Archive for January, 2010

Marie Graham, in addition to being a friend, is the founder of the Refreshed Home. Her specialties include interior design and killer staging for getting your home sold. On Saturday, January 30th at 10 am, she’ll be putting on a workshop on how to stage a home for sale optimally, and I will be in attendance. I am encouraging my seller clients to check it out. The event will be in the conference room of the Ossining Public Library at 53 Croton Ave.

What sellers need to understand is that buyers in this market are very choosy and the competition for their attention is brutal. A home that is not attractive or set up to it’s full potential can have it’s chances hurt for selling in a timely fashion for the most the market can bear. People buy with their eyes in many cases.

If you are for sale or are considering it, you should make this event.

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An economist is saying that we need more compassion. When those who individually need aid, they ought not be vilified when they seek help, nor should they fear retribution. It isn’t fair to the 7 million people who have lost their jobs.

Refreshing sentiments! How true! But you won’t believe who John Connaughton of UNC Charlotte is referring to. He’s not talking about you or me. He’s talking about the banks! While Connaughton offers the “olive leaf” of not justifying the bad things lenders have done, he says that if a lender, individually, finds itself in a tight spot, it ought not fear retribution should it need to go to the Fed to borrow more.


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I got a question yesterday about getting a rental application approved. He was relocating to Manhattan, and had found an apartment he liked, but was afraid that his application would be denied due to his low credit score. He had a guarantor, but their credit was good, not great, and he asked me if there was anything he could do to strengthen his case with this apartment or make a stronger case if he had to apply elsewhere.

I’m no expert in Manhattan rentals, but I am a landlord. I think most landlords agree with me when I say that a vacant unit is not good, but is better than a bad tenant. I asked him what his rental application included, and it was the application form, bank statements, and either his credit report or an authorization to run it. His agent suggested that he offer to pay extra rent in advance, but he wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. Lots of questions.

Here is what I told him:


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The NY Times is reporting that the people who profit from foreclosures see loan modifications as a bad idea. Duh. It’s bad for business. I commented:

The opinion of Mr. Katari, who has a financial interest in more foreclosures (asset managers, folks, are the people who liquidate foreclosed property for lenders) is telling. Of course he’s against loan modifications and people keeping their homes; he profits from them losing them. This is like asking a wolf if protecting sheep is wise. Put the carpenters back to work indeed! We’ve already lost 50% of (admittedly inflated) value in some precincts and 20% or more here in New York. How much bloodletting does he want? Answer: more is never enough.

Call me crazy, but with rare exception, most people would happily keep their homes if their payments were lowered. The banks simply won’t agree to make the modifications permanent because they DON’T HAVE TO. Why is all the TARP money being repaid so quickly? So they can go back to being even bigger SOBs without being beholden to Uncle Sam. Remember “too big to fail?” Bailing them out with our tax money was like sharpening the guillotine blade for our own executioner. Now that they have been sufficiently re capitalized, even the Times has reported that they have positioned themselves to bet against the market improving. Did you think that the people who brought us the sub prime debacle suddenly became good guys?

It would be nice if the administration would show some courage and, once and for all, stand up to the hedge funds and their ilk to foster some real change (wasn’t that why he was elected?). The carpenters can’t go back to work if the housing market, the backbone of our economy, is further weakened. Read the writing on the wall. We should be in a recovery by now, and the real fallout may just be starting without strong leadership. There haven’t been 3 negative years in a row in housing since the Great Depression, which ironically, was also caused by the fox watching the hen house.

I felt better after letting off that steam, for sure.

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Generally, not up. There may be pockets of improvement, as all markets are local, but we aren’t on solid ground. We haven’t grown out of the recession yet, and there are questions as to whether the gigantic spending the administration is doing will sabotage or foster prosperity. Les Christie of CNN/Money rightly observes that rising rates, foreclosures and the eventual end of the tax credit will continue to suppress prices. I agree.

There are no arguments to the contrary. Money markets are still a shambles, the public is either unemployed or freaked out, and inventory is being pelted daily with cheap REOs. While New York is not as bad as Las Vegas or South Florida, we aren’t immune either- I see more short sales and distress now than 18 months ago. It has to cycle out before we’ll see sustainable, general improvement.

Buyers are in the driver’s seat.

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Every year, I literally sell dozens of homes that expired unsold with a previous broker. Perhaps no other broker/agent in Westchester or the Hudson Valley sells as many expired listings as our team. We didn’t “give the homes away.” Oftentimes, when a home does not sell there are other challenges than simply price.

  • The marketing could be sub par.
  • The online exposure could be low.
  • The photos could need improvement.
  • The agent’s follow up skills and “hustle” could be lacking.

It is a jungle out there. Your home is competing with the highest inventory of homes ever, bank-owned foreclosures, short sales, and distress situations where they need to sell. It is a beauty contest and a price war. Our team averages a sale a week by making sure our listings stand out from the crowd. Our marketing machine is nothing short of incredible, and the results are undeniable.

We do what other brokerages either cannot or will not do to sell more homes faster, for more money and with fewer headaches.

Did your last agent average a closing  per week?

If not, we should speak. Fill out the form below, or call 914-723-8900 anytime for fast answers.

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