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Joe Houlihan: Tech Tools for Home Buying PDF Print Email

Written by Joe Houlihan, Managing Partner, Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate


Feb. 25, 2015: We all know the saying "there's an app for that." Technology exists for just about everything today. The question is how useful is it? Even when it comes to purchasing a home, technology can be a real game changer.

Now, you can easily find out about properties and communities by using online tools and apps to help you quickly find the right community or neighborhood, even before you speak to a Realtor.

The buyer pool today tends to be quite educated, and Realtors welcome informed consumers as well as the technology they use, as both help them do their job. Each year, the National Association of Realtors® publishes the results of its research on home buyers and sellers, and its 2014 edition, 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, indicates that 89 percent of home buyers said that they used technology in some form in the home-buying process, and 92 percent of home buyers said that technology helps save them time.

So, which apps and sites are most helpful and for what? Here are a few favorites. provides up-to-date, community-specific information to buyers. This is a multi-use platform, mainly used for property search, and offers overviews of the real estate market in specific communities. Real estate agents belong to their local real estate board, and most boards have their own Multiple Listing Service (MLS) through which their member Realtors can share listings with each other. Our local association is the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. gets real estate property listings directly from over 800 MLS associations, and the listings are refreshed every 15 minutes. Therefore, information is the most current, which is very important because you can find real-time listing and closing information, sale pricing history, recent sales in the area, and tax information. Sites like Trulia and Zillow are very consumer friendly, too, but are not directly linked to MLS, so the information they carry may not be as up to date.

Mapping services like Google Maps and Apple Maps are invaluable. Not only do they help Realtors and buyers get from one listing to the next quickly and efficiently, but they allow buyers to plot a geographic area and then research the amount of time to get to a train station or highway from multiple places to determine their ideal location for a home.

Neighborhood Navigator:  One of the most frequently used tools by clients is the Neighborhood Navigator. By using the Navigator, you can drill down to specific data that define a neighborhood and paint a more accurate picture. You can see how many households have children, how many residences are owned or rented, how rapidly the population is growing, the median age of residents, and more.

Mortgage Calculator:  Financing apps are another important tool. Programs like Mortgage Calculator help homebuyers to figure out the price range they can afford and to understand the repayment requirements that a mortgage will require. Additionally, they prompt buyers to review their other monthly costs, which include real estate taxes and homeowners insurance. When factored in, these can make a big difference in determining what you can afford to purchase. Therefore, it is important to complete a mortgage worksheet before you set a price range.

Information available to buyers is only going to improve over time, and using technology in the future is going to become a universal experience. That said, technology will never be a substitute for a Realtor, but it can enhance and streamline the process for all parties involved.

Pictured here: Joseph Houlihan, managing partner at Houlihan & O'Malley, 133 Parkway Road, Bronxville. He can be reached in his office at 914-337-7888 or on his cell at 914-645-6640 or by email at CLOAKING .

Photo by Laura Mogil

Village Being Sued for Illegal Housing Discrimination on Kensington Road Project PDF Print Email

Written by Carol P. Bartold


Jan. 28, 2015: Bronxville's Kensington Road project, over ten years in the making, put on hold by the 2008 economic downturn, and currently in progress with excavation on the site, has encountered another snag.

On January 15, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. (WRO), a private nonprofit organization, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Bronxville and Kensington Road developer Gateway Kensington LLC for illegal housing discrimination against families with children.

WRO filed the suit under both the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York State Human Rights Act "for discrimination based on familial status and age," as described in a WRO press release dated January 15, 2015, after an investigation by WRO of the village that was supported by a grant provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

Geoffrey Anderson, WRO executive director, states in the press release that "Bronxville and its developer deliberately set out to design and market new condominiums to deter families with children from moving into the village."

WRO cites an "age-targeted" special permit in the village zoning code, which, it states in the press release, "allows developers to build more units than allowed 'as of right' if the housing is 'designed to appeal primarily to individuals and couples without children.'" WRO claims that in 2013, the village granted such an age-targeted permit for the Kensington Road development project.

WRO states in the press release that the 54-unit condominium project was "intentionally designed with few bedrooms and with dens lacking closets and placed far from bathrooms. Moreover, the development will not offer any child-friendly amenities."

Marlene Zarfes, WRO's director of fair housing, is quoted in the press release as saying, "'Such discrimination is not only wrong but illegal. Municipalities violate fair housing laws when they develop housing for so-called empty nesters and discourage families from living in their communities.'" She also stated that, "while age-restricted housing for seniors can be created legally under federal law, it must be for those either 55 or 62 and older."

Geoff Thompson, spokesperson for Fareri Associates, which wholly owns Gateway Kensington LLC, stated, "While we have not yet begun to market the housing, we intend to fully comply with the Fair Housing Act. There is no age limit on who can purchase, and sales will be open to all, including families with children."

Requests for comments from Bronxville Village Hall were not answered.

Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. describes its mission as follows in the press release: "Founded in 1968 to fight housing discrimination in its region, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. is a private nonprofit organization and a federally approved housing counseling agency. Its mission is to promote equal, affordable, and accessible housing opportunities for all residents of the Lower Hudson Valley."

Pictured here: Site of the new Kensington Road condominiums.

Photo by N. Bower

Priscilla Toomey: Spring Real Estate Market Under Way with Short Supply PDF Print Email

Written by Priscilla Toomey, Associate Broker, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Jan. 28, 2015: The temperatures may still be freezing, but the spring market is under way. At the moment, inventory remains in short supply. As of January 1, there were only 13 detached single-family homes on the market in the Village of Bronxville. The median asking price for those homes was $3,950,000 and the average was $4,927,308.

There were 23 homes in this category at the end of the third quarter, with a median price of $3,495,000 and an average asking price of $4,046,043. What this reflects is that 9 of the 13 homes had asking prices above $3 million, a category in which sales have been slow. For the three homes under contract on January 1, the median price was $2,750,000 and the average asking price was $2,595,000.

For townhouses, a frequent point of entry to the Bronxville Village market, prices remain high, with the median asking price for the 5 townhouses currently on the market at $1,295,000 and the average asking price at $1,320,800. There are currently 4 townhouses under contract. Their median price was $967,000 and their average price $998,250.

For the full year 2014, the number of single-family homes sold was 58, versus 60 for the full year 2013. Prices, too, were close both years. The median price was $2,190,000 for 2014, versus $2,009,500 for 2013, and the average price was $2,176,100, versus $2,133,000 in 2013. The price per square foot was also flat in this category. In 2014 it was $622.70, versus $621.55 in 2013.

However, there were two categories with significant movement. They were townhouses and larger (3- and 4-bedroom) co-ops. Although the number of townhouse sales rose to only 25 for 2014, versus 24 for 2013, the median price rose to $1,144,900 in 2014, versus $944,500 in 2013. The average price rose to $1,185,680 in 2014 from $996,673 in 2013. Price per square foot rose to $607.60 in 2014, versus $540.50 in 2013.

For the larger co-ops, the median price in 2014 was $870,000, versus $765,000 in 2013. The average price similarly rose to $971,064 in 2014. It had been $864,233 in 2013. The price per square foot went to $521.82 in 2014 from $471.63 in 2013.

It will be interesting to watch which trends continue into 2015 and which ones change.

Pictured here: Priscilla Toomey, associate 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 .

Cindy Landis: Bronxville Attains Highest Median Sale Price in County for 2014 PDF Print Email

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

Jan. 21, 2015: The housing market in Bronxville remains strong and stable. The median price of homes sold in Bronxville in 2014 was $2,190,000, up 9% from 2013. It was the second highest full-year median sale price, surpassed only in 2007 at $2,300,000. The average price per square foot was $621, essentially unchanged from 2013.

It was also a strong market for townhouses. The number of units sold remained stable, but the median sale price shot up by 22% from $939,000 in 2013 to $1,147,500 in 2014. The price per square foot was also up by 15% to $627. All in all, it was a seller's market for townhouses.

We saw 46 co-ops change hands in 2014, down from 54 in 2013, but up slightly from the 44 that closed in 2012. The median price for co-ops was $400,000, and the price per square foot was $395, continuing the steady rise since 2010.

Bronxville's unique attributes have stood the test of time and continue to make the community one of the most desirable in Westchester. In fact, Bronxville attained the highest median sale price in the county for 2014.

However, this distinction cuts both ways. Buyers today are very savvy and have limitless information available to them on the Internet. They shop comparatively not just across homes but also across communities. There is assuredly demand for "well-priced" homes in Bronxville. Sellers who position their homes to appeal to a buyer's sense of value will likely find that a receptive market awaits them in the year ahead.

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

Photo by N. Bower

Sheila Stoltz: 2015 Real Estate Outlook PDF Print Email

Written by Sheila Morrissey Stoltz, Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker, Houlihan Lawrence

Jan. 14, 2015: Real estate values for 2014 increased across all Bronxville-area markets. In several markets we are approaching the peak pricing we saw in 2005-2007. This contrasts with the 2008-2010 years, when we experienced a 15% price drop in some markets and extremely low sales volumes.

Since 2010, area markets have continued their upward trend in home values, supported by strong sales volume. Interest rates remain at historic lows, the stock market is at historic highs, gas prices are low, and we are entering 2015 with very manageable inventory across all markets. I expect 2015 to be another stable-to-positive year for Bronxville-area real estate.

Buyers are more confident but remain prudent in their bidding. The housing correction of 2008-2009 caused many homes to lose value for the first time, and that memory lingers for many buyers. Also, I believe that the stronger economic conditions and more stable real estate environment will help to strengthen the higher-end segment across all markets.

The renewed confidence in the market has encouraged more sellers to list their homes. The lack of liquidity and relatively lower home prices in 2008-2011 caused many, especially empty nesters, to delay selling their homes. I expect to see more inventory in 2015 as sellers take advantage of the better market. Despite the stronger market, pricing a home correctly continues to be the key to a successful sale.

The Bronxville area has been aided by the strong New York City market. New York City buyers are confident that they can sell their apartments, which gives them assurance when looking in Bronxville. Hopefully, there will be no negative factors (like the strengthening dollar curtailing foreign demand) that will decrease demand in New York City. High home prices, the high cost of living, and the approximately 4% New York City income tax continue to make living in Bronxville a compelling financial value relative to New York City.

The short commute and abundance of excellent educational alternatives continue to draw buyers to our area. More important, Bronxville offers a very special community and lifestyle that set us apart from other communities.

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