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Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: Housing Stability Act of 2019 Includes New Provisions For Renting Single Family Homes PDF Print Email


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

Sep. 4, 2019:  If their home is on the market but isn’t selling, people often think of renting it out as a viable option. Of course, no matter how careful they are in choosing a tenant, it’s partly luck whether the tenant turns out to be responsible and treats the property as if it were their own or turns out to be an unexpected nightmare who doesn’t pay rent on time and who treats the property poorly, no matter how good they looked on paper.

But on June 14 of this year a seismic shift occurred in favor of tenants – something all landlords and prospective landlords need to be aware of, including those renting out a single-family home.  It's called the Housing Stability Act of 2019 and among its provisions are:

1. Landlords cannot charge application fees and can only charge $20 or the actual cost, whichever is less,  for a credit or background check.

2. Landlord’s cannot charge more than a one-month security deposit and cannot charge a pet deposit. 

3. Once a tenant moves out, the landlord has 14 days to return the security deposit and must give an itemized list, with explanations, for every item deducted from that security deposit.

4. Late fees cannot exceed $50 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is less, and late fees cannot be charged if rent is paid 5 days or less after the due date.

5. The eviction process has become much longer and more difficult for landlords and can now easily take a year.

These are just some of the highlights of the new law. So, if you’re a landlord or considering renting out your home because it isn’t selling – or for any other reason – you should check with a lawyer who is proficient in landlord/tenant matters first to find out exactly what you can and cannot do under the new law and whether or not you are prepared to live with it.

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, cell, 914-559-8084; email,  CLOAKING .

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

Renovating a Bronxville Tudor: Part 2 -- Functional Living PDF Print Email


Editor's note:  This is the second article in a three-part series about a home renovation in Bronxville.  The first article was focused on the Open Concept.  This article will focus on Functional Living.  The third article will focus on Updating the Upstairs.

By Tisha Leung,

Sep. 4, 2019:  With this article, we continue with Sara and Mike’s renovation story of their 2,500-square-foot 1930s Bronxville Tudor house.  Sara and Mike wanted more functional space including a pantry, mudroom, and powder room.  They did this by reconfiguring the interior of the home.  They built a mudroom with storage, downsized a full bathroom into a powder room, and created a pantry tailor-made for baking. 

Home during renovation

Butler's Pantry

A butler’s pantry—set up as a baking station—fulfilled one of the main bucket list items for Sara and Mike. They installed lower-than-typical counters, custom made by their contractor, topped with butcher block for an optimal height on which to do baking prep. They added a cabinet with a pop-up interior shelf that raised a mixer to counter height when needed. And a bonus for the kids: a designated lower cabinet with pull-out shelves so that the kids could help themselves to snacks. 

Sara’s mantra for the renovation: “A place for everything and everything in its place. I wanted to be able to ‘hide’ all the mess when company came over, but without sacrificing the daily utility of the rooms.”


New baking kitchen


The narrow mudroom by the back door was also tailored to the needs of the growing family. Outfitted fully in custom millwork to blend with the kitchen, the space features a low bench so you can sit down to take your shoes off, and four storage cubbies beneath the bench that offer space for each member of the family (including the newest one!). A closet hides messy bags, various gear, and coats, while the built-in desk offers a place underneath for pet bowls.

New mudroom

Powder Room

By reimagining the layout, Sara and Mike's contractors converted the full bath to a powder room, now located off the mudroom and the back door entrance. The lower walls are clad in beadboard, with a bird-themed wallpaper above. Sara has had a love for birds instilled since childhood from her father and grandfather. Their favorite birds make an appearance in the home.

New powder room

Stay tuned for Sara and Mike’s upstairs bathrooms, the last of the renovation series.

Sweeten is a free service that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors, monitoring the renovation until completion.

Photos courtesy

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 therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.



Real Estate in Bronxville: A Great Time to Trade Up PDF Print Email


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

Jul. 10, 2019:  The first half of 2019 has proven that there is buyer demand for well-priced homes in Bronxville, but the activity has shifted toward lower price points.

After ending 2018 with a scant 39 single-family home sales, tying 2011 for lowest number of sold homes since the financial crisis, 2019 is seeing a rebound from those numbers. At the mid-year point, 15 homes are in contract and 27 have closed, so 2019 will surpass 2018’s disappointing record. Currently, Bronxville is 42% ahead of the number of closed single-family homes versus 2018’s mid-year point.

Where are the numbers shaking out? In the past, the traditional “sweet spot” in the village has been the $2 to $3 million range, but this year, 48% of closed deals are below $2,000,000. Forty-one percent are in the $2,000,000-$2,999,999 range, and there are three closed deals above $3,000,000 representing 11% of the homes sold. The highest deal to close this year is $4,650,000. From a price-per-square-foot measure, we ended 2018 at $649 psf, down 3% from 2017, and we are now at $586 psf, an additional decline of 9.7% this year. Year over year, the median sale price is 14.9% lower, although on the bright side, the median is $2,150,000, up 2% from the end of last year.

The weak spots both in Bronxville and across other affluent lower Westchester towns are the price ranges above $3,000,000. Although a few sellers have taken listings "off the market for the summer," the market is top-heavy. Eighteen of the 45 active listings, 40%, are priced at or above $3,000,000, and there are 7 homes above $5,000,000. Those 7 homes represent slightly more than 4 years of inventory at the rate of 1.6 sales each year over the past 5-year period. In the luxury markets across Westchester (homes priced above $2,000,000), this is the third consecutive quarter of sales declines. Tax reform has made homeownership more costly. The potential silver lining is that with high demand for lower-priced homes, a long supply of higher-end houses, and historically low mortgage rates, it is a great time to trade up in the village.

The townhouse market, continuing its 2018 strength, has 7 closed deals year-to-date vs. 5 for the same period last year, a 40% increase. There are also 4 deals in contract now, projecting at least 11 closings this year, a number that would exceed all of 2018’s 9 sales. Year over year, the median sale price is down 14.3% but remains high at $1,200,000. At $618 price per square foot, townhouse pricing exceeds that of single-family homes despite dropping 7.4% since the start of this year.

The local co-op market is performing somewhat less vigorously. Inventory levels are similar to last year's, but fewer co-ops have sold this year, 17 versus 22, year to date. There is also slightly more inventory in the over $1,000,000 end of the co-op market.

One of the casualties of having a more robust market in the village (at the lower end) is that the sales in the Bronxville PO/Yonkers market have slowed. Year to date, unit sales are off by 22.7% (17 versus 22), but of greater concern is that pending sales (homes in contract) are off by 50%, potentially anticipating a softening of prices. There are 21 homes for sale above $1,000,000, yet only 2 are in contract. It may be likely that the lower pricing in the village is putting pressure on the PO market.

There is still a substantial amount of the proverbial wood to chop in the village. For sellers who think, "I’d rather wait this out," the relevant question is what will be a catalyst for a return to “pre-tax reform” prices … and when will that occur? The soft NYC market, the large amount of unsold luxury inventory from lower Westchester to Greenwich, demographic imbalances, and the upcoming 2020 election make this a good time to consider one’s future plans and get ahead of the curve.

Pictured:  Cindy G. Landis, brokerage manager, Bronxville office of Houlihan Lawrence.

Photo courtesy Cindy G. Landis

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 therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: What Prospective Buyers Are Asking PDF Print Email


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

Jun. 5, 2019:  When you consider selling your home, most of us would like to be a “fly on the wall” so we could overhear what prospective buyers are saying. Of course, actually being there is not a good idea for many reasons, but perhaps the following overheard comments will be helpful:

  • “What lovely photos.” Prospective buyers should be looking at the house, not the photos, so leaving only a very few out is a good idea.

  • “It seems dark.” You should be sure you leave all lights on and curtains and blinds open – and if the paint color is of a darker shade, consider repainting the room. Darker colors tend to make the room appear smaller, lighter colors, the opposite. 

  • “Are they still living here?” A look in the fridge will give an answer to that question – but know if you are still living in the house that they may open the fridge, so be sure it looks neat and clean. The same goes for closets.

  • Are there hardwood floors under this wall-to-wall carpeting?” You can usually hear the squeak of hardwood when you walk across the floor, but this question is so common that you might want to let your agent know where they can lift a corner of the carpeting to see.

  • ”What are the annual utility costs?” You can prepare a sheet which lets prospective buyers know and make it available to them.

  • “How old is the roof?” If you know, this is a good thing to let the buyer know when asked. Inspectors often don't know.

  • “How old are the systems?” This is a question the buyers’ inspector will be looking to answer, so let him or her do that.

  • “Did anyone die in this house?” Death is a fact of life. It has nothing to do with the real estate, so if you don’t know, say so.

  • “Has this home been staged?” Let’s hope so – it’s become a necessary part of preparing it for sale.

  • “Do we have to get a survey?” If you have a survey available, it will help buyers find out the properties’ boundaries that much faster and save them money when they get the survey updated rather than starting from scratch. But if they need to start from scratch, it’s just part of their due diligence.

  • “Can we take out this wall?" It's more complicated if it's load-bearing than if it isn't, but it can still be done if a header is put in, though electric wires and water pipes may need to be re-routed and the house may re-settle a bit afterward.

These questions should give you some insight into what buyers are asking. Sales are driven by price, condition, and location, and these days condition has become paramount. Be sure to ask your real estate agent what you can do to improve how your home looks, and these days be aware that almost every buyer will want to make some changes, so don't let that bother you. The more turnkey your home, the less buyers believe they must do to it, the faster you are likely to get a sale.

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, legislators, and candidates. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.


Slower Housing Sales and Higher Inventory in Most Markets in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties in Q1 PDF Print Email


By Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender, for Houlihan Lawrence

May 8, 2019:  The real estate markets in the suburbs north of New York City finished the first quarter of 2019 with generally slower sales, higher inventory in most markets, and a decline in pending sales, according to a report released by Houlihan Lawrence.

Single-family home sales in Westchester County were down 5.4% from the prior year, while sales in Putnam County were down by 10%. Dutchess County sales declined 9.1% for the quarter, compared to Q1 of 2018. Meanwhile, median sale prices were somewhat lower in Westchester ($604,900, down 1.2%), but higher in Putnam ($329,000, up 3%) and Dutchess ($278,000, up 9.4%).

Inventory in Westchester grew by 10.4% with the Greater White Plains submarket (Greenburgh, Valhalla, and White Plains) posting the highest increase in inventory of 42.9%. Putnam’s inventory rose by 11.9% from the prior year while inventory in Dutchess was up by 5.6%. The number of pending sales dipped 1.5% in Westchester and 12% in Dutchess, but they were up in Putnam by 2.4%.

Here are some highlights from the first quarter report:

  • Westchester communities reporting double-digit increases in total sales for the quarter included Scarsdale (27%), Hastings (17%), Somers (48%), Pleasantville (17%), and Yorktown (59%).
  • In Dutchess, the sales leaders were Fishkill (40%), Beekman (25%), and Red Hook (60%). Dutchess is enjoying an influx of residents from Brooklyn looking for a more relaxed country lifestyle.
  • Putnam communities reporting double-digit increases in total sales for the quarter included Lakeland (29%) and Putnam Valley (14%).

Submarkets at a Glance 

NYC Gateway
(Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, and Yonkers school districts)
Homes Sold: down 5%
Median Sale Price: up 3%

Lower Westchester
(Bronxville, Eastchester, Edgemont, Scarsdale, and Tuckahoe)
Homes Sold: up 14%
Median Sale Price: down 9%

(Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville, Tarrytown, Briarcliff Manor, Elmsford, Irvington, Ossining, and Pocantico Hills)
Homes Sold: down 3%
Median Sale Price: down 6%

Greater White Plains
(Greenburgh, Valhalla, and White Plains)
Homes Sold: down 11%
Median Sale Price: up 7%

Sound Shore
(Blind Brook, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Rye City, and Rye Neck)
Homes Sold: down 16%
Median Sale Price: down 9%

Northern Westchester
(Bedford, Byram Hills, Chappaqua, Katonah-Lewisboro, North Salem, and Somers)
Homes Sold: down 2%
Median Sale Price: down 4%

Northwest Westchester
(Croton-on-Hudson, Hendrick Hudson, Lakeland, Peekskill, and Yorktown)
Homes Sold: down 9%
Median Sale Price: up 17%

Putnam County
(Brewster, Carmel, Garrison, Haldane, Lakeland, Mahopac, and Putnam Valley)
Homes Sold: down 10%
Median Sale Price: up 3%

Southwest Dutchess
(Beacon, East Fishkill, Fishkill, La Grange, Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie, and Wappinger)
Homes Sold: down 13%
Average Sale Price: up 10%

Southeast Dutchess
(Beekman, Dover, Pawling, and Union Vale)
Homes Sold: down 3%
Average Sale Price: up 8%

Northwest Dutchess
(Clinton, Hyde Park, Milan, Pleasant Valley, Red Hook, and Rhinebeck)
Homes Sold: down 5%
Average Sale Price: up 3%

Northeast Dutchess
Homes Sold: up 8%
Average Sale Price: up 7%

Photo by N. Bower

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 therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

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