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What Buyers Need to Know About Agency Disclosures

As a buyer, what do you need to know about agency disclosures?

First, as it states in bold ink at the very top of the first page, an agency disclosure is not a contract. A contract is a binding agreement between two parties, and an agency disclosure doesn’t bind the buyer or the seller to any specific action.

What it is instead is a declaration of where an agent’s loyalties lie, whether it’s with you, the seller, the landlord, or some other third party. By law, they have to declare in writing whether they’re loyal to you or someone else in the transaction. They may also be acting as a dual agent, which still requires fiduciary loyalty. For example, if you hire a brokerage with multiple agents, one of those agents might be loyal to the buyer and the seller.

 

"A contract is a binding agreement between two parties, and an agency disclosure doesn’t bind the buyer or the seller to any specific action."

 

As I said, an agency disclosure is required by state law. It’s not there to confuse you or drive you crazy, and since it’s not binding, you shouldn’t worry about it. However, a lot of young agents will sometimes tell you that if you sign the agency disclosure, you have to be loyal to them, and that’s simply not the case.

If you have any more questions about agency disclosure or you have any other real estate needs I can assist you with, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to respond.

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Should You Buy a New Home or an Existing Home?

So, you’re looking at homes and you’ve seen some existing homes as well as some brand-new ones. What are the pros and cons of buying a new home versus an existing one?  

There are some great pros to buying a new home. With a new home, you get the newest appliances, the newest finishes, oftentimes great locations and layouts, and that fresh, contemporary feel. These are all important because the person you sell your home to later will also find it appealing. 

One thing you want to keep in mind, however, is if there is tax abatement in place that can erode your equity over time. Also, at what point in the sales cycle are you purchasing? If you are the first person in and you want to wait until they sell the last location, sometimes you can make 50% on your money or triple your cash down payment. It is a great investment.

 

"It is most often the case that an existing home bought at the right price is undoubtedly the way to go."

 

However, your equity could also be gutted if they have trouble selling the last quarter of the available properties and have a fire sale. 

You do not want to make the wrong choice when you are stressed and looking to buy a home and all of these indicators are telling you that it’s a good idea because it’s new and it’s got great salespeople and a nice smell. 

Now to look at resale homes. A resale home may or may not have been recently renovated, and it may involve more negotiation, whereas a new home doesn’t involve much negotiation at all. Existing homes, however, are a great way to make the most equity because you can make small improvements to it. Existing homes also have some of the best neighborhoods because they have been lived in longer. 

When it comes to investing in your home, the truth is it’s really an outlying occurrence when buying a new home is a better investment. It’s most often the case that an existing home bought at the right price is undoubtedly the way to go. 

If you have any further questions about this or are interested in buying or selling, please feel free to reach out to me. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

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Getting a Home Inspection in New York City

Today I want to talk about home inspections. When I started my career, I did not sell real estate in New York City. Instead, I was in Arizona helping investors buy literally thousands of homes. I did home inspections and hired home inspectors.

Home inspections are a vital part of the real estate sales process everywhere in the United States except for New York City. Here, about 95% of homes do not get inspections. However, this does not mean that inspections are worthless.

For the majority of the people here, they worry that a home inspection will kill the deal. However, it is not the end of the world. For a condo or a co-op, a broker can deliver the message from the buyer to the seller that they want to do a home inspection. It will let the buyer know about the electrical service, the condition of the appliances and HVAC, etc.

 

"Home inspections are a vital part of the real estate sales process everywhere in the United States except for New York City."

 

There is nothing wrong with that. However, the time to do this is before you sign the contract. And, you have to approach this in a way that gives the seller comfort because the majority of people are not doing it. So, if you are going to do it, deliver that information gently and with tact.

If you are buying a free-standing home like a townhouse, you will always need to get a home inspection. You need to inspect the roof, the boiler, etc. In this market, you should be paying at least $600 for an inspection, otherwise they may not be doing a good job. In New York, you can get a structural engineer on-site to walk you through the property as they complete the inspection.

When you are buying a townhouse, you should be doing an inspection. Even for some co-ops, it is not a bad idea to inspect the entire structure. However, a lot of people will lead you to believe that it depends on the situation.

If you have any additional questions or are interested in buying or selling, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

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How I Broke Into New York City Real Estate With a Short Sale

When I moved back to New York City from Scottsdale, Arizona, I was already an expert in short sales because I had gone through five of my own. I had bought a bunch of properties that lost their value, so I knew what it took to sell a home for less than you owed. My prior experience is the reason I have this story to share with you today. 

Since I was looking to break into the New York City real estate world, I met a broker who said that if I helped him with a complicated short sale I could be part of the transaction.

There was a first position mortgage, a second position mortgage, and a bankruptcy estate. The gentleman owed $4.2 million and could only sell it for $3.8 million. It was hard to sell because the market was slow and people did not know what a short sale was.

We had to negotiate with three banks and get them to accept the offer of $3.8 million. While that is a lot of money as far as Chase Bank was concerned, it was not enough. Since there was also a bankruptcy involved, we had to show all the parties that we were getting them the most money possible, which we were.

 

"We had to negotiate with three banks and get them to accept the offer of $3.8 million."

 

The secrets to doing a short sale are as follows:


1. The property must be listed professionally.
2. The agent and seller must demonstrate strong marketing strategies.
3. Ethics and honesty must be shown by getting the most money for the property.
4. An excellent attorney, who can set the minds of the banks and lien holders at ease, must be involved.
5. The seller must be patient.

I was very grateful for the opportunity to break into New York City real estate with this complicated but lucrative transaction.

If you have any questions about short sales, please feel free to call or email. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

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Why NYC Homebuyers Should Always Work With an NYC Lender

So you’re buying some real estate, but you don’t want to pay cash for it. Guess what? That makes you smart. Why not borrow money at 4.5% or 5% instead of paying cash? Most people don’t have enough money to pay all-cash for a home. And if they do, this probably wouldn’t be the best choice for them, anyway. Buying with a mortgage is always a better financial decision. 

What if your income isn’t necessarily what they call “W-2” though? 

This is the case for many New Yorkers, including myself. As a real estate agent, I use a 1099 form because my income can fluctuate from year to year. If you’re in a similar situation and you work in an industry where your income can fluctuate, do lenders know how to deal with that? Most of them do, but not all of them.

 

"When buying a home in New York City, always work with a New York City lender."

 

This is why we always insist that you use a lender whose office is located here in New York City. When I worked in other states, it wasn’t uncommon for me to see a buyer go onto lendingtree.com or quickenloans.com and end up working with a loan processor that was in a different state. If a loan processor gives you a good rate, it’s no big deal if they’re out of state, but it doesn’t work that way in New York City. The buildings are all unique, and they each need to be individually underwritten. 

The underwriters at Chase Bank in New York City will treat bonus income much differently than the underwriters at Chase Bank somewhere in Ohio. They’ll tell you that the process is the same, but I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and I can tell you that it’s not the same. 

That’s the secret—when buying a home in New York City, always work with a New York City lender. All banks have New York City offices, and a local lender will be able to account for factors like your bonus income or any exceptions that may be needed for the building. They’ll also be able to work with you on the financial disclosure if you have a high net worth and you want to structure things in a way that protects you. 

If you have any more questions about the mortgage process or you have any other real estate needs I can help you with, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be happy to assist you.

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What’s Going on in the New York Real Estate Market?

Today I want to take some time to answer a few questions about the New York real estate market. My guest for this is discussion is Sean, who had a bunch of great questions for me to address. I answered these questions in detail on Facebook Live and in the video above, so for convenience’s sake, I’ll be providing timestamps below so you can skip around to the sections that most interest you:

0:40- The hottest type of property in the city and the forces that are driving them.

2:30- The segments of the market that aren’t selling as quickly as the others.

 

"Watch the full interview in the video above."

 

4:35- Pricing data for some of the hottest areas of the New York market.

5:50- Where to start if you’re looking to break into the market as a first-time homebuyer.

9:15- The best place to get the most accurate value of your home in today’s market.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our discussion. If you have any questions about the market, buying or selling a home, or how find out your home’s value in today’s market, you can always give me a call or send me an email. I’d be glad to help you out.

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Renting a Home in a Buyer's Market

I am here today to tell you three signs that you are ready to be one of the 50% of national homeowners who are under the age of 36.
 
1 ) You've got around 20% of the down payment plus six months to 12 months of monthly living costs saved. You probably can’t afford a home if you don’t have the encouraged down payment and some reserves.
 
2) You are tired of spending money on rent. Maybe you don’t have the money to put down right now, but you are tired of spending your money on rent. This can be an excellent motivator to make a financial plan to save that money. Rent will continue to rise, but the majority of your monthly housing costs will be fixed so you can save money in the long run.

 

"Rent will continue to rise, but the majority of your monthly housing costs will be fixed so you can save money in the long run."

 

3) Major life decisions are happening. Maybe you're thinking about getting married, having a child, or growing your family. All of these decisions usually go hand-in-hand with buying a home. Prepare yourself when making these decisions by saving as often as possible.
 
Downsizing can also encourage home purchasing. People buy a home oftentimes when their families get smaller—children leave or couples divorce.
 
No matter what your motivation may be, buying a home is a major decision. If you can plan the next three to five years and you have the assets at hand, you should consider investing in a home. If you do, you can become one of the many millionaires whose wealth is made through home equity. In America, more millionaires are made this way than any other way.
 
If you have any specific questions about planning for buying a home, please feel free to call or email me. I look forward to speaking with you.

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How to Tell if an Apartment Is Priced Correctly

Today Jsun Laliberte and I are here to answer this common question: Is the apartment I want to buy priced above, below, or at market value?

This is the No. 1 question that people are worried about when buying an apartment. A lot of people don’t realize that 15% of properties that sold last year sold for over asking price. In those particular cases, those homes were priced below market value.

In Jsun’s experience, you have to treat each property as its own specific case study. You need to take all of the market data into account, as well as experience and a little bit of intuition, to guide you in making the best offer possible without overpaying.

 

"This is the No. 1 question apartment buyers are worried about."

 

There are a few tricks of the trade that you should know. We know that when we buy homes in December, they cost a little less than they do in May or June. Everything besides light, location, and square footage can be changed in a home.

Jsun and his team understand all the strategies behind pricing. They can advise you on where these properties are situated so you can create the best strategy for your offer and win the best price.

It's also a good idea to consider potential changes in interest rates. The New York Times recently put out this article about rising interest rates.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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A Success Story in the Upper East Side

Today I am sharing a success story one of my buyers had purchasing a two-bedroom home on the Upper East Side.
 
These buyers had a six-figure budget, which with Manhattan’s inventory, is not a lot of money for a two-bedroom home on the Upper East Side. Luckily, they were able to do a little bit of work and I was able to find them a fixer-upper in a luxury building toward East End Avenue.

 

"I was able to find them a fixer-upper in a luxury building toward East End Avenue."

 

Understandably, the seller had already attracted multiple offers, but I had done a deal with this listing broker previously. She outright told me where her other offers were positioned. This helped my buyers come in as the highest bid and be confident that they weren't overpaying.
 
Why would she do that?
 
Since we had worked together before, she knew that I was someone that could take my buyers from start to finish, quickly and seamlessly, without any surprises arriving during the co-op board application process. She also knew from the way I structured the offer that the buyers were well qualified and great people. This matters a lot when you're going to be working together to get a deal closed.
 
In the end, my buyers were able to purchase a two-bedroom home, win a bidding war by a fraction of a percent, and be confident that they weren't overpaying.
 
I would love to share that same success story with you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call, email, or visit my office. I would be happy to speak with you.

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What Do You Do if a Listing Agent Goes MIA?

What happens if you find a house you really like and you try calling or emailing that house’s listing agent but they don’t answer? 

This situation sounds like something that never happens, but let me tell you something—it happens all the time. Roughly 90% of all people who get their real estate license are only in the business for less than five years, which means that potentially 90% of the people you interact with in the real estate business are unqualified. 

A listing agent might become unresponsive for a number of reasons, such as:

1. They’re greedy. They already have an offer and they don’t want to waste their time with another. It might not be a good offer, but they don’t care. 

2. They’re not efficient with technology. In this case, you have to call them or double-check that their contact information is correct.

3. They’re protecting a direct deal. This means they have a buyer they don’t have to “co-broke” with and they don’t want to bring any other buyers or their agents into the fold because they don’t want to submit any other offers. Even if they signed a contract that says they won’t do this, they still might.

 

"Roughly 90% of the people you potentially interact with in the real estate business are unqualified."

 

To clarify, this 90% also comprises the 80% of agents who do less than 20% of the overall business, meaning that 80% of the overall business is done by the 20% of all agents who are experienced, work on teams, and play fair. 

When we encounter a situation where a listing agent goes MIA, we try and follow up with them by calling, texting, and/or emailing. If they’re still unresponsive after about four or five attempts within a certain time frame, we call their manager. Whenever you hire a real estate brokerage to sell a property, you’re not hiring an individual agent—you’re hiring a company. If a corporate agent doesn’t return my call, I call their corporate manager and tell them what’s going on. 

This practice is commonly discouraged in the brokerage community, and as your broker, I would never let that happen to you. Finding the home you love is an emotional process, and you have to fight to win it. We will always fight for you. 

If you have any other questions about unresponsive listing agents or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in our market, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to speak with you!

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I’ve Seen It All in NYC

Today we’re going to talk about something a little bit different. Instead of giving you an update on the real estate market, I want to talk about growing up in New York City and how I’ve seen the market change over all these years. 

When somebody asks me where I’m from and I say “New York,” I usually have to qualify it by telling my whole story. To save you some time in the future, here it is. 

I was born in New York in 1980 and my mother and I moved around a lot. We lived in places like Ditmas Park, Midwood, Park Slope, and even downtown Brooklyn. I moved away for college, then I came back and lived in Brooklyn. I live in Manhattan today and I love it.

 

"I remember when New York wasn’t the same kind of place that it is today."

 

It’s been amazing to see how the city has transformed over the years. For example, my father bought a townhouse in Chelsea in 1982 for $240,000 and sold it three years later for $500,000. Today, that thing is probably worth $10 million.

I remember NYC when things weren’t so expensive or sought after as they are today. There was more crime, more dilapidation, and less to do. Now, a different kind of dilemma is starting to emerge. With rising property values, so many mom and pop businesses have gone away. When that happens, like it already has in Times Square, you don’t see the same kind of growth as you do in other areas.

If you’re curious about values in your specific neighborhood or you have any other questions about New York real estate, don’t hesitate to reach out and give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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How Much Will You Actually Make From Your Home Sale?

Today, I want to talk to you about the difference between gross proceeds and net proceeds.

Many times, estates hire me to sell a home. When that happens, the amount it sells for is a lot different than the amount received. How much money do you really end up with if, say, I sell the home for a million dollars? 

There are some key benchmarks that you should be mindful of here. The good news is that for a long time now, the estate tax limit has been very high—over $5 million. Now, that’s subject to change, but, generally speaking, there’s no tax on money transferred for an estate under $5 million dollars.

 

"Net proceeds refer to how much the seller makes after all expenses are deducted from the gross proceeds."

 

Net proceeds refer to how much the seller makes after all expenses are deducted from the gross proceeds. These fees are the ultimate difference between net and gross proceeds, and they include:

  • Long-term capital gains tax. This is a tax on the profit gained from the sold property. It fluctuates depending on Congress, but it has typically been around 15%, sometimes as low as 8%. You might also have a city and state long-term capital gains tax. As of 2016, depending on your tax bracket, that was roughly a 28% total between city, state, and federal long-term capital gain taxes.
  • Your real estate broker. Brokers often take a 6% commission.
  • Additional taxes. Some buildings and areas have additional taxes such as a flip tax, which could be anywhere between 2% and 25% of the profit.

There are many ways to minimize your outflow and maximize your inflow. When I work with sellers, I do a net closing sheet, which will help spell out your net proceeds for you. Each situation is different, so we can discuss that together when we sit down and talk about selling your home.

If you have any other questions about this topic or any other real estate subject, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. I can refer you to the top financial planners, accountants, and attorneys who can give qualified advice on this question. In the meantime, I can give you a general idea of how much you’ll make when you sell your home. I look forward to hearing from you.

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The Key to Adding Value Is Making Buyers Fall in Love

So, you’ve been thinking of selling your home. Before you put your home on the market, you’ll want to boost its value as much as possible. Today, I’ll be sharing some tried-and-true tips for increasing the value of your listing. 

1. Get rid of the clutter. Before you list, make your home as spacious as possible. When buyers walk into your house, it should either appear like a museum or a hotel—exquisite and depersonalized.

2. Give your walls a fresh coat of paint. In many cases, a fresh, neutral coat of paint will bring you incredible returns.

 

"The key to increasing the value of your home isn’t making the property “good enough,” it’s finding ways to make the buyer fall in love."

 

3. Update a few appliances. You don’t need to remodel your entire kitchen. A few appliance updates will go a long way. Here’s the truth: When a buyer looks at a property, they fall in love with the little things, like the washing machine or hardwood floors. If a buyer finds something they love about your home, they’ll ignore the things they don’t. 

The key to increasing the value of your home isn’t making the property “good enough,” it’s finding ways to make the buyer fall in love. As a helpful hint, these features tend to be found in the kitchen or bathrooms. When you can focus on making the buyer fall in love, you will create a lot of value in your property. 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Don't Choose Just Anyone to Be Your Real Estate Attorney

Should you have a friend or family member who is an attorney handle your real estate transaction?

Before you can decide the answer to that question, you’ll need to consider this: Real estate attorneys in New York City perform a job which is generally performed by a title company in other states. In addition, they are tasked with the supplementary role of preparing a contract. In other states, the real estate agent will use a pre-printed form which has been drafted by their state’s association of Realtors. 

When choosing an attorney, it’s important to select a professional whose sole focus is real estate. If the attorney you’re thinking of hiring does anything that involves the word “court,” run for the hills! That is not the attorney that you want.

 

"Bad attorneys kill deals."

 

The second thing to consider when selecting an attorney is the level of experience and support they can offer you. You should expect your contract to be sent out within six hours of them receiving the deal sheet. You should never work with an agent or lawyer who doesn’t have a well-established practice. 

In fact, buyers who offer less for a property but are working with a more established, more well-known professional may still have the upper hand in competitive situations. Bad attorneys kill deals. 

That being said, there are a number of great attorneys here in New York City that we work with. When you work with us, we will recommend six choices to you. The attorneys we can recommend to you will vary in what they charge. However, most quality attorneys will fall within a similar range. 

One kind of attorney you must absolutely avoid is one who charges an unreasonably low rate. An extremely cheap attorney will not provide you with the level of service you need and deserve. 

Ultimately, who you work with matters. Be careful not to hire someone to assist you in your transaction before considering these points.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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How to Buy and Sell at the Same Time

I get asked this question all the time: “Is it possible to buy and sell a home at the same time?”

This situation happens all the time. You want to buy a new home, but you can’t until you’ve sold your current home. You’re not alone. Pretty much everyone is in this situation. Most people can’t afford two mortgages at once, nor do they want to have to find temporary housing while they look for a home. You won’t be able to borrow against the equity of a home you’re trying to sell and you won’t get credit for the equity from a seller until your home is under contract.

 

"This situation happens all the time."

 

What I suggest is that you make a checklist of what you’re looking for in a new home. Once you have that list, make note of how many homes come on the market each quarter that match that criteria. Having sold over 1,000 homes, I can tell you that similar properties sell multiple times throughout the year. For example, over 1,000 large one-bedrooms sell in Downtown Manhattan every year, so if that’s what you’re looking for, of course you’ll be able to find one that fits your needs.

The first step in this process is reaching out to a professional real estate agent. We can help you come up with a game plan, get the home on the market, get it sold, and make sure you find the home of your dreams. 

If you have any questions for me or want to know how I can help you handle a situation like this, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

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How to Win a Multiple Offer Situation

What do you do if you’re trying to buy a home in a multiple offer situation?

First, it’s important to remember that roughly two years ago, about 40% of all deals involving multiple offers would turn into bidding wars. Now, that number is closer to 15%. The only case where you would find yourself in a multiple offer situation is when the seller has deliberately priced their home below market value in an effort to generate those multiple bids. So don’t let yourself get hamstrung by the asking price. 

We have a bifurcated market right now. Above the $3 million mark, you’ll have a lot of negotiability. Below $2.5 million (and especially in the six-figure range), the market is red hot. There, the average days on market for homes that are priced well is 30 or less, and odds are you’ll encounter multiple bids for your favorite properties. 

The most important factor in making an offer in a multiple offer scenario is being confident in the comps and having a conversation with your broker about what direction your submarket is moving. That way, if the home is underpriced, you know it and you can be confident in bidding aggressively while also feel comfortable you’re not overpaying.

 

"Don’t let yourself get hamstrung by the asking price."

 

Two years ago, being in a multiple offer situation meant you would have paid above the asking price 100% of the time. Now, you can still get a home that has four or five offers on it for its original asking price. 

There are other things you can do besides offering more money to win in a multiple offer situation. An introduction letter to the seller, for instance, can be priceless. It should include your picture (preferably one of you outside in the neighborhood with your spouse and/or family) and a short biography of yourself. That can go a whole lot farther than an extra 1% on your offer. Also, let’s be honest—sellers love babies, so if you can mention a baby in your intro letter, that matters. 

If I’m selling a home in a multiple offer situation, what I’m most afraid of is that someone will come at me with a non-binding, high number, hijack the process, and then want to renegotiate or even back out once we’re in the due diligence period but before anyone has signed the contract. 

All of these things will send signals that you’re trustworthy and you’ll follow through with the sale. Not only that, but you’ll also give the seller peace of mind with your offer.  

If you have any other questions about how to win a multiple offer situation as a buyer or you have any other real estate needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you.

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Our Team Is a Top-Tier Team You Can Depend On

I feel very lucky to talk to you today. I’ve been a real estate agent since 2005 when I was 24. I’m now 37, going on 38, and this year was the best year of my career.

As a real estate broker and a small business owner, I’m really heartened to have sold almost $60 million worth of real estate in 2017, with a few weeks still to go.

This year, we’ve already established ourselves as one of the top five teams in our office and one of the top 20 teams in our company, Douglas Elliman, on a monthly basis three separate times. We’ve gotten over 50 five-star reviews and we helped sellers set 13 building records in their buildings. We helped multiple buyers buy homes for big discounts, where they’ll create memories that last a lifetime.

Most of all, personally, I’ve been able to grow in a way that I’ve never thought possible. As a team leader, I’ve worked with other people and companies. Having my own team since 2016, I never imagined that just by working harder than anyone anyone else I know, I’d be in be in this top-10 range.

 

"I’ve been able to grow in a way that I’ve never thought possible."

 

It’s not maybe really important to someone who I’m helping sell or find a home because when I’m working with a client, I’m not the biggest broker in the world. There are plenty of people at other companies and out in the world who are bigger, badder, and better than me, but my success—my team’s success—comes from commitment, honesty, compassion, focus, and education.

Education isn’t something you’re born with, education is something you seek out. It’s not just mental, it’s also physical. I work with a business coach, a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, and more. I participate in think tanks in my office, attend national seminars, and read business books. 

All of these successes are never by accident. They’re all the product of empathy—empathy for my client in that you’re doing the best job possible for them. When you do that, you feel great, make money, and people refer you their friends and family too. That’s how I’ve built my career.

I want to be someone you can depend on for all your real estate needs, so if you have any questions, I hope you feel comfortable reaching out to me.

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Should You Consider Buying in a Co-op?

So you’ve been thinking about buying a home and you’ve been talking to some friends, and they’ve told you, “Get a condo—don’t get a co-op.” 

Everywhere you look, though—especially in Manhattan—there’s a co-op. And when you dig a little deeper, it seems like condos are way more expensive than co-ops, too. 

At that point, you might be asking yourself, “Why shouldn’t I buy a co-op? What is a co-op?”

These are the two questions I want to answer today. First, the term “co-op” stands for cooperative apartment. That means the land the apartment building sits on is owned by one company, and that company is a corporation. 

For example, if you bought a house, it would be on a piece of land. Let’s say you bought that house with a roommate and instead of splitting up the rent, you split up the property tax, and in order to make that legal, you made a company and made two shares of stock in the house. Your roommate would have one share and you would have the other. Let’s say your roommate then wanted to move and wanted to sell their share, but you didn’t want to sell yours. A co-op allows you to make that decision. It doesn’t matter if it’s two roommates or 500 roommates.

 

"Many people have done very well investing in and living in a co-op."

 

It’s possible you’ve heard stories about some co-ops being very strict, and some of those stories can be true. For the most part, though, the original “roommates” of a co-op only care that the new roommates pay enough money to justify the sale so their equity isn’t eroded and the new roommate will be able to pay for things like a roof replacement. To verify this, they’ll check things like your bank statements. 

Condos do the same thing, though, and co-ops have other rules too. For instance, they don’t let you rent it out without limitation. For example, if your roommate sold their place to some stranger but the stranger wanted to start some hotel, a co-op allows you to limit that if you don’t want that. 

As a homeowner, you might be thinking that you don’t want to be limited to who you can sell or rent to and wondering why co-ops are so expensive, but co-ops do have some great attributes. 

For one thing, their closing costs are considerably lower than condos. You also collectively pay a lower tax rate and have lower utility costs. Most importantly, if you want to be in certain neighborhoods or certain buildings, you have no choice than to go with a co-op. Let’s face it—no one is building any new ones. If you want to buy a property that was built in New York City before 1990, there is a strong likelihood you’ll have to buy in a co-op, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do so. Many people have done very well investing in and living in a co-op. 

If you have any more questions about owning a co-op, please feel free to reach out to me any way you can. I’d be happy to speak with you.

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I Went to War for One of My Clients, and We Won—Here’s How

If you’re lucky as a real estate agent, you work in the business for a few years and have clients that work with you again and again. Such was the case with the client success story I want to share with you today. 

I sold a property for this client in her small co-op building, and she knew about me and conducted interviews with the other agents who had done business in the building. The first time I met this client, I came to her house on a Saturday morning wearing a suit and tie—which I felt pretty silly about—and she had me up against other agents she had dealt with before. 

She had a 1-bedroom, first-floor apartment. It’s always a challenge to sell first-floor apartments, and she had huge furniture too. Even though I was stressed and really wanted her business, I had to be honest with her, tell her a price that was lower than what she wanted, and tell her she had to do something about her furniture. 

I recommended a stager who staged the home, and we sold it for $745,000, which was $5,000 less than the asking price. We then located a 2-bedroom apartment—which was what she wanted to move into—that was close by. The asking price for this next apartment was $1.2 million, and we offered $1,210,000.

Am I crazy? No, I’m not crazy! It was Thanksgiving and the market was slow. Anyway, she put a little bit of work into this apartment and called me again four months later. She wanted to sell again and move back into the area she originally moved from in the West Village. She was only five blocks away, but she didn’t care.

 

"You can’t be perfect for every person, but I go to war with and for the people I work with."

 

Real estate agents don’t mind getting those calls, but now we had a real challenge on our hands. She improved the property quite a bit, and I had to get her every dollar she spent on it and more. The way to do that was to sell it for $1.5 million, but she wanted to sell it for $1.7 million. There were no comparable properties for $1.7 million, but I didn’t argue with her. We listed the apartment at $1.7 million, then dropped it down to $1.6 million. By the time we dropped it again to $1.5 million, she was a bit stressed, but I never wavered. While we were priced at $1.6 million, we got an offer for $1.4 million. Once we lowered it to $1.5 million, we generated more interest but no real action. 

The people who offered $1.4 million were pretty standoffish, but long story short, we got another offer and those people raised their offer to $1.45 million because they were scared they were going to lose out on the property. We made a counteroffer of $1.475, and they agreed to it. But in New York, as you know, it takes another seven to 14 days to sign a contract. During this time, nothing happened, but then my client made up her mind that she wasn’t selling for less than $1.5 million. 

I waited until the buyers signed the contract and put up their money to tell them that they had to meet the $1.5 million mark. The agent representing them was world famous—the kind who walked on air (or water, depending on her mood) and breathed fire. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy. But you know what? They agreed to $1.5 million. They also agreed to close according to our schedule. They yelled at me and complained to my manager, but I absorbed all that pressure they would’ve put on my seller had I not been there. 

Now that this client had moved into another great home and is looking to buy again, we have a great relationship that’s built on trust and being in the trenches together. You can’t be perfect for every person, but I go to war with and for the people I work with. 

If you need a real estate agent you can trust and depend on, I want to talk to you. If you have any questions or are thinking of buying a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you.
 

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Questions You Should Ask Potential Brokers

Whether you’re planning on buying or selling a home, possibly the most important decision in the process is choosing an individual or agency to help you. I’ve put together this series of questions to ask potential brokers in order to help find the right one for you.

1. How many verified online reviews does this broker have? Anyone who has been in the real estate business for some time will have many reviews online. Of course, some may be bad reviews, and there may be a story there worth further investigation, but even that’s better than a broker with no reviews at all. Ultimately, a successful broker is one who can move homes; and in our social, online society, this is demonstrable in the number of reviews a broker generates.

 

"Whether you’re planning on buying or selling a home, possibly the most important decision in the process is choosing an individual or agency to help you."

 

2. How many homes has this broker sold in the last year? As you know, the real estate market is a growing, changing environment. A broker who was successful three to four years ago may not be the right choice in today’s market. So much of what your broker has to offer is their relationships in the current market and up-to-the-minute knowhow. That’s why it’s so important to find a broker who has sold a home recently.

3. What kind of support team does this broker have? Do they work alone or with a large team of agents under them? Do they have an office they work out of, or perhaps an assistant? If they have a large team, maybe you feel you’ll be frustrated trying to contact this broker again after your initial consultation, having been handed off to their support staff. On the other hand, if a broker works alone, you may appreciate their personal touch but have concerns that they are overextended.

If you have any other questions about buying or selling a home, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at (212) 965-6051 or online at david.rosen@elliman.com. I would be happy to help you.


 

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