitive with their counterparts around the world.

A new tax rate of 25 percent would also be created for so-called pass-through businesses, such as partnerships and sole proprietorships, which are currently taxed at the rate of their owners. About 95 percent of businesses in the United States are structured as pass-throughs and they generate a majority of the government’s corporate tax revenue.  However, 96 percent of real small business owners already pay taxes at 25 percent or less, and would get very little benefit from the rate cut. Only 4 percent of business owners, the very wealthy ones, will see a benefit, according to the US News & World Report.  Furthermore, Congress would need to create safeguards that prevent wealthy individuals from incorporating as pass-through businesses, which would tax their income at a lower rate.

The plan call for the preservation of tax credits for research and development of low-income-housing.   These business tax credit will benefit real estate businesses, similar to the one that Trump’s family still runs.

And finally, the business tax overhaul calls for a one-time repatriation tax to encourage companies to bring offshore profits back home.  The details of this rate has yet-to-be-determined.

Trump’s tax plan is sure to shift over the upcoming months.  Regardless of what the final version looks like, Waterman Realty and Tax Pro will be here to help you make sense of it.  Contact us today.


What Does it Mean to Pay Yourself First?

Paying yourself first is one of the best ways to save money.

As we discussed in a previous post, the percentage of your earnings that go to your housing costs are one of the key indicators that you may be living beyond mean.  Another major sign in the inability to save money.  According to CNN Money, 47% of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 to cover an unplanned expense and nearly half of today’s workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  In this follow up post, with the help of CNN Money, we’ll discuss paying yourself first, one of the best strategies to becoming a better saver.

Paying yourself first means treating savings like an important bill — just like your rent or mortgage — that must be paid every month. The only difference is it’s a bill you pay to yourself.  Sound difficult?  Here are a few tips:

Set a personal payment goal.

Lets face it, few things are a better motivator than clear defined goals, such as paying for a vacation or saving for a college education.  If you know you can only pay yourself a small amount right now, look for opportunities to increase these payments in the future. Determine how much of your monthly salary you need to set aside to meet those goals. Then, find ways to make changes that will impact your expenses in the long-term.

If you decide, for example, that you can manage without premium cable channels, update your plan the next time your contract is up and put the difference toward your savings goals.

Set up automatic payments

Unless you’re proactive, most likely the amount you would have intended to save will dwindle toward the end of the pay period.

“The reality is that some competing interest always comes up to reduce if not eliminate well-intended savings,” says Howard Pressman, a Virginia-based financial adviser.  That’s why one of the principles of paying yourself first is to set up automatic payments into accounts set aside for retirement, debt repayment, or emergency savings. That way you don’t have to consciously think about choosing to save, and won’t be tempted to spend it first.

“If one has automatic savings taking place into a retirement account or from checking to savings, it’s going to get done,” Pressman says.

Change your mindset

Once you decide to pay yourself first, you may feel like you have a lot less money at your disposal than you once did.  The key is to change the way you think about your income, and accept that you need to — and can — live off less.

“It’s really about fooling your brain into thinking ‘this is how much I make and this is what I can spend,’ said Jeff Maas, a California-based financial adviser.  “Eventually you will adapt your spending habits to match your perceived income and it won’t feel like a chore or a sacrifice to save.”

Maybe we can help you get your savings off to a great start with tax refund that may have been missed.  Send us an email or give us a call today.


New Yorkers Hurt Bigly by Trump's Tax Plan

President Trump’s Tax Plan calls for the elimination of the State and Local tax deduction.  What’s that, you say?  Here’s a primer courtesy of

What is the state and local tax deduction?

Sometimes called the SALT (State And Local Tax) deduction, it allows filers who choose to itemize their deductions — rather than claiming the standard deduction — to deduct either the amount of state and local real estate, property, sales, or income taxes paid over the course of a year. These deductions (both the standard and itemized) ultimately reduce the amount of income that gets taxed by the government. Filers have been able to deduct state and local taxes since federal income tax was conceived in 1913.

Who benefits from the state and local tax deduction?

According to the Tax Foundation, it is the most popular itemized deduction.  People living in high-income and high-tax parts of the country also tend to benefit the most from the deduction. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that in 2013, just over one-fifth of all of returns claiming the SALT reduction came from New York and California. Sixty-three percent of the deduction’s value flows to 10 states. Six of those states are on East Coast. In 2014, the average deduction in Manhattan was $24,898.

Why is Congress considering eliminating it?

It is estimated that eliminating the SALT tax could increase federal revenue by $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.  Critics of the deduction argue it encourages localities to raise taxes, but ultimately reduces the amount of federal taxes the filers who claim it would have to pay. They also say the deduction is unfair because lower-income Americans rarely benefit from it — only about 10% of filers who make under $50,000 claimed the deduction in 2014.

Who opposes eliminating the state and local tax deduction?

Proponents of the deduction, including a bipartisan group of lawmakers who say those who benefit from already pay a lot in taxes. “Our states are economic engines that deliver disproportionately more revenue to the federal government than they receive back, paying more for services delivered to the country at large,” the lawmakers wrote in June. Without the deduction, they argue, residents in high-tax states would face a higher tax burden, with little reprieve.

What will happen next?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the proposal to eliminate SALT “dumb” and warned it could tank the GOP’s plan to overhaul the tax code. Because blue-state Republicans have come out so strongly against an outright repeal of the deduction, lawmakers will likely come up with a compromise. That could mean a cap on how much of a filer’s income could be eligible for the deduction. Or lawmakers could make taxpayers choose to either claim a mortgage interest deduction or property tax on property worth up to $1 million.

This week Congress will begin to debate all of the changes to the tax code that could affect your tax return as early as next year.  Concerned about the repeal of SALT or any other part of the tax code?  Send us an email or give us a call today.


The Obamas May Be Moving On Up To The East Side

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama have allegedly been spotted eyeing an apartment in a historic Upper East Side building, leaving many to ask — Are the Obamas moving to New York?

The New York Post is reporting on their Page Six column that, according to sources who have seen the couple arriving at the building for viewings, the Obamas were spotted looking at 10 Gracie Square on the Upper East Side, situated between East End Avenue and East River Drive and near Gracie Mansion, the current residence of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Obamas would be in good company in the Gracie Square area: Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fashionista Betsey Johnson and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer all live nearby.  Over the years, many notable New Yorkers, such as Gloria Vanderbilt, have lived in the 15-floor building that the Obamas allegedly looked at.  Amenities include a gym and an indoor basketball court.  Most importantly, the building has strong security, including a private elevator and an underground drive-in garage, from which would-be residents could directly access their apartment without stepping outside.

Last week, a duplex apartment in the building was purchased for $10 million, however, it was not confirmed if place was purchased by the Obamas.  The duplex offers up a formal library with a wood-burning fireplace; a kitchen with a six-burner Wolf range, a concrete counter and backsplash, and a sliding wall that can close the room off; and a master bedroom with a separate sitting room and fireplace.  Pics of the dublex can be seen on Curbed, New York.

If the Obama’s did close the deal, it would be their second, slightly pricier home.  The couple purchased a nine-bedroom, 8,200-square-foot, Tudor-style mansion in the Washington, DC, neighborhood of Kalorama for $8.1 million earlier this year.

In the market for a home to call your own?  Stop in or give us a call today.

Mayor de Blasio Boosts His Affordable Housing Goals

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made affordable housing a pillar of his first campaign and now, as he seeks reelection for his second term, he’s doubling down.

De Blasio on Tuesday vowed 100,000 more below-market-rate apartments than initially promised at the start of his mayoralty, boosting the total number of units he plans to create to 300,000 from 200,000.

His self-imposed deadline for the 50 percent boost, announced inside a subsidized apartment building in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens that serves formerly homeless people and others who couldn’t otherwise afford market rent, is 2026.

The mayor previously promised to build or preserve 200,000 units by 2024, but said the city will meet that goal two years early.  He predicts about 25,000 units a year by 2021, a pace that he said would continue until 2026.

Decisions about who gets an apartment under the program will continue to be done by lottery, based on such characteristics as income, neighborhood residents and family size.

The 300,000 units are a mix of 60 percent preserved housing — apartments that would have otherwise left rent regulation — and 40 percent new ones.

The city also promised to spend about $750 million in tax dollars during the next four years toward the housing goal.

“We came in here with the clear decision to change the rules of the game,” to be less favorable to real estate developers, de Blasio said, according to AMNY.  “Our job is to step in and level the playing field to the maximum extent possible.”

Looking for an affordable apartment or home to call your own?  Stop in or give us a call today.

After FBI Indictment, Manafort's Brownstone May Hit the Market

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, may have to forfeit both of his New York City properties, including a brownstone in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, if he’s convicted of the charges filed on Monday.

Manafort was charged with a number of serious crimes, including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, according to the Brooklyn Eagle.

The indictment publicly released Monday alleges that Manafort used hidden wealth stashed in offshore accounts to purchase luxury properties in the U.S., to the tune of roughly $18 million. He took out mortgages on these properties, living off this liquid income without paying taxes on it. He also generated income through rentals or through Airbnb.

Manafort allegedly purchased both properties through limited liability corporations he and his family controlled with money previously kept in Cyprus. The complaint states he paid $2.85 million for the Manhattan condo and $3 million for the Brooklyn brownstone.

Several neighbors near Manafort’s Brooklyn brownstone told AMNY that the property had been a mess over the last year, and they were pleased to see construction work get underway about two months ago. Workers were seen going in and out of the four-story home Monday.

If convicted of the charges, Manafort will be required to forfeit the property, along with others, including one at 29 Howard St. in Manhattan, a property in Water Mill, New York, and a property in Arlington, Virginia.  Property can be seized by the federal government if it can be shown the property is the proceeds of several types of criminal activity, including money laundering.

Manafort may also have state officials to deal with.  According to Curbed NY, in New York State it’s illegal to rent an apartment on Airbnb for fewer than 30 days, if the owner is not also present in the space.

Interested in a newly renovated brownstone in Carroll Gardens or perhaps a place with a little less notoriety?  Contact us toda

A Brooklyn Building Owner Decides Spreading Love is the Brooklyn Way

After public outcry, a building owner will allow the two-story “King of NY” mural of legendary Bed-Stuy rapper Biggie Smalls, a.k.a the Notorious B.I.G., to remain on his building, reports DNAinfo.

The mural, located on a building at Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street, has drawn tourists and hip-hop fans since it was painted in 2015, but last week the landlord, Solomon Berkowitz, said he needed to remove it in order to add new windows.

In a telephone interview last Thursday, Berkowitz said he saw no reason to keep the mural.

“Let me rephrase the question: Why should I keep it?” he said. “I don’t even see the point of the discussion. I could demolish the building if I wanted to, I don’t need no permission from anyone except the DOB.”

Berkowitz declined to discuss the matter further, and it was not immediately clear when the mural would be removed. He secured permits in March for the work, which includes a gut renovation of the second floor and the addition of two windows to the wall with the mural, Department of Buildings records show.

Last week Spread Art NYC, the collective affiliated with the mural’s artists Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui and Scott “Zimer” Zimmerman, posted on Instagram that they would not be able to afford the $1250 a month Berkowitz was demanding to save the mural.  Since that post everyone from the mayor’s office to the Brooklyn Nets offered support. With all of the hoopla, Berkowitz decided to allow the mural to remain in place.

“To be honest, [Berkowitz] just didn’t know how important Biggie is to Brooklyn,” Alaoui told DNAinfo. “He’s not a bad guy. A lot of people offered to help financially, but he said he don’t need the money, just the respect of his neighbors.”“He’s been very respectful by letting us use his wall for this long, and we want everyone else to respect him,” Alaoui said. “This is a gift from Mr. Berkowitz.”

Curious about what $1250 a month will get you in New York City?  Contact us today.

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