Archive for DINKS

DINKs: Beautiful woman embracing husbandA DINK household is one “in which there are two incomes and no children… DINKs are often the target of marketing efforts for luxury items such as expensive cars and vacations”  as defined by www.investopedia.com

DINKs have a lot going for them.  With two incomes and none of the expenses required to raise a couple of kids, they are commonly the consumers of the best things in life from the finest restaurants and fabulous travel to luxury labels and premium services.  In fact, there’s a plethora of websites devoted solely to DINKs and a world of experts who are ready and able to help spend all that discretionary income.

The downside?  If there is one, it’s that he extra income also means they are likely to find themselves in the highest tax brackets.     That means that sheltering income is extremely important.  In addition to 401K’s, IRA’s, tax-deferred investments and the like, home ownership is virtually a no-brainer.

One excellent web site, Dual Income No Kids Finance, affirms that buying a home offers significant financial advantages for DINKS. Sharing the title of “co-grand poobahs,” bloggers Miel and James provide lots of info, including the average  net worth of DINK families:

DINKs

Given such high average income levels, Miel and James strongly advise investing in a home:“If you don’t own your home, and are in otherwise in good shape, you should strongly consider buying a home. There are number of benefits to owning your own place. First, and foremost you have a tremendous tax advantages as the mortgage interest and property tax [for Condos or the tax deductable portion of Coop maintenance] payments can be written off your taxes. Owning real estate also provides important protection against inflation and housing can be an important asset when you reach retirement after the mortgage is paid off.”

For those who are buying for the long term (five to ten years), possibly the best pay-off is the appreciation in the home’s value when it comes time to sell.  Traditionally, a home purchase has been one of the best possible investments. Please refer to the Prudential Douglas Elliman/Miller Samuel’s Manhattan 10 Year Residential Sales Trend Analysis (1999-2008 PDF).

Categories : DINKS
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Fed housing credit?

Fed housing credit?

Local media has been commenting since last August that New Yorkers seem to be blasé about the Recovery Package offer of $8,000 toward a new home. However, it was so popular nationally that Congress has extended that, and added a $6,500 offer for current owners who move.

Well, I wouldn’t pass it up if I were in the home market right now, and put my team to work finding out what you might buy with that free cash. Some new furniture and décor are obvious choices, and almost everyone needs something for their new home.

Or you could use it for other kinds of fun. Given my favorite pastimes, I might figure out how many lovely restaurant meals I could savor, including cuisine hot spots my wife and I usually reserve for special occasions.

But you have many other options. For about $600 to $1,600 you could score a pair of trendy Christian Louboutin shoes or boots at Saks, which offers 96 choices at your fingertips. Or there’s the current Prada event with hot items coming up, now available for pre-orders. While at Sak’s you could also pick up a steal on men’s watches, such as Breil Milano’s stainless steel chronograph strap watch at $1,250.

Or how about a Hermes bag? For classic Hermes, you can’t go wrong with the Birkin bag, starting at $6,000. Here’s a entire blog dedicated to the Birkin.

Here’s a tidbit from a local fashion blog: “Katie Holmes & Suri: Spotted on Madison Avenue of New York, little Suri had her own pint-sized version of Mom’s orange Hermes shopping bag. Later on, Katie was seen with a rare burgundy Garden Party Handbag that looked more like a boarding bag. The Hermes handbag offset her black pencil skirt and red heels. With all the goodies that could be stuffed into that spacious bag, Holmes was ready for anything.” The Evelyne, starting a bit under $2,500, is très chic now.

You can toast your new home with a rare champagne.  Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1993 is just $399.00 per 750 ml. bottle, limited to one per customer at Astor Wines.  Salon Blanc de Blanc, Le Mesnil – 1997 is more expensive at $459.99, but in greater supply.  You can buy a case of 6 for $2621.94.

Does your new co-op or condo allow pooches?  How about using your savings for today’s most expensive, pure bred, a Samoyed, starting at $3,000 or an English Bulldog at around $2,500.  On the other hand, if you adopt a nice homeless puppy from a shelter approved by the Humane Society, you’ll have lots of money to buy dog food and a really fancy collar, $18 and up from wwww.muttropolis.com.

And let’s not forget the sports fans.  How about season tickets to the Yankees next year?  Despite the World Series victory, top prices will actually decline, with field level seats at $250 per game for season ticket holders, down from $325 this year.

How much more stimulated could you get?  Check out my November 2 post  for housing stimulus dates and details. Go, Feds!

1 -The Numbers

  • Manhattan residential real estate has performed better than the broader U.S. real estate market.
  • Compared with losses of more than 40% for Los Angeles and San Francisco over the past few years, Miller Samuel reports in the third quarter 2009 Manhattan Residential Market Overview that the average price per square foot in Manhattan was $996 vs. $1289 as reported in the first quarter of 2008 , a price reduction of 23% from the peak.
  • Third-quarter 2009 data show prices declined at a lower rate while transaction volume surged 46%, a sign that the Manhattan market is starting to find its bottom.
  • As Donald Trump once said “It’s a water thing”. Manhattan is a landlocked island. While developers in most cities keep expanding outward, developers in Manhattan do not have this alternative.
  • Wall Street firms are expected to pay a record $140 billion in bonuses this year according to The Wall Street Journal. Regardless of whether these bankers deserve their lavish bonuses, their payday will boost Manhattan real estate prices.

2 -Capital of the World

  • Manhattan is a global must-see destination. Emerging markets like Brazil and China are creating wealth at a very high rate and churning out millionaires.
  • New York is often the first international destination new millionaires from emerging countries want to visit. It’s also one of the first places where they want to buy investment property or a pied-a-terre.

3- Diversity of Industry

  • Besides finance, New York has media, hospitality, advertising and professional services like law and accounting firms. These industries will be serving emerging-market economies and will benefit the local New York economy in terms of job creation and housing demand.
  • If not for the diversity of the current New York City economy, the unemployment rate would be even higher than 10.3% that was reported in August.
  • Sectors like education, health, leisure and hospitality have gained jobs, which partly offset the negative impact of the financial job losses.

4 -Quality of Life

  • New York City is one of the safest cities in the US.
  • The legal system is established and there is a better work-life balance compared with countries like China.
  • Transportation in Manhattan via the Subway system is efficient and reduces commuting time for those living in Manhattan.
  • The air in Manhattan is pristine compared to air in other global metropolises like Hong Kong.

Portions excerpted from NuWireInvestor reporting on a story written by Wei Min Tan of TheStreet.com

In addition to last week’s passage of a bill to extend through 2010 Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and FHA loan limits  to $729,750, the extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit is the pending business in the Has passed the Senate.

After a long week of negotiation on the credit, an agreement on the scope of both expansion and extension has been reached. The agreement on the extension and expansion of the credit is as follows:

  • Credit available for purchases before May 1, 2010. Prospective purchasers with binding contracts in place as of April 30, 2010 will be allowed an additional 60 days to complete the transaction.
  • Credit remains at $8000 for first-time purchasers. No change to definition of first-time purchaser.
  • New $6500 tax credit for repeat buyers who purchase between December 1, 2009 and May 1, 2010. Repeat buyers must have lived in their homes consecutively for 5 of the previous 8 years.
  • Income limits are expanded to $125,000 on a single return and $225,000 on a joint return. Current law $20,000 phase-out retained.
  • New anti-fraud limitations are imposed.

The White House has indicated that President Obama will sign the has signed the legislation into law.

Here are the details directly fro the IRS.

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Consumer Confidence Indez

All real estate is local.

As I previously discussed here, the S&P/Case-Shiller indices are virtually useless for tracking Manhattan residential sales. Case-Shiller does not include sales of co-op and condo apartments even though those property types account for 99% of what is sold in Manhattan.

The data through August 2009, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller  Home Price Indices show that the annual rate of decline of the 10-City and 20-City Composites improved compared to last month’s reading. This marks approximately seven months of improved readings in these statistics, beginning in early 2009.

This perceived improvement of real estate prices, if you can call smaller declines an improvement, is as irrelevant now as when I reported the uselessness of the S&P/Case-Shiller doom-and-gloom report back in June .

What I do believe is significant is that the Consumer Confidence Index as reported today by The Conference Board today dropped to 47.7 from a revised 53.4 in September.  A measure of employment availability deteriorated to a 26-year low.

Unemployment in New York City (specifically in Manhattan) is very high. This fact, in addition to the seasonal slowdown in residential sales, will cause price reductions on properties where the sellers are motivated to move.

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Visiting open houses, scanning the Internet sites and dreaming of where you’ll place your sofa is all well and good, but when it’s time to get serious about buying a new home, there are some basic steps that will position you to find the right place and get the best deal.

Once you’ve decided you want to buy and that your financial basics look sound, the smartest thing you can do is put together your own dedicated search team – a buyer’s broker, a real estate attorney and a bank/mortgage broker.  Choose carefully and make sure they are well-versed in real estate in New York City.  Ask them about their experience.

Buy Into a Buyer’s Broker

A buyer’s broker will help you at every step of your purchase, from helping you figuring out what kind of apartment you want at the price you can afford, to the subtleties of the co-op interview.

Make sure you like your broker – you’re likely going to be spending a lot of time together.  Be sure that he or she listens to you and really hears what you’re saying.  Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time seeing spaces you’re not interested in.  Want a big kitchen?  Lots of light?  Outdoor space?  An older, pre-war building with lots of charm or a brand new, sleek and modern place, a view of the Empire State Building?  If he or she can’t get into your head, the search process won’t be as pleasant as it should be.

Be aware that most agents in New York are seller’s brokers.  If you meet an agent at an open house, for example, you need to keep in mind that you’re speaking with the seller’s representative.  Any hints you give about how much you’re prepared to spend will be reported back to the seller – in which case, you’re likely to spend top dollar.

Why?   Because you’re chatting with a seller’s agent, whose top priority is to show the property in its most favorable light and negotiate the highest price and best terms for the seller. New York law is crystal clear on the duty of listing and selling agents – they must provide “undivided loyalty” to the seller.  So if they can figure out how much you’re prepared to spend, their job is to make sure you spend every cent.

The seller’s agent may offer to have another agent at their firm to act as your representative in making an offer and negotiating for the purchase.  That’s perfectly legal, but being asked to step in and assist the buyer at the last minute may not be the ideal scenario.  First and foremost, it doesn’t give the buyer the advantage of having a dedicated advocate for his or her needs nor can he or she negotiate as effectively as a buyer’s broker who has been working with you all through the process.

Be Prepared

The other representatives you’ll need when you want to buy a property are a banker/mortgage broker and a real estate attorney.

Finding a good banker and pre-qualifying for a mortgage will not only make you an attractive buyer to all those folks hoping to sell their homes, but it will also ensure that you’re looking in the right price range.  A loan officer should request your credit score to do a pre-approval letter, stating that you qualify for a mortgage up to a stated amount (you’ll need to pay for a credit check, usually $20 or less), and be able to explain what kind of rates and mortgages her or his company could offer you today along with what information they will need if you apply for a mortgage with the company.  You’ll know exactly what you can – and can’t afford.   You won’t fall in love with something you can’t have – and when you do find that perfect place, you’ll be in a strong position to negotiate for it.

Locating a real estate savvy attorney will also smooth the way. An attorney in addition to being expert in  New York City real estate, should be well-versed in reviewing co-op and condo financial statements (your accountant could help here), should plan to read its board meeting minutes to look for items like upcoming expenses, lawsuits pending etc. and be familiar with the latest inclusions/exclusions in NYC real estate contracts.

So, first things first.

When you decide to start looking, take time to find the right folks to ensure your search is a success– your buyer’s broker, real estate attorney, and loan officer.  You can call around, ask friends – and even ask prospective members of the team to recommend others they’ve worked with in the past.

With your team lined up, you’re ready to look, and to buy.  Now, about that sofa …