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Whose View Is It Anyway?

Stop and Breathe The Air.  Imagine you are considering buying an apartment on the 8th floor which has a fantastic southern view.  It is right over the roof of a 6-story building, which is on a corner, and so you get a rather wide-angle view.  And you’ve heard that a southerly exposure is great for your exotic plants.
May I suggest before you sign the contract and plop down 10% of the price that you stop and take a breath of fresh air out that window?
Take a moment (or several) to explore whether that you can lose that southerly exposure.
A concern is that if your window is on a lot line (the boundary line of your buildings property) then chances are you have a lot line window.  If so, then if your neighbor decides to construct just two more floors on that 6 story building, your coveted southerly facing windows will have to be bricked up.  Did I say “bricked up”?  Yes, I did.  You will lose the view, the air, the window, and the whole enchilada. Now try and envision that room with just a wall rather than a window.  Not a pretty sight is probably what you’re thinking.
By the way, if that airy room happens to be a bedroom with no other windows, then it will lose its “bedroom” status in the process.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you are very lucky, then that 6th story building sold some of its “air rights” to your building (or another building) and in doing so granted an easement of light and air and promised never to build higher than 6 floors.  Or perhaps the building is landmarked so any roof construction cannot be viewed from the street.  Either of those scenarios should give you and your buyer (when you eventually try to sell the apartment) reasonable comfort that the great view won’t be blocked.  But if none of these building roadblocks exist you need information to help you assess the risk of losing that view.
Some of the questions you should know the answer to are: Who owns the building?  What is its use?  Was it recently sold to a developer?  Are there any building permits filed to increase the height?  Are there any applications before landmarks to build some extra floors?  What does the building’s Certificate of Occupancy say?  Do the zoning rules prohibit that building from going higher without a variance?  Does that building have any available “air rights” so that it can build higher?  Do any of its neighboring buildings have any available “air rights” which can be bought by that corner building? The answers to these and other questions will help you measure that risk and figure out if this is the apartment for you or if you should at least reconsider the price.

Category: Do Your Diligence, News Comment »


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