Changing Markets, Evolving Expectations Buying & Selling

In the 1950s, televisions were pieces of furniture the size of deep freezers. In 2008, TVs are flat and hang on a wall. The 50’s were about jukeboxes; the 80’s saw the Walkman and CD player and, today, it’s the small-but-mighty iPod. And computers? In the 1950s, they took up a whole room. Today, they are held in the palm of your hand.

So much has changed since the 1950s, from television to music to clothing and more. Even the process of purchasing a co-op or condo in New York City has changed significantly in the last five decades, thanks to many factors—higher prices, smarter consumers and, of course, the advent of the Internet.

Homes for a Song

“In the 1960s, buildings were built as cooperatives and the apartments were bought for very little money—eight hundred or twelve hundred dollars,” says Albert F. Pennisi, a partner with the Queens-based law firm Pennisi Daniels & Norelli and president of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives & Condominiums (FNYHC). “They were bought with loans guaranteed by the federal government, there was no real federal regulation process and no basic income requirements.”

Just ask an older New Yorker to tell you the now mind-boggling story about how he plunked down a grand in cash for his first co-op apartment in the 1960s, signed some papers and, voila, it was his. It’s starkly different from today’s astronomical prices and the mounds of paperwork involved in purchasing a home.

In the 1970s, according to Pennisi, the industry started to change slightly when owners began to sell off rental properties in pieces in order to make a bigger profit. “[Print] advertising became more prevalent, and people started to realize that the owner was making more money by selling, and that it was a good investment,” he says.


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