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Posts Tagged ‘westchester real estate’

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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10 Husky Hill, Poughkeepsie, Accepted Offer

44 Morehouse, Red Hook, Accepted Offer

62 Baldwin, Patterson, Under Contract

204 Tomahawk, Yorktown, Under Contract

15 Orchard, Putnam Valley, Under Contract

5 Bayden, Ossining- Pending Sale

177 Avondale, Yonkers, Pending Sale

97 Robertson Rd, White Plains, Pending Sale (2 offers)

2 Overlook, White Plains, Pending Sale

_____________________________________________

http://WestchesterRealEstateblog.net

http://www.jphilip.com

http://NewYorkShortSaleBlog.wordpress.com

http://www.NYShortSaleTeam.com

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The Listingbook Program allows consumers to search for a home online for free on a platform that is far more in depth and comprehensive than Realtor.com or a broker’s typical website. Registration is free, your information is confidential, and the results are fantastic.

Listing Book

Listing Book

Some features of the program include:

  • Customizable search, including bookmarking and rejecting specific properties
  • Morning updates delivered via email daily as new listings become available, putting you on top of the market
  • Personal notes on properties and the ability to send messages to your agent on each home
  • Change criteria quickly and easily
  • Database is updated twice an hour, not once daily!
  • Price change alert on bookmarked properties
  • Much more

Nothing can replace a good agent, but having this kind of technology at your fingertips will make the process far more efficient. Fewer homes will be “missed out on,” more homes will fit your search, and you’ll be able to be far more specific in your criteria. Not only that, you can instant message and email your agent from the site in real time.

All your information is confidential and safe. You’ll never be spammed or solicited from 3rd parties for registering your search on the site. This is truly real estate 2.0.

Right now the database is for the Westchester-Putnam MLS system only, which includes Westchester and Putnam Counties, as well as the Bronx and Dutchess County.

If you want to search Long Island (Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties), click here.

If you want to search Connecticut, email me and I can get you the link.

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Yes, real estate brokers fire listings. It is a rare occurrence for me, but if a client is particularly uncooperative, self destructive, or a liability to the company’s well-being, the listing has to be cancelled and the client given the opportunity to seek their fortunes with another broker.

Today, after months of acrimony and headaches, I gave a seller client her release. The ironic thing is that she is a retired real estate broker herself, and someone I thought would be collegial to work with. She wasn’t. Just scheduling showings was like performing a miracle, filled with drama and angst. It was a short sale file, no easy task to begin with, and an offer has been on the table for about 2 weeks. My client refused to submit the offer to the lender for approval, and has been obstructing my efforts to affect a short sale.

This afternoon I got a call from an agent who could not schedule a showing; I called my client to get to the source of the issue. It was a tempest in a teapot. I am not showing a lack of empathy, believe me. If Ed McMahon showed up at your door with a check for $1 million, would you refuse the money because his tie and socks didn’t match? An offer on a short sale is important, precious, and not to be trifled with. For a veteran of our business to obfuscate important issues with pedantic obsessions with process is not something I can work with.

My hope is that this will be a wake up call to the lady that she needs to get serious about avoiding a foreclosure. For me to continue things the way they were going would be enabling destructive behavior and subordinate my diginity to earning a commission. Even in this market, that is something I cannot do.

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There continues to be a series of article at Inman News about the compensation of real estate agents. The latest article, entitled “6 Percent is Dead,” the owner of a web-based company chimes in with his view. A version of my response is below:

I have not read every article in this series, but the two I have read were written by an agent whose blog paints a picture of frustration who is muses for a salary; and a web-based firm which doesn’t do traditional brokerage in a market where local listing agents have to accompany every single showing (no easy feat).

Inman may get alot of chatter and mileage from these articles, but in light of the failure of Foxtons and Iggy’s House, Real Estate never had the massive Internet-fueled sea change we saw in travel, insurance and stock brokerage, which revolutionized entire industries almost overnight.

I’m also a little tired of people poo-pooing the role agents play in the home buying process. The “I saw it first on the ‘Net so I don’t need a broker” game is tired, inaccurate and obtuse. You saw it on the net first because you were on a broker’s website and they figured out how to make it play into their model. The rest of the process is so clunky, complicated and drawn out that the best brokers who do the most business drive the traffic while working at companies where they can earn the most for their expertise.

Read the rest here on my ActiveRain Blog .

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I want repeat business from past clients and I also want their referrals. That won’t happen by accident, and I don’t see recipe cards as being useful. So I am available for other things they need after we close on the house. Here are just a few.

  1. Help them grieve their taxes. The taxes on homes I’ve sold in recent years may be reduced. I just emailed 4 recent sales to someone who bought a house with me in 2006 and it looks like his assessed value should go down by $50,000.
  2. Market updates. People are curious about how much a new listing as asking or what a nearby home sold for. Better that they ask me than another licensee.
  3. Make them hip to my blog. Past clients may wonder what my thoughts are about the stimulus bill, where the market is going, or just I am doing in this economy. I tell them right in these pages. Clients are a built in readership, and they select themselves- no emails for them to delete and they visit when convenient.  
  4. Service directory. Most of my clients use the lawyer, lender and home inspector I refer. I also have a filing cabinet filled with plumbers, carpenters, electricians, landscapers, chimney sweeps, heating & cooling firms, oil companies, and other sources that homeowners need. I may not be the good housekeeping seal of approval, but whoever I refer will make me look good for doing so.
  5. Network them! I count among my past clients physicians, restaurateurs, free lance artists, contractors, insurance brokers, roofers, teachers and dozens of other professionals. If someone needs E & O insurance, a tutor, artwork or a new driveway and they ask me if I know someone, why wouldn’t I give business to the people who gave business to me? If you need something, call or email me.

ALSO- The STAR exemption for your property taxes is key to saving money on your New York property taxes. All of my clients are encouraged to fill out an application to get it ASAP after closing. If you haven’t followed through, contact me and we’ll help you get it done.

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With the economy in decline and the housing market more so, real estate agents are leaving the industry. This is first and foremost a sad thing for anyone who loses a job or has a business fail; I never like to see anyone suffer or have financial problems. Overall, however, there is a silver lining to that cloud for the consumer and the licensees who remain active in the industry.

Not all, but a disconcertingly high percentage of the ex-agents should never have been agents in the first place. In the market run up from 2002-2005 we saw an unprecedented number of new and reactivated licensees enter the market to share the bounty. However, while the short term profit may have been favorable, we are still paying the price of the inexperience and, often, the negligence of practitioners who were able to outrun their mistakes in the irrational exuberance.

I remember well the calling cards of new agents who could hardly believe their good fortune at their involvement in a high-dollar transaction. Deals got screwed up left and right, but who cared? Another offer was a week away. And if you had a neophyte representing you in a purchase, it was never their fault your offer wasn’t accepted, you just lost a bidding war. We had people who never sold a house in their life collecting commissions on multimillion dollar sales like it was candy land. Just like the stock market spike of the late 90’s, many of people looked far smarter than they really were.

I know this because I am part of the cleanup crew. People listing their homes for sale today are horrified to discover that decks, finished basements or bathrooms they were told were legal at their purchase are, in fact not in compliance. Neither the last listing agent nor their buyer agent bothered to pull the property card, and the title company missed the detail in the rush of the time. I am in the midst of selling a property that last passed title in 2005 which has a submerged oil tank that would have failed a test in 1995, let alone now. It is costing my clients over $20,000. Twice in the past few months I have run across people who have excellent credit inexplicably stuck in high interest loans, most likely because a loan officer decided that profit superseded honesty. Where was their agent? Where was the advocacy? The list goes on, but I wish I had a dime for everyone who tells me that they regret using their newly licensed cousin or part-time aunt for their agent last time.

In each of these instances, an agent was paid handsomely. They did not earn that commission; it was monopoly money they used to buy homes and cars that they can no longer afford. In many cases they meant well, and their broker is responsible for the mistakes. We’ll never know in most cases, but our collective karma has caught up with the industry. Sadly, whatever price we bear is more than being shared by our clients who trusted us with their financial lives and were often hurt. We made our bed and now we are sleeping in it.

This brings us, of course, to today. One agent I know has his real estate website redirect to another endeavor. BMW’s have given way to Hyundai’s. An attorney told me recently that his biggest source of bankruptcy filings and short sales are real estate agents themselves. Enormous brokerage offices have rows of empty desks. And I am bombarded by solicitations for 2nd income opportunities from people who must know that agents are scrambling for income. Attorneys are actually thanking me for referrals.

But those of us who remain plying our trade have discovered a new environment: fresh air. It isn’t so noisy in here anymore. The overwhelming percentage of agents I am dealing with now are returning my phone calls and emails in a professional, timely manner. Oil tank tests, surveys and other due diligence are being handled in the beginning of transactions and not as part of a last minute scramble. Many agents are telling me how they remember the last decline in the late 80’s and how they coped. We are a profession again, not a pit stop for career nomads. We are conducting business, and even though the circumstances are worse, the process is civil and professional because the frosh and junior varsity are no longer clogging the field. And we know how to cope with the PR problems exacerbated by the “exes” because we always have.

Consumers now should have more confidence in the industry because by and large the pickers of low hanging fruit have left the market. Those who remain are survivors, fighters, and overall far more professional and experienced. They don’t pick apples with a broom and bucket; they know how to use a ladder. The drama may come from the outside, but far seldom from the agents themselves. It is for these reasons that I am glad the herd has thinned. I no longer have to sift through newbie’s to find a competent colleague. And these are people that know how to return a phone call, pull a property card, review a good faith estimate, and advocate for their clients. I’m not doing their work for them, or cleaning up their mess.

I salute the survivors, and I look forward to closing transactions with them. Together, we’ll help repair the damage done in the past decade and build the public’s confidence in the profession.

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