Buying Square Footage Decades ago when I was tending bar, we always knew to avoid any discussion of politics or religion because it was a powder keg. In real estate, that would also include any discussion involving Zillow, dual agency, and square footage. Ah…square footage. Where do I start? Broadly stated, residential square footage typically includes finished living […]
Buying Escalation Clauses in Offers to Purchase: a Double Edge Sword Escalation clauses are sometimes included in offers that essentially state that if the offer being presented is outbid by another competing offer that the buyer will raise their number by a set amount over the higher competing bid. Sometimes they are clever due to the confidential nature of closed bids in New York real estate, […]
Buying What Everyone Should Understand About In-Law Apartments The term “in law apartment” or “in-law space” has become misunderstood lately by both agents and consumers, so I’d like to clear up what should be fairly straightforward. First, if a home is a single family house, it is just that: a single housing unit. It is not a multi-unit building. If it has a […]
Buying Smart Agents Will Excel at Assumable Mortgages If I were asked by a seller what separates me from other agents to get them the best price for their home, I’d answer their question with a question of my own. What type of mortgage do you have on the house now? If the answer were an FHA, VA, or USDA mortgage, I’d then […]
Commentary Bedroom Count and Septic Systems Westchester County has a population of about 1 million residents. Most of those folks who inhabit the 914 area code live in homes that are connected to public sewers, but there are a hefty number of properties, especially in the northern part of the county, that are on septic systems. I’ve said before that there’s […]
Commentary New York’s New Property Condition Disclosure Statement For more than 20 years, home sellers in the state of New York have been required to furnish their buyer with a form known as a Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS). It is a collection of several dozen questions that the seller is required to answer about the characteristics of the home. The law always […]
Buying It’s February in New York, so Let’s Talk Swimming Pools Swimming pools are probably the last thing on most peoples’ minds but we are still selling homes that have them, and this thought is a bit overdue. Swimming pools are an improvement, so they add value to a property. They can’t not add value presuming they are in working order, but there’s a but. The “but” […]
Real Estate Tips Price Changes Are No Longer Guesswork When I was first licensed in the 1990s, if a house didn’t sell for a period of time like 30 or 60 days, we would often reduce the price. Sometimes it was because we had too few showings, or because the showings we had didn’t yield any offers. On occasion, some home sellers would voice […]
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Buying Sale Contingency vs Closing Contingency People live indoors. Its hard to say that without sounding sarcastic, but I am sincere. It should not come as a surprise to a seller or their listing agent that their purchaser is selling their own home, especially if they are in a higher than average priced property. I shouldn’t have to explain, for example, […]
Buying Buy Before You Sell Program is Now in New York The conventional wisdom for people with a house they own who want to buy a new home has always been that they sell their current home before they made an offer on a new home because no seller wants a “contingent” deal on their sale. Also known as a Hubbard Clause or a sales contingency, […]
Home Improvement  When DIY Comes Back to Bite You Sellers have an extreme advantage in the current market due to the lack of competition. But even that has limits. One a recent walkthrough of a home, a buyer client and I noticed a few things that a smart seller should consider. The home appeared to have been off market just under 3 weeks after […]
For Agents What Does a “For Sale by Owner” Want? This past Tuesday I was wrapping up a team meeting with 5 agents. The question came up on how to list “For Sale by Owner” properties. Before I continue, let me state that it’s fairly established that most “FSBOs” eventually list with a broker. There is a learning curve to the process, and these home […]
Real Estate Tips Preparing a Home to Sell: 2014 Westchester Spring Real Estate Market “De-cluttering” is so 2008.  As I advise new clients listing their homes on the market to sell this spring, I am surprised to see how their jaws drop when I start the pre-sale preparations not with tidying up, curb appeal or repairs, but with fighting the battle online.  Here’s what I mean: Before the 2014 consumer visits […]
Selling Does Using Lock Boxes “Lower the Bar?” One of the Facebook discussion groups on real estate I frequent is the aptly titled “Raise the Bar” forum where we discuss best practices and making the industry better. Because real estate is local and customs and laws vary by region, opinions often vary. Many themes resurface from time to time, among them the the […]
Real Estate Tips Ditch the Creepy Stuff When Selling Your Home True story: about 2 years ago, while looking at homes in Lower Westchester, my clients and I entered a place that must have had a collection of 200 vases on the shelves of the living room. While over the top, we considered it benign until we walked into the home office upstairs and a coffee […]
Commentary On Open House Thefts: What Can a Real Estate Agent Do? Last week I read in Agent Genius about a homeowner that was suing their real estate broker after the theft of $162,000 worth of jewelry from their home during an open house. The homeowners claim that they are entitled to damages because the crime basically occurred on the agent’s watch, and that the agent was […]
Selling Why Price Points Matter It is no secret that anyone selling their home in Westchester County, or Iowa for that matter, wants to get as much money as they possibly can for their property. There are a variety of things a seller can do to maximize their price, such as staging the home, having the broker do a good […]
Selling A Tale of Two Short Sale Forums: Bank of America and Chase On Thursday and Friday I attended two consecutive forums for real estate agents on short sales put on by Chase and Bank of America respectively. Both forums were informative. Both forums sent a clear communication that the lenders wanted to make the short sale process better. And both forums also sent very differing messages about […]
Commentary Real Estate Jargon is Terrible Marketing For the 100th time, I read a  real estate write up that fell well short of the space limit, but was filled with acronyms and abbreviations that you’d need a Berlitz book to decode. I think it fair to say, after more than 4 months on market and no buyer, that this would be called a marketing fail. The […]
Industry News Is That $30,000 Incentive to do a Short Sale for Real? A number of short sale clients have shown me letters, mostly from Chase, offering them an almost incomprehensible amount of money if they’ll do a short sale. It would seem hard to believe, in a world where short sale sellers typically walk from closing with the clothes on their back and no proceeds, that lenders […]