Archive for June, 2011

Jun
14

Open House Checklist

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In Manhattan, Open Houses are a way of life when trying to sell an apartment.  Think of an Open House as opening night for your favorite Broadway play.  You want the rave reviews that will bring in the offers!

You’ve done all the cleaning and maintenance recommended by your Broker or Stager.  Here are a few last minute things to do before your open house. 

  • Pick up and store loose toys
  • Pick up and put away anything that doesn’t belong in the space
  • Put away last minute clutter (mail, newspapers, keys, etc) in a safe place
  • Put away toiletries, cosmetics, appliances in bath and bedrooms and store in basket/caddy in linen closet or vanity
  • Secure small personal valuables (electronics, jewelry, etc)
  • Turn on all the lights in every room
  • Turn on interior cabinet lights
  • Open blinds and window coverings
  • Make sure your apartment is spotless:  wipe down cabinets and countertops, tables and mirrors.
  • Vacuum high traffic areas
  • Fluff pillows and straighten coffee table
  • Close closet doors
  • Make sure your pets are out of the apartment for their safety and the safety of visitors.  Also make sure their dishes, litter boxes, beds are removed.
  • Empty garbage cans, especially kitchen and bathroom
  • Set out ‘good’ towels in bathroom
  • Toilet seats and lids should be down
  • Make beds and straighten pillows in all bedrooms
  • Fresh flowers in strategic locations (but don’t overdo it!)

 Read more about presenting your home in the best possible light from an insightful home stager I have worked with, Donna Dazzo.

Categories : Selling, Staging
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Jun
10

Week in Review: News You Can Use June 10, 2011

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  • Foreclosures fall 38% in May for New York City according to data from PropertyShark.com, the total number of residential foreclosures fell last month from May 2010, however co-op apartments made up 79% of all new foreclosure auctions scheduled. Read it all in Crain’s New York
  • Federal Reserve publishes Beige Book June 8, 2011 “The Second District’s economy has continued to expand since the last report, though at a somewhat diminished pace.”
  • City’s Design Sector grew 75% the past decade:  “More designers are employed here than in any other U.S. city, thanks in part to an explosion in recent years of Brooklyn-based companies, said the report, released on Wednesday by The Center for an Urban Future, a think tank in Manhattan. It noted that the number of Brooklyn-based firms spiked from 257 in 2001 to 433 in 2009, for a 70% increase”.  Read it all in Crain’s New York.
  • The Bullish Case for the U.S. Economy  “Investment strategist Robert Doll says America’s edge is faster population growth, companies that are global in scope, and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.”  Read it all in the Wall Street Journal.

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Recently I wrote a 3 part series on Coop financial statements. In Part 1, we discussed the General Principles of a Coop Corporation and the Telltale signs of a GOOD Building. Part 2 discussed what to look for in Coop Financials. In Part 3 we look at assessing a Coop’s financial condition.

As I pointed out, Coops seldom conduct a study to determine the remaining useful lives of the building’s systems and major components. Additionally, coops are seldom required (if ever) by their governing documents to accumulate funds in advance of the need of such repairs.

Depending on the size of the building, emergency and unplanned repairs can result in a serious increase in maintenance or special assessments. High maintenance and assessments drive down apartment selling prices.

The board did all of this work without raising maintenance or passing a special assessment.

With an Engineering Systems Report, a 5 year Capital Budget Plan and a culture of working together for the benefit of all residents, 360 East 72nd Street was a rare example of a Coop, thanks to its Board, that took a building with serious problems and rebuilt most of the infrastructure….The board did all of this work without raising maintenance or passing a special assessment.

The Costs:

Brick replacements/balconies $8.5 million
A/C chiller $995,000
Oil tank $213,000
35th floor roof $510,000
Elevators (machinery) $510,000
Elevators (cabs) $170,000
18th Floor roof $249,000

Total $11,600,500

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Jun
09

New York City Consumer Confidence Up

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Consumer confidence has always been, in my opinion, one of the major leading indicators for the real estate market in New York City. When people feel bullish about the future they are more likely to buy a coop or condo in Manhattan. Great news for sellers.

Overall Consumer Confidence increased in eight of nine New York State MSA’s (metropolitan statistical areas) in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the latest Quarterly Consumer Confidence survey released today by the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI).  At 70.4, the New York City region had the highest overall consumer confidence of the nine regions, and the Binghamton region had the lowest, at 58.4.  Current and future confidence increased in eight of the nine regions. 

  • New York City region had the highest overall consumer confidence of the nine regions
  • Consumers in New York City and Long Island are most bullish about the future
  • With this consumer stability and in some case increased optimism, we have pent up demand beginning to register in plans to buy especially computers and furniture with home buying showing some signs of life.

Although the May report shows a decrease of current confidence 66.3, there was an increase in future confidence to 72.7

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Jun
03

The Mortgage Maze – A Road map to approval

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In years past, nearly anyone who could fog a mirror could qualify for a mortgage.  Not anymore.  Those days are long gone.  From stricter underwriting to more documentation, face it, getting a mortgage isn’t as easy as it once was.

Be prepared is the name of the game. 

  • As part of your real estate team, in addition to an attorney, financial advisor/accountant and real estate broker, seek out a mortgage professional you can trust.  They will be privy to all aspects of your financial life.
  • Check your credit score and review credit reports
  • Gather your Documents
    • Two years of complete Federal Tax Returns including W-2s
    • Two recent and consecutive period’s paystubs
    • two complete and consecutive months bank statements
    • two complete and consecutive months brokerage account statements
    • one recent quarterly retirement account statements for each retirement account
    • photo ID
    • Mortgage professional will review and point out any potential red flags
    • Complete mortgage application and submit to lender.
    • Get a pre-approval letter.

With the approval letter in hand, your real estate broker will have a better understanding of the price range you qualify and can show you properties that fit your needs and budget.  Your broker will be able to negotiate from a stronger position.  Before you know it, you’ll be moving into your new apartment.

 Adapted from an article written by Richard Martin/SVP/DE Capital Mortgage an affiliate of Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Jun
03

ARMs Making A Comback?

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ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) were very popular during the boom years, but fell out of favor because the rates were very close to those of fixed-rate mortgages.  Recently, because of historically low interest rates for fixed rate mortgages, the difference between fixed and adjustable-rate loans is targeted to bet widest in eight years, according to HSH Associates, which tracks mortgage rates.

 Do they make sense?

 Ask yourself:

  • Are you going to stay in the property 5 years or less?
  • Are you going to be able to refinance within 5 years?
  • If the rate adjusts upward in 5 years, are you going to be able to make increased payments?
  • Will you be able to sell for more than the loan balance when you want?

If you are a gambler, betting that interest rates won’t rise or you can sell before they do, maybe.  If you will only stay for 5 years or less, an ARM possibly makes sense.

Let’s look at some numbers.  One popular ARM loan is a 5/1 ARM.  It has a fixed rate for the first 5 years, then adjusts every year thereafter.  A recent ARM 5/1 was quoted at 3.4%.  The average 30 year fixed rate mortgage is 4.72%.  The difference between the two is called the ‘spread’.  In this example, the spread is 1.32%, big enough to save thousands of dollars during the first five years of a mortgage.

Although there are naysayers, ARMs are becoming more attractive, and may be an option for some borrowers. Weigh the pros and cons, speak to your financial advisor and make sure the ARM is right for you.

Based in part on an article from the Wall Street Journal by AnnaMaria Androitis