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A Clever Invention I Don't Think Will Catch On - 08/31/10 06:03 PM
Just because you can multi task doesn't mean you should multi task!! The things we real estate brokers see out in the field. I don't think an explanation is needed, the video tells it all. Suffice to say that I was showing clients a home in Westchester County, NY and we came upon this particular comode with an unusual characteristic. While it technically should be ingenious, it still clicks the "gross out" circuit. We got a great laugh out of it. Would you use this toilet in your home? In your master bedroom? Does multitasking this particular way appeal?
Down Payment Assistance Programs Coming to Westchester County - 08/31/10 05:23 PM
Both state and county are getting the word out that downpayment assistance and grant money is being made available to Westchester and surrounding county home buyers. Some highlights of state programs include the following: Veterans assistance Remodeling purchase money mortgages Down payment assistance loans Construction incentives SONYMA low interest and low down payment programs These programs do have certain loan limits and income requirements. County programs are also available both through the Westchester County Division of Housing and Community Renewal (up to $30,000) and a $7500 first time home buyer incentive. Bronx, Dutchess and Putnam also have first time home buyer assistance programs. I will blog (1 comments)
Do I Stink? - 08/31/10 04:35 PM
Imagine a buyer looking online for a home. They examine the inventory, veto the ones they dislike, dutifully check off their favorites, and compile a list of homes they'd like to see. It has taken over an hour, but final choices are made and one of my listings made the cut. They like the photos, the property description is enticing, and the house looks like a winner. The buyer want to see my listing! Next, they call their buyer agent and request to schedule a showing. I have succeeded, right? I am bringing another set of eyeballs to my listing thanks in (15 comments)
Why Your Westchester NY Home Expired Unsold - 08/30/10 02:52 PM
While Westchester County has remained a sought after destination for home buyers and 450 single family homes closed in July, there were still an enormous number of homes that quietly came off the market this August, unsold. While it would be easy to dismiss the results on the poor market, even a casual examination of the homes that the public threw back reveals more than the seller might think they know. If one were to compare the sales with the expired listings, I see trends too considerable to ignore. While success always leaves clues, so does failure. It isn't just Murphy (37 comments)
Do It Yourself Hell - 08/29/10 10:31 PM
I don't have any issues with For Sale By Owners. It is a free market. I equally have no issue with FSBOs who pay a fee to enter their home on the MLS and then try and act as their own listing agent. What I do have a problem with is people who distrust agents because they paint us with a broad brush in the lack of integrity department but then turn around and misrepresent themselves. That wastes my time. Today I walked through a home which was billed as a "totally renovated home." It was not. It was an incomplete, sloppy, half (8 comments)
You Never Know - 08/28/10 12:11 AM
Perhaps because we speak with so many people in the course of a day, the odds of something memorable happening are far higher for brokers and agents than someone stuck in a cubicle all week. For example, a few months ago in Manhattan I walked out of a deli and saw a guy being arrested. On my car. Arrested I see every so often. Frisked and cuffed on my car? That was a first. Today was another (happier) first. I was walking through a new listing that was tenant occupied. They actually weren't staying in the house. It was filled to (19 comments)
Friday Funny- Sign of the Times - 08/27/10 07:34 AM
Three real estate brokers were chatting after an association meeting about how slow business was. The subject of walk in business came up, and the first two expressed how long it had been since they last had a deal result from someone "walking in" off the street into their office. The third broker however, said he just had a "walk in" and proceeded to tell how fast the transaction went. "The guy just walked in off the street, told me exactly what he wanted, and I was able to find it for him almost immediately, right at my desk. Fastest transaction of the year." (16 comments)
Large Associations and Large MLS Systems - 08/26/10 08:31 AM
Inman had news yesterday of REALTOR association mergers, and posed the question of the value of such moves. Given my involvement in a large territory spanning half a dozen MLS systems and many more boards, I feel that I should weigh in on the matter. I am a big fan of large MLS systems, but not terribly jazzed about big boards. Ths state of Connecticut aparently agrees with me- aside from Fairfield County, they have a statewide MLS but have retained local boards, often on a town level. More on that later. Big MLSes are good, but so are smaller boards. (39 comments)
Westchester County Bucks Downward Trend in July - 08/25/10 08:25 AM
By now the whole country is talking about the over 25% drop in sales this past July in the wake of the stimulus. Here in the state of New York the sales were down 34.9% overall. Locally, Rockland County was down about 27% and Putnam was down 30.6%. But Westchester County was up, a surprisingly strong 8.7%, with a median sales price of $799,000 (source: Journal News). It just goes to show that all real estate is local. But why would Westchester buck the trend? How can a county next to other counties with declining numbers have such healthy results? In my opinion, Westchester benefited at (6 comments)
I just spoke to a prospective client who has a bit of a complicated situation with a house he owns. It is vacant, and I met him there today along with a gentleman who turned out to be an older brother. Without going into detail, this is not an easy scenario, and the guy clearly needs help. He asked if my listing contract was an "exclusive," which is a term I hear in the boroughs but seldom in Westchester. The listing contract we use is from the board and it is called an Exclusive Right to Sell. "That's not what my brother did when (53 comments)
The New York suburbs are often funny about real estate signs. One town won't allow a sign with a company name, allowing only "For Sale By Broker" or "For Sale By Owner" on the panels. Another municipality prohibits anything bigger than 12" x 12". Some places ban signs altogether, while others have rules rendering them useless, such as one that will only allow them in a front window. On a set back home that does nothing. One local city is OK with "For Sale" signs but outlaws "Sold" signs. In every one of these municipalities, I have seen chintzy yard signs (55 comments)
Peekskill Real Estate Market July 2010 - 08/22/10 08:14 PM
Peekskill is one of the older River towns in Westchester County. I have blogged about Peekskill before, and I have done quite a bit of business there. It is by far the northernmost city in Westchester county, and in addition to being affordable, the quality of life there seems to improve by the week. This is the market data for July of 2010 for single family homes in Peekskill, and all information is sourced from the Westchester-Putnam MLS.
Prices are way down. Median price last month was $305,000 and July of last year was $310,000, but this July it was $184,500. There (0 comments)
Yorktown Real Estate Market July 2010 - 08/22/10 07:37 PM
Yorktown is a larger town in north Westchester County between Cortlandt and Somers. It is is very suburban in character- think post-war/baby boom subdivisions with ranches, splits and raised ranches and with larger colonials in the newer developments. It is served primarily by the Yorktown and Lakeland school districts, and it has abundant shopping and parks. Yorktown has always been a popular place to land for southern Westchester and Bronx residents who wanted to move north to the suburbs. Downtown Yorktown Heights is located at the intersections of routes 202 and 118 and is home to the Triangle shopping Center, the iconic Friendly's (0 comments)
Serving Westchester County Real Estate Investors - 08/21/10 11:19 PM
I have posted before about my philosophy with real estate investor clients. I don't dislike newbies or amateurs, but I sure do a good job of scaring them about the realities of how expensive a mistake in real estate can be. I know investors who spent $400,000 on properties before the sub prime crisis hit, expecting to sell at $550,000. 18 months later, the house sold for...wait for it...$400,000. Did they break even? NO, they lost big time because of the overhead, taxes, cost of money, and carrying costs. The Great Recession created a great many ex-real estate investors. Our best investors pay cash, know (4 comments)
What is a Vulture Fund? - 08/21/10 11:59 AM
The term "Vulture Fund" is used sometimes in real estate and other investments, and, as the metaphor suggests, is money earmarked for the purchase of a distressed asset. Often the instrument purchased is debt; if you have a loan or credit card you go south on, after it is charged off by the creditor it goes on the secondary market, and there are entities like collection agencies and lawyers who buy the debt for pennies on the dollar and then go after YOU for the full amount, plus interest and fees. A Vulture Fund in real estate is not exactly the same. Simply (6 comments)
Milestone in JPhilipville - 08/20/10 11:29 PM
Three days ago, after 43 years of life, 9 years of marriage, and 4 children, Ann passed her drivers test. I know it may sound crazy that a suburban wife and mother, to say nothing of a partner in an active brokerage didn't drive, but that was how things were. When we met in 1999, Ann lived in Queens, New York, and many city folk don't drive because they don't need to with the subway, buses and cabs available. And that was how it was with her. We moved to Westchester not long after we got married, but we kept putting (12 comments)
Banning of Yield Spread Premium is Death Knell for Mortgage Brokers - 08/19/10 11:19 AM
I originated mortgages full time for 5 years in the early 2000s. I worked for both mortgage brokers, who place loans with 3rd party lenders, and, as they are termed in New York, mortgage bankers, who are direct lenders. Up until recently, it was hard for a guy off the street to distinguish between the two- the mortgage application verbiage used and process, to the borrower, was pretty much the same. Even as a loan officer, I saw enormous parallels: the qualifying software was the same, and the rates and pay structure were similar. We either earned money on the front end paid (29 comments)
A Day in the Life of Broker-Owner - 08/18/10 09:59 AM
I love building my team, my brand, and my organization. If it wasn't "mine" with my good name, there are things that I do that I might not otherwise. But that goes for anyone who is a principal in an organization. My days recently have been a measure of Radar O'Reilly, a dash of Patton, 2 scoops of Grunt, and a generous portion of Mother Hen. And I have loved every minute of it. In between the building is the troubleshooting; often, troubleshooting and building are one and the same. Late last month, a strong agent in the firm came to (45 comments)
Are Virtual Tours Old Hat? - 08/16/10 10:38 AM
After reading a remark by John Elwell, I had a thought about virtual tours: in this area, at least, they seem to have run their course. Not long ago, a few years perhaps, many brokers offered virtual tours. I seldom see them anymore. Our MLS now has the capacity for 30 home photos, plenty for even a massive home, and Youtube and other outlets make for easy videos of home tours. So, virtual tours seem to have taken a back seat. But why? A few thoughts: The virtual tours I have used are clunky and tend to crash or slow the (22 comments)
New Listing: Pelham, Lewis Bowman 1920's Colonial $899,900 - 08/15/10 08:19 PM
Just listed: This 2338 square foot 4 bedroom 3 bath 1920's Lewis Bowman designed New England colonial on over a third of an acre in Pelham Manor. Boasts a rocking chair porch, patio, ample parking, and gorgeous landscaping outside. Inside is exquisite, charming, and updated: Stainless steel kitchen appliances, butler pantry, huge living room with fireplace, formal dining room, all while retaining the 1920's character. A true gem. This is a short sale subject to lender approval. Price: $899,900. Call J. Philip Faranda, Broker, for details. (914) 723-8900.
White Plains Real Estate Market July 2010 - 08/15/10 06:43 PM
This is the market report for the single family home sale activity for the county seat, White Plains, for July of 2010. The city has a number of zip codes, as well as many other types of housing (multi family, condos, co ops) and I can break the activity down down by zip code or property type by request. This should give an overall trend of the market compared to July of 2009. All information is from the Westchester Putnam Multiple Listing Service for single family homes in White Plains.
Things are looking up. Sales are up, the median price is up, (4 comments)
OK To Trash Other Business Models? - 08/15/10 12:12 AM
One of the no-no's of our industry, I thought, was the practice of knocking a business model that differs from our own. It doesn't edify the industry, it certainly doesn't make us look very good to consumers, and it often backfires anyway. Moreover, the criticisms are often unfounded. We recently dealt with an agency that is run by a rather sour, unpleasant person. The closing was adjourned because of a small problem, and in the midst of sorting things out in the interim (it closed the following week), I reached out to my counterpart broker. I might as well have (25 comments)
I have blogged before that not all short sales get a seller 100% absolved of their debt. New York is not a non- recourse state. Sometimes, the bank wants cash at closing or proposes a small installement note after closing. It is rare, but it happens, and it is often linked to the seller's hardship. If the seller does not have a compelling hardship, the bank might take this position. It is the lesser of two evils, because as small post closing debt is better than a foreclosure. We had a short sale seller balk at owing any money after the closing (10 comments)
Friday's Fotos- Stone Overpass - 08/13/10 09:55 AM
I think that only the Northeast has highways that could almost be classified as "pre war." Here in Westchester County, many of our highways are passenger cars only parkways, with old stone overpasses that do now allow commercial vehicles enough clearance to pass through. They aren't interstates by a long shot, but they are busy arteries. By my home we have the Taconic State parkway, the Saw Mill River Parkway, and the Bronx River parkway further down. They are actually rather green and woodsy, devoid of loud commercial trucks, and the overpasses like this on on 9A north (otherwise known as (5 comments)
Should REALTOR Sales Statistics be Public? - 08/12/10 10:26 PM
This post was inspired by the recent Agent Genius article entitled "Realtor matching Ends- Are Agents Just Insecure Posers?" The article examines the circumstances around the Houston Association of Realtors program that (shutter) disclosed how many homes member agents sold in a given locale. Very transparent move if you ask me. But the program was ended. But why? What is so taboo about asking the question "How many homes like mine have you sold in the past year?" It is a simple question, but all too few agents will give you a number. Oh, they'll tell you they have been a Triple Micronium (42 comments)
If You Have To Ask if You Need a Professional Stager, You Probably Do - 08/10/10 07:01 PM
When I was first licensed in 1996, the idea of a professional stager to prepare a home for sale was about a foreign as trying to sell a house on "The Internet." In other words, a good place to waste money. Everyone knew that you sold houses on the MLS, the Sunday supplement, and the picture magazines. If someone's house was a shambles, we brushed up on our Dale Carnegie, had a diplomatic conversation, and hopefully influenced them to straighten the place out. Nothing was maximized. Nothing was optimized. "Staged" was an adjective. Staging is now an active verb. And the (20 comments)
5 Cool Things About Briarcliff Manor, NY - 08/09/10 11:08 AM
5 Cool Things About Briarcliff Manor, NY Our fire trucks are white. No, the Dalmatians are not red. Downtown was in the first episode of Saturday Night Live in one of the videos. You can see the Briarcliff Hardware Store on Pleasantville Road clearly. Howard Stern's first job out of college was at WRNW-FM, which was in Briarcliff in the 70's. Trump National Golf Course (of The Apprentice) is here, on the site of the old Briarcliff Country Club. Holly Hill, the 60 acre estate of the late Brooke Astor, is here in Scarborough, and is on the market for $10,500,000. Previous posts on (6 comments)
Croton on Hudson, NY Real Estate Market July 2010 - 08/09/10 10:31 AM
Croton on Hudson's real estate market appears solid and on the upward trend compared to one year ago. The transaction total is up, the median sales price is up $15,000 to just over half a million, and there are 11 homes under contract, up from 9 last month in this beautiful village on the scenic Hudson River. 72 homes are available for sale, which is quite a bit of choice for buyers. The median asking price of $624,450 is over 100k more than the median sales price, so I don't think we'll see a huge increase in volume until buyers (2 comments)
Lurkers, Lookers, and Other People Mom Never Warned Me About - 08/08/10 10:36 PM
Chances are that if you are selling a home that has been on the market any length of time, you've had your share of showings. If you haven't sold yet, you might wonder what all those people who passed on your home eventually bought. I've got news for you: a huge percentage of them aren't buying anything anytime soon. They are working with an agent, they may be pre approved, but they might be a months or a year away from actually acting. How can this be? Right now, the buying public is in a war of attrition with sellers. The vast majority (78 comments)
Photo Essay: The Churches of Ossining - 08/08/10 04:36 PM
One of the neat things about the old river towns like Ossining is the pre war architecture, the likes of which we'll never see replicated. Nothing demonstrates that more than the churches in the village, many of which are located downtown off Main Street on South Highland Avenue. It is a menagerie of steeples as you drive through. Many of the churches deserve their own postings, which I'll do in the future. Here are a few highlights.
Ossining Gospel Assembly is actually up Croton Avenue about a mile from downtown, but the impressive stone structure should be included.
Trinity Episcopal is a (9 comments)
Open House: Bank Owned Foreclosure 6 Marble Pl Ossining 8/8 12-2pm - 08/08/10 01:35 AM
We just reduced the price of this bank-owned foreclosure to $450,000. It is a different sort of home- built in 2006, it was never sold. The builder was the first and only owner prior to the bank taking it back. It was rented briefly, and is in near mint and new condition. The home is just under 3000 square feet, with a formal dining room, large living room, granite and stainless steel kitchen with an island, and a family room with fireplace and sliders to the rear deck. There are hardwoods throughout, central air, first floor laundry, and a very convenient location with (2 comments)
Briarcliff Manor Real Estate Market July 2010 - 08/08/10 12:10 AM
This is for single family home activity in the Briarcliff Manor school district for June of 2010. All information is derived from the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service. Compared to June 2009, Briarcliff Manor sales volume is about even. Transactions are down one, but the median price is up almost $200,000. 15 Homes are under contract, which indicates more strong activity, albeit at a lower median price. In the Active section, you might notice that high listing of $10,500,000. That may be there for quite a while. That is the last Brooke Astor's estate, Holly Hill, which has been on for a (3 comments)
This is for single family home activity in the Ossining school district for July of 2010. All information is derived from the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service.
The numbers are mixed. The number of transactions is up slightly from July of 2009 but the dollar value is down considerably. This is not a source of concern, because the median asking price of the homes under contract is well over $400,000. All months are different, and this looks like an anomaly. Available inventory is high (146), with lots of choices on the market. 21 homes are under contract, which was the same as in June. (4 comments)
What You Must Know if You Are Buying a Westchester Home - 08/07/10 11:16 PM
Given Westchester's close proximity to Manhattan, we have many people moving up from New York City as well as a high number of folks who arrive due to a job change or transfer. Whether you are arriving from California, Manhattan, or Europe, there is a degree of culture shock. Consider the following: In most southern Westchester towns, your yard may only be about a quarter acre or less. To a Manhattan expatriot, this is a farm. To a guy from Idaho, this is a postage stamp. Property taxes in Westchester are really high. I mean really high. While it (3 comments)
"We Have Many Unfulfilled Buyers and Sellers" - 08/07/10 12:37 AM
A local company here sends out a recruiting email upon occasion, which I typically delete, since I already work for the best boss in the world. The owner is a good guy and I respect his efforts to grow his enterprise. I can relate. I'm just not a candidate. Yesterday, I decided to unsubscribe to his emails (does that ever work?) and out of an idle moment of curiosity, I clicked on his company MLS profile. It was mostly a recruiting blurb about how busy they are and how they are swimming in leads with not enough agents to cover them all. Here's the (14 comments)
The Story of the Closet - 08/05/10 10:48 PM
I'm going to indulge in one of my real estate pet peeves. Thanks in advance for your patience. Imagine you are buying a car. You sit in the driver's seat, smell that indelible new car smell, and the sales associate dangles the keys in front of you as you prepare for a test drive. Then, just before you put the key in the ignition, the salesperson begins a 5 minute soliloquy on the glove compartment. After enduring that little, strange episode, you start the car and roll 5 feet, just as you begin to pull out of the spot, the salesperson asks you (54 comments)
Joe Ferrara: God Takes His Best Work Back Early - 08/04/10 06:50 PM
Have you ever known, perhaps when there is a death in the family, the kind of kind soul who steps up and generously gives of themselves? Dinner, picking people up at the airport, a shoulder to cry on, they just seem like an angel in a time of need. Those people have our gratitude. Now...have you ever known someone who was like that every day? Selfless, kind, generous, supportive and good natured, just because they are? That sort of "angel" is rarer still. In my humble opinion, Joe Ferrara, who passed away last night at the young age of 55, was that kind (49 comments)
The Surreal Closing - 08/03/10 11:15 PM
Tomorrow is a closing on the purchase of a home for clients I first met in April of 2009. 16 months, dozens of homes, 2 offers, 2 homes inspections, 1 heartbreaking lost deal and about a hundred conversations later they will close on that perfect home, which I first blogged about this past Spring. It is almost surreal that we are finally closing after such a long process. We looked in earnest for over a year, and this past March we thought we had THE house until another higher bid came in right before we signed contracts. It was crushing to come so close and (53 comments)
Zillow "Best Real Estate Blog" Contest - 08/01/10 03:53 AM
I should be asleep, but I just read on Facebook that Zillow is holding a "Best Real Estate Blog" vote in a number of metropolitan areas. I originally read it on Jay Thompson's (AKA The Phoenix Real Estate Guy's) page, and I got intrigued to see if they were including any New York blogs; they are not. There are 10 Metropolitan areas being surveyed: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle. The Somers team is a nominee in Philadelphia and they got my vote, and it isn't because their outside blog has a header of a rowing shell. (8 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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