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Spring in Briarcliff Manor - 04/28/10 11:18 AM
We have 3 Cherry Blossom trees in our rear yard that have to be at least 40 years old. In April, when they bloom, it creates an explosion of pink beauty that dominates the view from our rear window. There is something comforting about seeing my children play in their shade. I often think of Mrs. Hilpert, the previous owner of our home, and how much she must have loved those trees. We love them as well.
I have always loved the spring and everything about it; the tantalizingly close summer to come, the end of school, the shedding of (6 comments)
A Few Things You May Not Know About Your Real Estate Agent - 04/27/10 09:44 PM
I am your agent. I am a professional. I have a college degree. I value your business; as a matter of fact, if I don't produce a result for you and my other clients, my kids don't eat. It is in that context that I am offering this post, in good spirits, good humor, and in all truth. This is a compilation of things I have either wished I told some clients in the past, or in fact did tell them. I don't carry your file in my car. Even if I did, I can't read it while driving. So please (8 comments)
Beware of Deadline -Crazy Buyers - 04/25/10 10:49 PM
The crazies are out there. You might be working with one right now and not know it. But they are out there, and they aren't going to be nice if things don't go their way. The crazies are the last minute home buyers who want to qualify for the tax credit by April 30. If you have gotten a call or inquiry from a "last minute" buyer in the past week or two, be very careful. At best you may end up spinning your wheels, and at worst you could have a grievance or lawsuit brewing. Here's what I mean: you (7 comments)
What Qualifies as Hardship in a Short Sale? - 04/25/10 10:09 PM
What qualifies as hardship in a short sale? I get this question fairly often, and it should be addressed. First, I'll tell you what does not qualify as hardship, and that is simply being underwater. If you owe more than you are worth, being upside down alone is not adequate hardship to get a short sale approved. That is only half the equation. There has to be a financial hardship. In every case of hardship I have ever seen, a loss of income has been involved. It could be unemployment, divorce, being laid off, the failure of a business, or any (1 comments)
Open House 109 Elk, New Rochelle 1-3 pm Sunday 4/26 - 04/25/10 11:08 AM
I will be holding 109 Elk in New Rochelle open today from 1-3 pm. It is a 3500 square foot English Tudor with 6 bedrooms, 3.2 baths, and a carriage house garage. List price is $975,000 and annual taxes are $22,429. The lot is very large for the area-.39 acres. Here is the write up from the MLS, which is a good summary: Magnificent English Tudor in prestigious Forest Heights, on the corner of a spacious .39 acre yard. Formal entrance & foyer, balcony off master suite, 6 bedrooms plus 3.2 baths. All electric is updated, sunroom has heated flooring. Two-story (0 comments)
Crunchtime for Stimulus Deadline - 04/22/10 12:36 AM
The latter half of April has been maniacally busy for me because of the stimulus deadline of April 30. I have been working nonstop for the past week, save for collapsing at home at days end. It takes every waking minute just to handle what is coming across my desk. Offers, inspections, contracts, and showings showings showings. I miss my kids. At least, I miss my awake kids. We are heading into the last realistic weekend for any area buyer to get into contract by the deadline, since we take some time to get contracts out (thank you lawyers). Consequently, I (8 comments)
The Three R's of Real Estate - 04/19/10 09:02 PM
I came up with this as I was speaking to a referred listing prospect. It might be hot air, but I think it makes sense. Reputation. This is where it starts. Reputation is the cornerstone for an agent or company. The good will of the public and our peers is a prerequisite to succeeding in our industry. If your name isn't trusted, you have no chance of making inroads in a competitive market. Unknown is OK, distrusted is fatal. Known and trusted is the best. The goal of anyone in our industry is to get their good name out there. Referrals. (7 comments)
A Modest Real Estate Proposal - 04/18/10 11:05 PM
I am not a big staging guy. I simply don't have the eye for it, and it is best left to professional stagers. I know a few tricks- tidy up, clear off the table and counter tops, put the toilet lid down, that sort of thing. I don't care if people have their kids pictures on the fridge, or family photos on the stairway wall. That makes the place a home. Some disagree. That's just my feeling. There is one thing I saw today, however, that I am pretty sure is a no-no. I think that taping your bankruptcy papers to the wall next to your desk (11 comments)
I'm Worth Every Penny - 04/18/10 08:02 PM
I've noticed something lately. Even though sellers are getting less for their homes than years past, commissions are not down. I see more bonuses offered. I see strong cooperative commission offered in the MLS. Brokerage as an industry has not been decimated by the market downturn or the advance of technology the way other industries have. In spite of the naysayers and blabbermouths at the keyboard, the market is efficient, and it is proving the worth of brokerage. Every company that was going to "change the industry" hasn't. Every trend predicted to supplant brokers with technology has not manifested itself. And it won't. (4 comments)
The 1,096 Day Short Sale - 04/17/10 09:11 PM
If you have a short sale that is 6 months or more into the process, you'll appreciate this: We got an approval yesterday on a home I listed in 2007. 2007. It has been an odyssey to say the least: mystery liens, family tragedy, crazy buyers, deals dying, and 3 years of hard work. I listed this home in May of 2007 for $1.25 million. We had an all-cash offer that fell through, and mostly because the buyer was a lunatic who had a screw loose. The MLS eventually sent out a warning to all participants about an all-cash buyer that made people (9 comments)
Sell REOs Only to Owner Occupants the First 2 Weeks - 04/17/10 10:31 AM
I sold my first HUD home in the 90's sometime. A HUD home, if you don't already know, is a government-owned foreclosure that is administered by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There is a little bit of red tape involved in a HUD transaction, but they typically go well. One rule HUD has on their homes is that they cannot be bid on by a non-owner occupant the first two weeks they are available. In other words, only owner occupants get the first shot at a HUD home for 2 weeks. If the owner occupants don't bite, investors are allowed (4 comments)
Good Boy, Max - 04/16/10 12:21 AM
Gregory is our 5-year old. He is on the spectrum for autism, and this is one of his mother's and my greatest challenges. Last year Gregory learned to climb the rear yard fence, which caused quite a scare the first time it happened. I found him in the park a block away, happily playing on the jungle gym. The moments between discovering he was missing and finding him were among the worst I have ever experienced. We therefore have to keep an eye on him 100% of the time. It comes with the territory. He has wanderlust, and no sense of (18 comments)
Tax Credit Deadline Makes Early Due Diligence Crucial - 04/15/10 11:26 PM
One of the things we all dread in a transaction is an 11th-hour problem that delays or cancels a closing until it is solved. It could be a certificate of occupancy for a deck or addition, an open permit, or an unknown lien. When these things are discovered, it causes mad scrambles to get the code inspector out to sign off, an expensive rate lock extension, or dicey living arrangements for people who have given notice to a landlord, just to name a few problems. However, the stakes are now even higher: it could cost the buyer their $8,000 tax credit. (4 comments)
"The Keys" Seminar a Success - 04/14/10 10:14 PM
This evening was, at long last, "The Keys" home ownership seminar at Tuscan Grille in Briarcliff. About 25 people attended, and it was a lively session on the Westchester County home buying process, mortgage approvals, short sales, closing costs, and many other engaging topics. I spoke first (I was a little nervous) and am told I did fine. United Northern Bank, LTD was my co-presenter, and sponsored the event. I am very happy with the material we covered; ANYONE who was in attendance got some very good information (and some really good dinner. Tuscan served salad, penne a la vodka, chicken (2 comments)
Ossining Real Estate Market April 2010 - 04/13/10 09:52 PM
Ossining can mean many things- it can refer to the Village of Ossining, the Town of Ossining, or an Ossining delivery address in the town of New Castle or Yorktown. In the market data I am referring to, it will mean all properties in the Ossining school district, which is pretty much all of the above. All data is taken from the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service for the past 180 days market activity for single family homes only. 83 homes sold in Ossining in the past 180 days at a median sales price of $445,000. 24 homes are currently pending sale or (4 comments)
Briarcliff Manor Real Estate Market April 2010 - 04/12/10 11:24 AM
Ann and I have lived in Briarcliff Manor since 2007 but the fact of the matter is that I have known Briarcliff as long as I have been alive; it is one of two villages in the town of Ossining. A small portion of Briarcliff lies in the Town of Mount Pleasant. This post will cover the Briarcliff School district, and not the small part of Briarcliff that is served by Ossining Schools. All information is taken from the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service for single family homes. There have been 17 homes sold in Briarcliff in the past 180 days. The median sales (3 comments)
Riverdale Riding Club- The Horse Ranch of the Bronx - 04/11/10 09:13 PM
As contrary as "Horses" and "The Bronx" might sound, there is in fact a very notable riding club in Riverdale, right on Broadway. Riverdale Equestrian Centre is right there at the Intersection of Broadway and 254th Street, with an enormous facility at the north side of Van Cortlandt Park. It is an impressive set up. The club itself is on 21 acres, with 62 horse stalls. They have 8 paddocks, 4 riding rings, an indoor arena, and there is immediate access to Van Cortlandt Park's 1000+ acres with miles of trails. They offer a summer camp, an after school program, and (4 comments)
Hendrick Hudson School District Real Estate Market - 04/11/10 05:45 PM
The Hendrick Hudson School District is located in northwest Westchester County, spanning from the northern tip of the village of Croton on Hudson to the southern part of the city of Peekskill. It includes the village of Buchanan and the hamlets of Montrose, Verplanck and parts of southern Cortlandt Manor. This is River Town country, which means that there are homes and neighborhoods with water views. The area is home to the Indian Point Nuclear power plant and the VA hospital in Montrose. It is served by the Hudson Line of the Metro North railroad. On a personal note, Hen Hud High (0 comments)
There are just three days until the free home buying seminar along with free (and delicious) food this Wednesday, April 14 at 6pm at Tuscan Grille (formerly Torchia's) at 518 North State Road in Briarcliff Manor, NY. If you have never enjoyed Tuscan Grille's yummy menu, you are in for a treat. Skip the cooking Wednesday and head over for an informative and dynamic session on seldom discussed but incredibly important, money-saving topics that will equip you for smarter, better -informed home buying knowledge and help you avoid expensive mistakes. The mission of The Keys home buying seminar is to make you "bullet-proof" in buying a home in the 2010 market, which is a time (0 comments)
Sometimes you Lose a House You Thought You Had - 04/11/10 08:53 AM
It happens. My buyers had an accepted offer less than 24 hours old and were preparing to call their home inspector when the listing agent called me. A competing offer raised their bid to a number higher than ours, and the seller was giving us the courtesy of a chance to match or beat before they considered switching horses. We do it a little different here in New York; attorneys prepare contracts, and until they are signed, anything can happen. Most times you get one buyer. No issues there. But even in this market, nicer homes can get competing offers. Often, (39 comments)
Allan Dalton to Speak to Westchester Real Estate Professionals April 29 - 04/10/10 11:30 PM
In light of the fact that I just spouted about the importance of live classes over online courses, here is a great live event that is open to all local professionals: Westchester Real Estate Professionals puts on a monthly event at the Rye Grill that I have gotten great value from, and the coming event on April 29 will be no exception. Allan Dalton, RISMedia Chief Marketing Officer, will be speaking on Social Media for Real Estate Professionals with his "Dalton Don'ts and Do's." Mr Dalton has quite a resume and should hold up the organization's reputation for giving fantastic value in (3 comments)
Online Licensing Courses are Bad for the Real Estate Industry - 04/10/10 07:28 AM
Not long ago, the licensing requirements for real estate salespeople in New York became more rigorous, with the 40-hour course expanded to 75 hours. It was a good move. I still recall my class in 1996, given by the real estate school at the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS. My instructors were knowledgeable and engaging, the classes were lively and punctuated by debate and discussion, and I befriended a number of classmates at breaks, lunch and after class study sessions. Some of the throw away comments the instructors made even stick with me today. I was enriched if I never sold a house. New York (11 comments)
Attorneys Killing Short Sales - 04/08/10 10:10 PM
Here in New York we have attorneys heavily involved in real estate transactions. Their function technically is to handle contracts, act as escrowees in the holding of good faith deposits, and examine title. They are another advocate for our clients. By and large, most attorneys play it straight and do not mother hen, interfere, or sabotage. But some do. I could write posts on attorneys who take a week to send contracts out, debate language with the other side's lawyer until the buyer walks, who won't return phone calls, or who 2nd-guess brokers until our credibility with the client is undermined. The subtext (31 comments)
Thoughts on Fair Housing Month - 04/07/10 04:51 PM
April is Fair Housing Month in observance of the 1968 landmark legislation that ended housing discrimination by law. It seems hard to believe that a generation and a half ago that the things we take for granted were the subject of debate. Fair housing and equal access are so ingrained in our collective minds and profession that it seems inconceivable that we would ever discriminate based on race, religion or anything else for that matter. I recall hearing Cornell West giving a history of fair housing and telling how race was even written into FHA underwriting guidelines, how licensees would block-bust and steer, and even how (31 comments)
Providing the Mortgage Commitment is Required for Good Faith - 04/06/10 04:14 PM
Certain details are simplified for expediency. Recently, we had a short sale fall apart because the buyer's circumstances supposedly changed and they could no longer qualify. It stunk a little, and the attorney, who had done yeoman work to get the short sale approved, indicated she felt that the deposit should not be returned. We had been told that the buyers mortgage commitment had been issued a month prior; we were never furnished with a copy, and therefore we were never privy to the conditions. In the end, because we were left in the dark and the threat of a lawsuit and subsequent (3 comments)
Croton on Hudson, NY: Arrowcrest Subdivision - 04/05/10 04:56 PM
Arrowcrest is small, exclusive neighborhood in Croton on Hudson that has a beautiful view of the Hudson River and abuts Hudson National Golf Club. The striking thing about the development is the great job they did to blend Arrowcrest homes in with the wooded nature of the area. The builder did not "scorch the Earth" and clear cut every inch the way I have lamented in the past. This is not only prettier, it yields more privacy for the homes. Although the oldest home here is only about 12, the maturity of the Arrowcrest neighborhood makes it feel far more established. (3 comments)
If it Doesn't Feel Like Home, They Aren't Buying - 04/04/10 04:45 PM
I just received a "rebuttal" to feedback I left on a home I showed earlier this week. The issue was that this 3 bedroom home wasn't really a 3 bedroom home unless you like walking through one bedroom to get to another. The only solution would be to cannibalize the middle room with a wall to create a hallway, rendering the room absurdly tiny. There is no good answer. The "hall" solution created a new problem. There may be people who didn't mind the tandem arrangement. One thing is for sure- nobody likes closet-sized bedrooms. My point, of course is not about floorplans; (80 comments)
Is There an Advantage to Buying After the April 30 Deadline? - 04/04/10 05:42 AM
I have blogged before that the stimulus package, set to expire April 30, has fulfilled it's purpose. Sales in Westchester for the first quarter of 2010 have dwarfed those of the 2009 first quarter. This may seem hard to believe, but that $8000 tax credit is now over a year old. The Westchester County housing market, good or bad, has been reflective of this law for quite a while. With no substantive efforts I know of to extend the credit, after May 1 Westchester will have a more organic market with which to either put up or shut up. So what (6 comments)
J. Philip Real Estate is Hiring Agents - 04/03/10 08:20 PM
I started out as a sole operator in 2005. I hired my first licensee in 2006 and as of April 1 we have 20 members on our team with more coming aboard soon after. Some are former clients; some are agents we did deals with before and liked me (no accounting for taste). Whatever the reason, the team is growing because our company is a good place to build a real estate career. Ann and I are a team, with her as the administrative goddess and myself in the Hot Air department. It works. Our agents have great backup on both fronts. What's more, which (5 comments)
Briarcliff Manor, NY- The Tree Streets - 04/03/10 08:02 PM
The Tree Streets is an unofficial nickname of a small neighborhood in the village of Briarcliff Manor that has a number -but not all- of streets named after trees. What sets it apart from much of the rest of the village is the moderate prices and predominant amount of pre war homes. The Tree Steets are also conveniently located...REALLY conveniently located. Todd Elementary School (Briarcliff Manor School district) is walking distance, and the neighborhood borders the 9A highway and the Taconic State Parkway. The village park, pool, downtown, tennis courts, library and Pace University's Briarcliff campus are also very close.
Upper Manhattan, NYC: Castle Village Co-op - 04/03/10 06:59 PM
Castle Village is the sort of apartment community that dispels the myth of New York City as the Concrete Jungle. Located in the Hudson Heights section of Upper Manhattan, it occupies a site where a castle once indeed stood, with a spectacular view of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge, and the Palisades in New Jersey. Built in 1939, Castle Village has classic pre war architecture that gives it charm and warmth both on the exterior and the interior of the apartments.
Co op apartments are a type of ownership that is virtually unique to New York, although they do (4 comments)
Why I Love to Work on My Yard - 04/03/10 08:07 AM
This post is inspired by Richard Weisser's excellent piece on his upcoming Spring yard work. I really don't have the time or energy right now to stop and become my own part-time landscaper, but the time that I do take working in my yard are times I relish. I'll be planting a lilac from an oversized pot it has lived in for the past 3 years when I transplanted it from my old home. It was adopted from a patch of lilac my mother planted there in the 1950's when they first moved from Yonkers to Ossining. When I put my mother's lilac (8 comments)
Is it All About the Commission Split? I Think Not. - 04/01/10 10:54 PM
Let me first say that no good agent will work for less than they feel they deserve. However, I know agents who could leave where they currently are for a higher split yet choose not to change brokerages. Entropy? Fear of change? What makes an agent stay for a lower split, not leave for a a larger split, or, in some cases, leave a higher split for a smaller one? When I first got into the business in 1996 I was given what I thought at the time to be a generous split of 60%. It went up to 65% after (8 comments)
Home Inspectors "Bedside Manner" is Essential - 04/01/10 11:31 AM
I have great respect for home inspectors. They perform a crucial job in the real estate process, and most I have worked with do their work with merit. Just about every good inspector I have ever dealt with has understood two very fundamental truths: Be thorough and accurate. Do not scare the crap out of the buyer over a minor finding. I recently had an alarmist experience with a home inspector from an engineering firm. It was my listing, and he arrived a half hour late. I then watched aghast as we spent an hour in the basement alone, 4 hours total, (4 comments)
Is the First Offer the Best Offer? - 04/01/10 02:09 AM
There has long been an argument on how best to handle the first 30 days of a listing, and that is whether or not to speculate a bit at a slightly higher price, or to enter the market at a more aggressive number in the hope of a knockout punch. Some sellers, when they get an early offer, express an interest in holding out for a higher number; after all, they've only been on the market a week or a month. Many licensees I know believe that the best offer typically comes early. What is the truth? Every listing is different, (11 comments)
Phil Faranda is broker and owner of J. Philip Real Estate LLC in Briarcliff Manor, NY. Since founding the firm as a sole practitioner in late 2005, the team has grown to over 30 agents & closed 350+ transactions valued at $140 million. He is in his 4th term as Vice President of the HGMLS. This blog commentary is geared toward consumers and industry colleagues alike. You can reach him at (914) 723-8900. Warning: *Sarcasm and irony advisory at all times.*
There is no doubt in my mind that the house would still be on the market if it wasn't for Phil's proactive efforts.
Phil was very responsive to our requests; he was very professional and respectful; he always gave us his honest opinion on the questions we asked. ... more
Phil is a very honorable and respectful realtor. He has gone way above and beyond the call of duty for me not only once, but twice. He helped sell ... more
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