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The Seven Vital Steps in a Real Estate Transaction PDF Print Email


By Priscilla Toomey, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Apr. 8, 2020: As the proverb says, "there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip," and it holds true in real estate just as in many other areas of everyday life.

Once you find a home and agree on price and terms, there are many steps to be taken before the deal closes. They fall under the heading "transaction management."

The lawyers for the parties have their own steps to manage.

This article focuses on seven vital steps of which the parties and their real estate agents need to be aware.

-Agents for both buyers and sellers write up a "Purchase Memo" spelling out the price and terms of the transaction. Terms would include a proposed closing date and any contingencies such as a mortgage commitment and what percentage cash versus mortgage will be coming from the buyers.

The Memo identifies the parties with their correct legal names, any inclusions and exclusions, and any special terms. The sellers' lawyer uses the Purchase Memo as the basis for drafting the Contract.

– Inspections are done before contracts are signed, and if any issue arises, it is negotiated then. At this point, the agent for the buyer is also responsible for verifying taxes and for making sure all necessary Certificates of Occupancy are in place.

– Until contracts are signed by both parties, and the buyers have paid the earnest money deposit (typically 10% in this area), either party is free to back out without penalty. If, for example, a better offer comes in to the sellers, they are free to either negotiate with the original buyers or take the new offer.

– Staying in communication is vital — each party with their agent and the agents with such other. Circumstances may change, contingencies have expiration dates, and sellers may decide to ask the buyers about whether they want some items of furniture, either to buy or to be left for them.

-While all-cash transactions do occur, it is more common for there to be a mortgage and an appraisal. Typically, the lender will lend up to 80% of the appraised value, so it is important that the appraisal come in at the contract price or very close to it (or over it, of course).

The agent for the buyer should be in touch with the lender to make sure that the appraiser is familiar with the area where the home is located. Neither the agent nor the lender can choose the appraiser, but this is a reasonable question to ask.

Then the buyers' agent should prepare a package of comparable recent sales to give to the appraiser when they meet at the property. The appraiser doesn't have to accept this information, but most do.

– The Purchase Memo will typically state the projected closing date as an "on or about" date. In practice, that gives either party up to 30 days to adjust the actual closing date without penalty. If it is adjusted more than a few days, there may be a need for either or both parties to make alternate living arrangements in the interim.

– Once the mortgage lender issues a mortgage commitment, the lawyers for the sellers and buyers arrange a date for the closing in conjunction with the lender. In anticipation of the closing, the lawyers for the parties advise their clients what to bring to the closing and what to expect from the closing.

Within 48 hours or less before the scheduled closing, the buyer and their agent will perform a "walk-through." The purpose of the "walk-through" is (1) to make sure the condition of the property has not changed since the inspection and (2) to make sure that any items which the parties agreed would be repaired have been.

If this is not the case, there will be another negotiation to make sure the property which is purchased is what was agreed upon. A "hold back" of money may be needed if the required repairs cannot be completed in time for the closing.

The culmination of these steps is the closing at which Title will pass from the sellers to the buyers. The sellers leave happily with the proceeds, and the buyers can settle happily into their new home.

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff

Bronxville Real Estate Market in "The New Normal" PDF Print Email


By Cindy G. Landis, Brokerage Manager, Bronxville Office of Houlihan Lawrence

Apr. 1, 2020:  Hello Neighbors,

I hope each of you is healthy and managing to cope with the extremely difficult circumstances that have become "the new normal" for the time being.

Fortunately for Village high-risk residents, Bronxville's "essential" merchants have teamed up with the Village Police Department to make life safer and easier. Mayor Marvin, Chief Satriale, and Superintendent Montesano deserve high praise for their well-planned approach to this situation. It does take a Village.

As realtors, we are deemed non-essential, which simply means agents are working from home using social media, email, and old fashioned phone calls to stay in touch with clients about the market in Bronxville.

The first quarter of 2020, although not quite complete, shows a lack of supply, although demand from buyers is solid.

The many reasons that make Bronxville such a highly desirable place to live and raise a family still matter: a top-notch school system (ranked the best in Westchester), a short commute to New York City, a sense of community with beautiful period architecture and a bustling downtown - all within the confines of one square mile.

These factors, perhaps more than ever, are relevant as people living in more densely populated areas are re-thinking their lifestyle choices under the circumstances.

What is happening during the quarantine as far as real estate goes?

Web traffic is up! Frustrated buyers are shopping online and reaching out to agents more than ever, and of course, there are no public open houses on weekends.

Understandably there have been a few hesitations as some buyers want a moment to assess, but two houses went into contract this week in the Village.

Other accepted offers are happening. There are hurdles, of course: building department files may be inaccessible, and inspections on new deals present issues to overcome. The situation is fluid and changing from day to day as restrictions are lifted or enforced. Overall, the situation feels more positive than not.

This past week there were 72 closings in Westchester County. Although it requires creativity and persistence, closings can happen with pre-signed documents, or power of attorney, and using Zoom conferencing for remote participants to join. Naturally, for those present, the glove protocol is in effect. Indeed, it is a strange world.

I welcome inquiries from any of you and wish all of you the best in weathering the storm that is COVID-19.

I look forward to things returning to "the old normal" and expect that Bronxville will most likely rebound as soon as restrictions are lifted and "things are safe."

In the meantime, maintain your social distance.


Cindy Landis

Note; Cindy Landis is Brokerage Manager of the Bronxville Office of Houlihan Lawrence

Photo courtesy Houlihan Lawrence

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff

Local Realtor Awarded Accredited Buyer’s Representation Designation PDF Print Email


Submitted by Park Sterling Realty

Mar. 11, 2020: Laura Bulfamante with Park Sterling Realty has been awarded the Accredited Buyer's Representation (ABRâ) designation by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council. (REBAC) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSâ (NAR).

Laura Bulfamante joins more than 30,000 real estate professionals in North America who have earned the ABRâ designation. All were required to successfully complete a comprehensive course in buyer representation and an elective course focusing on a buyer representation specialty. All were also required to submit documentation verifying professional experience.

REBAC, founded in 1988, is the world's largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. There are more than 40,000 active members of the organization worldwide. 

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSâ, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the world's largest professional association, representing over 1,000,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.

Laura Bulfamante has also earned the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification. The National Association of REALTORS® offers the SFR® certification to REALTORS® who want to help both buyers and sellers navigate complicated transactions.

REALTORS® who have earned the SFR® certification know how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities.

Photo courtesy Park Sterling Realty

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Park Sterling Realty Adds Majority of Sales Force of Peter J. Riolo Real Estate PDF Print Email


Submitted by Park Sterling Realty

Feb. 26, 2020: Leah Caro, co-owner of Park Sterling Realty, a realty brokerage company serving Westchester and Putnam Counties, has announced the addition of the majority of the sales force of Peter J Riolo Real Estate, a Hastings-On-Hudson firm.

Peter J. Riolo Real Estate, a respected firm for more than 70 years, recently closed its doors. The co-owner and president, Peter J. Riolo, Jr., the office manager, Sharlene Forman, and the majority of their sales force will now be associated with Park Sterling Realty.


Leah Caro, Peter J. Riolo Jr. and Sharlene Forman

Park Sterling, with its main office in Bronxville Village, has had a positive and productive relationship with the Peter J. Riolo Real Estate office in Hastings for over 30 years. Both offices were founding members of the Westchester Real Estate, Inc. consortium.

Park Sterling Realty (formerly known as Bronxville Real Estate) has been an independent company since its inception in 1990. It has prided itself on high ethical standards, teamwork, professionalism, and exceptional client services.  Peter J. Riolo Real Estate has the same values, making the association a natural fit.

"Putting People First" isn't just a motto, says co-owner Leah Caro, "It's Park Sterling Realty's way of life – for agents and clients."

The new river-town based sales associates will continue to bring a high-touch client experience, along with a high-tech toolbox to market Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Northwest Yonkers and beyond.

President and Principal Broker Leah Caro has been a friend and colleague of many of the new brokers including Kumiko Buller, Sharlene Forman, Alberto Hernandez, Marilyn Hirsch, Deborah McNerney, Laureen Paul, Lauchlan Paul, Susan Slattery, Ravi Wadera, and of course Peter Riolo Jr, himself.

She is delighted to include these successful real estate pros in her company and looks forward to continuing to bring the best service to the Hastings and River-town markets.

When asked about further expansion, Caro says she and partner, Jon Posner are examining another opportunity in Northern Westchester.

Jon Posner, a 45 year veteran of real estate, was the owner of Preferred Realty Inc, a 95 agent brokerage firm that was sold to Houlihan Lawrence in 2004.

Photos courtesy Park Sterling Realty


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.




Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: IBuyers and the Cost of Convenience PDF Print Email


By Priscilla Toomey, Julie B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Feb. 26, 2020: IBuyers or so-called "Instant Buyers" established a foothold in the west and have since been exploring markets farther east. 

Though still accounting for only a small percentage of their chosen markets, companies like OpenDoor, OfferPad and a division of Zillow aggressively market the "Instant Buyer" approach, usually to prospective sellers of moderately priced homes.

How much do the targeted sellers know about what they're trading away for a promise of convenience?

Five things to know about IBuyers: 

1. The promise of convenience is based on an all-cash offer and a closing date that is certain.

2. IBuyers rely on AVMs ("automated valuation models"), believing that technology will result in a fair asking price.

3. Renovations that are needed are determined by the IBuyer but are paid for by the home seller. The renovations are also geared towards the IBuyer's profitability in the transaction. The question is whether the renovations are all necessary or just needed to help protect the IBuyer's bottom line.

4. The transaction is, by its very nature, impersonal. The IBuyer's offer is the offer, and once the seller agrees to it, it is set without the ability to adjust to market changes or buyer reactions. Some people liken it to flipping, the difference being that flippers buy a home already on the market, and IBuyers seek out homeowners before the house goes on the market.

5. Because this is a business for the IBuyer, the transaction could result in a seller receiving as much as 10% below Fair Market Value.

Five Differences With a Traditional Sale:

1. In a traditional sale, the seller determines the price based on analysis from an agent who is familiar with the local market and knows what similar homes have recently sold for there.

2. In a traditional sale, the seller has discretion which repairs to do after consultation with the real estate agent and, often, a stager.

3. In a traditional sale, the price can be adjusted as market conditions, buyer feedback and other factors change.

4. In a traditional sale, the agent is there to present the property to the entire marketplace in order to get the highest price for the seller and is the local resource for the seller for whatever is needed to get the best price and terms for the home.

5. In a traditional sale, the agent has local contacts who can be called upon as needed to answer questions, perform work and help in whatever capacity is needed to complete the transaction. It's all very hand's on, and personal and the real estate agent wants to do the best possible job from start to finish because their reputation and future business depend on it.

Pictured: Priscilla Toomey

Photo courtesy Julia B Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.



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