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Real Estate

Priscilla Toomey: Why It Is Called a 'Closing' PDF Print Email

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

Jul. 29, 2015:  There are five major focal points in a home sale and purchase transaction:

1. Search

2. Agreement on Price and Terms

3. Appraisal and Mortgage Commitment

4. Walk-Through

5. Closing

. . . with many smaller steps in between.

Once the first three steps are complete, a walk-through is held, typically within 48 hours before the scheduled closing. The objective of the walk-through is to determine if the home is in the same condition it was in at the time of the inspection and that the sale is ready to close.

Systems must be in working order and the certificate of occupancy should cover the house as it currently exists. The purpose of the walk-through is not to find new issues, so it is important to pay close attention during the inspection and to take as many notes as needed.

The goal of the closing is just that--to close out the transaction so that each party goes on to its next stage--either as the new homeowners or, for the sellers, to their own new home.

Of course, this being real estate, things can happen and occasionally do. Two of the strategies that can be used to enable a closing where there remain outstanding matters are:

A Leaseback:  This is where the prior owner wants or needs to remain in place for a period after the closing. Since there is now a new owner, the former owner would legally be a tenant, so there are some additional steps to be taken--determining a rental amount, insurance, and another walk-through upon vacating, for example.

An Escrow:  This occurs when money needs to be withheld from the seller's proceeds to pay for something that wasn't completed before the closing, be it a certificate of occupancy issue that remains outstanding or an incomplete repair. In this event, there needs to be an escrow agent and a written escrow agreement describing the terms and time limits of the escrow and the work to be done.

The majority of closings, however, do complete the transaction and the parties go forward--happy in their new circumstances. 

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; e-mail, CLOAKING .

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

Millennials Buy Largest Percentage of Homes in Bronxville PDF Print Email

By Laura Mogil for Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate

Jul. 29, 2015:  Not all Millennials are living with their parents and struggling to pay off student loan debt. As the economy grows stronger and the 18- to 34-year-olds in this demographic group find their employment prospects improving, Millennials, particularly those on the older end of the spectrum, are looking to buy homes.

Sales data from Houlihan & O'Malley show that the number of Millennials buying homes in Bronxville Village and the Bronxville PO area and vicinity has risen dramatically from 28 percent in 2012 to an average of 40 percent in 2013 and 2014, according to Joe Houlihan, managing partner of Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate in Bronxville.

This trend is echoed nationally, with Millennials now making up the largest group of home buyers (32 percent of all buyers), according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.

Generation X, ages 35-49, came in second, with a 27 percent share. Younger Baby Boomers (ages 50-59) made up 16 percent of all buyers, and older Boomers (ages 60-68) made up 15 percent of all buyers. The Silent Generation (ages 69-89) represented only 10 percent of all buyers in the past year.

"Many Millennials endured underemployment and subpar wages during the recession, but now they are advancing in their careers and feel more secure. They see themselves getting raises and promotions, and that encourages them to start looking for a home," said Houlihan. "With interest rates perched at such low levels, now is a great time to buy a house because the mortgage payment might actually be cheaper than renting."

Interestingly, 90 percent of Millennials used an agent to purchase their home, which is the highest share of any generation, according to the NAR study. "Millennials are very savvy and realize that, while they can initially look for a home online, nothing can replace the professional expertise, insights, and guidance of a local, professional Realtor in helping them navigate the complicated process of purchasing a home," said Houlihan.  

According to Houlihan, many of the Millennials his firm represents are arriving from Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan's Upper East and West Sides. "They are moving to Bronxville for a variety of reasons, including the excellent schools, short commute to Grand Central, and high-quality facilities such as the town's library and vibrant downtown," he said. "Plus, Bronxville boasts outstanding restaurants, gift stores, coffee shops, and much more. It really offers the 'whole package.'" 

Even if Millennials aren't currently buying a home, many of them are seriously thinking about it. According to a July 2014 Google Consumer Survey, 18- to 34-year-olds were twice as likely as 35- to 54-year-olds to say they planned on purchasing a home in the next year.

A full half of all Millennials visited real estate websites in July of 2014, and 36 percent visited real estate websites or apps on mobile devices (comScore/Media-Metrix). That means Millennials are more than twice as likely as the average US consumer to explore real estate information on a mobile device.

Pictured here:  Joe Houlihan, managing partner of Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate.

Photo courtesy Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate

Cynthia Landis: Mid-Year 2015 Bronxville Real Estate Report: Prices Up, Sales Down PDF Print Email

By Cynthia G. Landis, Branch Manager, Bronxville Brokerage Office, Houlihan Lawrence

Jul. 8, 2015:  At the half-year mark, the village single-family home market is lagging behind 2014's results from a volume and transactions standpoint. Nineteen single-family homes closed during the first six months of the year, compared with 27 in 2014 (a decrease of nearly 30%). Eighteen homes are in contract now, compared with 22 as of the same time last year, 18% fewer.*

Because of homes coming to market later than usual this year, we have 36 homes for sale now across all price ranges, many recently listed. Last year at the end of June, our active inventory was 24.

Price per square foot for the first half of the year rose to $720, compared with $621 the previous year. The median sale price rose to $2,745,000, compared with $2,190,000 the previous year, although it should be noted that mid-year medians are unreliable.

To date, 5 homes (out of the 19 that have closed) sold for $3,000,000 or more, which is an increase over 2014. However, of the 36 active listings, 17 are listed above $3,000,000, which is 47% of total inventory. Above $3,000,000, the absorption rate is .83 homes per month, or 9.96 homes per year, equal to 20+ months of inventory at current levels.

Townhouses (attached single-family homes) remain in high demand, and the market is constrained by lack of supply. Thirteen townhouses have closed in 2015, compared with 9 last year, a 44% increase. The median sale price is slightly shy of $1,000,000, and the price per square foot remains fairly unchanged after a significant rise in 2014 to $627. There are 4 townhouses for sale presently and 3 in contract.

The co-op market is also moving nicely. Closings are up by 25% (from 16 to 20), and the price per square foot is $450 for sales this year, continuing to rise over last year's high of $395.

The Bronxville PO market (Yonkers schools) is fairly consistent year-over-year, with the median rising slightly to $770,000 and a steady to slightly increasing sales volume. However, the first half of 2015 compared with 2014 shows a projected decrease in closings for this year and a median of $781,500.

Across Westchester County, and across all price points, the market is tracking evenly with 2014 from a median price standpoint (around $635,000) and volume of sales (around 2,200 at the halfway point).

*Statistics are courtesy of HGAR (Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors).

Pictured here: Cynthia G. Landis, branch manager of Houlihan Lawrence's Bronxville Brokerage Office, can be reached at 914-337-0400, ext. 344, or at CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Houlihan Lawrence

Priscilla Toomey: Timing Is Everything in Real Estate PDF Print Email

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

Jul. 1, 2015:  Timing is Everything. Timing affects every aspect of real estate transactions.  

It isn't 2009 anymore--just after the Great Recession. But it isn't 2014, either. Markets change, and demand changes by location and market segment. It would be wonderful if we all had a crystal ball, but we don't. So it's important to learn what the market is saying about your house as soon as you can in the sales process and adjust accordingly – several times, if necessary – until you find the "sweet spot" for your home.

To do this it is important for you to remain engaged, initially in the process of learning what the market is telling you and then in the negotiations. Many people lose a home because they make assumptions about what is in the other party's mind – which may or may not be there at all.

The real estate adage "location, location, location" is modified by condition, layout, and other factors. But every house has a price at which it will sell. The hard part is to be willing to find that price by listening to the market and responding to it on a timely basis. Usually, the higher the price point, the longer the house will take to sell. That's because there is typically a smaller pool of buyers and their expectations are higher.

How soon in the transaction is it wise to negotiate things other than price, closing date, and contingencies? Much later in the transaction than most people think. First, the lawyers will draw up and negotiate a contract. Then the parties need to sign it and the buyer puts down the 10% due at contract.  

If there is no mortgage involved and the inspection has already taken place, the transaction then becomes non-contingent. If the inspection is done but there is a mortgage, the transaction will remain contingent until there is a mortgage commitment.

Often the seller and buyer may not see eye to eye about things that are discretionary to the transaction, such as the purchase of furniture. Sellers often have a higher estimate of value than buyers, but the bottom line is that if they don't agree, the transaction is put at risk unless the conversation takes place only after everything else is locked in.

How far ahead should you want to close the transaction? Sixty to ninety days is typical. As they say, life happens, and it can certainly affect your transaction if the timing drags on for too long. Obvious "happenings" are death, divorce, and relocation. But unexpected factors may intervene, as well – the economy can be unpredictable, as we have experienced in recent memory. 

The key is to pay close attention to the timing, as it affects the market your house is in, what you want to discuss with the people on the other side of your transaction besides price and the basic terms, and when you need to get your transaction closed.

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; e-mail, CLOAKING .

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

Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter on Bronxville Real Estate: 'Staging'--Secret Sauce to Selling at the Maximum Price PDF Print Email

By Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Olshan Group LLC

Editor's note
:  Lifelong Bronxville resident Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter is a licensed real estate salesperson for the Olshan Group LLC, a real estate service company. 

Jun. 10, 2015:  It's called "staging." Along with marketing, staging is key to selling a luxury home in today's market. Stagers are professionals who can help maximize the value of your home by presenting it in its best light. Staging is an art. It's more than just painting and removing the clutter.

It often involves removing items from your home and moving furniture to make each room seem as spacious as possible. You may also need to transform rooms and remove some worn or inappropriate furniture. Staging is an extremely popular technique used in the Manhattan market, where Olshan has over 35 years of experience in staging, marketing, and presenting luxury homes to attract the New York buyer. 

Who's Buying in Bronxville? 

Over 50% of the single-family home/town home buyers are from New York City. The rest are either relocating from major cities such as London, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta, or moving from neighborhoods and towns around Bronxville. 

What's Selling in Bronxville? 

Below is a chart of the single-family homes/town homes that closed from the beginning of 2015 through the end of May. Year-to-date, there have been 20 closings, down from the 23 homes that closed during the same period last year. Ninety percent of the closed home sales were under $3 million. 

Bronxville Homes closed: 1/1/2015 – 5/31/2015:   





Avg Price Sold/

Avg # Bed/

Avg Square

Avg Sale

Avg Days on

Price Range

#  Homes

Avg List Price

Avg List Price



Price/Sq. Feet


Below $2 Million




4 BR /3 Bath




$2-$3 Million




4 BR /5 Bath




$3-$4 Million




6 BR  /6 Bath




$4-$5 Million








Above $5 Million




7 BR /6 Bath




Total Homes

















Report on Contracts Signed: 

Below is a chart of the single-family homes/town homes that have contracts that were signed from the beginning of 2015 through the end of May. There are 28 Bronxville single-family homes/town homes that have contracts that were signed since the beginning of 2015; seventy-five percent of the contracts are under $3 million. 

Bronxville Homes with Contracts Signed: 1/1/2015-5/31/2015:




Avg # Bedrooms/

Avg Square

                     Avg Sale

Avg Days on

Price Range

# Homes

Avg List Price



Price/Sq. Feet


Below $2 Million



4 BR/3 Bath




$2-$3 Million



6 BR/5 Bath




$3-$4 Million



5 BR/5 Bath




$4-$5 Million



5 BR/6 Bath




Above $5 Million



6 BR/8 Bath




Total Homes







Bronxville data are based on the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR) MLS. 

Pictured here:  Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter. She can be reached on her cell at 914-319-8751, in her office at 212-751-3300, ext. 133, or by email at CLOAKING

Photo by Joseph Moran, Joseph Moran photography

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