212-937-7011

Sub-Market Snapshot: Upper West Side 5 Room Co-Ops

Sub-Market Snapshot: Upper West Side 5 Room Co-Ops

In the first of our sub-market series, we review the 5 room co-op market on the Upper West Side where there are 41 current active listings and 20 pending contracts. This reveals a volatility index of 2 (where supply is 2 times the number of pending sales). This lower index shows a strengthening market. This is certainly a good time of year to purchase a property this size, as interest rates are still relatively low and sellers either have come down in price or have shown increased negotiability in the late summer months.

In terms of closed sales over the last 3 months — this year is much stronger. In the last 3 months, there have been 33 closings and in the same time period last year there were only 23. Also this year the average sales price is up 11% from the same time period last year. All good signs for the 5 room upper west side coop market!

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Proper Pricing in the Current Market

Establishing the right price to list a property in the current market is challenging. Data has declined due to lower sales volume and prices have come down in most market segments. Typically we analyze comparable sales activity over the last six months, however this is no longer an accurate reflection of the market. Properties that closed six months ago reflect the market over nine months ago when they went into contract and that was a different world. I recently studied a particular market segment that I had analyzed only three months prior and I was astonished at my recent findings. Prices were down in the segment between 4 and 10% since April! There is not a lot of data but the numbers are showing a significant drop. The most accurate pricing indicators are properties going into contract right now. The ability to get that information is key to understanding where the market is in any particular segment.

Part of the problem is there are not a lot of properties going into contract. It is important to look at where properties are priced right now and anticipating where the market might be two to three months down the line. The most successful sales have been properties that have dropped significantly (5 – 10%) in one fell swoop. These price reductions tend to attract attention depending on how high you started. If you started where properties were six months ago and you drop 5% than you should be in a much better place.

Sellers have to be bold on pricing and willing to come down lower than they may have wanted. If a seller is not prepared to do that right now than their property may sit and stale listings do not do well in any market. My advice to sellers right now is to think carefully about pricing and how much you need to sell in this market. The market may turn but it is very difficult to predict when so it all depends on your timeline.

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Market Report: February 2018

Market Report: February 2018

Given the steep drop in the stock market, buyers as well as sellers are asking me if this is the right market to buy or sell. For now, I will address the sale side.  For those considering selling, this may be one of the better times for the foreseeable future. I say so not because I am a broker and obviously I can benefit from sales, but because of many other factors that bear directly on the market, providing sellers (and buyers) the opportunity to make deals that are mutually beneficial.

To begin with, the state of the stock market does not reflect the nature of the economy. Stock market fluctuation is not a strange phenomenon; the market goes up and down, and even when it occasionally does so precipitously, it does not suggest that an economic shakeup is in the offing. The real estate market responds to many other economic indicators, especially interest rates, the level of unemployment, earnings, bonuses, and the general health of the economy, consumer confidence, along with the supply and demand of residential real estate.

Sellers who wish to sell should put their property on the market this spring for the following reasons:

First, the market has been weaker over the past few years and we are coming off a weaker fall season where there were fewer sales and therefore lower sales prices. The first and particularly the second quarter of the year are the most active times in an annual cycle because of buyers’ desire to move over the summer. This is most often the best time for sellers to attain higher prices.

The second reason is that it has already been indicated that the Federal Reserve will again increase interest rates.  This often prompts buyers to buy now rather than that wait and end up paying higher mortgage interest rates.

Third, bonuses are generally higher and many first-time buyers will try to take advantage of the softer market conditions and buy now. Thus, the potential that sellers can achieve relatively higher prices because of the anticipated demand is much more promising.

Fourth, waiting for the prices to increase may not be wise because, as I indicated earlier, we are now about to begin the high season, and the market will definitely slow down once the summer comes around. As a rule, in a slower market, prices dip and sellers may not be able to achieve as strong a price.

Based on the above, I encourage sellers who need to sell, not to wait any longer. With effective marketing and skilled brokers, sellers can achieve the strongest possible prices that the market will bear.

If you need any further information or valuation of your property, please do not hesitate to call or write to 646-665-4961 or to info@deannakory.com. I will be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

All the best–
Deanna

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BE AN EXPERT BUYER: International Buyers in the Big Apple

International buyers have always been a part of the NYC residential real estate market.  Each year there are waves of buyers from different parts of the world.  Foreign investment in the US residential markets – especially in NYC – occurs when certain market and financial conditions align.  Foreign buyers invest when the dollar is weak, as it is cheaper for them to buy under such advantageous conditions.  Additionally, when they experience economic instability in their own country or other desirable cities like London or Paris , foreign buyers focus on residential property in New York City, because in any case NYC in particular is considered a safe place for real estate investment.

As real estate brokers, we are often asked by sellers if their home is one that may be attractive to a foreign buyer,  especially when it is widely advertised with a focus on  overseas.

This week’s Ask an Expert column from the popular real estate blog Brick Underground featured information for overseas buyers who wish to buy in NYC, which I recommend that sellers review.

Some sellers do not know that overseas buyers mainly buy condominiums in NYC, since co-ops typically require applicants to have substantial assets in American banks, along with domestic social networks and tax returns for two to three years. Thus, condominiums are usually the investments of choice, and most often, new development condos are favored.

In the Brick Underground article, the question arose as to how a foreign buyer might obtain a mortgage.  There are a limited number of banking options available, but generally there are enough options for foreign buyers who are qualified to obtain a mortgage; it just takes a little bit more time due to the  complexity of the transaction.

Most US banks have created programs to accommodate international buyers. Foreign buyers can usually finance 50 to 75% of the purchase price, depending the size of the loan. Documentation requirements can be stringent, but some lenders are willing to waive these requirements in return for a slightly higher interest rate, to offset the increased risk associated with loans not fully corroborated. Moreover, most lenders require foreign buyers to show proof of income, assets, and monthly payments and carrying charges for any other real estate owned. US credit is not required, but a few banks require an international credit report.

An overseas buyer must be aware of certain tax implications of owning and selling real property in the United States. To ensure a smooth purchase process of a home or apartment in NYC, one is always advised to check with their accountant and/or financial planner for the most up-to-date rates and procedures, as they are subject to change. It is imperative for a foreign buyer to retain capable advisers on all aspects related to buying—including a knowledgeable real estate broker, a good lending institution, and an experienced real estate attorney.

Fortunately, we have very strong relationships with lenders and mortgage brokers in New York who are happy to work with foreign buyers.

If you are a foreign buyer looking to invest in New York real estate or are interested in more information, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free copy of my New York City Real Estate Buyer’s Guide, by emailing info@deannakory.com or calling 212-937-7011.

All the best–
Deanna

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BE AN EXPERT BUYER: Tips for Searching “For Sale” Properties in NYC

BE AN EXPERT BUYER: Tips for Searching “For Sale” Properties in NYC

Home hunting in New York City is a unique experience and since there are so many listings in Manhattan, a seasoned and experienced real estate broker can guide you towards a home that meets your needs and within your budget. However, some people get into a mindset that may leave them at risk of losing out on a great opportunity. When viewing properties, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Look past bad décor
    Because of some buyers’ lack of vision, looking past bad décor or décor that simply does not meet their taste or style can play a major factor in achieving a lower purchase price. If they can envision what is possible, they may find the ‘frog that becomes a prince’.
  • Consider flaws that cannot be changed
    Good values can be found in flawed apartments, but expect a longer sales process. Such flaws can include:

    • A dark apartment; although some people may prefer that over another property that receive a lot of natural sunlight
    • No views
    • High monthly maintenance
    • Odd layouts that cannot be corrected, such as a small living room with no ability to expand, or a room without a window (which is not considered a room by NYC standards)
  • Consider how long you plan to own the property you are about to purchase
    If you plan to live in an apartment for 7 to 10 years, don’t worry too much about a small difference in value. Negotiate as effectively as possible to purchase a property at the lowest possible price.  If you find an apartment that appeals to you and find yourself close to an agreement on price, but you still need to increase your offer slightly beyond what you were planning to pay, I would generally say “go for it.”

History has repeatedly shown that real estate—like everything else—is cyclical and that values increase over time. Therefore, if the new apartment or house would accommodate you for a reasonably long period of time, trying to exact the last dollar from a seller in a negotiation may not be the wisest thing to do, especially if you really want that particular apartment.

That said, if you plan to live in the apartment for a shorter period of time and your long-term plan is to sell it and purchase a larger unite keep in mind that when you sell and buy again, and if you are buying in the same general location, the price in various segments of the real estate market will have moved up or down in tandem. This means that if the market is down when you sell and you do not recover the entire value on your current home, your next purchase will also be affected by the same market condition and you will be able to purchase a larger home at a price that corresponds to the overall decrease in prices.

For more information about buying or selling an apartment please do not hesitate to contact me for a meeting or for a free copy of my complete New York City Real Estate Buyer’s Guide by emailing info@deannakory.com or calling 646-665-4961.

All the best–
Deanna

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Renovating for Resale: Kitchen Design Pro-Tips

Renovating for Resale: Kitchen Design Pro-Tips

Today’s post is by guest writer & kitchen designer Regina Bilotta – this article is featured in the Deanna Kory 2018 Spring Newsletter

Once your home passes the Curb Appeal test, what is one of the most important assets in selling your house? The kitchen! According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 report, the average return on investment for renovations, or ROI – that is the value you can expect to get back upon selling your home for every dollar you spend on upgrades – is 64%. Kitchen and bath renovation ranks among the highest returns. Depending on the type of kitchen renovation, your return can vary from 65% for a major remodel to 80% for a minor job. The rule of thumb offered – if you plan to live in your home for more than 5 years – go for it. Design your dream kitchen with every color, bell, and whistle you want because history proves that trends will change before you sell. If you are thinking of selling in less than five years but want to enjoy a new kitchen while you are there, keep these guidelines in mind: remodeling for resale means choosing materials that will make you happy but also appeal to potential buyers.

Whether you’re looking to sell a co-op, penthouse apartment, or brownstone, the guiding principal is “NEUTRAL” – and not in a bad way. For starters, today’s design trend is a perfect template to create what’s called a “resale-conscious aesthetic”. Even the most-high end, spectacular kitchens incorporate calm palettes and clean lines which happen to be just the ticket to appeal to general audiences and also stand the test of time.

Let’s start with the cabinetry, typically the largest surface in a kitchen. Whether you are installing new cabinetry or simply painting your existing, the safest color selection is classic white. Don’t be disappointed; today’s white can be many things. Consider white, with a cool grey or blue undertone. Or warm up your white with beige or taupe tones but be careful to stay away from pink! With the marketable permanent “color” determined, you will be able to introduce your own favorite but “temporary” color accents. Everything from wall paint to dishware should reflect your own favorites, later to be changed by the buyer. Begin to imagine how a new “marketable white” kitchen can actually satisfy your desire for “color” but also create a clean slate anyone can work with.

Next up, if you have the space, consider introducing a working island in a different material – today’s alternative to the kitchen table. This is the perfect surface to incorporate stained wood-like oak or walnut that can work seamlessly with the white painted perimeter cabinets.  Better than a table, an island can accommodate appliances, a sink, or simply give you that extra storage everyone needs. Include an overhang for comfortable stools to gather family and friends. So far, this new kitchen with its neutral palette hasn’t turned anyone away.

Color and material done, cabinetry style is next. This is where the concept of “clean lines” comes into play. Whether you select traditional framed cabinets or transitional to contemporary frameless cabinets, “less is more” for today’s buyer. The days of elaborate details like heavy complex moldings are gone. Take a cue from the style of your home. Let your cabinetry tell a story. It could reflect the style of the rest of the home as seen outside of the kitchen. Or it could successfully distinguish itself from the obvious style and present as though it were a piece of modern furniture placed in a Victorian paneled dining room. Either way, for cabinetry to appeal to a general audience and meet our “neutral” criteria, it must be clean and simple. Today’s biggest sellers range from plain framed, five-piece flat panel doors with an applied or routed molding to frameless flat panel doors. Paints are low sheen or flat and stains are matte.

Counter-tops are easy. While beautiful marbles have become most popular, they require care and maintenance not recommended for resale. Consider a manufactured stone-based material that will stand up to years of heavy use and promise to look as good as it did on the day it was installed. There are numerous patterns and colors to choose from, many of which look just like natural marble. Again, lean towards neutral colors that will compliment your cabinet color.

Appliances offer endless choices. Whether you decide to go with stainless steel or paneled fronts, a sign of a well-done kitchen is a flush refrigerator/freezer – one that does not protrude beyond the counter-top. This one element has become so important to kitchen design that numerous manufacturers have introduced models at multiple price points. While a top-of-the-line big name appliance package will certainly be attractive, it will add to the budget and could decrease you ROI. Alternatively, if you have the room, consider one luxury option, like a built-in coffee maker or a steam/convection oven. Make sure the style of the appliances work with the overall style of kitchen. Other important eye catchers are cabinet accessories. Add interior roll-outs, pull-out trash, magic corners, spice and utensil drawers, lit interiors, and must-have electronics. These are relatively inexpensive ways to make kitchens functional and exciting.

Keeping these four guidelines in mind will make it easy for a potential buyer to see themselves cooking and eating in your kitchen – with their own colors and their own style. Enhance the marketability of your entire home with these tricks of the trade!

Regina Bilotta
Leading kitchen design firm specializing in custom kitchens since 1985. Exquisite product, unrivaled service & superior craftsmanship.
A&D Building, NYC | Mamaroneck, NY | Mount Kisco, NY
212.486.6338 | 866.245.6882
Insta: @BilottaKitchens
Twitter: @BilottaKitchens
Facebook: Bilotta Kitchens
www.bilotta.com

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Market Report: 2017 in Review & Looking to 2018

Market Report: 2017 in Review & Looking to 2018

Happy New Year! Each new year I provide an overview of the past 12 months of Manhattan’s residential real estate market, offer some thoughts based on many economic indicators, and try to gauge the tenor of the market in the first 6 months of the new year.

Interestingly though, notwithstanding the trepidation that many buyers and sellers experienced in 2017, the year ended on a positive note, prompting some speculation by agents that 2018 could be a strong market.  That speculation is further bolstered by the strength of the economy and the stock market, coupled with the traditional strong “spring” real estate market in New York City (January through June). Given the recent tax reform bill though, the perceived political and economic volatility both domestically and internationally, many would-be buyers and sellers are concerned about the impact on the Manhattan residential real estate market. There are many articles explaining the potential downsides that may transpire, and yet, as explained above, there are countervailing positives.

Since the first and especially second quarters of the year are historically the most active in an annual cycle. As such, it is important for a prospective buyer or seller to be well informed before purchasing or selling a property in the wake of the passage of the tax bill while also considering how the market performed in 2017 and its implications for 2018.

A YEAR IN REVIEW

2017 was a unique year in the New York City real estate market. Last January, many New Yorkers felt uncertainty over what to expect with the new administration. This frame of mind gave serious pause to both buyers and sellers about their plans to buy or sell. Post-inauguration, however, many economic indices (most notably the stock market) improved markedly and continued to gain strength throughout the year. While many benefited from the strong economy, in Manhattan, many buyers remained wary and concerned that the record-breaking stock market would not last. This apprehension manifested in a slow and cautious market.

That said, it is worth noting that historically, the real estate and stock markets do not always move in tandem. In contrast to today, I have witnessed over the years where the inverse occurs: periods of weaker stock markets occurred concurrently with stronger real estate markets.

THE SPRING MARKET 2018

The passage of the tax bill is not likely to have an immediate impact on the residential real estate but due to the conflicting messages about the potential adverse or positive effect on the market many people still wonder what the future will hold. Many buyers are hoping that prices drop further, yet other buyers – and certainly sellers – feel that the market might even become stronger. It is true that some of the proposed changes to individual tax rates and itemized deductions will impact New York City, including the mortgage interest deduction, state and local income tax, and property tax deductions. But then many of the over $4M buyers may not be negatively impacted.

In fact, for those who have been waiting to buy, this time period might well offer an opportunity to purchase at current lowered prices. If uncertainty about the near-term implications of the tax bill is stopping a buyer from moving forward with a purchase, they should consider the longer-term implications of buying now. Those who wish to buy and plan to live in the home for over 10 years should be comfortable in the knowledge that in the long term, real estate continues to increase in value.

While some buyers and sellers will generally remain cautious, I believe that the market will continue to gain some momentum through the first half of the year. This projection, as indicated earlier, is supported by the current economic indicators – the stock market continues to rise, bonuses are likely to be higher than last year, unemployment is historically low, interest rates are still near record lows, and the overall economy remains very strong.

For a comprehensive analysis of the market and projections for 2018, click here.

All the best–
Deanna

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FOR BRICK UNDERGROUND: “When is the best month to put my NYC apartment up for sale?”

FOR BRICK UNDERGROUND: “When is the best month to put my NYC apartment up for sale?”
QUESTION:
I’m planning to sell my apartment this year. What’s the best month to list it, and how far in advance should I hire a broker?
ANSWER:

You’ll want to hit the ground running in 2018 if you can, according to our experts. Sales volume traditionally goes up during the first half of the year, and is especially strong during the second quarter, says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran.

“There are several reasons for this: Bonuses are paid out in the first quarter, sometimes as late as March, and many buyers wait for that to happen,” she says. “School decisions happen in February or March, which also can spark a move. And because most people want to move over the summer, and it takes two to three months to close, the optimal timing is to go into contract during the second quarter.”

With that in mind, Kory suggests you start interviewing brokers in January or February, and plan to list your apartment at some point between late February and early April. And remember to leave yourself enough time to prep your place.

Read the rest of the article at Brick Underground

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Your Home Team Part 4: How to Find the Right Professional for Renovations

Your Home Team Part 4: How to Find the Right Professional for Renovations

This series features advice on how to build the best team of professionals who will help you with the buying or selling of your Manhattan home. Assemble your Home Team by also reading Part 1: Real Estate AgentPart 2: Real Estate Attorney, and Part 3: Mortgage Specialist

There are two types of home seekers: one group would tour an apartment and carefully examine what is in front of them and may say, “This is exactly what I had in mind!” Others might find things they don’t particularly like, such as an old-fashioned more traditional look of the apartment, a layout that feels too closed in, or simply be put off by a previous homeowner’s choice of interior decor. Then there are home seekers who are able to visualize what they want and they look at an apartment with an eye on how to make it their own. These buyers have the vision and a sense of the renovation they need to perform to make the apartment or house their own unique home. To that end, they understand that they will need the best designer, contractor, or home service professional on their side.

People often ask me about how to find the right people to help them renovate an apartment they have just purchased. I u.sually respond by asking about the type and scale of renovations they are planning because that answer will guide me in recommending the proper professionals needed to complete the job. The three professionals most often needed either individually or in combination are:  an architect, an interior designer and a contractor.

Once a decision is made on who they want to use, I always recommend to ask for referrals within the person’s network of friends and colleagues. It is always a good idea to ask people whose renovations were similar in scale and price level to what you are planning. There is a wide range of professionals who charge different prices and may deliver varying quality from whom to choose.

Aside from friends and colleagues, there are other resources that will help guide you on your search  for the right person or professional team. If you are working with a higher budget, The Franklin Report’s Portfolio Browsing is a good place to begin your search. The Franklin Report site is where homeowners can look up architects, decorators, electricians, plumbers, and other home professionals and visit their individual websites and see reviews on the professionals listed. Houzz is another great site for research and inspiration regarding home remodeling and for finding professionals.

If you are working on a lower budget, it will require a little more creativity and thorough research for the professional you’re looking to hire.  Real estate agents are often a good source of referrals.  They have seen many renovations and have heard stories of people’s experiences. Other online resources such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor may be of some help as well.

When you interview a professional, especially if your budget is tight, make sure the professional you are selecting is someone who has been able to complete projects within a predetermined budget, has maintained an accurate timeline, and has been and to be easy to work with and reliable. Ask for references.

It is common and expected that in any renovation that there can be setbacks or miscommunication along the way. Therefore, it is imperative to check the references of each of the  professionals you intend to hire. It is prudent to visit homes and apartments in which the professional has performed their work. Remember to look up the professional online because if there have been issues with a professional they often show up somewhere on the internet.

If you have any questions, please email me at info@deannakory.com or call 646-665-4961.

All the best–
Deanna

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Market Report: December 2017

Regardless of how the tax reform bill is finalized, it appears that overall the residential real estate market in New York City may benefit as a result. While some buyers and sellers remain uncertain, in general, it seems that the market will continue to gain momentum as we approach 2018 and beyond. This projection is supported by the current economic indicators—the stock market continues to rise, bonuses are likely to be higher than last year, unemployment is down, interest rates are still near record lows, and the overall economy remains very strong. ​

For many sellers, buyers, and brokers, this year was a tough year to make or hold together deals because of the political uncertainty that the Trump administration has created. The constant barrage of news stories engendered some fear in the minds of many buyers, and trepidation among sellers.  This created a situation of false starts and stops: buyers second-guessing themselves and sellers feeling alternately lucky that they sold their property, albeit upset because they were compelled to sell at a lower price than they expected.

Due to the lower buyer’s confidence in 2017, some serious sellers had to lower their prices.  That created opportunity for buyers.  In fact, it appears that some of the pent up buyer’s demand is   manifesting now in the number of contract signings.  As of the beginning of December, the number of contracts that were signed in Manhattan properties during November was up by nearly 5% over November 2016. While contract volume is down from 2014-15, thus far the number of contracts signed in 2017 exceeds the number sold in 2016.  I attribute this to savvy buyers who understood that they had an opportunity to purchase at lower prices, as well as to realistic sellers who recognized that the market had changed.

In short, reality has begun to sink in the marketplace and buyers have become more confident.  All this is notwithstanding the impending tax reform bill. I think that says a lot about the potential strength of this market! Right now, I am advising sellers who want to put their properties on the market in the New Year.  As the new season begins, and it would be wise for buyers to consider purchasing early  in the year in the event that prices escalate as some predict will happen during the first half of 2018. If you have any inquires about the market conditions, please don’t hesitate to write to info@deannakory.com or call 646-665-4961.

All the best–
Deanna

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