Choosing A Real Estate Agent: A Roadmap For Millennials

Choosing A Real Estate Agent: A Roadmap For Millennials

Last week I was interviewed by a reporter from an online lifestyle blog who was writing a story on building a dream team for home buyers. She referred to her own “miserable” recent experience of…

Real Estate's Great Adjustment Years

Real Estate's Great Adjustment Years

Change in our local residential real estate market, and for that matter in life, is a given and our only constant. For every up, there comes a down, and for every step forward, there’s a step or two back. Life has its turns, and real estate has its cycles.

Some Old and New Realities for a Changing Marketplace

Some Old and New Realities for a Changing Marketplace

 

Buyers have the edge today. There’s more inventory to consider and less pressure for buyers to act quickly. With a slower trading pace, there’s more time to explore and evaluate increasing inventory options. With sluggish sales, sellers have adjusted their expectations, and they are reducing prices to more realistic levels to get deals done. Developers are also dropping prices, negotiating and offering upgrades and concessions. Even national builders like Toll Brothers are incentivizing homebuyers to boost soft sales. This month until July 29th, Toll Brothers is offering to pay mansion and transfer taxes to buyers of their condominiums in New York and D.C. This downward value trend is likely to continue for several more quarters.

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Homeownership rates are steady. Despite incrementally rising mortgage interest charges, rates remain historically low, encouraging owning over renting. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics for 1995-2018, homeownership percentages peaked at 69% in 2004 and 2005, then dropped to a low of 63.4% in 2016, but remain virtually unchanged at 63.9% in the last two years. Although last year’s tax reform puts limits on the tax advantages of ownership, it appears that more renters are opting to purchase to build wealth, create community and improve lifestyle, contributing to pride in ownership. It will take time, at the very least until next April 15th, to measure the tangible impact of the revised tax law on homeowners.

Now is not the time for risk taking and speculative investment. If you’re making a purchase, choose a home in the best location possible where quality product will withstand market fluctuations.
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Gradually rising interest rates cause buyers to favor fixed rate products. Fed fund rates which control short term interest rates increased in June to 2%. With more rate hikes expected in September and December, buyers are choosing fixed rate products over variable options. As mortgage financing becomes costlier, affordability declines particularly for entry level buyers of studio and one bedroom apartments.

Fewer showings have become the norm. Sellers are asking, “Why aren’t you showing my home more often?” The truth of the matter is we are experiencing fewer showings, and not only because it’s summer. For nearly every property, first visits occur online. When a potential buyer actually visits the residence, the meeting is akin to a second showing.

A beautiful online presence has never been more important. In a nation of Facebook and Instagram, the visual image drives the consumer. As the first point of contact for the buyer, the online presentation matters more today than ever. If the image shows a cluttered home and fails to attract visually and emotionally, it’s too easy for the prospective buyer to click next. There’s no good reason for the homeowner not to take the time and spend the money to clean, declutter and stage the home to its best advantage.  

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Research shows millennials prefer home ownership to renting. Those born between 1981-1997 share the American dream of owning a home, much like their parents and grandparents. However, millennials appear to be postponing a purchase and renting for a median of six years in order to pay off existing debt (especially student loans), improve credit scores, repair credit history and save up for a down payment and closing costs.

If now is the time to buy, what about investing? Now is not the time for risk taking and speculative investment. If you’re making a purchase, choose a home in the best location possible where quality product will withstand market fluctuations. Lock in a fixed rate mortgage, reduce debt, increase savings and build wealth. If your purchase is investment driven, your time horizon should be 5-7 years, and don’t expect an immediate return.

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A brief word about our newest property. If by chance you are looking to establish residency in Florida or buy a second home, we have an affordable choice for you to consider in Bay Harbour. Away from the tumult of downtown Miami and South Beach, The Sophie is a 7-story condo with 26 units, full amenities including beach club membership and 2 parking spaces. Prices approximate $500 per square foot. Do call if you’d like more information.  

Now Is The Time To Buy

Now Is The Time To Buy

In a 35-year career, I’ve worked up markets, down markets and everything in between and can say unequivocally, each market presents challenges and opportunities for buyers and sellers.

For Sale By Owner, Yea Or Nay?

For Sale By Owner, Yea Or Nay?

So, you’re thinking of putting out a For Sale By Owner sign. It’s understandable you want to save money and skip the brokerage fees. But are you doing yourself a disservice?

Tips for Buyers in Multiple Bid Scenarios

Tips for Buyers in Multiple Bid Scenarios

Multiple bidding is occurring with increasing frequency especially for entry level homes and well priced properties under $2M. As competition heats up, it’s worthwhile to review four competitive bidding tips.  

Embracing Technology in Real Estate

Embracing Technology in Real Estate

Technology has changed the way we live and work. Advances in the digital age have transformed industries from medicine and health care to defense and education.

Considering Home Staging Essentials

Considering Home Staging Essentials

Staging has always been important in home sales, though it hasn’t always had the recognized trade prominence it’s gained in the last two decades.

Home Ownership Tax Incentives Are Changing

Home Ownership Tax Incentives Are Changing

Tax reform has been on everyone’s mind of late, and the political noise and rhetoric has stirred up uncertainty in residential real estate markets, creating tension and highlighting hesitancy.

Home Ownership Tax Incentives Are Being Challenged

Home Ownership Tax Incentives Are Being Challenged

A heated bipartisan debate began earlier this month in the House and Senate over proposed changes to the Federal tax code. While it’s too soon to predict exactly how a revised structure will play out, tax incentives for homeownership are in jeopardy. How will reducing and maybe even eliminating tax benefits for owning a home affect our housing market?

Is a Buyer's Market Brewing?

Is a Buyer's Market Brewing?

Numbers tell only part of the story. At the end of each quarter, we’re showered with statistical reports that require us to consider the macro and the micro of our market. Yet each neighborhood and even each building has its own contextual history. To best serve buyers and sellers, agents need to dig deeply into quarterly reports and then plough even deeper into individual comps, examining both sold and current properties to scrutinize every factor that influences a sale including condition, staging, monthly carrying charges, price drops, time on the market and extenuating circumstances.

Why Bed-Stuy?

Why Bed-Stuy?

According to nyc.gov, Bedford-Stuyvesant measures 2.782 square miles and has a population of 154,332: 64% black, 20% Hispanic, 11% white, 5% other. Occupying north central Brooklyn with Crown Heights to the north, Clinton Hill to the east, Williamsburg to the south and Bushwick to the west, Bed-Stuy is a small fraction of its parent Brooklyn borough which totals 71 square miles and 2,629,150 residents. Its housing stock, dominated by an estimated 6,000 3-4 story townhouses that date mostly from the late 19th century, is increasingly attracting more and more homebuyers who feel priced out of the other residential markets as well as U.S. and foreign investors looking for steady return and appreciation.

Buying A Manhattan Home For The First Time

Buying A Manhattan Home For The First Time

Buying a home for the first time in New York City, one of the nation’s most complex and competitive real estate markets, can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. But it doesn't have to be. Real estate novices are advised to collaborate with an experienced professional who will narrow the multitude of choices, minimize the stresses and streamline the process from start to closing.

What's My Home Worth?

What's My Home Worth?

With the click of a mouse, homeowners today can obtain instant quotes on the value of their most significant asset: their homes. Banks, insurance companies, real estate brokerages and even media companies offer computer generated property valuations using formulaic software based on publicly available metrics such as square footage, number of rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and recorded neighborhood sales. These computer-generated estimates, however, lack elementary inspections, critical market perspective and professional intuition, so they fall grossly short of the mark

Condo Boards Are Behaving Like Co-ops--Will The Trend Reverse Itself Or Continue?

Condo Boards Are Behaving Like Co-ops--Will The Trend Reverse Itself Or Continue?

As the number of condominium products grows, there’s mounting pressure among condo boards to operate their buildings efficiently and to maintain the character of their residences in the best interests of unit owners. Increasingly condos are trying to exert more control over resales, imposing conditions for granting waivers and even implementing new policies—behaving very much like their co-op cousins.  

Buyer Agency Benefits, Part II

Buyer Agency Benefits, Part II

I had something to say when StreetEasy launched Premier Agent six weeks ago on March 1st 2017 (see “Doing Battle With a $600M Gorilla”). As a lead generation advertising product for real estate agents, the program is a major profit center for Zillow, the parent company, and generated more than $604M in revenue last year nationwide. In New York, the platform was justified as a new way for consumers to reach buyers’ agents. In reality, the program has been confusing consumers and misleading them for these last six weeks. When buyers click the CONTACT AGENT box, believing they will be directed to the seller’s agent, they instead wind up in the inbox of an agent who has paid for the lead in a particular zip code.

Doing Battle With A $600M Gorilla

Doing Battle With A $600M Gorilla

Can you fight City Hall? Can you wrestle with an acknowledged power that has overtaken consumers? How significant are individual voices of censure?

Last week I cancelled my PRO account at StreetEasy and posted on social media my hope that all self-respecting agents with integrity do the same. I wrote, “We should not support misleading advertising which only confuses consumers.” The post attracted 60 likes, 15 comments and 1 share. Not a storm of response but a sentiment supported publically by the heads of Compass, Corcoran, CitiHabitats and Town Residential who each announced to their agents that they would not reimburse participants in StreetEasy’s newest Premier Agent advertising program which was introduced to New Yorkers on March 1st. 

The Evolution Of The Lower East Side

The Evolution Of The Lower East Side

One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the Lower East Side is in the midst of a transformative gentrification. From its former identify as a low income immigrant neighborhood of largely Irish, Italian, Jewish and recently Dominican descent, new demographics are emerging as the landscape changes from overcrowded tenements to a mixed residential landscape of rent regulated and market rate apartments alongside rising new luxury condominium developments. Against a gritty backdrop of graffiti, after hour’s bars, and pawn shops, amid a counterculture of artists and musicians, there co-exists an expanding culture of contemporary art galleries, hip performance spaces, music venues, trendy boutiques and culinary destinations. At the same time, a new evolving housing stock with high end finishes and escalating square foot prices to match, is appealing to upscale purchasers including young families and empty nesters from the surrounding suburbs of Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey.

A Solid Market for 2017

A Solid Market for 2017

For Manhattan residential real estate, how different will 2017 be from 2016? Last year the market was in transition as the pendulum swung away from sellers to favor buyers (especially for properties priced above $4M) and shifted even more to a preference for condos over co-ops, also continuing to highlight downtown as Manhattan’s hottest neighborhoods.

 

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ethics

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ethics

While the law is exacting and black and white, ethical dilemmas operate in the grey areas between right and wrong when there is a conflict of interest or a dilemma between values. As licensees of the state, we operate within the law; however, compliance is not the same as behaving ethically or doing the right thing. In fact there are numerous instances when the law is silent or permits what some might consider questionable.