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Westchester Commercial Real Estate Market Report for 3rd Quarter 2018 PDF Print Email

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By Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender, for Houlihan Lawrence


Nov. 14, 2018: Multifamily apartments and industrial properties continue to perform well in Westchester, while other sectors of the county's commercial real estate market, especially retail and office properties, are facing strong headwinds, according to a new third-quarter report from Houlihan Lawrence's Commercial Group.

Tenants in multifamily apartments that are near train lines seem happy to shrug off the noise of a passing railroad in their desire to have convenient access to New York City. According to industry data, net absorption during Q3 2018 was 3.8 times higher than Q3 2017 and the year-to-date trend is similar. There were fewer deliveries of newly built rental units this quarter, but the pipeline of new construction has increased.

Industrial properties are also enjoying firm fundamentals, as they have become a critical link in evolving consumer fulfillment networks supporting digital retail platforms. Pressure to increase the productivity of these supply chains will inevitably bring multistory warehouses, similar to ones in Japan, to areas where land is scarce and proximity to the consumer is critical to business survival, according to the report.

Vacancy rates for industrial and flex properties are lower and rental rates are slowly increasing. Overall industrial property demand is strong, with a low inventory of state-of-the-art facilities in southern Westchester.

Retail and office properties, on the other hand, face challenges as many of their traditional users are being forced to drastically change their business models. Smaller retail formats offering basic consumer services are finding that they need to provide an updated appearance, convenient parking, and even a food retailer or bank branch to bring in traffic, according to the report.

In the retail sector, industry data shows an overall vacancy of 3.6% and availability of 6.5%. New vacancies/availability, not included in this data, may impact the market imminently as retailers such as Mattress Firm and Sears restructure or shutter operations.

At a time when Manhattan office leasing volume is hitting a multiyear high, leasing trends in Westchester remain weak. "On the ground, our observation is that established companies are going forward with deals in the locations that best fit their business strategy," said Thomas LaPerch, Director of the Commercial Group. "Smaller tenants and newly formed businesses, on the other hand, continue to be hesitant to commit to longer lease terms."

"As headwinds emerge in the CRE markets and risk appetite of buyers and sellers changes, a real knowledge of local market dynamics is crucial to help buyers/sellers (landlord/tenants) achieve their transaction goals," Houlihan Lawrence Commercial Group agent Teresa Marzano. "Assets benefit from being priced and positioned properly from the start and clients profit from a clear definition of their objectives. In this environment, more than ever, time is of the essence."

Pictured here: Villa BXV, a condominium complex in Bronxville that borders the train station.

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.

 
Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: Are You Selling the Sizzle or the Steak? PDF Print Email

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By Priscilla R. Toomey, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker JD, ABR, Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty


Oct. 3, 2018:  Are you selling the sizzle or the steak? Actually, both. And it’s important to know what constitutes each.   

The steak includes your home’s systems. Are they all in good working order? How much more useful life does each have? Do you have any warranty time left on any of them? Do you have instruction manuals available?

The homeowner property disclosure statement, which is almost never signed by sellers in this area, nonetheless lists the major systems in a house that the inspector will look at during your buyer’s inspection, so this is a good reference point to use as a checklist for you to review. 

These are the “big ticket” items that can result in serious re-negotiation if an inspector says one needs to be replaced. Also, if one of the listed items is a “red flag” to the inspector, your buyer is likely to wonder how well you have maintained your home and wonder whether there is anything else that needs to be repaired or replaced.

Do you have a floor plan? Most buyers these days expect one and it’s a good idea for you because sometimes the square footage on the village or town hall’s property card will be inaccurate--and may be less generous because the house was measured differently.

If what is discussed above is the “steak,” what is the sizzle and why is it so important? These days, we all tend to have instant reactions, and real estate buyers are no different. So they respond, often internally:  is this house a “yes” or a “no”?  Is it “good” or “not good” for them? Therefore, their very first impression of your house can make all the difference. That’s why the sizzle is so important.

There are ways you can help in this process. One is to have a stager look at your house through a buyer’s eyes and suggest how to emphasize its most desirable aspects and downplay those that might be less appealing. Also, be as objective as possible yourself--are there cooking odors that linger and could turn a buyer off? Is there worn paint on the front door? Is the curb appeal the best it can be? Some others are:

  • Do any light bulbs need to be replaced?

  • Do any doors stick from dampness or any other reason?

  • Does anything squeak that you can reasonably remedy?

  • Is everything sparklingly clean?

  • How will your closets look when prospective buyers open the doors to look in since closet space is so important to today’s buyers?

  • Do your landscaping and flowers look well-maintained?

  • Have you de-personalized to remove an excess of family photos, religious items, and other things that could inhibit a buyer from looking at your home's “bones”? After all, that’s what you’re selling, not your mementos.

It’s never easy to attend to all of these recommendations, but they will pay off for you in how successful your sale is.

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, licensed associate real estate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty, 2 Park Place, Bronxville, NY 10708; cell, 914-559-8084; email, CLOAKING .   

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.

 

 
Real Estate Update From Cindy Landis of Houlihan Lawrence PDF Print Email

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


Sep. 26, 2018:  Our local market is in the process of realignment. The characteristics that make the village so desirable are as strong as, or stronger than, ever: the top-flight school district, which is often likened to a private school, the unquestionable beauty of the village, and the rapid commute to New York City, with easy access to many forms of transportation. Economic issues are the driver of the transitioning market.

Across Westchester, we are seeing the three factors that are weighing on the real estate market. Prices have had a fairly long period of growth in the ten years since the financial crisis of 2008, while rising interest rates and tax law change are filtering through the markets. Affordability is the challenge.

In the current village market, there are 37 single-family homes for sale at the moment, compared with 33 at the same time last year. It’s 12% more inventory overall. Uncharacteristically, there are eleven homes for sale in the $1,000,000 to $1,999,999 price range, with only one home in contract. That’s an 11-to-1 ratio of homes for sale to those in contract, very low demand. It’s a price point that’s struggling across many similar Westchester towns such as Scarsdale.

Homes in contract have declined, compared with this time last year: six vs. ten. However, we are seeing a rise in showing activity in recent weeks as the fall market gets under way. There has been an oversupply of new construction in the New York City markets, and developers are making concessions to stimulate demand. Buyers who shop in New York City and come north seem to be looking for “good buys” in the suburbs.  

As for closings, there have been 33 single-family homes sold this year, compared with 40 for the same period last year. The current median is $2,100,000, compared with last year’s median of $2,350,000. The price per square foot, $657, is down slightly from $670.

The townhouse market was very quiet last year and fortunately has rebounded. There are six closings year-to-date versus four last year at this time, and there are two deals in contract (same number as last year). The median sale price, however, has skyrocketed to $1,436,250, and there are seven townhomes for sale, compared with the two at the same time last year.

All real estate buyers today seem prepared to comparison shop between homes in the same town and between different towns as well. Buyers don’t seem as necessarily committed to only one community. For serious sellers, the rules of real estate also now include preparation (staging), proper pricing, and patience.

Pictured here:  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.

 
Cindy Landis on Real Estate: Mid-Point of 2018 PDF Print Email

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


Jul. 11, 2018: Buyers and sellers have had a lot of new information to consider this year when analyzing real estate transactions. The impact of the SALT (state and local tax deduction) legislation, new income tax categories, gyrations in the stock market, and even international issues have created an air of uncertainty. Mortgage rates have ticked up as predicted and are expected to continue to do so. For the single-family market, it has been a challenging year thus far. There have been flurries of activity but followed by quieter periods; on the other hand, activity has continued longer than usual.

Single-Family Homes (other than townhouses). On June 30, there were 46 village houses for sale as compared to 41 units last year, a 12% increase in the number of homes for sale. Seventeen houses are in contract compared to 19, a 10.5% decline. Nineteen village houses have closed so far, compared to 25 last year. The breakdown of the data is that of the 19 closed houses, none were less than $1,000,000. From $1 to $2 million, there were 7 closings, from $2 to $3 million, 8 closings, one closing over $3,000,000 (and under $4 million), 2 closings over $4 million (and under $5 million), and one closing above $5 million. 

Naturally, the price-per-square-foot data and the median will swing as closings occur and future deals are made. At the moment, the median is $2,100,000, which is 4.4% less than the median for the first six months of 2017. Price per square foot has declined slightly to $644 per square foot (from $670 for the past two years). Interestingly, based on data from the Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS multiple listing service, houses that have closed are selling for a percentage of their assessed value as compared to a multiple of it. 

Townhouses. After 2017’s quiet performance with only six closings, there are already five closed deals this year and two additional deals in contract, and the year is only half over. Eight units are listed for sale. The median sale price of the five closed deals is $1,472,500, and compared to the mid-year median of 2017, $1,012,500, that’s a whopping 45% increase. Price per square foot is $661 versus last year’s $609.

Cooperatives. Twenty-two co-ops have closed this year and an additional eight are in contract. Four of the closings were over $1,000,000 and the price per square foot for all sales is $474. The median is $622,500, compared to last year’s mid-year median of $522,500. 

In Conclusion. Clearly, sellers of single-family homes have their work cut out for them; there is pressure to reduce prices to attract buyers. Other communities dangle offerings to entice buyers as well. In the townhouse market, the situation is guardedly optimistic but pricing will have a natural ceiling based on sale prices of single-family houses. Cooperatives remain in demand, particularly larger units.

Pictured here:  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: The Truth about Square Feet PDF Print Email

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By Priscilla R. Toomey, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker JD, ABR, Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty


May 23, 2018:  In New York City there has been litigation over the number of square feet that are represented for a home so there can be greater consistency in what is shown on a listing. In Westchester – well, it’s a little like the “Wild West”(chester). Towns and villages do have measurements, but they use their own standards. Homeowners can measure the home themselves, but they are likely to use their own approach. Yet a lot of buyers in our area come from New York City or other areas where price per square foot is viewed as very important.

Past listings for a given property may state a square footage that is not accurate. Then, when the property is about to come on the market again, the question is: did it shrink or grow or is the listing broker just copying the square footage from the old listing? If there has been a renovation since its most recent sale, the property should be re-measured, regardless.

The rules have also changed. Once upon a time, finished basements were routinely included. Now only those that meet specific requirements can be. And attics were often included, as well. Many were used as living space of one kind or another, although they were not listed on the certificate of occupancy and therefore should not have been included. These are sometimes included today, but they are not supposed to be included in the number of square feet of living space but rather noted separately on the listing.

One reason to strive for accuracy is that the number of square feet listed for a given dwelling determines the price per square foot and buyers do use that for comparison purposes. So increasing the number of stated square feet lowers the price per square foot and makes that home look more competitive. Yet, when a listing is entered into our area Multiple Listing Service, the number of square feet is designated as “estimated.”

When square feet are very important to a buyer, one approach is to ask if there is a professionally measured floor plan to accompany the listing. Often there is. If there isn’t, a buyer can arrange through their agent to have one drawn for a modest cost. It’s important that the person engaged for this job is a professional who follows the American National Standards Institute ("ANSI") guidelines.

With all this said, perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that square footage is only one of several very important factors in making a homebuying decision. While a buyer rightfully would want to know about how many square feet there are in a given home, the quality of the school district, the home’s condition, the commuting time, proximity to a Metro-North station, the town’s amenities and ambiance, prices paid for recent comparable sales, and other factors are just as important. After all, they’re what make any given buyer a happy long-term resident.

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, licensed associate real estate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty, 2 Park Place, Bronxville, NY 10708; cell, 914-559-8084; email, CLOAKING .   

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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