A: The housing data came out today showing that existing sales were UP from last month (down year-over-year), but prices declined year-over-year. All in all it sends a mixed message as the # of sales increasing is somehwat suprising and will help keep inventory levels from expanding further which would certainly negatively affect housing fundamentals going into 2007. But the price declines from this time last year tell me that buyers are starting to jump in a bit and pick up bargains; a sign of general strength. While this data is lagging and is often revised at a later date, it should lead to a further psychological boost going into wall street bonus season in early 2007, and give sellers a few more months of healthy buyers to prey on. As for hopes of a rate cut, you can kiss that goodbye until at least mid-2007 or later; I'm even starting to think a few more hikes might occur first.
According to CNN Money article released this morning:
The National Association of Realtors reported that the median price of a home sold in November was $218,000, down 3.1 percent from the $225,000 in November 2005. The pace of home sales picked up in November, coming in at an annual rate of 6.28 million for the month. That's up 0.6 percent from the 6.24 million rate in October, and it beat the forecast of a 6.15 million rate from economists surveyed by Briefing.com. But the sales pace was 10.7 percent below year-ago levels of 7.03 million units.As for new home sales data that came out yesterday, the data was more encouraging. According to this CNN Money report released yesterday:
Homebuilding, one of the most battered sectors of the U.S. economy in recent months, showed surprising strength in November, according to a government report Wednesday. New homes sold at an annual pace of 1.05 million, up from the revised annual rate of 1.01 million in October. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast that home sales would rebound to a 1.02 million pace....but, this report is flawed which is why I don't report on it that often. The article continues:
Still, John Tomlinson, an analyst with Majestic Research who covers the major publicly traded builders, said the government report is missing some signs of weakness in the new home market, including orders for new homes that are cancelled by buyers or incentives offered by builders, such as covering closing costs or extra features on the homes for free, in order to support sales in the weak market.Moving onto a separate source, Yahoo Finance discusses the existing sales report in detail:
"I'm not so sure that the pricing has bottomed here," Tomlinson said. "There's still a ton of inventory on the market. When inventory comes more in line with demand, we'll be ready to see an upturn."
The slight increases in sales were not enough to halt a slide in home prices. The median price for an existing home sold in November dropped to $218,000, down 3.1 percent from the price a year ago. It was the first time on record that sales prices compared to a year ago have fallen for four straight months. The report on existing home sales offered further hope that the serious slump in housing that has occurred this year may be bottoming out. It followed a report Wednesday that showed that new home sales rose 3.4 percent in November, the third gain in the past four months.So what does this all mean? Well nothing really if the report is later revised or included a large number of cancelled contracts that were never tallyed back into inventory levels. If anything, its a positive as the data for the most part beat economist expectations and gave stock prices more reason to hold onto recent gains.
As for how this affects monetary policy, it throws out the window any chance of a rate cut in the next quarter or two. That is why you are seeing bond yields start to rise a bit after these reports; as the likelihood of a fed rate cut gets put off for a while longer. In fact, a rate hike might be more likely. Here's why:
GOLD/PRECIOUS METALS ARE STILL HIGH - The price of gold and other precious metals are still trading at very high levels. These guys are inflationary and take time to funnel through the economic system when producers start to feel the pain of rising costs that eventually get passed on to the consumer. I recently heard Steve Forbes debate on CNBC that as long as GOLD trades above $500, there will be distortions in inflation readings that may trick the fed into raising rates. His thinking is a fed move of HIGHER RATES, not lower, in 2007. This is Steve Forbes so its hard to just discount his way of thinking altogether.
STOCK PRICES ARE FLYING - Anyone else notice this? Equities are hitting historic highs in the DOW and 3-4 year highs in the NASDAQ. And to boot, global markets are following suit. So many countries are experience surging equity markets, making me nervous. Remember that stocks are leading indicators of the economy, NOT LAGGING, and as such are obviously pricing in a soft landing, NOT A RECESSION, as corporate profits are strong, wage labor is strong, and the decline in energy prices gave even more ummph to earnings.
Keep an eye out. If housing data doesn't get worse and stocks continue to fly, how on earth will the fed cut rates? They won't! If anything they will have to raise rates to combat inflation and slow down the economy a bit more.
US DOLLAR WEAKNESS - Continue declines in the US dollar are inflationary. As the greenback continues to slide, the fed will have to step in and control the currency. After all, the 2 most important jobs of the federal reserve is to control inflation & maintain pricing stability. A weak dollar is not good news for future inflation and might cause the fed to get more hawkish in future issued statements. Keep your eyes open.
So what does this all mean? Who the heck knows. The two things I will keep an eye out for in 2007 is inflation pressure and energy prices. The stock market will continue to surge as long as energy prices decline. The housing market will continue to stabilize as long as the economy is strong, jobs are stable, and incomes are strong. The question is, what will happen that will affect what Ben Bernanke and company decide to do with short term interest rates.
For now, the housing market should enjoy a few strong months as the lack of horrible data and continued surge in equities should provide for a healthy buyer pool in the next few months. Things to look out for in 2007 that will cause the housing market to retreat:
1. Weaker Economic Data Showing Weakness in Jobs & Wages
2. Lenders Tightening Loan Restrictions & Ease of Borrowing Ending Years of Credit Giveaways
These are the two biggest threats to housing's future and will occur if the bond market is right in predicting a recession in late 2007 or 2008. But for now, the stock market is getting the headlines as equities bet on a soft landing! So, who's right!
A: Just before the new year there are always a few new deals to talk about. So here is what I see that is new in the past 7 days and not too overly priced. Going to take the next few days off from writing here on UrbanDigs so I can tend to some clients and focus on the JETS beating Oakland on Sunday to make the playoffs! GO J-E-T-S..!!
Take it away Fireman Ed, one of the JETS biggest and most notable fans!
301 East 64th Street: Apt 3L
First Came on Market: 12/20/2006
Asking Price: $425,000
maintenance: $944 (a bit high keeps price lower)
Size: 620 SFT
Marketed By: Gisela Vergara of Douglas Elliman
60 East 9th Street: Apt 605
First Came on Market: 12/22/2006
Asking Price: $535,000
maintenance: $937 (a bit high but location keeps price higher)
Size: 600 SFT
Marketed By: Ann Ferguson & Tim Dupont of Klara Madlin
110 W 90th Street: Apt 3B
First Came on Market: 12/23/2006
Asking Price: $1,050,000
RE Taxes: $550
Marketed By: Brooke Davida of Corcoran
A: Well the apartment is finished and ready for the open market once the new year begins. The floors came out great, the paint job neatened things up, and the cleaners finished it off. I also removed the security cage on all the windows as it was limiting the amount of sunlight the apartmet gets. I'll just keep them in the closets for the new buyer to either throw away or re-install. Although we could have done more work to this apartment, there really wasn't any point. Here's why!
A while ago I wrote a post about renovating in a cooling housing market touching base on why high end contracting just doesn't make much financial sense. I stated:
IN A SLOWING HOUSING MARKET YOU WANT TO DO THE LOW RISK HIGH REWARD RENOVATIONS THAT COULD PAYOFF AT RESALE. THESE INCLUDE FLOORS & BATHROOMS, NOT KITCHENS!The reason is that you don't want to spend too much money on renovation work when it's a buyers market in the sense that buyers can negotiate! The headache of going through the renovations process should be rewarded at resale as you get a premium for not only the upgrades you installed, but also the 1-3 months of paperwork, noise, dust, and migraines that come with it.
That's one of the reasons why renovations pay off so well in New York City real estate! But when its a buyers market with the element of negotiability alive and well, that premium could get wiped out! So why risk it!
Here are the 'BEFORE' pictures again of APT 1A at 314 West 56th Street:
And, here are the web ready pictures taken at 1PM on a sunny weekday afternoon:
Its amazing what a few dollars and good photo shoot can do to liven up a place for resale! The floor refinishing brightens the space on its own and gives a great first impression when buyers first enter. The kitchen and bathroom came out just fine when deeply cleaned (although can use a renovation) and the amount of natural sunlight literally doubled when I removed the security cage on the windows. Although the apartment # is 1A, it is actually one floor up giving you a view of other unit's garden level below.
By keeping costs and the 'amount of work' low, we should be able to maximize profit at resale and still get top dollar for what alcove studios in midtown west in a well-maintained elevator building are getting. Time will tell. I'm hoping to provide my client with a buyer within 10-12 weeks for this one.
If we would have decided to renovate the kitchen and bathroom, it would have cost aproximately $30,000 - $35,000 in materials and labor and about 6-8 weeks in total for paperwork, architect work, board approval, and contracting. We would have added $50K to asking price and ask $400,000 instead of $350,000, and HOPE to get at least $50K more than if we didnt do the work; $35,000 for work + $15,000 premium for renovating!
I think we made the right choice by minimizing work done and pricing right at $636/sft, as the low monthlys should convince someone that buying this property is better than renting!
What do you think? A mistake? Should we have done more work?
I just want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and a Happy & Healthy New Year! It's been a GREAT year running UrbanDigs.com! I even won an Inman Innovator Award for Most Innovative Real Estate Blog! The live chat feature seems to be a hit with many first time buyers seeking advice, and I hope to continue offering more live tips based on your own needs in 2007!
This past year was full of interviews and press in major New York City publications including The Daily News, The Metro, & Manhattan Living magazine:
Interviewing w/ Daily News & Phyllis Furman
Interviewing w/ Daily News & Lucy Maher
Interviewing w/ Metro & Paul Berger
Interviewing w/ Michael Smith of Streeteasy
Interviewing w/ Manhattan Living Magazine
We introduced a new concept to NYC real estate blogging and started investigative reporting from the streets of Manhattan to bring to you tips on the changing market fundamentals and new developments. Now that I partnered with a fantastic freelance TV producer, Marika Gutmann, we will focus on more educational videos in 2007 to bring the most important aspects of new york city real estate investing right to your home so you can best profit from it. Here are the first two clips, including the last one that Marika produced.
Video Report: In-Building Competition
Video Report: The Cielo Condo
I interviewed a few UrbanDigs readers who thought someone else might want to hear their story:
Negotiating a New Development
Life At Place 57
And of course a few of my favorite posts:
Would The Real Sellers Please Stand Up
Bidding Strategy 101: Reverse Psychology
What Co-op Boards Look For
Don't Be Fooled: 421A Tax Abatement
Timing A Low-Ball Offer
High Monthly's? Find The Discount
Priced Right Apt Sells In First Month
Don't Mess Up In Here
All in all, it's been unbelievable meeting so many new people and being able to get my first urbandigs clients to work with. The whole goal of this site was to tell you how I view the market, how I think you can profit best from it, and how I can possibly help you in any NYC real estate transaction! My passion will continue to be to provide you with my analysis of the constantly changing fundamentals of the new york city housing market, along with commentary on monetary policy and economic data, that might affect your real estate investment decisions in the short term. The hope will ALWAYS be to maintain an open forum for all to speak their minds so that everyone can best invest their hard earned dollars in this great city's real estate market!
Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing with friends, taking time to chat with me, and anything else that I am missing! Now lets make 2007 better!
A: Do some research and ask around for a few reputable contractors to give you a quote for sanding, staining, and poly'ing the hardwood floors. It will probably be about $2.50/Sq. Ft. for a good company which will prove to be well worth it. Then, go to www.easyclosets.com and follow the on-screen Closet Design Wizard to create your new closets based on your own needs.
First lets discuss the floors. The impression a potential buyer has on a property when they FIRST open that door is critical. Based on my own experience I would tell you that within the first 30 seconds my clients know whether or not this is the apartment they will ultimately place a bid on. Having said that...
Having a good floor that shines back out at you and just looks fantastic will almost certainly gaurantee you a 'admirable' first impression as buyers come in.
Floors is another renovation that varies with each apartment but generally speaking I would look to put about $3/sq. ft. aside for floor refinishing. After a quick search on Google I found these:
NY Hardwood Floors
Now on to the closets. Most apartments in NYC dont have incredible closet space and most dont have them furnished either. For a very little money and about 30 minutes of labor you can really maximize and enhance your closets with www.easyclosets.com.
Using the Closet Design Wizard on the link above you first select the shape of the closets that you will be renovating. Then enter in the actual dimensions and you will be sent on to the design wizard. Its actually pretty cool after a good 5 minutes or so of figuring the thing out. For me, I tried to keep my budget at $450 a closet so I can get both of mine done for under $1,000. Here's how 1 turned out:
One very important note I can offer you is to be sure to use the togglebolts (which are the v-shaped bolts that are pushed through your drywall to add stability to the support bar) as you follow the install instructions or else the support bar may not be able to withstand the weight of the closet, and it will fall to its impending death. FYI: Below is an image of a toggle bolt and its screw on the left and exactly how this bolt is used on the drywall to the right.
If you are a seller with limited funds or a buyer/owner looking to enhance your new property, then this broker advises you to invest in refinsihing your hardwood floors and furnishing your closets!
Originally Published 01/03/2006
A: Well continuing with the tradition of the meme that is circulating around the blogosphere, I've been lucky enough to be meme'd by Sellsius, True Gotham, and Manhattan Loft Guy. Thanks all for meming me!
A meme (rhymes with dream) is a catch phrase representing a contagious idea that spreads virally in a culture, like transparency, Web 2.0, Long Tail or maybe unzillowable. The word comes from the Greek meaning 'mimic'. The meme is 5 Things You May Not Know About Me:
1. I love playing the guitar. I've been jamming since I was 12 or so and as long as I can remember turn to my guitar for a quick stress reliever. I play mostly blues and popular rock types of songs but trying to learn jazz and music theory to be able to take my playing to the next level. I also tried to learn the sax but hated my teacher. That was that.
2. I have 2 big dogs; a chocolate lab and a german shephard mix. They are a stout 85 lbs and 60 lbs respectively and NOT FAT! Don't ever call them fat or they'll go into a state of depression. Its normal to eat 3 meals a day and have 7+ cookies a day. After all, eating is fun right!
3. I like to go to Central Park at night with my wife and dogs and walk around the great lawn. I feel safe with the dogs there and not to worried about getting mugged or anything. Maybe I should be, but whatever. The view from the north side of the great lawn looking south onto Midtown is just gorgeous on a clear night.
4. Peter Lugers steakhouse in Brooklyn is by far my favorite restaurant. When I was an equities trader I used to go there at least twice a month for lunch. Oh, those were great times. The standard meal was shrimp apetizers, porterhouse for two with sides of creamed spinach and potatoes, and a pecan pie with schlag (did I spell right?) for dessert. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm!
5. I love the seasons and especially the end of fall and early winter. I love going to Vermont for a weekend off and taking the dogs to a B & B that has plenty of room for them to run. Its just a great escape from everyday Manhattan and the air is so crisp up there. There is not much better than a weekend that includes playing with the dogs, skiing, walking in the snow trails, hot tub, starting a fire, drinking wine, and cooking a great meal. Good times.
Well there it is. 5 things that maybe you didnt know about me. Now I need to meme some other people. I think I'll meme Larry of Millionaire Now, John of Boston Real Estate Blog, Maggie of Sunny Spot Reality, and Jim of Real Central VA. Enjoy!
A: Today is the much-anticipated Real Estate Yankee Blog Swap. Bloggers from all across the country agreed to switch places for a day. My opponent today is Kris Berg of San Diego Home Blog. Kris and her husband Steve are brokers in beautiful San Diego and the publishers of a very educational real estate blog that is a worthy read on the other side of the country! The points that are discussed on their blog can go a long way towards further educating your real estate investing style and it always helps to get a different perspective from the craziness of NYC real estate once in a while. As for this first Yankee Blog Swap, we all owe a big shout-out to Mary at RSS Pieces for organizing this circus!
Today I have the challenge or, shall we say, honor of channeling Noah. We are participating in the Real Estate Yankee Blog Swap. I don't have the foggiest notion where the "Yankee" came in, but I have to assume this reference alone gives Yankee Noah the edge. Our blogs and personalities could not be more different. It is a classic case of East meets West; I am San Diego based, and Noah, of course, is doing time in the Big Apple. My style tends to be a little more laid back (what else would you expect from a California girl?), and I generally work the 'burbs; Noah is Big-City-Stats-Man.
Clearly, I know as much about New York City Real Estate as Michael Richards knows about detante (sorry, French people - I don't know how to put the little thing over the "e"), so saying this a challenge for me is the understatement of the year. Further, the "rules" include "writing a blog that fits the corporate culture of the blog you are paired with." I guess this means I should know what the "A:" with which Noah begins most entries here stands for. Sure, I could have asked, but it is more fun to speculate. Is it the "Answer" in the Jeopardy fashion, with the question following? Does it stand for "Analysis", like these sentences are the Cliff Notes to what follows? Is "A" the first initial of the name of his ghost writer? Beats me. So, on with the swap. It is quite possible that in one simple blog exchange, I could nuke every ounce of readership that Noah has worked so hard to capture in the past two years. My attorneys are standing by.
A: I have been to New York once in my life, if you exclude a couple of airport layovers. I hurled the entire time. Helmsley Palace has lovely accommodations, but a San Diegan's idea of "dressing for dinner" involves wearing the "good jeans". Getting a cab is a contact sport; riding in one is certain premature death. In San Diego, we own cars and drive them ourselves. Garages come with our homes and are not purchased separately. An apartment in California is a rental unit, and we do not have coops.
Put down that Letter to the Editor! New York did not make me sick, in the strictest sense. It is just that the sights and smells of the streets of Manhattan are no match for a woman in her first trimester. New York, was however, responsible for my swearing off knishes for the next year or so.
Asking price: Approximately $3.50
Size: Approximately 3 inches, if memory serves me.
PPSF: Nothing compared to the price I paid later.
Thirteen Block Cab Ride
Asking price: Equivalent to one San Diego mortgage payment.
Size: Not sure. I never got one.
PPSF: See "size".
Dinner at Helmsley Palace
Asking price: No idea. They wouldn't let us in in our jeans.
Size: From our vantage point of noses-pressed-against-the-window, it looked rather intimate.
We dutifully followed the concierge's advice and dined at the Stage Coach Deli, where he no doubt perceived that our western blue-jean wearing selves would go largely undetected, or would at least be tolerated. I, for one, did not want to be responsible for irreversibly destroying the upscale image of the City That Never Sleeps.
Stage Coach Deli Sandwich
Asking price: $4 million
Size: 12 meters
PPSF: No idea. I don't do metric.
We were lucky enough to visit the lobby of Donald Trump's "building", Trump Plaza. It had shiny floors and looked very expensive. The real estate nomenclature of New York remains largely a mystery to me; you guys talk funny. We speak of houses and you, at least in Manhattan, don't speak of houses at all. You speak of buildings, we speak of complexes. Your apartments are our condominums, our apartments are your rentals, and your coops are, well, your coops. Sometimes, just to confuse us, you use the words building, apartment and coop to describe a single "home".
Trump Plaza building 27E coop apartment
Asking price: $875,000 - Marketed by Carol Friedman of Nest Seekers
Size: 1400 SFT
PPSF: $675 (Keep in mind, this is a lease and not real property).
Floors: Very shiny.
Scripps Ranch San Diego condominium
Asking price: $430,000 - Marketed by Kris Berg of Prudential CA Realty
Size: 1387 SFT (including, gasp, a garage!)
PPSF: $310 (You own it!)
Floors: Not shiny.
I want to thank Noah for allowing me to hijack his blog today. Some day, I hope to visit your fine city again. I will remember to pack my fancy clothes, and the knishes will be on me!
A BIG thank you to Kris Berg for agreeing to partner with me and write this post for UrbanDigs! Here are the other blog participants:
A: It's been a little while since I talked about the economy, inflation and monetary policy here on UrbanDigs. For a little while I was starting to think the fed actually got it perfectly right, slowing down the economy enough to ease inflation pressures, but not enough to cause an outright recession. Couple that with a correction in oil prices and the 4 month stock market rally is explained. But with today's PPI # and housing permits released, reality is starting to settle in. We are NOT out of the inflation woods yet!
A little over a year ago I wrote a post here on UrbanDigs about a fundamental shift of investing from housing to stocks. It was before I sold my apartment and was still struggling to make do with my enormous living costs. As much as I would have liked to just flip a switch and cash out my housing profit to put into stocks, things just don't work that way!
In the post titled, 'Will Growth Shift From Housing To Stocks', that I wrote back in November of 2005, I made a few statements as to why I thought the stock market was ripe for big gains in the coming year or two. If only I had the cash to follow my own advice!
I quickly learned the illiquid nature of housing as I listed my apartment for sale in January, took 5 months to find a buyer, and closed in early July with an all cash deal expedited by no financing. However, in that time the stock market already started to run and I stayed on the sidelines. A poor decision.
But you must move on! Buying into the stock market right now seems a bit risky to me after the 6-8% gains that were enjoyed in the past 6 months or so. As a contrarian investor, I like to sell high and buy low, even if that means holding onto no gains for a while if I don't time the investment perfectly. Who does. Looking forward, I am perfectly fine with my money getting 5.05% in a no-risk online savings account as I await future economic data to come in.
Today's economic data is a dose of reality! Inflation is not dead yet as the stock markets would have you believe with its unsustainable rally of recent months. According to CNN Money:
The Labor Department's Producer Price Index jumped a larger-than-expected 2 percent in November. The measure of prices paid by businesses posted their biggest gain since 1974. Core PPI , which strips out volatile food and gasoline prices , rose 1.3 percent, spurring inflation worriesA similar article in Yahoo Finance takes this data a bit deeper:
The Producer Price Index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, was up 2 percent last month, the biggest advance since a similar increase in November 1974, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.You see, the PPI # tells us about inflation at the production level, which if present, will eventually trickle down to the consumer via higher prices for goods. So, this is sort of a forward looking # which should be interpreted as a warning sign for the months to come. The Yahoo Finance article continues:
Economists had been expecting a rebound in wholesale prices following two months of big declines. However, the 2 percent jump was four times bigger than the 0.5 percent increase they had forecast. Even excluding volatile energy and food prices, core inflation posted a 1.3 percent advance, the biggest jump in 26 years.
The 2 percent rise in wholesale inflation followed four straight months of benign readings including outright big declines of 1.3 percent in September and 1.6 percent in October.So, we must be vigilint about this stuff. Its a lot to digest, I know, but if inflation peaks its ugly head again, then the fed will be forced into raising interest rates further in 2007 (not cutting), which would lead to a continuation of the housing correction going into 2008 or further.
In those months, energy prices were falling sharply, a situation that reversed in November.
Food costs showed a small 0.1 percent rise last month after a big 0.8 percent decline in October as increases in the price of dairy products, eggs and soft drinks offset declines in vegetable and fruit prices.
The thing about housing is its illiquid nature. Once housing turns from a booming market to a slowing one, it doesn't just get one peice of good news and turn back around to good times. It takes time to work through inventory buildups. It takes time to get back to a interest rate environment where 30YR mortgages are below 5%. It takes time to get the all important 'time on market' indicator back down to where it was a few years ago. These things TAKE TIME to work out!
The housing boom lasted a good 4 years or so if you start the boom after 9/11 and end the boom in mid 2005. Others will argue that the housing boom started way earlier with 9/11 just a short term blip in the run. I'll buy that as I was priced out of the housing market for years before 9/11 showed a few opportunities. So whether the boom was 4 years or 7 years, it really doesn't matter. The point is it lasted a good period of time. With the peak in housing occurring around mid 2005 (in hindsight), we are now about 18 months into a slowdown. What if the slowdown lasts 4 years? What if it lasts 7 years? Only time will tell and we must follow all the signs that will forecast a brighter future for housing down the road. These include lower interest rates making housing more affordable, less time on market indicating strength in the buyer pool, lower inventory keeping supply lower than demand, and a strong economy generating enough income for people to buy new homes.
I'll leave it to you to decide when to re-enter. As for monetary policy, here is what I think the fed will do.
NEXT MEETING: No Change. Inflation remains a concern.
WHAT WILL MAKE THE FED CUT IN MID 2007: Easing inflation #'s and a continued softening of the housing market will make the fed cut rates in 2007.
WHAT WILL MAKE THE FED RAISE IN MID 2007: More economic data like today's PPI #. If energy continues to rise above the $70/Barrel mark again. A strengthening housing market and a continued rally in equities will tell the fed the economy is very strong and might need to be slowed.
I think 2007 will be flat to down for housing as we iron out the fundamental bumps of inventory and weak speculators. Those who bought between 2003-2005 with short term interest only loans will have some problems and might be forced to sell. Stocks will have another up year, but not as good as 2006. Inflation's true face will either show or go away in 2007. I will certainly be keeping my eyes on inflation and energy prices as I think these 2 guys will be the best indicators of future monetary policy, equity direction, and housing's level of correction.
A: That time again. Here are some price cuts over the past 7 days that might interest you. We are about to enter a period of time where sellers get convinced that the real estate market picks up tremendously due to wall street bonuses. So, I would expect a slight slowdown in price cuts in January & February and would interpret aggressive price cuts as a sign that the seller is very motivated to move the property. Keep your eyes open for deals if you know you will buy in the next few months!
Lets get right into it.
400 West 23rd Street: Apt 5J
First Came on Market: 6/26/2006 at $540,000
Asking Price Now: $469,000
Reduced From: $499,900
Size: 580 SFT
Marketed By: Eleni Metaxa of Citi-Habitats
321 East 54th: Apt 9D
First Came on Market: 11/24/2006 at $349,000
Asking Price Now: $285,000 (2 Price Cuts in 5 Days!)
Reduced From: $299,000
Marketed By: Lily Hu of Corcoran
142 West 82nd Street: Unit 3
First Came on Market: 9/19/2006 at $775,000
Asking Price Now: $675,000
Reduced From: $725,000
PPSF: N/A (Triplex)
Marketed By: Anne Cynar
159 West 53rd Street: Apt 17G
First Came on Market: 9/11/2006 at $895,000
Asking Price Now: $750,000
Reduced From: $795,000
RE Taxes: $494
Marketed By: Reid Price & Brett Miles of Corcoran
A: Here are more pics from the apartment I got that needed some work done before hitting the opne market for sale. I left out the kitchen and bathroom last time because the pics didnt come out good. Also, I added the choices of stains that the floor could have been refinished in. The apartment will be ready for showings on Tuesday.
In a cooling housing market, sellers MUST be very cautious over what renovations they decide to put their hard earned money into and how long this work will take!
In this case, we are talking about a low end apartment type (alcove studio) in a good location in Midtown West. Although the apartment is not a view apartment and gets minimal natural sunlight, it does have exposures in the back of the building giving the new buyer peace and quiet in an otherwise very busy neighborhood. As the hired broker to market this property, I must find the goods in every situation to get my client the highest price possible from the open market.
Back to some pics. Here is a pic of the Kitchen:
And the bathroom:
Besides doing great work, I like to use Marc at FloorWorks New York services because they don't just show you a chart of stains to choose from leaving you hoping that the right decision was made. Rather, they take 20 minutes or so to sand down a section of your floor and plot out 4 of your choices of possible stains so that you can see in living color which looks best before you decide. In this case, here is how the test stains showed on this alcove studio's floor:
Obviously the floors had to be done, the question was in what stain! The apartment should be ready for showings on Tuesday so I'll put the finished product up so that you can see what else we decided to do, or not do!
A: Perhaps a market trend as we enter bonus season? I was trying to schedule an appointment for one of my clients to view apt 23C at 330 East 75th when the broker told me there was about 20 people at the last open house and a bidding war the next day with the top bid accepted and now contracts out. I was told the bid was significantly over the asking price. The apartment is LESS THAN 3 weeks on the market! I know this is a bit off-topic from my usual stuff, but I feel the need to pass on any abnormal market behaviors that may signal a change in current trends.
Hmm, sounds strikingly similar to a post I did a few days ago on Pricing Right?
FLOORPLAN OF APARTMENT 23C
First Came on Market: 11/26/2006
RE Taxes: $1,060
Size: 1,025 SFT
Marketed By: Patti West of Lamb Realty
OTHER 2BR ACTIVES
APT 11G - For Sale By Owner
Size - 1,050 SFT
Asking - $1,080,000
APT 18C - Marketed By James Elise of SHVO Group
Size - 1,000 SFT
Asking - $1,375,000
LAST 2BR COMPARABLE SOLD
The last 2BR that was comparable to this one sold back in July of 2006 by Douglas Heddings, you know him the Elliman broker turned blogger over at True Gotham. Here are details of that sale:
APT 8E - Lower Floor
ASKING - $1.2M
SOLD FOR - $1,090,000
SIZE - 1,100 SFT
PPSF - $991
So, APT 23C that just went into a bidding war started out their pricing BELOW what the last lower floor apartment sold for in the building. Even with a fifteen floor difference giving a clear premium to 23C at resale, they decided to start the unit for sale below 8E's ultimate sales price. This aggressive pricing strategy stimulated activity and resulted in a bidding war.
Quick Tip: A generally accepted principal for calculating the premium of a higher floor apartment is to add $10,000 per floor. However, difference in views (such as a park view instead of a streetside view) must be taken into account as well. For co-ops, usually the premium is already added into the amount of shares allocated to the higher floor apartment. For example, apartment 8E would be issued 400 shares and apartment 23E (assuming exact same line and layout) would be issued 550 shares, or 150 shares MORE (10 shares per floor). This is a very general example so be sure to do your research on co-op apartments when calculating the premium of being on a higher floor and the more desireable light and views that come with that.
UrbanDigs Says: Clearly 23C was a value compared to other 2BR apartment's currently listed for sale at The Saratoga building on 330 East 75th street. I even heard the broker mention something about this being a bankruptcy sale which would mean a great find for the lucky buyer but a few weeks of legal headaches clearing the way towards closing. The permanent features of location, light, and views helped the apartment sell in a very short period of time. Well, that and the fact that it was PRICED CORRECTLY! This just goes to show you that the NYC housing market is still healthy and does have a savvy buyer pool that is willing to go after properties that are asking market value. The strategy of pricing aggressively, stimulating demand, and hoping for a bidding war worked perfectly for Patti West with Apt 23C and should be used as an example for sellers out there having trouble moving their property!
A: As the US Dollar continues its slide, foreign investors SHOULD (and I stress SHOULD) get more interested in US real estate; especially in big cities such as New York where foreigners usually live & work. When comparing a 1YR trading chart of the US Dollar vs. EURO I see a steep sellof that brought the greenback down to a new 12 month low: 1 EURO = $0.7527 US Dollars.
Foreign investors whose currency is the Euro are enjoying such a strong currency these days that investing in US assets becomes a very wise investment. Before buying real estate in the US, the Euros are converted to US Dollars where they get much more bang for the buck than they did just one year ago. Look at this quick analysis of what 500,000 EUROS would buy you in US Dollars today vs. 12 months ago:
12 MONTHS AGO (1 EURO = 1.194 US DOLLARS)
500,000EUR = $597,000 US Dollars
TODAY (1 EURO = 1.33 US DOLLARS)
500,000EUR = $665,000 US Dollars
Talk about currency changes! The same amount of EUROS buys you almost $68,000 more US Dollars today than it did 12 months ago! That means investors in Europe can take their Euros and buy pretty much $68,000 (assuming a buyer with 500,000 Euros of course) worth of housing features/upgrades for the same amount of money RIGHT NOW due to the depreciation of the US Dollar and comparable appreciation of the Euro. Thats quite an incentive if you ask me.
The US Dollar is still expected to fall which means EURO's could buy even more US Dollars down the road. By looking at the simple example above you can see how much money this actually equates to. Here is a chart so you can visually see the dropoff of the greenback vs. euro over the past 12 months:
Take a look at what investment mogul Warren Buffet said earlier this year on his predictions of the US Dollar; so far he has been right on ("A Word From A Dollar Bear"):
Says Buffett: "The rest of the world owns $10 trillion of us, or $3 trillion net." That is, U.S. claims on foreign assets run to only $7 trillion. "If lots of people try to leave the market, we'll have chaos because they won't get through the door." In a nutshell, the trade deficit is forcing foreign central banks to ingest U.S. currency at a rate approaching $2 billion a day. Buffett continues: "If we have the same policies, the dollar will go down."What To Expect: As the US housing market continues to remain flat to down, foreign investors should be getting very interested in NYC real estate from a currency investment standpoint since the dollar is in freefall. As long as this trend continues, expect outside buyers of NYC real estate to help stabalize our housing market and provide a nice chunk of demand that most suburban markets will never see.
A: I haven't discussed much about going at it alone and trying to sell your apartment by yourself, but if you do, here are some tips that I really hope you would follow; especially if you plan on actually selling your apartment.
FSBO Reality: By choosing to sell on your own you are removing the brokerage community from the sales process and ALL THE BUYERS that are working with brokers as well. If there is no incentive for a broker to do a deal with you, then they will NOT disclose your property to them during the buying process.
I would estimate that 75% (3 out of 4 buyers) that are looking to buy NYC real estate are working with a broker one way or another. By eliminating the brokerage community, you are in essence only marketing your property to 25% of the buyer pool for your price point. Needless to say, the less people that know about your property for sale, the longer the sales process and tougher it will be to fetch top dollar.Lets get right into it:
1. PRICE RIGHT - No rocket science here. Do your research to see what other comparable units are asking for in your building, and what past units have sold for within the last 12 months, and price more aggressively! Remember, you are saving a brokers fee but as a result only marketing your property to 25% or so of the complete buyer pool that is looking to buy in your price point. So, you have to stimulate the most activity/buzz for your property by pricing it aggressively!
2. TAKE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS DURING MOST SUNLIGHT - Gotham Photo Company is a good place to start. I would also advise sending out a email blast to the brokerage community marketing a open house and an incentive for bringing a deal to the table
HINT: Pay for the design work on their end and do a generic template with no specific dates so it will be cheaper to send out future email blasts with no changes to the design!
3. MARKET - definitely list with the NY Times and run weekly ads in Sunday print advertising open houses along with the best selling features of your home. A good ad might look something like this:
301 E 24th St; Apt 12H For Sale By Owner
OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY 12-2PM (Banner - 2 Lines)
Tons of light, open layout, 750 sft
S/W exposures, 24HR DRMN, Gym
Roofdeck, Low Monthly's, Brokers Welcome
Also, as I noted before, send a email blast to the brokerage community using Gotham's email services
as long as you decided to offer that 3%, or 2.5% incentive to brokers for bringing a deal to the table! Trust me, you should. More on this below.
You can also put a free listing on sites such as Zillow and Craigslist but I wouldn't expect many high quality leads from either of these well known sites.
4. ASK FRIENDS TO HOLD OPEN HOUSES - Never hold an open house as an owner! This should be the mantra of all for sale by owners. Meeting buyers on your own opens up a situation for biases, poor marketing, and emotions; all of which should be absent during the marketing process. If possible, ask a friend to hold an open house for you and try to take as many personal photos down/away so that when buyers come they do not see any pictures of you and your family. Don't ask, its just better that way. Buyers should focus on the apartment and the best selling features, not your family trip to Negril.
5. OFFER 3% TO BROKERAGE COMMUNITY - Hey, 3% is better than 5% or 6% right. If your going at it alone, its because you dont want to hire a brokerage to professionally market your property. So, it s a money thing. Fine. I understand. But at least offer 3% to the brokerage community either through what is called an OPEN LISTING with a discount brokerage firm (we dont market open listings anymore because we are a full service brokerage) and put a 'BROKERS WELCOME' note in your NY Times ads every week!
Its making the best of the situation given that you decided to sell on your own and try to save a few bucks. Good Luck!
A: WHAT WOULD YOU DO? I'm asked this all the time by sellers who are considering putting their apartment on the market and not sure whether or not they should renovate their apartment beforehand. Fact is, every apartment is unique but with a new exclusive that I am about to get on the west side at 314 West 56th street, doing some minor work to prepare the apartment for the open market is a no-brainer. Before I reveal what I decided to do and not do, what are your thoughts to get the most money at resale taking into account the current housing market?
The apartment is vacant and my client is not in a rush to sell but would like to get the apartment on the market soon; although a quick sale would be preffered. A fairly good situation for me as I dont have a time pressure that would adversely affect pricing and having it empty will allow buyers to see the true size of the apartment w/out the presence of big cluttering furniture. Here, take a look at what the apartment looks like right now:
Reverse Living Room
Alcove w/ Exposed Brick
Pic of Floor for Before/After
Living Room & Hallway
So, the questions that come up is what should be done with this apartment besides cleaning it up? Should we renovate the kitchen? The bathroom? The floors? A Paintjob? Add closets? New Windows? Crown Moldings? Etc.., you get the point!
By the way, the kitchen and bathroom are in need of a renovation as well. Will try to get new pics of these and post back up here.
Since the housing market is in the midst of a correction, even though there is a healthy number of buyers looking to purchase a home in New York City, it is still a buyers market in the sense thath buyers can negotiate the final purchase price as sellers seek to move their property. However, some fundamentals still apply to getting top dollar and renovation is NOT one of them!
The apartment I am about to sell is about 500 sft or so, has maintenance charges of $610/mth which includes taxes (very reasonable for size), is not a view apartment and gets some sunlight as it's exposures are of the back of the building. While buyers like to see light and views, this apartment has its location, quietness, large size and great closets for alcove studio, exposed brick, and lenient board working for it. So, I will focus on that during the sales process.
So, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO PREP THIS PROPERTY FOR SALE GIVEN MARKET CONDITIONS?
I'll post an update on this property as work is done and show you the before and after to see if we made the right choices.
A: That time again. Take a look at some price cuts over the past 7 days that may be worth noting should you be in the market for the price point & neighborhood of the listings below.
Lets start with this HUGE just under 30% price cut for "Renowned coin dealer and antique collector Eric Streiner's" penthouse/terrace home on 21 East 22nd street in the Flatiron District. Just check out the views that this apartment has and the 700 sft terrace it enjoys. Plus the price reduction from $2.25M to $1.595M just screams 'motivated seller'!
21 East 22nd Street: Apt PH12F
First Came on Market: 10/31/2005 at $2,500,000
Asking Price Now: $1,595,000
Reduced From: $2,250,000
maintenance: $1,128 (Not bad considering huge terrace)
Size: 1,200 SFT + 700 SFT Terrace (not sure of interior size accuracy though)
Marketed By: Paula Del Nunzio of BrownHarrisStevens
100 West 72nd Street: Apt 5A
First Came on Market: 4/19/2006 at $925,000
Asking Price Now: $749,000
Reduced From: $775,000
Size: 900 SFT
Marketed By: Jon Capobianco of Corcoran
70 East 10th Street: Apt 2N
First Came on Market: 4/18/2006 at $1,100,000
Asking Price Now: $989,000 (now under mansion tax)
Reduced From: $1,050,000
maintenance: $810 (low for size & includes taxes)
Size: 1,000 SFT
Marketed By: Douglas Albert of Corcoran
A: Just a great example of how this real estate market COULD treat a seller if they price right. Take a look at this listing on 70 East 96th street as it just got a contract signed in the first month of its original listing. Sellers facing ANY type of pressure should definitely read this post and learn what needs to be done to get a deal in this housing market.
70 East 96th Street: Apt 8A
First Came on Market: 11/1/2006
Asking Price: $1,675,000
Contract Date: 11/30/2006 (Price Accepted N/A)
Size: 1,674 SFT
PPSF: Asking $1,001
Marketed By: Robin Solod of Halstead
So, what makes this apartment desireable? Well, the Location is fine between Park Ave & Madison Ave. The description mentions "Six stunning rooms with excellent light" giving us Natural Sunlight. No word on views. Size is fine at 1,674 sft and Monthly's are reasonable at about $1.28/sft. And the apartment offers a "working fireplace" which is a rare feature that could sometimes replace another permanent feature (such as views) that get top dollar at resale.
What's interesting about this listing is that it is in need of TLC, as noted by the words,"...waiting for your custom renovation" in the description. I did not see the apartment so I cannot tell you from first-hand experience that most likely the apartment needs work but is NOT a wreck apartment in need of a complete rehaul. This proves what I wrote about a while ago in the post titled, "Renovating In A Cooloing Housing Market", where I discussed using caution when deciding what type of renovation to spend money on when the market is slow; basically major renovations don't get you as much of a premium as in a booming market:
Past history tells us that money spent on kitchens, bathrooms, and floors get you the most money back at resale! But thats in a booming housing market, not a cooling one. IN A SLOWING HOUSING MARKET YOU WANT TO DO THE LOW RISK HIGH REWARD RENOVATIONS THAT COULD PAYOFF AT RESALE. THESE INCLUDE FLOORS & BATHROOMS, NOT KITCHENS!This apartment is in need of a custom renovation, was priced at $1000/sft and got a contract signed in 1 month!
Renovations didn't matter here. In fact, if it was renovated and asking top dollar, it probably wouldn't have sold so fast. In this case, the buyer paid for location, light, possibly some city views on 8th floor, and a working fireplace. The seller didnt have to do any major renovations, even in this cooling housing market, and still got a PPSF close to what a comparable unit sold for back in March of 2005, when the housing market was in bidding wars!
Take a look at this:
Sold For: $1,651,000
Contract Date: 3/29/2005 (A Bidding War Occurred For This Property)
PPSF SOLD FOR: $1,032
So, a lower floor apartment sold for $1,032/sft in a housing market that was very different from today. However, apartment 8A found a buyer that probably paid very close to $1,000/sft in a housing market that is much slower and defined by price cuts and negotiations, without any renovation work. A nice job if you ask me.
WHY? Because of pricing. This seller priced right, a bit lower ($32/sft lower than last comparable sale) than the last sale in the building taking into account the current market, and created a buzz amongst the target buyers that this apartment is a deal. Add in the renovation work needed and this seller probably got a price consistent with Apt 7A that sold in a much better market.
UrbanDigs Says: Sellers should use this example and learn from it. The way you price your property will affect your time on market. If you MUST sell due to some type of time pressure, than be sure to calculate current market conditions into your asking price based on past solds in your building. Price it right. If you have time to test the market, fine, but know that your best activity is in the first 3-4 weeks. If you are testing the market and got a lower than expected bid in the first 3 weeks, read THIS ARTICLE and "Don't Mess Up In Here"!
A: Got a very busy first half today so I will try to get my regular post up by the end of day and do some live chat time later as well. For now, here are some great articles/posts from the blogosphere and business sites that you should definitely read if you have the time.
Office Condos Set To Boom (Millionaire Now) - Larry Nusbaum's article for PREIM (Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine) that discusses the opportunity of the office condo market. Some key phrases from the article include
"But, we are only in the 3rd inning of a nine inning game for office condos. The two major reasons for this are because smart money has come out of residential and has found its way into the office market and because business owners no longer wish to rent but rather see that paying rent to one’s self and making a good investment is an easy way to participate in the real estate boom."Bernanke's View on Rate Cuts (Matrix) - Jonathan Miller's take on Ben Bernanke's luncheon includes excerpts from Big Ben's speech and discusses how "weaker housing market conditions [WaPo] are not enough on their own to push the economy into a recession." Another interesting quote...
"Much of his speech was used to gently dampen two of the major fears about the outlook - that the housing market would push the economy into a full-fledged recession, or that inflation pressures were like a smoldering campfire, seemingly controlled but ready to burst up in the next strong wind."The Housing Optimists (Calculated Risk) - Great article discussing the recent optimism that housing may be nearing a bottom. This post goes into good detail specifically about the so-called false starts-to-sales # that is somewhat of a misread number. The article talks about this and why, and then goes on to discuss why you should anaylze Single Family Starts, Built For Sale as the # to deduce any signals of nearing a bottom in the housing market. Conclusions include..."
As I noted yesterday, inventories of existing homes are at about 5% as a percent of total owner occupied units. This is an all time record, and is well above the median inventory levels of 3% of owner occupied units.Are New Build Prices Negotiable (BloodhoundBlog) - Good article discussing the concept of negotiating with new builders. Some points of interest in the post include...
This high level of existing home inventory should depress new home sales and put pressure on prices.
And we also need to look at new home inventories. Currently the Census Bureau is reporting inventory of 558,000 units. Inventory numbers from the Census Bureau do not include cancellations - and cancellations are at record levels. Actual New Home inventories are much higher - some estimates about 20% higher.
All and all, I don't find any of the optimists' arguments the least bit convincing."
"New home sales is a retail business. The builder has to move current inventory to finance the future inventory, just as Sears has to clear out all the Fall and Winter goods to make way - and pay - for the Spring line.
Sometimes builders have more business than they need - and in consequence nothing is negotiable.
Sometimes - like now - builders need to move inventory, and they are willing to Make Deals, as they say down at the new car lot...In consequence, many builders are essentially giving away upgrade packages for free: You pay for the base price of the home and whatever upgrades the former buyers had ordered are thrown in gratis."
A: Picture this. You are a buyer whose been looking for the past 6+ months. You know a good buying oppurtunity is on its way but you play your game like your in no rush to buy. You go to open houses, learn your product knowledge, and get a general understanding of what your price point will ultimately get you. But do you put yourself in the seller shoes and try to anaylze what features of the apartment might be used as selling points when you ultimately resell?
Spin that anyway you like.
To understand the psychology of your foe, is to understand how to beat them
When it come to buying real estate one of the most invaluable practices you can perform is to put yourself in the sellers shoes and ask yourself what is it about this apartment that I can use as the selling points to prosepective buyers when I go and resellIs it the views? The sunlight? The renovations? Or the outdoor space? If you plan on asking for top dollar when you resell a property, than you must change identities when you are in the process of buying a new property to ensure that you get for a discount what you know will demand a premium in better times. Let me repeat that.
"you must change identities when you are in the process of buying a new property to ensure that you get for a discount what you know will demand a premium in better times"Look to negotiate on properties that offer great views and sunlight in down markets so that when you ultimately resell you will have 2/3 features (location being the assumed odd man out) covered to get you the most money.
But how do you do this? Well for starters, ask your broker to only show you apartments that are higher than the 15th floor. Chances are a 22nd floor apartment is going to offer some type of view and sunlight. Now you just need to fine tune that view and get one of the park or river. Another way, ask your broker for terrace apartments and see for yourself what kind of price difference outdoor space is getting in a slowing housing market. Remember the goal here is to buy in a buyers market and get those features that will ultimately get you top dollar when sold in a sellers market!
Don't worry about the noise if your on a corner; you can always citi-proof your windows. Sure its a costly renovation but if you went into an apartment with great views and sunlight but was insanely noisy from cabs, buses, and ambulances what would you think? Now picture that property 95% quieter but with the same great views and sunlight?
You must change personas when you look to buy. If you are adament about getting a fully renovated apartment, then for a moment step back and ponder whether buying a wreck will ultimately save you $50,000+? Calculate in monthly carrying costs while work is done along with the project estimate to see if paying for renovations are worthwhile.
The next time you step into an apartment, act as if you are the seller's broker. What does this apartment TRULY OFFER to prospective buyers that show up? If it offers great views, sunlight, and location then chances are it will wind up being a good investment.
Take a look at these terrace apartments and see how they compare with other listings in the neighborhood:
301 E 64th: Apt 19B
Reduced From: $869,000 to $699,000 (Motivated!)
Size: 800 SFT
maintenance: $1,498 (High Monthlys Restricts Affordability)
PPSF: $874 (not including terrace)
Marketed By: Lori Carlis of CBHK
301 E 22nd: Apt 17G
Reduced From: $769,000 to $749,000
Size: 750 SFT
maintenance: $1,049 (reasonable given size + terrace)
PPSF: $999 (more reasonable monthlys explains higher asking price)
Marketed By: Joanna Lee of Halstead