“Building Distress” — And How NYC Models It Using Data

Residential apartment building in Harlem, NYC ...

In the multifamily building, operational problems can go hidden for a very long time, affecting performance for owners and managers as well as quality of life for tenants. If there’s one thing technology has done to commercial real estate, it has been to expand the amount and variety of information that can be captured about a property, all with the idea of revealing such problems.  A significant portion of the new tools and techniques for information collection are there for the use of managers and owners — capabilities ranging from smart meters for water and electricity usage to using software to shape the ideal mix of amenities.

To get a great update on the state of building data collection sensors and other items that fall under the “Internet of things”, check out this excellent free webinar from Chad Curry, Managing Director of NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology.

Technology’s giant impact on the commercial property industry means government is also in the business of collecting information on property performance.  As various governmental departments of New York City have recently demonstrated, it’s a task at which they can excel.

NYC Does Numbers

City agencies in NYC compile a great deal of information about commercial properties of all kinds, and in the multifamily sphere, they tend to focus less on economic performance and more on health and safety concerns. What’s worth noticing here is the degree to which these previously far-flung agencies are now actively sharing data, leading to new categorizations that affect, or potentially affect, landlords and managers.

Tenant complaints, court outcomes, code violations, liens, foreclosures — in the past, all were collected separately and stayed in separate piles.  That era is over.

“Building Distress”

Knitting together these categories of information under a single governmental warehouse is the Mayor’s Office Of Data Analytics (MODA) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).  One key result of all this collection and focus on the entire profile of a multifamily property is the notion of “building distress”.

An eye-opening blog post about this process and about “building distress” was published at DataLook’s blog,   The fundamental takeaway should be a wakeup call to owners and operators of multifamily property.  The technologies and techniques being used in NYC are in no way solely the domain of huge cities.  Which means that no matter where you own, your relationships with local government could soon enter a phase where scrutiny of your property is going to be informed by more history of that property than has ever been mustered at any one time.

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